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About this City Journal

The exciting adventures of a federal state in a green and mountainous region.

Entries in this City Journal

timmie

A new update, a year after my last CJ-entry! Sorry it took so long :)

Click on the images to enlarge them.


“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey”

We're going to leave the city, the stress, and the concrete today. We take the highway and drive until the end of the road.

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We enter the highway in Zuidmonde, and we leave the industry and pollution behind.

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After a few miles, we arrive at the interchange in the sleepy town of Heuvelland. We take the calm highway to Wendt.

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The government of Vloesem has modernized the electrical grid, in recent years, and made electricity production greener. Wind turbines like these can now be found everywhere in the country.

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Baaiegem is the last town with more than 5000 inhabitants we pass. The local interchange has been improved to handle the traffic.

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While we approach the end of the highway, the landscape becomes more and more empty...

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Everything has an end, and so does this highway. We take the national road to Heule.

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Heule is the last town on the peninsula, this is the only road you can take to get there. In case of heavy snowfall, the small town is isolated during winter.

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The road ends here. Arrived at our destination! Let's enjoy the beauty of autumn.


I hope you enjoyed his entry, if so, please comment and give me a thumbs up! Thanks! :)

timmie

Answers

Thanks, RepublicMaster, it was a lot of work building my capital city, I'm happy to see people like it :)

feeroz123, thanks for the compliment!

TekindusT, yes, I love that font (Bariol) too, it's elegant, but simple and very readable.

Thanks, Benedict! It's only the second map I ever made, but I think it came out rather well :)

SC4L0ver, the font is Bariol. It is a free font that can be downloaded on www.bariol.com


Start the engine!

We're going to take a ride on the highway today, to be precise: the A2, the most important highway of the country, linking the capital Bunden with the heavily populated coastal area in the north-west. On the way, we'll pass several little villages and a lot of mountains! There will take a closer look at five places along the highway.

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We enter the A1 in the suburb Rood and immediately take direction 'A2 - Oerde - Esse - Taarn' on the interchange.

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Our second stop brings us to the city of Hemelgem, a city of 33.000 inhabitants with a very charming city center.

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The third stop is completely different. No charming wall-to-wall houses here, no shopping, no trains. Only quiet towns and farms in the mountains. This is Ekdorp, 3000 inhabitants.

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The fourth stop bring us to Vlandonië, a small town caught between highway and mountain. Most inhabitants travel via the highway to the nearby city of Esse to work.

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We have arrived at the North-West coast. A very large part of the population of Vloesem lives here, many firms also have their headquarters or factories here. This is Esse, a city with 64.000 inhabitants. A tram system makes transportation easier and a train line has recently been constructed (next to the highway to save costs).

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Don't forget to leave a comment or a +1 if you enjoyed this update :)

timmie

Answers

A big thank you to gil_alves, RepublicMaster, Mr Saturn64, UndercoverNinja12, SimCoug and Vitor13 for leaving a nice comment on my last entry!

It took a while to make this fourth entry, real life got a bit in the way (I had to work for university and the Christmas period is of course always very busy!). But enough talking, let's go!


Stand clear of the closing doors!

Today, we'll discover the city using the metro system of Bunden. We'll take a look at some interesting places you can reach easily with the tube. A day ticket is only ¤ 5, so you really have no excuse.

The tube map, so you can easily find your way:

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We start at the station 'Centraal Station' (central station). The central station is the most important public transportation hub in the country. It's the busiest rail station (all major rail lines end here, underground) and the busiest subway station, with many people switching here. There's also 5 underground tram lines and several buses that stop at the 'Centraal Station'. It's located in the business district of Bunden, where previously the harbour and industry were located.

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You can take the underground tram to go a bit further south, where you can admire the beautiful architecture of the second half of the 19th century. The first skyscrapers in the country were built right here.

