Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
MAASTRICHT. Obsolete, crowded trains, inebriated passengers, poor connections and extremely long travelling times. The complaints about public transport from Maastricht to Aachen and Liège are clear and plentiful, a survey by Young Democrats Limburg shows. They have recently asked 350 mainly foreign UM students for their views.
The outcome was a major fail: 3.6 (on a ten-point scale). That was all that the respondents were prepared to give for the train and bus connections from Maastricht to Germany. “While it is nice that buses from Maastricht to Aachen leave every 15 to 30 minutes, it essentially takes far too long. (…) Hence, the current bus routes make public transport only a backup emergency option if no carpooling is available,” one of the respondents wrote. Another says: “The connection to Germany is horrible, with only bus 50, which needs more than an hour to reach the city centre of Aachen. Furthermore it’s quite expensive. When I carpool I am in Cologne in the same amount of time compared to the bus to Aachen.” It seems there is a good reason for the fact that one third of the respondents travel by car. Most of them would leave their cars at home if there were a direct train connection to Aachen and Cologne.
Public transport from Maastricht to Belgium also scores a big fail: 4.2. Commuters complain about the shabby state of the Belgian railway’s rolling stock, the poor connections from Liege and safety in the trains. “Travelling from Bruges to Liège is no problem, but from Liège to Maastricht is just terrible. First of all, it’s an old train, it feels like travelling in the 19th century. But that’s the least of my concerns; the thing that is worse is the drunk, drugged and ticketless passengers on the train,” one of the respondents writes. Another: “This half-rotten train is simply ridiculous! Due to this very bad and especially unreliable (!) connection, I try to avoid travelling to Belgium whenever I can.”
The immediate cause for the survey is the new concession for Limburg public transport that the Provincial Government of Limburg is now working on: which company will be allowed to operate the train and bus lines in the period from 2016 to 2026? The Young Democrats (JDL) feel that neither the provincial authorities nor the transport companies have any idea what foreign students think about cross-border transportation. Last Friday, the JDL handed over their findings to Patrick van der Broeck, member of the Provincial Executive (for the Christian Democrats, and responsible for infrastructure).