The term Randstad is used to identify the southwestern region of The Netherlands, including the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam. The Hague is the capital city of The Netherlands, while Rotterdam is the second largest city in the country. RandstadRail, a passenger rail improvement project, was developed to provide better transport services within this region. The RandstadRail system includes three components:
Route #3 Tram Line between The Hague and Zoetermeer
Route #4 Tram Line between The Hague and Zoetermeer
Rotterdam Metro Lijn E between The Hague Central Station and Slinge
Lijn E of the Rotterdam Metro is relevant to the discussion of a PATCO Light Rail system, and serves as a model for implementation.
The Rotterdam Metro Lijn E (formerly the RandstadRail - Erasmuslijn extension)
Rotterdam Metro Lijn D (formerly the Erasmuslijn) is the major north-south Metro service for the City of Rotterdam. Lijn D service operates between a northern terminus at Rotterdam Central Station and De Akkers Metro station located southwest of the city center. The existing line has no level intersections with streets and utilizes a third rail for current collection.
Rotterdam also has an east-west Metro line with multiple branches. Both Lijn A and Lijn B operate at grade through level intersections with streets while taking power from overhead wires. The former Calandlijn main trunk has no level intersections and utilizes a third rail for current collection. The railcars are designed to collect current from both third rail and overhead wires, and the change between both systems occurs enroute while in motion.
In November 2006, the first phase of the Lijn E (formerly RandstadRail Erasmuslijn extention) opened between The Rotterdam Hofplein station and The Hague Central Station. The former NS (Nederland Spoorweg - the national rail carrier) Hofpleinlijn was converted from a conventional railroad service to metro operation. This service employs an overhead power supply system and level intersections with streets along the twenty (20) mile route. A group of Calandlijn trains were redeployed to provide initial service, followed by new rolling stock in 2008. The new RandstadRail infrastructure is compatible with the standards of the Rotterdam Metro. Conversion of the Hofpleinlijn to RandstadRail operation has resulted in dramatic passenger increases when compared with the previous NS services.
The second phase included a two (2) mile long tunnel. This tunnel connected the Lijn D terminal at Rotterdam Central Station with the Lijn E line north of the Hofplein Station. In December 2011, the Lijn E line was integrated with Rotterdam Metro operations. Lijn E service terminates at Slinge station, eight (8) stops south of Rotterdam Central Station. Peak service frequency is 6 trains per hour.