All about cycling in the Netherlands
The university city of Tilburg in the south of the Netherlands is one of the many Dutch cities in which the central station area is under extensive reconstruction. Because that reconstruction involved building a new underpass at the location of the bicycle parking facility, that facility had to be relocated. So a temporary facility was constructed on an abandoned platform, originally built for postal trains, but that was also used as a car parking area later.
Tilburg’s central station is used by 30,000 travellers per day. In 2020 that is expected to have risen to 40,000. To make the station future proof, two new underpasses under the existing and remaining monumental station hall from 1965 will be built. One for train passengers and a public one for people walking and cycling. That last underpass will connect to Willem II-straat. The passage will be 13 metres wide and 3 metres high. The reconstruction of the station is taking place right now and it is expected to be finished mid-2016.
At the location of the entrance of the new public underpass, there used to be on-street and free bicycle parking racks. A foreign visitor filmed the old situation in 2011. These racks had to be relocated. This was done at the end of 2013 when new racks were temporarily placed on an abandoned platform, right next to track number 1. When the station was built, this was where the postal trains were loaded and unloaded. But when the postal trains were abolished it was turned into a car park. The car park has now been transformed into a bicycle parking facility.
The temporary facility has place to park 2,700 bicycles in double stacked racks. The racks are set up in rows creating a total of 23 aisles in between the racks. It is not the only bicycle parking facility. Right under this free and unguarded one there is a paid and guarded bicycle parking facility for another 2,000 bicycles. Not everybody was happy with the location of the temporary facility. To reach the level of the trains you have to go up 5 metre tall stairs to get there. Others found it too far from the tracks. But that I didn’t quite understand: since you are already on the level of the trains and you can take a short-cut to the platform, it seems you couldn’t get closer than that. Maybe people who need to be on other platforms complain. For those other platforms you have to go down first and then up again.
Originally there were plans to build a completely new bicycle parking facility at the other side of the tracks with paid parking. But views and policies regarding bicycle parking at stations in the Netherlands are changing rapidly. There is a tendency to build guarded but free parking facilities now. National and local governments are debating who has to pay for these facilities with the railway companies. So in Tilburg the plans were postponed indefinitely, to get this clear first.
In the meantime, the underpass for train passengers was put in its place. In October 2014, the concrete ‘tube’, that was built next to the tracks, was carefully pushed forward 40 metres, to reach its final location, in one week, in the Autumn holidays. The tracks had to be removed for this operation and that meant there were no trains for an entire week. An interesting time-lapse shows how this was done. The construction of the public tunnel under this temporary bicycle parking facility didn’t go entirely as planned. One man was seriously injured in an incident. The causes would be investigated, but I have no information about results.
Now that the plans for the new bicycle parking facility are on hold, it could mean this temporary facility will be there a bit longer than the 3 years which were initially planned. But that is not unusual, the famous ‘bicycle flat’ in front of Amsterdam station was also supposed to be temporary and should have been removed long ago.
My video showing the temporary bicycle parking facility at the Tilburg Central Railway Station.