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Old December 18th, 2013, 08:37 AM   #2221
Reivajar
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Fortunately for Europeans, railway infrastructure is far better in Europe than in North America, and airlines lobbies are not that powerful.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 08:43 AM   #2222
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If there is any point in the history the train was in danger of going extinct, it be the mid 20th century with the rise of the automobile and freeways.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 08:50 AM   #2223
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I don't think so really... even with the rise of freeways and automobiles, which has been kind of uneven and not an homogeneous development in different countries and areas, railways have been always considered pretty efficient in urban and dense contexts, specially in those places where an expensive infrastructure had been already built (New York, Paris, London...). Even in the 50's new towns in United Kingdom in many cases had a close link to railway development.

The rise of automobiles was so successful than in few years it saturated urban areas. But for sure, in those sparse populated areas where car was more useful, it won the war against railways and many secondary lines were closed all around Europe during the 70's, the 80's and even the 90's.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 08:52 AM   #2224
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Originally Posted by tauernexpress View Post
It's true that before liberalisation goods traffic was not efficient, and in most country's it was extremely slow. Something had to be done. But because of the indirect subsidies and lower prices for "isolated cars", railways still had a bigger part in transport then now. All the goods trains that are left are bulk trains of over fifteen cars of wich the composition doesn't change anywere between the terminusses. (This is what I mean by american situation, not that trains are kilometers long)
Actually the share of rail in goods traffic is increasing now, for the first time in decades. Intermodal block trains are the future.

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For passengers, frontiers used to be no burden at all. Since the fees, the number of international trains has plummeted. The worst case is probably Greece, but also the formerly important crossing in Triëste / Opicina no longer sees any train passing. Belgium is another disaster, practically only Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Köln and the three big dutch cities survive as comfortable train journeys.
Actually Vila Opicina has trains again...
I would say that when it comes to cross border traffic it's a mixed picture. On some borders train traffic has improved. On others it has not. This has a lot more to do with local politics then with Europe. It's no accident that it is especially Belgium and France that lost most (or all) night trains and many conventional international trains. The Belgian railways would rather see no international trains at all, than allowing a train staffed with persons not in thrall to the Belgian unions.
In France RFF has rigged it's access charges so as to make it next to impossible for an small passenger operator to run proffitable.

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Three years ago, I remember taking the "Palatino" night train Paris - Rome, wich always carried ten to fourteen cars. From one day to another it was striked, forcing al the passangers to the planes, and the private train "thello" that tried to fill in the gap left open by the Palatino never realy took off, partly because the booking was difficult. This is a typical example of how a good train was ruined by pure financial thinking, ignoring completely the public service element of the railways.
Actually Thello is not private. It's Trenitalia going it alone. And I remember that when this train was still jointly run by SNCF/Trenitalia it wasn't that easy to book either, nor was it reliable.
In fact, it's the unability of the Italian railways to keep the rolling stock for this train up to standard that is one of the reasons for the demise of the Palatino.

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Another result of this liberalisation is the complete mess that has become the ticketting system. I still have tickets from begin 2000's, two people return from Ostend to Budapest, including the reservation all on one ticket. It took two minutes to book in the station and I knew that I got the cheapest price (wich wasn't that cheap, but still affordable).
I don't believe you. I've bought international tickets at Belgian stations a lot. I remember that even a simple ticket from Oostende to Delft would easily take 10 minutes. And you would not have gotting the cheapest ticket. I know that for sure as all the ticket clerk at Oostende could have sold you would have been a ticket at TCV tariff, which, especially in Eastern Europe, is a lot more expensive then the local prices.

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For a trip to Austria next month for six persons I had to buy thirty-six (yes) tickets, from different places: in the station they can't book everything anymore, so I had to go also to different websites (voyagessncf.fr can't book in austria, oebb.at can't book in France). They are often tickets that you can't change and you have to have a credit card to buy on the internet (I haven't got any), and even tough you have to change three times each way, trains don't wait for each other.
Again I don't believe you. For one thing you can still buy open tickets for any train in the Benelux countries, France, Germany and Austria. It's only if you want a reduced price you need to commit to a particular train. That is a fact.
Another fact is that I just checked www.sncf.fr and found out that I can book trains to Austria on that site...

But it's true that SNCF is not really that interested in international train travel. And you want an SNCF-like organisation to run the whole European railway network?

Please, save us from that.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 08:57 AM   #2225
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Just because you have to make a transfer in Lille or Lyon doesn't mean Belgium has poor access to Southern France destinations
One problem is that most Brussel - Lille trains are Eurostars. It's a bit silly that you have to be at the station 30 minutes beforehand for a trip that takes 35 minutes.

