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Old January 26th, 2010, 12:40 PM   #101
TedStriker
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The TEN corridors are few in number, and are only covering core routes.

Europe needs many tweaks across many parts of the rail network, hence why I wrote what I wrote.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 05:06 AM   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TedStriker View Post
I don't think we ought to be too harsh with our comments about the freight capabilities of the European network.

The fact that North American-style freights cannot be run in Europe does not mean there is something wrong with Europe's railways.

What Europe lacks, at least in parts, is the investment that would ease the flow of intermodal services which are, agreed, more frequent in nature than they are in, say, the USA.

With the right signaling systems and the odd track improvement here and there, you could quite happily run a dense network of 120kph, 750m-long intermodal services over tracks that are shared with slower-moving freights and, of course, passenger services.

In a sense, the European track authorities, such as Network Rail in Britain and the RFF in France, would benefit from even more co-ordination - and funding - from the EU itself.

In fact, the kind of signal and track investment I'm describing is already taking place in parts of Britain, Switzerland and Germany.

However the number of improvement projects across the European network is less than ideal and the improvements that are being put in place are not geographically widespread.

Both reflect the fact that EU and EFTA member states - or countries - still play havoc with the railway systems that run within them, and old-school politics often prevent railway developments being put in place that are for the greater European good.
Why not ???


The 5km long freight trains are so much of a rarity in the USA as 350km/h AVE HS trains in spain. (just kidding)


The major difference is that in most of the main corridors in europe you can shuffle an enormous amount of freight all running at 100-140km/h in the period between 20h (8pm) and 6h(6am) that in the USA with their deferred maintenance freight-only carriers could only dream of.

As an example in a perfectly conventional double track route with 300km over here we can send a 780m long freight train in any direction ... and then another one after the other ... the only limiting factor in capacity is mainly dictated by spacing the signaling system allows between trains (with ATP systems mandatory it is almost impossible to overrun a red signal so we operate with a-train-per-signalblock here).

While an oversized american train has a heavy tail the european freight trains are run almost as if they were passenger trains.

To the american railfans ... some american freight videos:


Multiple traction of (Canadian built) MLW's
LBB is a very hilly railroad.


Carrying Sand in one direction and copper in the other ... a happy merry-go-round
Notice that the railway is "engineered" to allow running of tilting trains at speeds of 250km/h.


Freight tru city center ... imagine that it was in NYC and that would be like running diesel hauled freight tru Penn St. at rush hour.








omg













I wont post any american video due to myself being in "the program" to quit addiction (last time I browsed the UP videos I spent the entire weekend looking at the chalengers).
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Old January 27th, 2010, 10:58 AM   #103
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I'm not sure if you're being critical of Europe, North America, or not being critical at all and just simply observing the facts.

But in any case, you're right. In North America, the rail system is mainly a freight one, where long, very long in some cases, trains are the norm, and these trains are less frequent in nature than what one sees across the main lines of Europe.

It is true that in Europe freight trains - the intermodal trains certainly - almost operate in the same way that passenger trains do, running within tight schedules and sometimes one after the other.

And yes, many operate during the night hours, although there is a lot of day time running as well. The 'passing loop' plays a huge role in adding the flexibility into the European network.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 05:38 AM   #104
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It's as someone as said before.


where the american urban sprawl is similar to europe they have plenty of passenger rail services (norteast)... where NEWER comunities were created after the railways emerged people just moved along to the air+car since they never were given the choice of thinking about railways as a "new thing" that could have positive advantages (it was just the old and noisy obnoxious thing).


Extra long Freight in the "desert" is just a consequence of not enough shipping in the mainland.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 09:54 PM   #105
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But Los Angeles for example was already a mentionworthy city 100 years ago (even though it was not a metropolis it featured a nice PT infrastructure), yet a few decades ago its rail services were pretty much totally annihilated.

I think your argument is a bit too simplistic.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 03:09 AM   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sotavento View Post
Why not ???


The 5km long freight trains are so much of a rarity in the USA as 350km/h AVE HS trains in spain. (just kidding)


The major difference is that in most of the main corridors in europe you can shuffle an enormous amount of freight all running at 100-140km/h in the period between 20h (8pm) and 6h(6am) that in the USA with their deferred maintenance freight-only carriers could only dream of.

As an example in a perfectly conventional double track route with 300km over here we can send a 780m long freight train in any direction ... and then another one after the other ... the only limiting factor in capacity is mainly dictated by spacing the signaling system allows between trains (with ATP systems mandatory it is almost impossible to overrun a red signal so we operate with a-train-per-signalblock here).

While an oversized american train has a heavy tail the european freight trains are run almost as if they were passenger trains.

