Amsterdam Centraal (Dutch pronunciation: [ɑmstər'dɑm sɛn'traːl]; abbreviation: Asd) is the largest railway station of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and a major national railway hub. Used by 162,000 passengers a day, it is the second-busiest railway station in the country after Utrecht Centraal and the most visited national heritage site of the Netherlands.
National and international railway services at Amsterdam Centraal are provided by NS, the principal rail operator in the Netherlands. Amsterdam Centraal is the northern terminus of Amsterdam Metro Routes 51, 53, and 54, operated by municipal public transport operator GVB. It is also served by a number of GVB tram and ferry routes as well as local and regional bus routes operated by GVB, Connexxion and EBS.
Amsterdam Centraal was designed by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers and first opened in 1889. It features a Gothic/Renaissance Revival station building and a cast iron platform roof spanning approximately 40 metres.
Since 1997, the station building, underground passages, metro station and the surrounding area have been undergoing major reconstruction and renovation works to accommodate the North-South Line metro route, which is due to open in 2018.
Amsterdam Centraal was designed by Pierre Cuypers, who is also known for his design of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. While Cuypers was the principal architect, it is believed that he focused mostly on the decoration of the station building and left the structural design to railway engineers. The station was built by contractor Philipp Holzmann. The new central station replaced Amsterdam Willemspoort Station, which had closed in 1878, as well as the temporary Westerdok Station used from 1878 to 1889. The idea for a central station came from Johan Rudolph Thorbecke, then the Netherlands Minister of the Interior and responsible for the national railways, who, in 1884, laid two proposals before the Amsterdam municipal council. In the first proposal, the station would be situated between the Leidseplein and the Amstel river. In the other, it would be built in the open harbour front allowing for the station to be connected to the existing main lines in the area to the west and the south, but also to a projected new northern line.
Cuypers' design of the station building in many ways strongly resembled his other architectural masterpiece, the Rijksmuseum, of which the construction had begun in 1876. It features a palace-like, Gothic/Renaissance Revival facade, with two turrets and many ornamental details and stone reliefs referring to the capital city's industrial and commercial importance. Cuypers' station reflects the romantic nationalistic mood in the late nineteenth-century Netherlands, with its many decorative elements glorifying the nation's economic and colonial power at the time.
As with the Rijksmuseum, the station's overall architecture reminded many contemporaries of medieval cathedrals. For that reason, as well as for the fact that it became increasingly clear that the national government wanted the station to be built at the city's waterfront effectively separating the city from the IJ lake, the plan was highly controversial. In his book on the history of city, Amsterdam historian Geert Mak writes that:
Almost all of Amsterdam's own experts and others involved thought this to be a catastrophic plan, 'the most disgusting possible attack on the beauty and glory of the capital'. Nevertheless, the building of the Central Station in front of the open harbour was forced through by the railway department of the Ministry of Transport in The Hague, and the Home Secretary, Thorbecke. Finally, the plan made its way through the Amsterdam municipal council by a narrow majority.
Construction works started in 1882. The station is built on three interconnected artificial islands in the IJ lake. These islands were created with sand taken from the dunes near Velsen, which had become available as a result of the excavation of the North Sea Canal. The islands together are known as Stationseiland (Station Island). Like many other structures in Amsterdam, the station was built on wooden piles (8,687 pieces). The construction of the station was delayed because of the instability of the soil, which set back the completion of the work by several years. The station building was completed in 1884, but the commission to Cuypers did not include the roofwork of the platforms. Therefore, the station did not yet feature its distinctive station roof. This roof, consisting of 50 curved trusses and a span of almost 45 meters, was designed by L.J. Eijmer, a civil engineer with the private railroad company Staatsspoorwegen. The roof was manufactured by Andrew Handyside and Company of Derby, England. Cuypers did design the decorations for the trusses and the gable ends. On 15 October 1889, the station was officially opened, drawing large numbers of crowds. The visitors were charged 0.25 guilders to see the station; in the first two days after the opening, several dozens of thousands paid. The opening of the central station marked the city's transition from a waterfront city to an inland city, spurring further redevelopment activities in the city centre which included the realignment of streets and the filling up of canals. The waterways would soon be replaced by tramways and cars as the primary modes of transport in the city.
In 1920, the East Wing of the station (the lower end of building) was demolished and replaced by "The East", a postal service building designed by Cuypers' son Joseph. A second, narrower and longer but similar roof on the north side of the station was completed in 1922. In the 1950s, a pedestrian tunnel was created between the station and the road in front of it, which terminated inside the station. With the construction of the metro tunnel in the late 1970s, both the pedestrian tunnel and the road in front of the station disappeared. In the early 1980s, the central hall and middle tunnel were considerably widened and modernized. In the 1990s, a new signaling post was built on the western side of the station. In addition, the number of tracks on that side was expanded in order to increase capacity in the direction of Sloterdijk station. In 1996, a third, 'centre roof' designed by Jan Garvelink, architect at Holland Rail Consult, was built between the two existing roofs, whereby all platforms at the station were now covered.
