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Utrecht Centraal railway station

Utrecht Centraal is the central railway station for the city of Utrecht, Netherlands. It is the largest and busiest railway station in the Netherlands, with sixteen platform tracks (of which twelve are through tracks) and 194,385 embarking and disembarking passengers per day, excluding transfers[2]. Because of its central location in the Netherlands, Utrecht Centraal is the most important railway hub of the country with more than 1000 departures per day.

Utrecht Centraal
Utrecht Centraal station vanaf voetgangersbrug 2017 1.jpg
Utrecht Centraal in 2017
Coordinates52°5′21″N 5°6′35″E / 52.08917°N 5.10972°E / 52.08917; 5.10972Coordinates: 52°5′21″N 5°6′35″E / 52.08917°N 5.10972°E / 52.08917; 5.10972
Owned byProRail
Operated byNederlandse Spoorwegen
Line(s)Amsterdam–Arnhem railway
Utrecht–Rotterdam railway
Utrecht–Boxtel railway
Utrecht–Kampen railway
ConnectionsMainline rail interchange Qbuzz Utrecht Tram: 60, 61
Bus transport Arriva: 81, 85, 90, 94, 195, 295, 387, 388, 400, 401
Bus transport Syntus Utrecht: 50, 102, 107, 120, 195, 295
Bus transport Qbuzz: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 18, 24, 28, 37, 38, 41, 47, 51, 52, 53, 55, 63, 65, 66, 74, 77, 208, 241, 247, 251
Other information
Station codeUt
Opened18 December 1843
Passengers194.385 daily (excluding transfers, 2018 statistics)[1]
Utrecht Centraal railway station is located in Northeastern Randstad
Utrecht Centraal railway station

International, national and local services call at the station, most notably the Intercity-Express trains to Frankfurt and Basel, domestic Intercity services to all parts of the Netherlands, and local (Sprinter) services providing access to towns all over Utrecht province.

Freight services also pass through the station, on the Amsterdam - Betuweroute - Ruhr corridor as well as the Antwerp - Northeast Germany corridor.


Inside the station hall

The first station at the site was opened on December 18, 1843, when the Nederlandsche Rhijnspoorweg-Maatschappij opened the first station on Utrecht territory.

In 1938, the station became the central station as the Maliebaanstation, on the other side of the city, was closed and the line from Hilversum was diverted into the central station. The station building of 1865 remained in place, though a fundamental renovation was done in 1936. Two years later, a fire burned down most of the building, which was subsequently rebuilt.

The station building was demolished in the 1970s to make way for Hoog Catharijne, then Europe's largest enclosed shopping mall, which opened on 17 December 1973. From that moment onwards, the station no longer had a real entrance; the passageways of the shopping mall just continued into the station. In 1989 the station hall was enlarged (tripling the original size) to increase capacity and to solve bottlenecks. In 1995, the station hall was again enlarged, with the construction of a new platform.

Between 2011 and 2016, the station underwent a major reconstruction as one of the NSP[3] projects of the Dutch government and as part of a general reconstruction of the Utrecht Station Area[4][5]. The station hall was replaced by a new, much larger hall, housing all modes of public transport. The new structure with its curved roof, was designed by Benthem Crouwel Architekten. New sheltering roofs were built for all platforms and the station was separated from the Hoog Catharijne shopping area.[6]

The bus and tram station, which was located on the east side of the station (i.e. on the side of the city centre), was demolished for the construction of the new, integrated public transport terminal. In the new station, there are three bus/tram platforms, one on the east side and two one the west side of the railway platforms. The majority of the buses is now handled on the west side of the station to reduce traffic congestion.[7]

A scale model of Utrecht Centraal is on display at Madurodam.[8]

Redesign of the track layoutEdit

Schematic view of the new track layout

As the central hub of the Dutch railway network, disruptions at Utrecht Centraal can easily affect the rest of the country's railway network. 2-3 times per year, such disruptions led to a snowball effect, resulting in a total standstill of railway traffic in a wide area around Utrecht Centraal. [9][10][11].

As part of a general effort to improve the reliability of the Dutch Railway network and because of the High-Frequency programme (PHS) of the Dutch government, it was decided to remodel the track layout of the station for an investment of 270 million Euro[12].

Reasons for the redesignEdit

The Ministry of Infrastructure described the reasons for the project as follows[13]:

The problem of the old layoutEdit

  • Insufficient capacity for the desired intensities of passenger and freight trains. This concerns railway infrastructure capacity as wel as transfer capacity.
  • Insufficient quality of the railway service. The punctuality of the passenger service in Utrecht is structurally lower than in the rest of the country.
  • Insufficient robustness of the infrastructure. The layout is complex, vulnerable to failure and expensive due to the large number of switches and crossing movements.