[quote]
As for night trains, their demise owes much to cheap air travel, faster day-time services (which are much cheaper to provide than sleepers) than with any EU-conspiracy to raise costs. EU didn't mandate any high access fees, it just mandated that fees are homogeneously charged for any train operator for a given track sector on basis of some objective criteria.
[/qwuote]

This didn't keep RFF from rigging the charges so as to make the unaffordable to anyone but SNCF. The EU has indeed mandated that access charges should be fair. Some countries have however choosen to ignore that mandate. The EU is not as powerfull as you think. Countries like France will just ignore rules that don't suit them.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 09:04 AM   #2226
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Originally Posted by tauernexpress View Post
I agree with the article. Who likes taking the TGV for more than three, four hours? A cramped seat in an open saloon with someone's back in front of you, no decent food, ... Five years ago, from Brussels we had TGV's to Bordeaux, Toulouse, Perpignan, Nice, Geneva. All but one "Nice" and a few "Lyon / Marseille" have disapeared since, because nobody likes to take this kind of train for longer than four hours... I wonder if this Paris - Barcelona will be a succes, I doubt it!
Actually the Perpignan train still runs. There are four trains daily Brussel - Marseille (six even on some days) of which one goes to Toulon, and one to Nice. There are two daily to Montpellier, one of which continues to Perpignan.
And they are quite successful.

The train to Bordeaux has disappeared, that is true. But I am not surprised. It was slower than making a change in Paris. Toulouse never had a TGV from Brussel, and the Geneve Thalys only ran one year, and was not a success because it had an inconvenient schedule, not because it was to long a trip.
A direct Geneve - Brussel TGV could now do the trip in 4 1/2 hours, and would certainly attract passengers. NMBS (and the unions that run it) just needs te bevome a bit less hostile to foreign operators.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 11:53 AM   #2227
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
Brussel - France is very popular, and is by no means "getting rarer every year". You are basing your asumptions on incorrect data.
My "data" is the fact that one after the other TGV dissapears. The Geneva thalys was the first, then Bordeaux, then Toulouse, now Perpignan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K
Actually Thello is not private. It's Trenitalia going it alone. And I remember that when this train was still jointly run by SNCF/Trenitalia it wasn't that easy to book either, nor was it reliable.
In fact, it's the unability of the Italian railways to keep the rolling stock for this train up to standard that is one of the reasons for the demise of the Palatino.
I don't care who is behind the Thello company, it was a private-run company, just like SNCF runs private goods companies in other countries too. It's true that the last five years, the Palatino was maintained very badly, but before liberalization it was well maintained because it made money!

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Originally Posted by K
Toulouse never had a TGV from Brussel
Yes it did, it departed from Brussels at around 6 AM and went over Lyon. I used it several times.

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Originally Posted by k
Actually the Perpignan train still runs.
Mm, then why doesn't it show on any site (Hafas nor voyagesSNCF), nor on the most recent enveloppes that SNCB gives to customers? When does it leave? Ok for Montpellier, but no Perpignan!

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Originally Posted by k
NMBS (and the unions that run it) just needs te become a bit less hostile to foreign operators.
There are otherwise plenty private goods trains, and there have been private ski trains, wich every time couldn't make their promises true and didn't pay their bills. And from what I've been told, it is the SNCB that wants to keep the TGV's, France wants to put everybody in the Thalys and let them do the very unhandy change in Paris. That's why there is often a Belgian guard on the TGV from Charles de Gaulle or Lille...

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Originally Posted by k
I don't believe you. I've bought international tickets at Belgian stations a lot. I remember that even a simple ticket from Oostende to Delft would easily take 10 minutes. And you would not have gotting the cheapest ticket. I know that for sure as all the ticket clerk at Oostende could have sold you would have been a ticket at TCV tariff, which, especially in Eastern Europe, is a lot more expensive then the local prices.
I never encountered a problem, I got a ticket with 50% dicount because I ordered three (?) weeks in advance. And TCV was about the only tarif that existed in 2001... SParpreis 50 it was called

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Originally Posted by k
Again I don't believe you. For one thing you can still buy open tickets for any train in the Benelux countries, France, Germany and Austria. It's only if you want a reduced price you need to commit to a particular train. That is a fact.
Six tickets for going from where I live to Liège. Six Thalys tickets from Liège to Köln, two tickets from Köln to Vienna, six Sparschiene Vienna - Graz (can't be booked in Belgium, nor on voyagesSNCF), two tickets Graz - Zürich (direct train with sleeping car can't be booked on SNCF), six Zürich - Paris, five (one person is leaving here) Paris - Brussels and a ticket Brussels to where I live. Ok, there are only 34 (but you have to take the RER, so if you count them in we get up to 40)

Last edited by tauernexpress; December 18th, 2013 at 11:56 AM. Reason: added Sparpreis 50 sentence
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Old December 18th, 2013, 01:48 PM   #2228
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Originally Posted by tauernexpress View Post
My "data" is the fact that one after the other TGV dissapears. The Geneva thalys was the first, then Bordeaux, then Toulouse, now Perpignan.
Ok. You tell me. How many Brussel - France TGVs where there 10 years ago, and how many are there today?