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Next, we take the metro to the historical center of the city (exit at station Sint-Joris). This is where Bunden was born. Sint-Joris (the dragon slayer) is the protector of the city and the cathedral of the city is also named after him. In this part of town, you can eat or drink something in one of the many pubs or restaurants in the car-free streets or plazas. Take a seat on the terrace and watch the passers-by, while you enjoy your cold beer!

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When you want to do something else, you can take the tube to 'Grands Magasins'. This is heaven for shoppers. The oldest shopping mall of Bunden is open until 9 PM, 10 PM on fridays and saturdays. The car-free streets are filled with luxurious boutiques and cosy coffee bars.

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A remarkable building is located somewhat outside the city, near the station 'Rousseau'. This station is not built underground, due to the complexity of the underground here: an underground train line and the sewer system forced the engineers to opt for an overground station. The headquarters of B-Bank are in the shape of a circle. This design choice results in all employees having an office with natural light, causing higher productivity.

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Bunden has also a state-of-the-art indoor skate park. Just take the underground and exit at 'Sirius'.

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People who are more interested in politics should remain seated until the station 'Natie' (nation). This is closer to the center and is the location of the Parliament of Vloesem. All sessions of Parliament are open for public, translation to English and French is available. For people with hearing problems, sign language interpreters are present. This is a policy of the Parliament to bring politics closer to the people and to increase trust in politicians and political institutions.

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We're almost back where we started. Get off your train one station before the central station, at '1931' to take a walk in the business district, between old and new incredible skyscrapers by international star architects!

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If you're not staying in the city, no problem! You can take the bus to the nearest P+R-facility. If you have a rental car, you can park it for free (with your metro ticket) at parking 'Astronomie'. There you can take the metro straight to the center of the city!

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timmie

In the suburbs...

Answers

ROFLyoshi and Huston: thank you very much for the nice comments!

GeometryMath Algebra: who knows what the future will bring, eh? ;)


Let's ride!

As promised last time, this update will not focus on the capital city. Instead, we will take our car and go for a ride in suburbia. So, hop in your car and put on a fitting soundtrack! As always, click the images for a higher resolution!

Suburbs are a relatively recent phenomenon in Vloesem. They timidly appeared in urban planning some 70 years ago (phase 1 on the map), when the first neighbourhoods were constructed close to the capital city. These quiet and green neighbourhoods proved to be very popular with the higher middle classes who could afford a large house and a car. This was inevitably the start of a growing segregation: rich people increasingly left the city, while poorer people continued to live in the cities and the countryside, but not in the affluent suburbs.

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From the 1950s, the tempo became higher (phase 2 on the map): the neighbourhoods became larger and new infrastructure was built, whereas the earlier neighbourhoods were built near existing roads. Existing towns were swallowed up by the sprawl: they became a part of the urban area and often lost their independence: they were incorporated in the capital city of Bunden, a move much disliked by the old population, people who saw their small town become part of a large metropolis. This happened with the towns of Rood, Voordegem, Brust, Sloes and Overden.

Sloes:

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Rood:

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New railways were constructed to make sure people could get quickly get to their workplace in the center of the city (while not having to live there), something that strengthened the suburban mentality. Government policy was to provide cheap train passes to make a suburban lifestyle possible. (The first real motorway stretches were not yet finished, but more about that in a future update.)


From the mid-1960s, a slight policy change was introduced (phase 2 and 3 on the map). Focus wasn't only on the middle and higher classes anymore: the lower classes had to be able to pursue the suburban dream too. A massive building program was started by the social-democratic government with the intention of building 150.000 affordable houses and apartments (the so-called 'Million Program' - politicians have always exaggerated). Density in the suburbs increased. Together with this, large retail parks were introduced.

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Together with the growth of the suburbs, car traffic had increased, without a sufficient growth of the road network, causing congestion and unsafe situations. Reaching the capital by car from the suburbs was not always easy! For this reason, 'Motorway 1965' had been launched in 1950. The most important stretches were finished ahead of schedule: 1964.