The main measuresEdit

  • Limited extension of the infrastructure as far as possible within the available space: one extra platform with two tracks. Other platforms were modified based on the larger passenger numbers.
  • Better use and optimisation of the existing infrastructure: separating train traffic flows form each other, with a fixed platform allocation per corridor, less switches, higher speeds and shorter headways.

The goalsEdit

  • Increased capacity, allowing more trains and more transfers.
  • Shorter travel times. The speed for freight and passenger trains is increased form 40 km/h to 80 km/h.
  • Higher reliability
    • Less failures due to a reduction in switches, less crossing movements and a simplified traffic control.
    • In case a disruption does happen, its effect will be limited to one corridor.
    • More buffers to deal with the consequences of disruptions within the corridor.

The design: learning from JapanEdit

The idea for the new track layout was based on the layout of Shinagawa station in Tokyo. Based on Shinagawa and other Japanese examples[14], a new design philosophy for track layout was developed within ProRail. It contains the following hierarchy:

  1. The main traffic flows are physically separated from each other (as far as possible within the given space) and have their own dedicated tracks.
  2. The layout of these tracks is optimised for speed and headways, this is the main function of the stations.
  3. Additional switches are added for reaching the depots. In the case of Utrecht, there are three depots and each platform track has access to at least one depot.
  4. As a last step, switches are added where necessary to enable traffic management in case of disruptions. These switches have to fulfil a number of conditions:
    • The switches for disruption management cannot compromise the main function.
    • Switches are only added for a fixed number of disruption scenarios (alternative platform track, complete or partial blockage of a line).
    • For each switch, a cost benefit analysis is made (including financial and operational aspects, such as delay minutes). Only switches with a positive result are included in the final design.

The resultEdit

The new layout has around 60 switches (compared to around 200 for the old layout) and results in a doubling of capacity.

This capacity growth is due to the separating of the flows, the shorter headways and the extra platform. A part of this capacity growth is used for the implementation of the PHS High Frequency Programme, in which the basic frequency of several corridors is increased from 4 to 6 trains per hour. The station however has capacity for a basic frequency of 8 trains per hour on all corridors, which makes it future proof for the foreseen growth up to 2040[15].

Train servicesEdit

The following train services call at Utrecht Centraal (2019 timetable):

Tracks 1-4: Sprinter (local) services North & NortheastEdit

  • 2x per hour Utrecht - Hilversum - Almere (4900)
  • 2x per hour Utrecht - Hilversum - Weesp - Schiphol - Hoofddorp (5700)
  • 2x per hour Utrecht - Den Dolder - Baarn (5500)
  • 2x per hour Utrecht - Den Dolder - Amersfoort - Zwolle (5600)
  • 1x per hour Utrecht - Utrecht Maliebaan (28300, Railway museum)

Tracks 5/7 and 18/19: Intercity / International services Northwest, South & EastEdit

  • 1 daily Intercity-Express service Amsterdam - Utrecht - Cologne - Frankfurt Airport - Basel
  • 6 daily Intercity-Express services Amsterdam - Utrecht - Cologne - Frankfurt Airport - Frankfurt am Main
  • 2x per hour (Schagen -) Alkmaar - Amsterdam - Utrecht - Eindhoven - Maastricht (800)
  • 2x per hour Den Helder - Amsterdam - Utrecht - Arnhem - Nijmegen (3000)
  • 2x per hour Enkhuizen - Amsterdam - Utrecht - Eindhoven - Heerlen (3900)
  • 2x per hour Schiphol - Utrecht - Nijmegen (3100)
  • 2x per hour Schiphol - Utrecht - Eindhoven - Venlo (3500)

Tracks 8-12: Intercity services Northeast & WestEdit

  • 1x per hour Rotterdam - Utrecht - Amersfoort - Zwolle - Leeuwarden (600)
  • 1x per hour Rotterdam - Utrecht - Amersfoort - Zwolle - Groningen (500)
  • 1x per hour The Hague - Utrecht - Amersfoort - Hengelo - Enschede (1700)
  • 1x per hour The Hague - Utrecht - Amersfoort - Amersfoort Schothorst (11700)
  • 2x per hour The Hague - Utrecht (2000)
  • 2x per hour Leiden - Alphen aan den Rijn - Utrecht (8800)