Since 1997, the station has been continuously undergoing reconstruction works because of the development of the North-South Line of the Amsterdam Metro, which was originally planned to be completed in 2014. Due to several setbacks, some at the Amsterdam Centraal building site, the line is now expected to open fully in 2018. Construction works at the station include a renovation of the station building, including the reconstruction of original station features which had disappeared over the years, a redevelopment of the Stationsplein (Station Square), and a new bus station on the north side of the station. In 2000, the new western passenger tunnel opened replacing the main tunnel in the centre of the station which was shut down enabling the construction of the new metro line. In 2004, platforms 10-15 were extended to accommodate international high-speed rail services. Construction works for the bus station commenced in 2003, opened in 2009 and finished in 2014. It includes the construction of a fourth station roof and a station hall with space for shops and restaurants. It replaces 5 small bus stations and several isolated bus stops across the Station Island. With all buses eventually moving to the new bus station on the north side, the Station Island should only be accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and trams.
The three passenger tunnels underneath the station were upgraded and provided with convenience stores and kiosks. In addition, two new passageways were created enabling the hosting of larger retail stores, geared towards passengers who have more time to spend at the station.
From 2017 there will be further reconstruction works at the station. A number of platforms will be widened making use of the tracks which do not currently have platforms. This means that alterations will be made in the tunnels under the platforms again. Furthermore, the eastern tunnel will be made wider, based on the example of the middle tunnel. The old railway bridges to the east of the station will also be replaced.
Amsterdam Centraal is a terminus station on many historical railway lines in the Netherlands: the Amsterdam–Rotterdam railway (1839), also known as the Oude Lijn, via Haarlem, Leiden and Den Haag; the Den Helder–Amsterdam railway (1865), also known as the Staatslijn K, from Den Helder to Amsterdam via Alkmaar and Uitgeest; the Amsterdam-Zutphen railway (1874), also known as the Oosterspoorweg, via Hilversum, Amersfoort and Apeldoorn; the Amsterdam-Elten railway (1856), also known as the Rhijnspoorweg, via Utrecht and Arnhem; and the Amsterdam-Schiphol railway (1986), also known as the Westtak Ringspoorbaan.
As of December 2014, Amsterdam Centraal is served by 13 international rail routes and 15 national rail routes.
National rail services at the station are provided by NS, the principal rail operator in the Netherlands. NS offers four types of rail service from Amsterdam Centraal: Intercity Direct operating on the HSL-Zuid high-speed rail line, long-distance InterCity services, local Sprinter services, and the Nachtnet night service.
Railway station layout
Amsterdam Centraal has fifteen tracks, eleven of which are alongside a platform: four island platforms with tracks along the full length on both sides (tracks 4/5, 7/8, 10/11, 13/14); one side platform with one track along the full length (track 15); and one bay platform (or side platform) with two tracks (tracks 1/2). All tracks along a platform have an A-side and a B-side, except for track 1. This means that there are 21 places where a train can be positioned for passenger access. One track has a side track along the full length (track 2); on the other side, there is track only at the west end (track 1; bay platform), along the rest of the platform is the station building. Tracks 3, 6, 9, and 12 have no platform.
Diagram (platforms are yellow, tunnels are grey, north is up):
Amsterdam Centraal metro station (called Centraal Station on the Amsterdam Metro system) opened in 1980. It is the terminus station of three routes: Route 51 (Amsterdam Centraal - Amstelveen Westwijk), Route 53 (Amsterdam Centraal - Gaasperplas), and Route 54 (Amsterdam Centraal - Gein). In 2018, the new Route 52 (Noord Station - Zuid Station) is due to open, which will also call at Amsterdam Centraal.
The metro station is only accessible with an OV-chipkaart smart card, the national fare system for public transport in the Netherlands. Disposable cards for one-hour, one-day or multiple-day use are available at ticket machines in the metro station hall.
As of 2014, the following metro services call at Centraal Station:
Tram services at Amsterdam Centraal are provided from two tram stations on Stationsplein (Station Square), situated in front of the station's main entrance. Tram routes 1, 2, 5, 13 and 17 call on the west side (Westzijde, Platform B) of the square, the other routes call on the east side (Oostzijde, Platform A).
As of December 2014, GVB city bus routes 32, 33, 34, 35 and 48 depart from the new bus platform G on the lake side of the station (IJzijde or 'IJ side'). GVB routes 18, 21 and 22 depart from Platform F, situated south of the station square on the Prins Hendrikkade, opposite the Victoria Hotel.