To the american railfans ... some american freight videos:


Multiple traction of (Canadian built) MLW's
LBB is a very hilly railroad.


Carrying Sand in one direction and copper in the other ... a happy merry-go-round
Notice that the railway is "engineered" to allow running of tilting trains at speeds of 250km/h.


Freight tru city center ... imagine that it was in NYC and that would be like running diesel hauled freight tru Penn St. at rush hour.








omg













I wont post any american video due to myself being in "the program" to quit addiction (last time I browsed the UP videos I spent the entire weekend looking at the chalengers).
Fixed.

For the record, several issues come to mind when contrasting American and European rail. Two particularly stand out, one as a result of tradition, and the other a result of postwar choices.

1. The inability of the European chain-and-buffers coupling system to handle freight drags the length and weight which the motive power is capable of pulling (for example, the toaster-box AEM7, developed from the Swedish Rc4, is capable of developing 7,000 horsepower--more than the mighty SD90MAC or AC6000CW were ever capable of!). The European coupling system is a throwback, effectively, which did not disappear when the similar systems elsewhere around the world were phased out due to it having certain advantages that through most of the history of railroading kept it alive (simplicity in switching, primarily, as well as the expense of conversion and the tradition of the system). But in the new era of railroading, when the efficiencies needed to make money in freight rail demand utilizing all the horsepower your motive power is capable of, the fact that the old couplers cannot take the strains a mile-long coal drag (or an anything-else drag, really) that the engine or motor is clearly capable of pulling (again, It's Done In America) is a major detriment to the length of a typical European freight train, and thus how much cargo can be hauled by a single locomotive, and thus how much money a carload can make for the railroad. This is even admitted as much in Europe, where (AFAIK) the coal unit trains are specifically equipped with knuckle or Russian couplers!

2. Postwar changes in mentality. In the US, after WWII, with the blossoming of the suburbs and the building of the Interstates diverting half or more (look, Pa! It's shiny! And new!) of both freight and passenger traffic away from the railroads, the companies decided to focus on the black bits in their ledgers to the exclusion of all those giant swaths of red. The fact that the black bits got smaller and smaller every year was what drove the railroads to merge, and merge again, and then merge some more, until you got the network of exactly five Class I freight carriers based somewhere between the Rio Grande and the 49th Parallel. By expanding their systems (through mergers), applying economies of scale, and pawning off their old passenger operations to the Feds, the freight railroads have gotten massively efficient--and profitable. Since efficiency (not necessarily speed, although that's a bonus) is the name of the game in freight railroading, the American (and Canadian, since they essentially followed the same business model) freight railroads have become, by virtue of their efficiency, among the very best in the world. Of course, it helps that a higher tonnage per train is transported here than in Europe--and that's the key efficiency that makes US railfreight so danged good.

Europe in 1945 had a drastically different problem. There were craters were yards should be, bridges were ten feet down in the middle of the river, stations had been ripped to smithereens, equipment mangled...it was a mess. There was no way in Hell that the private companies could Fix It All Up, so the governments nationalized the railroads and spent public monies getting the trains to run again. The focus--it being a national endeavor now--was on providing top-notch service to the most visible customers. Passengers.

So rail projects in Europe, once the basic infrastructure was up and running again, were primarily directed at bettering the passenger experience (although in some cases, like Euston, this has been decidedly lackluster). When the improvements helped freight run better--well, that was a bonus. This drive for the best passenger service was what led to the development of the TGV, of the APT and its successors the Pendolini, and of the ICE, and most importantly, what led to the construction of a fully grade-separated function-separated HSR system--tracks for the running of fast trains only. Only now, as the HSR system has gotten more and more complete to the point where it's basically become Europe's main mode of intercity travel, can enough intercity trains be removed from the traditional lines to provide necessary free track for efficient freight operations.

Or: to summarize: in the U.S. the railroads killed off the passenger trains. In Europe, the government railways improved passenger trains to the point where they no longer needed to run on the freight mains. So now the Europeans can finally have freight rail that's flexible, efficient, and profitable.* **

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* Another issue in Europe has been the crossing of Customs every 200 f--ing miles. With the Schengen Agreement in place, though, this issue is by and large eliminated. However, since freight railroads throughout Europe have been poorly privatized, if at all, and there is little current run-through operational ability, the separate, inward-looking national systems of the constituent countries still provide a barrier to the type of long-distance efficiency that makes North American railfreight so good.

**Please remember that there is some exaggeration for the sake of humor. You do need to have fun reading, too!

Last edited by hammersklavier; January 30th, 2010 at 05:55 AM. Reason: forgot KCS is Class I (facepalm)
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Old January 30th, 2010, 09:41 AM   #107
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There is a Standard agreed for a future European coupler C-AK but they havent agreed when to bring it in yet. Its based on the Russian SA-3 coupler with a modification to prevent riding up but also has automatic connections of brakes, electrical power, air and mixed air and mechanical power from european autocoupler designs as well as legacy support for British style buffer plates and chains.