Tracks 14/15: Sprinter (local) services Northwest & EastEdit

  • 2x per hour Breukelen - Utrecht - Veenendaal Centrum (7300, peak hour only)
  • 2x per hour Uitgeest - Amsterdam - Breukelen - Utrecht - Veenendaal Centrum - Rhenen (7400)
  • 1x per hour Night Intercity (nachtnet) Rotterdam - The Hague - Amsterdam - Utrecht (1400)

Tracks 20/21: Sprinter (local) services West & SouthEdit

  • 2x per hour The Hague - Gouda - Woerden - Utrecht - Geldermalsen - 's-Hertogenbosch (6900)
  • 2x per hour Woerden - Utrecht - Geldermalsen - Tiel (6000)
  • 2x per hour Utrecht - Houten Castellum (6500, peak direction only)
  • 2x per hour Intercity Rotterdam - Utrecht (2800)


The train services are scheduled in such a way, that there is a basic frequency of an Intercity and a Sprinter every 15 minutes in every direction from Utrecht Centraal. The Intercity trains on the route Amsterdam - Utrecht - Eindhoven run every 10 minutes.

Some services run only during the peak hour, but on most lines the basic frequency is offered all day. On Sunday mornings and late evenings some services do not run, but even during those times, there is always an Intercity and a Sprinter at least every 30 minutes in every direction.

Bus servicesEdit

Utrecht Centraal has two bus stations. One on the east side of the railway station (Busstation Centrumzijde) and the other on the west side (Busstation Jaarbeurszijde). The bus services in and around the city are operated by Qbuzz under the U-OV brand, Syntus Utrecht (Keolis) and Arriva operate regional bus services.

Busstation CentrumzijdeEdit

  • 2 (Centraal Station - City Centre - Museumkwartier - Centraal Station (circular, one direction)
  • 3 (Centraal Station - Overvecht - Zuilen - Centraal Station (circular, both directions)
  • 18 (De Meern Oost - Centraal Station - Wittevrouwen - Rijnsweerd)
  • 28 (Vleuten - Vleuterweide - De Meern - Centraal Station - Wittevrouwen - Rijnsweerd - De Uithof)

Busstation JaarbeurszijdeEdit

On the Jaarbeursplein, there is a temporary bus station for the following lines:

  • 400 (Utrecht Centraal - Vianen Busstation Lekbrug - Sleeuwijk Tol - Raamsdonksveer - Oosterhout)
  • 401 (Utrecht Centraal - Vianen Busstation Lekbrug - Sleeuwijk Tol - Hank - Breda)

International bus services (Eurolines, Flixbus, DB IC bus) call at a separate bus stop near the station.

Tram servicesEdit

Since 1983, the Central Station of Utrecht was the terminus of both Line 60 and Line 61. In 2013, the tramline was shortened and a temporary tram terminus was built on the Jaarbeursplein, on the west side of the station. On the 16th of december 2019 the new Uithof line will open with a terminus on the eastern side of the railway station.[16] In 2020 the two lines will be connected by a tunnel under the railway tracks.[17]

  • Line 60: Jaarbeursplein - Transwijk - P+R Westraven - Nieuwegein - Nieuwegein South
  • Line 61: Jaarbeursplein - Transwijk - P+R Westraven - Nieuwegein - IJsselstein


On both sides of the station, there is a large three-floor bicycle parking. The parking on the eastern side is the world's largest bicycle parking. It cost an estimated €48 million to build and holds 12,500 bicycles.[18]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Nieuwe SleutelProjecten - Definitie op". Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Utrecht Central - Public transport terminal - CU2030". Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Reasons to build". CU2030. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Public transport terminal". CU2030. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Bus and tram projects". CU2030. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Spot all the trains". Madurodam. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Treinverkeer Utrecht uren stil door storing".
  10. ^ "Utrecht Centraal plat door winterweer".
  11. ^ "Treinverkeer Randstad ontregeld door storingen". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  12. ^ "270-miljoen-euro-om-spaghetti-van-sporen-utrecht-cs-te-ontwarren".
  13. ^ Waterstaat, Ministerie van Infrastructuur en (23 May 2013). "Doorstroomstation Utrecht - Rapport -". (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Japan op Nederlands spoor: eenvoud loont" (PDF).
  15. ^ "NMCA: tegen 2040 loopt het ov vast | OV-Magazine". Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Tram 22 op 16 december in gebruik". Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Uithoflijn gaat waarschijnlijk 29 juli echt rijden, wethouder houdt slag om de arm". RTV Utrecht. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  18. ^ See: Utrecht to build world's biggest bike park - for 12,500 bikes,, Sunday 27 April 2014. Accessed on 28 April 2014.

External linksEdit