Night bus services operate daily, starting around midnight and running until around 6am. From Monday to Thursday, night buses run once per hour. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, they run twice per hour. As of December 2014, all night buses depart from platform G on the lake side of the station and call at all main entertainment areas in Amsterdam's city centre, including Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein.
Noord Holland services
EBS (part of Egged) regional bus services depart from a new bus station on the IJ lake side of the station (beyond platform 15). This can be reached from the main central walkway via escalators. Connexxion bus services depart from the Kamperbrug bus stops on the city centre side of the station.
- 110 (EBS) Centraal Station - Buikslotermeerplein - Broek in Waterland - Volendam East - Edam - Edam Bus Station - Purmerend Korenstraat - De Purmer Noord - Station Purmerend - Tramplein
- 118 (EBS) Centraal Station - Buikslotermeerplein - Broek in Waterland - Volendam West - Edam - Edam Bus Station - Purmerend Korenstraat - De Purmer Noord - Station Purmerend - Tramplein
- 124 (EBS) Centraal Station - Buikslotermeerplein - Landsmeer - Den Ilp - Purmerland - Purmerend Tramplein
- 125 (EBS) Centraal Station - Buikslotermeerplein - Boven IJ Hospital - Landsmeer
- 225 (EBS) Centraal Station - Landsmeer Limited stop service
- 301 (EBS) Centraal Station - Ilpendam - Purmerend Tramplein - M.L. Kingweg - De Rijp
- 304 (EBS) Centraal Station - Ilpendam - Purmerend De Purmer Zuid - De Purmer Noord - Korenstraat
- 306 (EBS) Centraal Station - Ilpendam - Purmerend De Gors - Overwhere - M.L. Kingweg - Middenbeemster
- 307 (EBS) Centraal Station - Ilpendam - Purmerend De Gors Zuid - De Purmer Noord - Korenstraat
- 308 (EBS) Centraal Station - Ilpendam - Purmerend Weidevenne - Tramplein
- 311 (EBS) Centraal Station - Buikslotermeerplein - Broek in Waterland - Monnickendam - Marken
- 312 (EBS) Centraal Station - Volendam West - Edam - Edam Bus Station Limited stop between Amsterdam and Volendam
- 314 (EBS) Centraal Station - Broek in Waterland - Edam Bus Station - Oosthuizen - Scharwoude - Hoorn
- 315 (EBS) Centraal Station - Broek in Waterland - Monnickendam
- 316 (EBS) Centraal Station - Volendam East - Edam - Edam Bus Station Limited stop between Amsterdam and Volendam
- 317 (EBS) Centraal Station - Edam Bus Station - Oosthuizen - Scharwoude - Hoorn Peak hours only, limited stop between Amsterdam and Edam.
- 391 (Connexxion - R-Net) Centraal Station - Amsterdam Noord - Oostzaan Tuindorp - Zaandam Southeast - Town Centre - Station Kogerveld - Het Kalf (Zaandam North) - Zaanse Schans
- 392 (Connexxion - R-Net) Centraal Station - Amsterdam Noord - Oostzaan - Zaandam Southeast - Town Centre - Station Zaandam
- 394 (Connexxion - R-Net) Centraal Station - Amsterdam Noord - Oostzaan Tuindorp - Zaandam Southeast - Zaandam East - Town Centre - Station Zaandam
South of Amsterdam services
These services stop at the Prins Hendrikkade (Platform F), which is situated south of Stationsplein (Station Square). The services are operated by Connexxion.
- 170 Centraal Station - Marnixstraat Bus Station - Amstelveen - Uithoorn
- 172 Centraal Station - Marnixstraat Bus Station - Amstelveen - Aalsmeer - Kudelstaart
- 174 Centraal Station - Marnixstraat Bus Station - Amstelveen - Uithoorn - Mijdrecht - Wilnis
Free of charge ferry services from Amsterdam Centraal to the borough of Amsterdam North across the IJ lake depart from the quay on the northern side of the station at the De Ruijterkade.
- Railway stations in the Netherlands
- List of tourist attractions in Amsterdam
- Inline citations
- General sources
- Groß, Lothar (2012). Made in Germany: Deutschlands Wirtschaftsgeschichte von der Industralisierung bis heute Band 1: 1800 - 1945. Books on demand. ISBN 978-3-8482-1042-8.
- Mak, Geert (1999) . Amsterdam, A Brief Life of the City. Translated from the Dutch by Philipp Blom. The Harvill Press.
- Amsterdam Centraal station, station information
- Amsterdam Centraal, project site about the station renovation