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From the 1980s, a new phase began (phase 4 on the map). The suburban dream began to show cracks: the car-centered model caused air and sound pollution, streets were unsafe, traffic jams were growing longer and longer, shops were not located next-door and life in the suburbs was a little boring, since all the exciting venues were located down-town. More and more people started to prefer life in the city over life in the suburbs and this caused housing prices to explode in Bunden, the capital. A process of gentrification started and the suburbs stagnated.

Still, this was not the end of the suburb. Although the city was now the most attractive option, not everybody had the ability to live there, and the population was still growing. New neighbourhoods were constructed and new plots of land brought on the market. These neighbourhoods were more dense and less car-centered, but built around the availability of public transportation (always a walk of less than 5 minutes, thanks to footpaths). Liveability is at the core of the philosophy and these neighbourhoods soon became very popular places to live for families.

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As always, please leave a comment and don't forget the +1-button! :D


Extra

Rood:

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Overden:

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timmie

Answers

Moerp, TekindusT, 111222333444, Hamish, Schulmanator, Benedict, Huston, schokoladeneis 1: thank you so much for your kind words! I'm very happy you liked my first entry :)

ROFLYoshi: Thanks you! It's the Missouri Breaks terrain mod from the LEX.

Pioneer: It's just the story. It's of course not 'liberal' in the American sense of the word, but in the European sense: progressive on social issues, but on the right on economic issues. Personally I think green-blue is an interesting combination, so I chose that coalition for my CJ.


Allons-y, Alonso! (It's Doctor Who-day today.)

Today and in the coming posts, we're going to take a look at parts of the capital city of Vloesem, Bunden (archaic, meaning 'city of the federation'). This post (and the following) will present the public transportation infrastructure of the capital. We will especially focus on the underground system ('Metro') and the subway stations. We'll also take a look at interesting parts of the city on the ground that are in the vicinity of the stations.

Today: history and old parts of the system.

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Construction history
1949

The oldest parts of the metro system were built from the 1940s when migration from the countryside to the capital city, the creation of suburbs, and the concentration of large office buildings in the emerging CBD caused growing demands for public transportation. The first few stretches were of course constructed where commuters needed to go: the CBD. This was also the part of town where the construction of tunnels was the easiest: roads were large and straight and the area was being reconverted from old industrial neighbourhood to CBD. This meant in this part of the city, it was possible to dig tunnels with the cut and cover-method without demolishing too many buildings.

How the area looks like today:

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Construction went very fast thanks to the economic boom of Vloesem in the 1940s, and in 1949 the first stretch was opened. (operated with trams running underground, not yet heavy rail). Now the Central train station and the Liberté ('Freedom') underground station were connected, people from the eastern suburbs now had the ability to take the tram to station 'Citadel' and change to the metro system there, which allowed them to get faster to the center of the city.

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1956

Work did not stop, though. This time, the metro was extended towards the west of the city, to better connect the medieval historical center of the city. Construction techniques had improved, so roads didn't necessarily need to be followed. The construction of a metro line under the picturesque old town was however not attempted, because of fears that buildings would be damaged. Underground trams now stopped just outside the old town.

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This part of the metro project (extension from Central Station to Helden - 'Heroes') was inaugurated in 1956. The system now counted 1 line and 14 underground stations. People could travel from the eastern to the western side of the city, via the CBD.

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1968

Although the system had outgrown its childhood, it was still limited to the dense center of the city. For this reason, construction on a second line began that would go from the center of the city to the less dense residential neighbourhoods of the capital. It was projected to open in 1962, but Vloesem was confronted with an economic crisis in the early '60s and public investments had to slow down. Vloesem had allowed deficits that were too large (over 10% of GDP) and this caused a public debt that increased very fast (side effect was that the state had to pay more and more interest!).

Because of this, construction was delayed and the second line opened in 1968. The system counted 20 stations, with line 1 going from Liberté to Helden and line 2 from Liberté to Thompson.

