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Old October 22nd, 2013, 02:56 PM   #2021
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Quote:
Originally Posted by :jax: View Post
The information system has been a weakness, and has been in the 20 years person transport has been opened up (which I applaud, but the benefit won't be reaped until we have information systems that can handle it). In country after country it has been harder to find out how to get from where you are to where you want to be, and then slowly, slowly it gets better. Yes, the airlines do that best, so that is a major reason I primarily fly (that the ground transport much of the time is slower and more expensive matters as well).
Airlines also have it a lot easier. All services are point-to-point, and require advance reservaton... There are also not as many flights as there are trains.
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 03:19 PM   #2022
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One big booking coordinated system such as Amadeus for airlines would be necessary. The point is that probably until now international services have been sort of limitated, so at the end every country associated with the national railway company was a enclosed environment.
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 07:41 PM   #2023
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Some interesting information in Eurotunnel's latest report, which would appear to confirm both a Eurostar service to Marseille in 2015 and a DB service to Amsterdam from December 2016.

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"After the Inter-Governmental Commission granted on 14 June 2013 the
railway operator Deutsche Bahn a certificate allowing it to operate
passenger services through the Channel Tunnel, Eurostar announced in
September the launch of a direct service between London and Amsterdam
starting in December 2016.

This is the largest aviation market in Europe with more
than 3 million business and leisure passengers per year.
Eurostar will also introduce direct services between London, Lyon and
Marseille in 2015, bringing additional passengers to their services.
Eurostar will thus finally realise the potential in these markets which
will open new horizons for Eurotunnel in terms of growth"
Chris
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Old October 23rd, 2013, 12:09 AM   #2024
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Quote:
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Bahn.de is best if you have decided to go by train, but not so useful if you are more concerned about getting there. If you e.g. travel in Sweden there is one integrated service for plains, trains, busses, local transport, but you won't get the prices or if there are available tickets. More open-ended questions like "what are the cheapest options for getting from here to there in this time interval" have no simple answer, but is at least feasible with air transport.
fahrplan.oebb.at is equally good and is based on the same european rail database. Finding the train is no problem with these handy tools. But buying international rail tickets is a customer service nightmare compared to flying plane tickets. The easiest thing in Austria is to call the ÖBB service hotline and let them book it for you and then print it at any random ticket machine via code and payment there. But the problem then is that the conductors are totally out of their league when confronted with an ÖBB ticket. The funniest thing was when I had an ÖBB ticket in German for a purely Spanish train connection. It was valid of course, but tell that the conductor.
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Old October 23rd, 2013, 07:16 AM   #2025
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slartibartfas View Post
fahrplan.oebb.at is equally good and is based on the same european rail database. Finding the train is no problem with these handy tools. But buying international rail tickets is a customer service nightmare compared to flying plane tickets. The easiest thing in Austria is to call the ÖBB service hotline and let them book it for you and then print it at any random ticket machine via code and payment there. But the problem then is that the conductors are totally out of their league when confronted with an ÖBB ticket. The funniest thing was when I had an ÖBB ticket in German for a purely Spanish train connection. It was valid of course, but tell that the conductor.
That must be a Spanish thing. International train tickets have the same format, regardless who prints them. It was not an ÖBB ticket you were traveling with. If the Spanish conductor was out of his league that's RENFE's problem.

I travel abroad by train all the time. Never had a problem having a conductor accept my ticket...
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Old October 23rd, 2013, 10:50 AM   #2026
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A TEN-T update.
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In the most radical overhaul of EU infrastructure policy since its inception in the 1980s, the Commission has today published new maps showing the nine major corridors which will act as a backbone for transportation in Europe's single market and revolutionise East–West connections. To match this level of ambition, EU financing for transport infrastructure will triple for the period 2014–2020 to €26 billion.

Full-size map
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Old October 23rd, 2013, 11:43 AM   #2027
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Also, here is a screenshot from the map in Building Bridges, plans for how to connect the EU with the neighbours (the picture quality is fairly lousy, but the best I could from the source).





This is not a new map, it's from 2007 (pre-crisis), but there haven't been any updates I've seen.
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Old October 23rd, 2013, 02:00 PM   #2028
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France's Transport Minister confirms plans to build two more high speed lines to Toulouse and Spanish border

http://bit.ly/19uqezc
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Old October 23rd, 2013, 09:54 PM   #2029
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Quote:
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That must be a Spanish thing. International train tickets have the same format, regardless who prints them. It was not an ÖBB ticket you were traveling with. If the Spanish conductor was out of his league that's RENFE's problem.

I travel abroad by train all the time. Never had a problem having a conductor accept my ticket...
But it wasn't an international ticket nor an international train. It was printed by an Austrian ticket machine (and therefore on the same paper ticket as a national ÖBB ticket) but was valid only on a certain national Spanish train.

