Text and photographs are ©1996 by the Author. Redistribution without permission from the Author is forbidden.
It was a historical event that took place on Valentine's day, 1996 in Ouddorp in the Netherlands. A quick leap back into history: thirty years ago, on the 14th of February 1966, the last regional tramway company (the Rotterdamsche Tramweg Maatschappij, Rotterdam Tramway Company) in the Netherlands discontinued it's rail activities, and continued as being just another bus company. Since that moment, a large part of the rolling stock has been kept by the RTM foundation, located at the yard of a remaining station. Due to a continuous bad relationship with the city council, which didn't really like old trains, the museum looked for opportunities to alter the situation. Some years ago the town of Ouddorp became interested, and talks begun about a move. The move was completed in 1989, and then the rebuilding of the line could begin. Although work proceeded well, the finishing touch, the station at the end of the line was a difficult point. At last, in summer 1995 this building was finished, and sidings could be built. The date for the official opening was set: February 14th, 1996.
Although the opening was on a cold and windy Wednesday afternoon, about 500 persons attended the opening ceremony in the visitors center at The Punt, more than twice the number of people that was expected for the occasion. This forced the RTM to change the program for the day: the opening train would have to run two or three times to carry the whole crowd!
The event started with a speech by Mr. L. Pit, the chairman of the RTM foundation. He recalled the history of the RTM, the move to Ouddorp and the good cooperation with the city council. Finally he thanked Mr. Van Velzen and Mr. Visser, former mayor and member of the city council of Ouddorp for their support of the RTM foundation.
The in-house part of the ceremony was concluded by the (new) mayor of Ouddorp, Mr. C. Sinke. He commemorated the history of the railway this site, where the company had been running trains since 1906, so 90 years ago! He welcomed the new RTM and hoped that the museum would exist for at least another 90 years. He expressed his respect for the volunteers of the RTM foundation, who had accomplished such a great result with minimal funds.
The actual opening of the museum was scheduled for the mayor and locomotive no. 54 (built 1918), by breaking a ribbon that had been mounted over the track. A series of photo's shows how this task was accomplished. ((Photo): approaching...; (Photo): carefully...; (Photo): ribbon broken, museum officially open!)
The train then prepared for the departure with the first group of guests. The next photos show engine no. 54 changing to the front of the train. ((Photo): on the siding; (Photo): close-up of the engine, decked with flowers; (Photo): clouds of steam emerge as the steam heating is being connected).
At last, a few minutes behind schedule, no. 54 pulls the first train out of the station with a thundering exhaust and lots of smoke and steam in the cold air. ((Photo): the first strokes...; (Photo): faster...; (Photo): ...and faster! (note the vintage RTM-bus on the background.))
Arrived at the new station, note the building, consisting of offices, a restaurant and a small museum area ((Photo)). The mayor, discussing the successful ride with some RTM staff ((Photo)).
The return trip of train #1 ((Photo): the process of coupling the engine to the train is always an attraction, especially this time, with the steam heating in use; (Photo) and (Photo): take-off!)
After the return of the train to the other station, I joined for a ride on train #2. It was a pleasant experience, riding the steam train with it's vintage teak coaches for the first time since I quit as an active member in 1990. And: steam heating is really an invention!
We concluded the opening in the visitor's center at The Punt, enjoying a few drinks and snacks, while discussing the RTM's past, present and future with the RTM staff, friends and acquaintances. One thing is sure: the future looks bright for the old engines, diesel units, coaches and goods cars.
For more info on the RTM, read the article about the RTM History here on
The Cyberspace World Railroad.
The museum is open for visitors every Wednesday and Saturday from 1300h till 1630h.
For information on the timetable Click Here!