Three times this year I have travelled rail/sea/rail on the Harwich – Hoek van Holland route.
When I most recently disembarked from the night ferry at Hoek van Holland, I found a queue of a dozen people in front of the ticket vending machine. The couple at the front were confused about what to do. I quickly established that they needed a disposable 2-hour OV Chipcard for their onward journey to Rotterdam and they happily bought one each.
Another couple were travelling rail/sea/rail to Amsterdam after their Easyjet flight had been cancelled. They were surprised to learn that Amsterdam was two hours away and that they first had to catch an RET tram (or light rail vehicle) to Schiedam. I told them to watch me buy their ticket and then do the same. I then guided them through the NS (Dutch Railways) ticket machine in Schiedam which, like so many Dutch stations nowadays, has no traditional ticket office. They were at least tech-savvy and quickly bought tickets to Amsterdam Centraal
My ultimate destination was Berlin for a meeting of the European Passengers’ Federation. On the way back from Germany I decided to alight at Rotterdam Alexander and take the RET metro for 50 minutes straight through to Hoek van Holland Haven. When I last changed trains at Alexander it was something of a building site. That work is now completed and it is quite civilised to sit in the newly opened cafe with a coffee and a slice of apple cake watching the trams glide past between Nesselande and Hoek van Holland Haven. In future when travelling in the direction ot Utrecht and beyond, I think I shall just book a Dutch Railways ticket from Rotterdam Alexander, a new suburb which is served by all Inter City trains, and buy an 8 Euro RET ticket..
That afternoon, on the day ferry, I mentioned to two of the Stena Line employees at reception that, at the very least, the company should inform foot passengers about the ongoing travel arrangements, and ideally they should sell the 8 Euro RET tickets which could take them to Schiedam, Rotterdam Centraal, Blaak or Alexander for onward journeys by NS. I was also given a generic e-mail address and propose to e-mail Stena Line accordingly.
Meanwhile, the new through station at Hoek van Holland is not yet open, but will make the international travel experience a little bit easier when it is.