Cycling on the former railway line from Zeist to Bilthoven

A ride through the forest between Zeist and Bilthoven is what I have prepared for you this week. There would normally be a narrated video on the first Wednesday of the month but due to the circumstances of the past weeks I was not able to create a video now. That is why this older video will have to do. A ride, that I filmed two years ago on 31 March 2021 on my way back from the airport runway turned into a cyclepath at Soesterberg.

The route I cycled. About 3 kilometers from Huis ter Heide to Bilthoven.

This particular ride was on a part of the former railway line from Zeist to Bilthoven. That, at a time, had double tracks and was even partly electrified. It wasn’t clear what was going to happen with this line for so long, that when a motorway was planned, that crossed the line, a viaduct was built (single track, but completely prepared to be double track and electrified) that was there for 50 years (1968-2018). However, no train ever passed over cars. The line was out of use long before the first cars used the motorway!

At the Bilthoven end of the former railway line the former track area was added to existing gardens. These garden extensions each got a separate number in the property register. I ended my ride at the red dot (bottom right).
At the Zeist end of the line the route is barely visible in the fabric of the town. A lot of new buildings occupy the land of the former railway line. I started my ride at the red dot (left) and went left (off the map). This map was turned 90 degrees; north is to the left.

In the video you can see some facts about the former railway line/cycle route.

  • The ride is about 3 km long, the railway line was about 7 km long.
  • The railway line was opened on 29 August 1901, it became a double track from 1912.
  • The line was reason that several towns with expensive housing could be developed.
  • There were four stations in such towns.
  • Passenger trans ran until 1941.
  • In 1942 the Nazis demanded railway parts from areas they had occupied. To be able to supply those parts existing lines in the Netherlands had to be demolished. This line was one of the lines that were destroyed.
  • After WWII the line was reopened as a single-track freight line.
  • In 1972 the last train used the line.
  • In 1978 the tracks were removed, after which the part of the old railway line between Huis ter Heide and Bilthoven became a recreational cycle way.
  • The only surviving building on the line is the recently restored former station building of Huis ter Heide.
  • The line can no longer be rebuilt. The final 780 metres to the existing main railway line and station in Bilthoven have been added to the existing gardens of many homes. In Zeist the land of the former railway line has been used for new construction and therefore has become completely invisible.
In April 1967, 26 years after passenger trains stopped using the line, there was this announcement that the line would possibly be used again for one day. For a scouting event in Zeist, 1000 scouts would have to be transported to the event location from Utrecht. In stead of buses the organisation was planning to use a special train. I could not find whether this train actually ran on the planned date of 23 April 1967, which is five years before also freight trains would stop using the line.
My ride on the former railway line from Zeist to Bilthoven, starting in Huis ter Heide. Filmed on 31 March 2021.

2 thoughts on “Cycling on the former railway line from Zeist to Bilthoven

  1. My kids and I are planning to come to the Netherlands for a few weeks this summer, due in part to years of watching your channel. 🙂 Do you have any resources to recommend for planning a vacation trip that involves a lot of bicycling around cities and towns, and possibly even between cities? Thanks so much for all the videos!

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