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Comparing traveling by public transport to traveling by car from Belgium to the Netherlands

Proofreading a paper on the train

TU Delft has a large number of Belgian students, mostly in aerospace engineering. Like most Belgian students, they travel back home over the weekend.

Since the failure of the new highspeed line Fyra between Belgium and the Netherlands, getting a good train connection over the border has become rather difficult.

Last August, I traveled twice to Delft from my hometown Lier: once by train and once by car. For comparison, I have tracked how much time it took, how much it cost me, and my general experience.

Traveling from Lier to Delft by train

I only had to be in Delft at 10am, but because the train connection between Antwerp and The Hague only goes out every other hour, I had to travel an hour earlier than necessary. I left by car at 6:20 from my parents’ house to go to the train station, took the 6:35 train out, changed in Antwerp and Rotterdam and then walked to the TU Delft campus. I reached my office at 08:55. On my way back, my train from Delft to Rotterdam was delayed, so that I would miss my connection to Antwerp and onwards to Lier. Luckily, I was 10 minutes earlier in the train station, and hopped onto an earlier train out to Rotterdam. Otherwise my ride home would have lasted much longer.
The price of going back and forth was 44 euro – rather expensive for a trainride.
The advantage of taking the train is that -at least on the long haul between Antwerp and Rotterdam- I can pull out some work and take some concentrated time for work. On the shorter hauls, I pulled out my Kindle and enjoyed reading.

Traveling from Lier to Delft by car

I left at 6:20 as well, to make the comparison. Because I didn’t have a train to catch, I was a wee bit slower in the morning, and actually left ay 6:25. There was a major traffic jam between Dordrecht and Rotterdam because of an oil leakage on the road, resulting in two lanes being closed. I arrived at the office around 8:20am.

As I drive a (relatively) small car (known by the name of Baby Benz), I use 6 liter of Diesel per 100km. Diesel is at about 1,4 euro/l. Given that the distance is 130km, I end up with a total price for 2 x 130km of 22 euro. Only half of the price of going by train.

Certainly, I couldn’t read nor work during the ride, but I saved about half of the cost of the trip, and it took me an hour less.

From an ecological point of view, I do gravitate towards preferring public transport. And I sincerely hope the train connection between Belgium and the Netherlands will improve very soon, with more frequent connections, and a direct connection to Schiphol airport, and that the ticket prices will be a little more competitive with the cost of driving.

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