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Old January 30th, 2010, 01:15 PM   #108
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Is it comaptible with the Russian coupler?

The wagons and coaches exchanged between Western Eruope and Russian-style neworks must not only change bogies because of the different gauge, but also the couplers, SA-3 with chain.

Another problem in Europe are also the 5 different main gauges.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 02:57 PM   #109
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
Is it comaptible with the Russian coupler?
It supposedly is.

Quote:
The wagons and coaches exchanged between Western Eruope and Russian-style neworks must not only change bogies because of the different gauge, but also the couplers, SA-3 with chain.
For freight I think they nowadays mostly just transload the containers. For passenger cars I thought they kept the screw couplers. (We're only talking about a handful of trains here...)
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Old January 30th, 2010, 03:01 PM   #110
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The biggest reason for the diferences is simply geography.

The km long container trains in the US exist because China faces the West Coast, but most of the population lives East. The consequence is a large flow of goods between both coasts.

We don't have good flows in Europe that require such monster trains, which is why there really is no need for them. Europe is all "on the same coast", and the large flows of goods terminate at one of the main harbors. Freight traffic within Europe does not consist of large flows, but is part of the final distribution phase of logistics.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 03:31 PM   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
(We're only talking about a handful of trains here...)
Yes, because the difference of gauge...
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Old January 30th, 2010, 06:00 PM   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
Yes, because the difference of gauge...
Not really.

There is a break of gauge between Zürich and st. Moritz. Nevertheless you can travel between both places every hour...
A break of gauge is not an obstacle to a frequent service.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 06:14 PM   #113
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I was thinking also to freight trains that have to exchange bogies or tranship the goods.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 08:21 PM   #114
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Very nice post, hammersklavier, very nice indeed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
1. The inability of the European chain-and-buffers coupling system to handle freight drags the length and weight which the motive power is capable of pulling (for example, the toaster-box AEM7, developed from the Swedish Rc4, is capable of developing 7,000 horsepower--more than the mighty SD90MAC or AC6000CW were ever capable of!).
Quite right here and this led to another issue which became a major difference between European and US networks, infrastructure and the way it is used. Infrastructure in the US is built to heavy-duty standards that can sustain those high tonnages per train, yes, but more important, high axle loads which in Europe can only be dreamt of keeping it at the same time very basic and simple which makes it cheap to build and maintain. At the same time, rail signalling and safety are designed for low speeds, not, at all, prepared for high speed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
Since efficiency (not necessarily speed, although that's a bonus) is the name of the game in freight railroading, the American (and Canadian, since they essentially followed the same business model) freight railroads have become, by virtue of their efficiency, among the very best in the world. Of course, it helps that a higher tonnage per train is transported here than in Europe--and that's the key efficiency that makes US railfreight so danged good.
This is so obvious and yet so hard to explain and make it understandable. The efficiency obtained thru economies of scale which make freight transport much cheaper (and consequently attractive) in the US than in Europe.


I really enjoyed reading your post!
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Old January 30th, 2010, 08:34 PM   #115
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The gauges are not the biggest problem as the largest part of the network in the EU at least shares one gauge. A major exception is of course the Iberic Peninsula but even there, the new high speed network is built in the predominant European gauge.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 11:45 PM   #116
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The problem is mainly between the 1435 and 1524 mm networks, that is, western and eastern Europe.

And only 4% of goods cross the land border between Spain (1668 mm) and France by rail, that is about 3 million net tonnes per year.

The other gauges are 1600 mm in Ireland and 1000 mm on other lines here and there.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 11:52 PM   #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
The problem is mainly between the 1435 and 1524 mm networks, that is, western and eastern Europe.

And only 4% of goods cross the land border between Spain (1668 mm) and France by rail, that is about 3 million net tonnes per year.

The other gauges are 1600 mm in Ireland and 1000 mm on other lines here and there.
Didn't Spain recently begin a project to regauge its 1668 mm network to 1435 mm?

Anyways, I am aware that some of the trains that cross between France and Spain have 'switch on the fly' dual-gauge wheelsets. I wonder why that isn't done between the 1435 mm and 1520 mm networks.

Mike
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Old January 31st, 2010, 01:14 AM   #118
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I wonder...

1) Are the on-the-fly gauge changing stations in Iberia only possible because of the unique nature of the Talgo trucks* on which Iberian trains run? That is, is it possible to build those types of stations at gauge changes between standard and Russian gauges where Talgo trucks predominate on neither side?