I did not really have a problem with the conductor but he certainly looked confused.
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Old October 23rd, 2013, 10:23 PM   #2030
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The major hurdle is seat inventory management. Synchronizing schedule (even real-time) travel information is easy, you only need some protocol to feed information about your trains to any user (using some API). Selling tickets on your railway via dozen of channels, while managing inventory, dynamic fares, ticket changes etc. is much more difficult from an IT viewpoint. Railways are now moving towards a model where you also select your own seat from a seatmap, dynamically, and that adds another info layer on the process.

Airlines developed GDS systems to manage that. They do the job, but they are some expensive piece of IT ecosystem.
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Old October 23rd, 2013, 11:09 PM   #2031
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Apparently the guys at the ÖBB travel agency are capable of doing so for basically all of Europe. So if that guy does it also with IT tools, I wonder why it is not possible that a user friendly meta engine is run by some railway department or a cooperation of european railways.
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Old October 24th, 2013, 12:14 AM   #2032
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As you say, an ÖBB travel agency clerk can already sell tickets for trains outside of Austria that are operated by entirely different companies. I don't think the challenge is in realizing the necessary IT connections, but in creating a complete and user friendly way of presenting the data to end users.

The clerk has had some training before he's allowed to sell tickets. He knows what codes to enter, what options to pick, and where to get help (such as a colleague or manual) should he get stuck. Offering all of these possibilities as a self service website to end users will be quite challenging as those people haven't had the training and some of them barely know how a computer works.
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Old October 24th, 2013, 01:13 AM   #2033
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Exactly. This is what I meant. Connecting databases is no major deal, but making the interface "idiot-proof" and available for lay person is the bigger challenge there.

For instance, GDS systems were around for 25 years when the Internet came around. The major challenge, up to this day, is to make an interface that the costumer can use without technical knowledge about valid fares, all internal codes etc. It took a decade before comprehensive online travel agencies became able to book more complex tickets involving multiple airlines, triangular itineraries etc.
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Old October 24th, 2013, 01:38 AM   #2034
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I don't say its not challenging but it hardly can be impossible.

Aviation has managed to do so long ago and its not as if there were not complexity in booking plane tickets either. I think it is severe short sightenedness of the railways not to invest meaningful effort in a unified booking system. And the internet as well as IT systems and databases aren't around for such a terribly short time. Even if it takes 10 years to develop such a thing such a thing could have developed already long ago.
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Old October 25th, 2013, 10:13 AM   #2035
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Quote:
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But it wasn't an international ticket nor an international train. It was printed by an Austrian ticket machine (and therefore on the same paper ticket as a national ÖBB ticket) but was valid only on a certain national Spanish train.
THe ticket probably had the standard international layout, which in some countries is used for domestic tickets as well. I don't know about Austria however.
What I also do know is that there also exists a standard paper for printing tickets on (with a kind of diamond pattern) that some countries also use for domestic tickets. SBB just switched to using this paper for domestic tickets as well.
Another accepted standard for international tickets uses cards similar to those used for boarding passes. The Belgian railways used these for domestic tickets as well for a long time, and SNCF still does.
All that means that many railways can indeed produce international tickets on the same equipment that they use to produce domestic tickets. But they will always have the international layout. This is an example:

And when a railway issues a ticket for another country, even when it's for a trip entirely within that country, it will be an "international" ticket. The letters "CIV" in the example above give it away. And thus the international conditions apply!
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Old October 25th, 2013, 02:16 PM   #2036
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ÖBB uses this pattern for domestic traffic as well, yes. Actually I can't remember them ever using a different design, so it's there for quite some time now.
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Old October 25th, 2013, 11:25 PM   #2037
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I did not buy this ticket at the counter but via phone and printed it at a ticket machine. Therefore the format was not like the one above but like that:


http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TQ_1qrkdk_...hlbd-Tulln.jpg

I have no idea how the international layout looks like, but if thats it, its fine.
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Old November 3rd, 2013, 08:13 PM   #2038
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Old November 9th, 2013, 03:25 AM   #2039
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Regarding direct TGVs between Paris and Barcelona, The Man In Seat 61 wrote:

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Direct Paris-Barcelona TGVs postponed again...
Direct Paris-Barcelona TGVs will not now start on 15 December with the new pan-European timetable. It's been put back again until 2014. The present change-at-Figueres service will continue, although it's still not open for booking yet as I write this (on 1 November) for any date after the timetable change. Elipsos is likely to continue running on Fri, Sun & Mon nights southbound, Thur, Fri & Sun nights northbound, but is also late opening for booking.

UPDATE: Or has this changed yet again? One report and several rumours suggest TGVs may indeed start on 15 December, and that there may be a formal announcement on 27 November. But after so many rumours, expect them when you see them.
Is anyone able to shed some light on this? November 27th is a very short term for the introduction of a new train service, although the same happened with Fyra Brussels last year - the start was announced 6 days before the new timetable became effective...
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Old November 9th, 2013, 04:29 AM   #2040
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Regarding direct TGVs between Paris and Barcelona, The Man In Seat 61 wrote:

Is anyone able to shed some light on this?
No. Both French and Spanish authorities are in Top Secret Mode with this.
No one really understands why.
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