The Dutch Residence has an awkward positioning of train stations. A new station in the right place can solve all public transport irritations in one single gesture.
In Den Haag there are two train stations that connect the city center to the rest of the country: Den Haag Central station and Den Haag Hollands Spoor station. These two stations are about 1 km apart from each other. The first one is the end of the east-west train connection (to Utrecht), the second in on the north-south connection (Amsterdam to the north, Rotterdam to the south).
There are some disadvantages to this bi-location when it comes to public transport. You always have to think about which station to go to or embark from. If you are coming in from the east you have little choice; these trains don’t call at Hollands Spoor. But if you are coming from or going to Amsterdam or Rotterdam it is a different matter altogether. There are trains going to Central station and trains going to Hollands Spoor, but most trains stop only at one of the two. And depending on your destination in the city of Den Haag the choice of station has a great impact on your traveling time.
Of course there are regular connections between these two stations. Both by train and by tram you can get from one to the other every couple of minutes. But it will take you almost 10 minutes to cover the kilometer between them. Add the time needed to change trains or find your way from the trams to the platforms and you can easily see that this is far from an optimal solution. This two-station configuration makes Den Haag kind of schizophrenic when it comes to public transport.
And it is all very unnecessary. The two stations are on intersecting routes. 500 Meters north of Hollands Spoor, the route from Amsterdam to Rotterdam crosses over the line from Utrecht to Central station, which is only 500 meters west of the crossing. So why not build a new train station on the crossroads of these important lines? The new station could have the Amsterdam-Rotterdam tracks on the top level and the Utrecht tracks on the lower level. All trains would stop in the same place, eliminating the need to choose stations when traveling to or from Den Haag by train.
By moving the station 500 meters from the current location, the walking distance from he current position of both stations to the new station will increase. This might not sound as a big hick-up, but it would pose a mighty psychological barrier for any new station. Fortunately we nowadays have very comfortable means to transport large groups of pedestrians over a linear path. At Schiphol airport we do it all the time to get our passengers to their plane or car. It’s called an automatic walkway and will prove a very efficient and comfortable way to move passengers from and to the train platforms. With a speed of approximately 7 km per hour you walk the 500 meters within two minutes on one of these very friendly machines.
These automated walkways could connect the new station both to the current position (or building) of Hollands Spoor station, as well as to the current location of the Central station. The current Hollands Spoor station is a historic station building that could easily find another function. The trams and buses now calling at Hollands Spoor only do so because of the station. Since the station is not embedded in the urban structure, it just forms a connecting point between means of public transport that would function just as well 500 meters north of its current position.
If a fast pedestrian connection is provided for staff and students working in the immediate vicinity of the current station, the new station would function flawlessly.
For the Central station the situation is slightly different. It now forms a confusing knot of public infrastructure with trams both next to the station as well as on top of it and a huge buss station above the tracks. Although fairly usable for locals, finding your way between different sorts of public transport in Den Haag Central station proves a rather blurry challenge for new arrivals.
With the new position of the station half a kilometer to the east, a strip of valuable space would emerge between (and on) the current location of Den Haag Central station and the location of the new station. This urban gab will be bridged by an automated walkway to move people between the platforms and the city center. This strip of land will prove very useful for a number of reasons.
It will provide all space needed to organize all different types of transportation from trams and randstad rails to buses, bikes etc. in an orderly fashion. With clear visibility on all options and a fast pedestrian connection to switch between them smoothly and efficiently.
The strip of land between city center and main station will also prove very interesting for commercial activities. It would be one of the best reachable positions in the country if it comes to public transportation and offer a perfect site for commercial developments.
With the eastbound tracks below and the north-south tracks above, the crossroad station could be very compact. Ideally it would feature a intermediate level between the upper and lower tracks, from where all tracks can be reached. This could mean lowering the Utrecht-tracks slightly to create the necessary headroom beneath the Amsterdam-Rotterdam line. An alternative solution would be to retain the current layout from Central station and have the platforms end in a main hall beneath the upper tracks.
The intermediate level would be the main entrance level, connecting the station to the trams, buses and taxis in front of the station. It would also be the final destination for the automated walkways running all the way to the Malieveld on the location of the current Central station.
The construction of the new Crossroads station would have two phases. The first phase would consist of the construction of temporary platforms directly east a south of the new stations’ location. These platforms will be connected to the current stations via indoor automated walkways next to the tracks. A temporary station facility would have to be erected under the north-south tracks, just south of the crossing. Here people could (for the first time) directly change trains between the two lines.
With this temporary solution up and running, both Central station and Hollands Spoor station could be closed for trains, remaining the infrastructural knot for trams, randstadrail, buses etc. The tracks between the Central station and the new temporary station could be removed to create room for the construction of the new public transport hub. Removing these tracks will also free up the space necessary for the creation of the new Crossroads station. Of course completion of the new station will render the temporary tracks obsolete.
With the completion of the Crossroads station, Den Haag will be the proud owner of a modern and efficient transportation hub on the right spot. Next to that, the new station will free up space for offices, retail, parking’s or other commercial developments in the hart of the city.