2) Another issue would be the construction of new standard-gauge lines throughout the portions of Eastern Europe where Russian gauge currently prevails. For example, there has been enormous debate involving the gauge of the planned TEN-T line from Tallinn to Warsaw, a freight axis which is supposed to connect these nations (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia) into the Western European rail network. How are these nations (and in due time, Finland) to resolve the conflicting needs caused by being in the buffer zone between the Western European standard gauge and the Eastern European Russian gauge? Furthermore, there have, for a long time, been proposals** floated, on and off, for a new standard-gauge freight main across Kazakhstan linking the Chinese and European networks together. Sooner or later something's going to come of these proposals since the Kosice-Zaporozhye-Donetsk-Astrakhan-Aralsk-Urumqi via the northern coast of Lake Balkhash is a natural long-distance rail axis traversing the same type of terrain as the North American Great Plains, and if the couplers aren't of the same standard that's only going to make transcontinental transshipments more complicated and hence less efficient (and thus less profitable).***

* The unique nature being not so much the trucks themselves as the way the wheelset is integrated into a bogie to create a truck (or something like that). In North American railroading, the wheels and axles are effectively cast as single pieces (either physically being cast that way or being three pieces locked together to function as such) and connected to the freight car itself through an assembly of springs and bearings we call a truck (and the Brits bogies). In most of Europe, freight equipment only has four axles which are connected to the wagon through a very different truck setup; however, the wheelset (the two wheels and axle connecting the two) still functions the same way: as a single piece. In the Talgo unit, on the other hand, the wheels aren't permanently connected to one another on the axle; in fact, the suspension and bearings and such are duplicated--once on one side of the car and once on the other and there is no axle; this allows the wheels to slide between different gauges more readily.

** If you think this sentence is ungrammatical: proposals, a plural, is the subject of this sentence.

*** Is this a pie in the sky at the moment? Sure it is: construction of new rail mains is enormously expensive, due in no small part to the incredibly precise nature of rail grading. But this line traverses the flattest--and hence cheapest--crossing of Central Asia, avoiding the money sink of the Caucasus, and China's already been kind enough to extend a standard-gauge railroad from Urumqi to the Kazakh border, making the traversal of the gap between the Tien Shan and Altai that much less expensive and more doable. Don't forget that the American rail barons of the Victorian era also had to sink massive amounts of funds into their main lines before they could start making massive profits.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 02:02 AM   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WatcherZero View Post
There is a Standard agreed for a future European coupler C-AK but they havent agreed when to bring it in yet.
I do not believe it will ever happen.

First of all, because it is not needed. This kind of coupler is useful for two
things : to run heavy trains, and to make trains sorting easier. As someone
else mentioned already, we in Europe do not need heavy trains : what travels
by heavy train in the US travels in Europe by sea. Trains only provide the
end transportation between seaport and final user. As most final users are
not connected to the rail system, a truck is also needed. When the end
transportation is not long enough to justify one more trans-shipment, a truck
does the whole job and the train part is just omitted. This is why heavier
trains won't help increasing the modal part of railways for the goods transport
in Europe.

The sorting part can be completely forgotten now since most marshalling
yards have already disappeared, with more to follow. In Belgium we used
to have about 20 of them, we're now back to 4, and we have a plan to
close 3 of them. It's the same in other countries. It does not go very fast
because it is a social problem : closing a marshalling yard usually means the
loss of quite many jobs. So it's done progressively. But most freight trains
in Europe are now direct origin-destination, with no sorting in between.
Almost all surviving European marshalling yards operate now way below their
maximum capacity, often below 50% of it.

The second reason is that we couldn't use it anyway. The European rail
system is too loaded with passenger trains - even France is now moving
towards cadenced schedules, go figure ! - to be able to operate mile long
freight trains at 40 mph. What trains need in Europe to increase their modal
part is increase their speed of delivery. This is only going to happen if they
can cope with the speed of passenger trains, so they must stay light. Otherwise they get sidelined all the time to let faster passenger trains pass.
The emergence of high speed lines reserved for passenger trafic did not help
at all : all the capacity made free is being re-used for passenger regional
traffic, for which the demand is currently increasing year after year. The
7000 Hp of freight locos will not be used to drag mile long trains, but well
to accelerate 800m long freight trains like an EMU.

And, by the way, European rail networks were all nationalized way before
the end of WW2.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 08:41 AM   #120
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Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, those seven stan country plan to link Iran and China for different reason but their need it indeed. For example, central Asia need the closest seaport in Iran, Pakistan, also sell resources to Chinese exchange their goods. These behavior also change the world's transport background make the world economic more and far globalization.
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