'Sprinter' vs. 'Stoptrein'

Back in the day when I was still studying Art & Design I had to take the train from Tilburg to Boxtel every day back and forth. At that time they called this kind of train a ‘Stoptrein’. Literally translated to English as ‘stop train’. Of course this doesn’t mean the train never moves, or always stops, but it would just stop at every single station it goes through. It’s counterpart would be the ‘Intercity’, which would only stop at the bigger cities worthy of it stopping by. But I’m not going to talk about the ‘Intercity’, but about the difference of the train ‘Stoptrein’. Now being called a ‘Sprinter’.

Our Dutch railway system, “Nederlandse Spoorwegen” or “NS” in short, is always trying to make things better for their customers. That would be us, the passengers. For example by using more personal greetings in their automated announcements. Their announcements now have a robot-like voice saying: “Dames en heren… Goedemorgen!” (“Ladies and gentlemen… Goodmorning!”). It almost feels as if they try so hard to be cool that they miss the boat of coolness by a long shot. Similar story here with renaming of the “Stoptrein”.

Probably they thought it would sound better to call the “Stoptrein” a “Sprinter” too, because it would imply the train would move faster in short sprints. Someone might’ve come up with this idea because everyone was complaining about the train always being late or delayed due to the fact that it stops everywhere. So they decided to call the train a “Sprinter” instead. Giving the customer the idea the train isn’t actually slow, or always delayed, but instead looking at it from the bright side: The train is always taking short sprints!

That’s just wonderful, isn’t it? A train that’s always taking sprints to the next station! It’s almost like this train is always trying to be faster. Okay, they’ve also changed the look and interior of the train itself, but besides that it’s still pulling over at every single station it arrives at. One might even think the name “stoptrein” would give such a negative impact on people that they are even getting depressed because of it. Causing the percentage of train-person accidents to increase. In that case I’d like to know the percentage of today of the train-person accidents occurring with the “Sprinter” of this time.

I’m not saying here I don’t like the name of this train, “Sprinter”, but I’m just wondering where the name comes from and why they didn’t stick with the name “stoptrein”. After all, the railways here are called “Nederlandse Spoorwegen” (“Dutch Railways”). Wouldn’t it then make more sense to keep having a more Dutch-like name to it? Keep that language alive as long as we can, please!

Oh, and those robot-like announcements they have? I’ll be getting back to that later. That deserves an article on its own together with all the other “wannabe-cool” messages around the trains.

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Mark de Jong

Developer, Husband, Dutch-man and traveller

Developer by day. Dreamer by night. Typography fanatic. Founder of Dapper & some web design