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1974

After '68, construction speed increased again now the worst of the crisis was over and economy was growing again with more than 3% per year. The next stretch was already opened in 1974 when 3 stations were added to line 2, that now stopped at Olympiade instead of Thompson. Line 1 was also finally extended to the medieval center, where a tunnel was constructed with a modern tunnel boring machine. Though no major incident occured, two housed collapsed, but luckily there were no casualties. The system now had 26 stations and during this phase it was converted from underground tram to a real metro with heavy rail. The iconic orange trains were introduced during that time.

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1982

After this phase, the metro was again extended in the east of the city, this had not happened since 1949! Finally the efforts of the inhabitants to convince the municipality and the province had succes. The eastern neighbourhoods were now connected.

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Line 1 was finished and now went from Voltaire in the north-east to Lequay in the west, it counts 25 stations. Line 2 was also finished and now went from Liberté to Astronomie, it counts 27 stations. This part was first used in 1982.

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1993

The (until now) penultimate stage was finished in 1993. The metro system was overcrowded: two lines was far too little for a city like Bunden, so the construction of a circle line began. This line was constructed under one of the 'Grands Boulevards', in the chique part of town, where most flagship stores and exclusive boutiques are located.

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2003

Only 10 years ago, the network was completed. In 2003, the last new stretch was opened by the president (who operated the first train in service), which permitted the creation of a circle line, line number 4, a true circle line: it operates non-stop and has no beginning or ending. Line 3, the yellow line, was now also extended to the north east, which was good news for the people of that part of the city: frequencies doubled on that stretch.

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Actual metro map
This is the actual metro map of Bunden, with transfer possibilities (buses not included) and station names. It can be viewed in a higher resolution by clicking this link.

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Animation of the construction phases:
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Post Scriptum: I hope you have enjoyed this second update of my City Journal. I know it is rather long, but I tried to keep the text a bit interesting. For people not interested in text I tried to add enough pictures to keep it interesting. Please leave your comments (and a +1, if you don't mind :D ).

Next update we will make an excursion, in the update after that we will take a ride on the subway.

timmie

Click this link to view the image in higher resolution: link
 

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Vloesem is a prosperous and mountainous state with extraordinary natural beauty. Although it looks very calm and peaceful, it has known violent conflicts between secularists and religious groups in its recent history, but in 1931 the leading politicians succeeded in bringing stability with the so-called Pacification Pact ('PaPa'). 17 years later, in 1948, federalism was introduced to ensure stability in the future. To prevent a blockade of national politics, the existing three provinces were cut up in 12.

The current governing coalition of liberals and greens has been in power since 1995 when the dominant social-democrats and christian-democrats were unable to form a coalition for the first time since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1903.
 

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        Election results 1993-2013
    
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The government has greatly invested in modern infrastructure and new stretches of motorway and railway were built. Greenhouse gas emissions have dropped with 27% since then, thanks to investment in public transportation and the decreasing reliance on fossil fuels to produce electricity. Today, 14% of the energy is produced by the sun, 23% by wind, 29% is geothermal energy. To ensure the constant production of electricity, gas is also used, it accounts for 26% of the energy production. The remaining 8% comes from 'other sources'.

The early adoption of these green technologies helped in the creating of new high tech industries, which helped to increase the competitiveness of Vloesem in the globalised economy.

Income inequality is low with a Gini of 0,26, but has been growing in recent years. The birth rate is relatively low and population is only slightly growing thanks to immigration. This creates potential problems for the economy (the cost of health care and pensions is on the increase, while less people contribute to the system by labor). The educational system has serious flaws too: instead of reducing inequality, existing inequalities are reproduced. The government has been working on reform since 2001, but without any results yet.
 
Vloesem is very diverse, from calm nature, boring suburbs, to old city centres and exciting downtowns with spectacular architecture, we have it all. In Vloesem, visitors won't get bored!
 

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