Wouter is an engine drive for Intercity Brussels

In the Netherlands, I saw all the remote places and lots of beautiful nature, but the route to Brussels is much more up my alley! Wouter is an engine driver for Intercity Brussels, the train that runs between Amsterdam and Brussels, every hour.

Wouter started in Rotterdam

"At the ROC in Rotterdam I started the engineers training seven years ago. I was among the first batch to be trained in this way. I've been working for some time now.
At NS, we work from different locations, places of employment. You always start and end your day there. First, I was based in Rotterdam and then in Hoofddorp. There, I drove sprinters, intercity trains and also a diesel train. All across the country.
Now, I work for International and I only drive the Intercity Brussels and the route between Amsterdam and Brussels, which is quite different!"

The differences are huge

"There are big differences between driving within the Netherlands compared to the train to Belgium. Differents with regard to the train and the route. My office, the Traxx locomotive runs very comfortably. You have to be very careful with the pneumatic brake system we have, because the brake is very sensitive, so you have to anticipate and keep your wits about you. There's still a lot to learn and discover. That’s what keeps it interesting!
The safety systems also work differently and the signals are on the right in the Netherlands and on the left in Belgium.
The view is also different. Now, I see harbours and industry as well as nature. I drive through Rotterdam, Breda and Antwerp. It's more fun to see more things happening.
To be able to work on the Brussels Intercity, you follow a special, tough training course. There, I discovered that there's also a different culture, which you gradually learn to deal with. It may just be Belgium, but there are still some differences. The communication between people is really different. It's difficult to explain; we Dutch are more direct.

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Going back and forth

"Because I've just come from training, I'm still given the back-up shifts. I drive back and forth once a day. I leave Amsterdam and get off in Brussels. A Belgian colleague then drives the train back. I then have an hour's break and take over the train from the Dutch colleague who left Amsterdam an hour after me. It goes on like that, until the last train which arrives in Brussels at around 20.00 hrs. When I work that shift, I spend the night in a hotel and take the train back to Amsterdam the next morning."

Friendly team

"On the train, during work, we always sit alone, nobody can join us. We sit in the engine room. I like that. When we're in Brussels, I have lunch with my colleagues or we go out for dinner if we have a shift with an overnight stay. It's really enjoyable; we are a close-knit team."