As far as I can remember, the number has always been more or less 6 per day. You cant have one after the other dissapear for years in a row, and still end up with the same number of trains.


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I don't care who is behind the Thello company, it was a private-run company, just like SNCF runs private goods companies in other countries too. It's true that the last five years, the Palatino was maintained very badly, but before liberalization it was well maintained because it made money!
Thello is not a private run company. It's a brand used by Trenitalia for it's operations in France.
I find it quite odd that you blame the demise of the profit making Palatino to "liberalization*, when the argument made against liberalisation usally is that it would mean that only profit making trains would remain.

The truth is of course is that "liberalization" is a convenient scapegoat to blame anything on you don't like. Useable even where no liberalization has taken place.
Because in France the problem is not liberalization. It's the state. The state railways don't like night trains. They are not interested in operating them. They are also not interested in making it possible for others to operate them.
The problem is not libaralisation, but the way some countries find protecting the privileges of the incumbent more important than providing good services.

There are still night trains running from Amsterdam to many places. That is possible bevause DB can run with its own stock and staff all the way to Amsterdam. DB can't do that in Belgium or France, not because of "liberalization", but more because of lack of it.


Quote:
There are otherwise plenty private goods trains,
Not as many in France as elsewhere though.

[quote]
and there have been private ski trains, wich every time couldn't make their promises true and didn't pay their bills.
[/quorte]
Because running a private train is more expensive in France then anywhere else (except maybe Belgium).


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I never encountered a problem, I got a ticket with 50% dicount because I ordered three (?) weeks in advance. And TCV was about the only tarif that existed in 2001... SParpreis 50 it was called
But for Eastern Europe the TCV was a lot more expensive than the local tarif. So if you paid TCV tariff you didn't have the cheapest ticket. That's my point.

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Six tickets for going from where I live to Liège. Six Thalys tickets from Liège to Köln, two tickets from Köln to Vienna, six Sparschiene Vienna - Graz (can't be booked in Belgium, nor on voyagesSNCF), two tickets Graz - Zürich (direct train with sleeping car can't be booked on SNCF), six Zürich - Paris, five (one person is leaving here) Paris - Brussels and a ticket Brussels to where I live. Ok, there are only 34 (but you have to take the RER, so if you count them in we get up to 40)
So you can't buy a "sparschiene" in Belgium. Wel, you can't buy a Go-Pass in Austria either. So some formulas are not offered everywhere. With a "City Star" ticket bought in Hungary you would have been of a lot cheaper...

There are several good (but private, maybe that's unacceptable to you) travel agents that could have sold you all those tickets without a problem. Have you even had a look at www.b-europe.com? They're actually pretty good.

And why is it such a problem that different legs of your trip are printed on different pieces of paper?
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Old December 18th, 2013, 01:49 PM   #2229
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Even if you do think the split up of infrastructure from train service is a good thing, I don't understand why international trains can't be subsidised, while local trains can.
I would like to know where the urban legend that the EU forbids subsidies to international trains comes from...
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Old December 18th, 2013, 02:57 PM   #2230
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you people should not only think in night train vs. daytime high speed train. the important thing is that railways as a system is attractive. example: to get from berlin to london, it used to be possible to take the berlin-paris night train, get off in brussels, change onto a eurostar that left about 30 min later and be in london by mid-morning, fairly well rested and ready for business or onward connections.
The destructive Belgian policy towards night trains forced db to reroute the train to avoid Belgium. Now, even if i catch a train as early as 6.45 out of berlin, i will have to change trains twice, including hanging around midi station for 90 min, and cannot make london before 4 p.m. as a result, both night train and eurostar loose in attractiveness. the airlines couldn't have done it better themselves.
i agree with tauern ex that we need some agency to develop railways as a system as a whole, rather than thinking in just artificially produced market conditions (access fees), or just construction of infrastructure, etc. this should certainly include a unitary portal that could automatically find the best offer from several rail companies for international connections and print them onto a single ticket. for the problem sketched above the introduction high speed night trains would be the best. we could have night trains london to berlin or barcelona in about 8 hours, if only politics, the companies concerned and imagination would not be so limited. as to their profit margin: why should using a practically empty hsl in the dead of night cost the same as in peak hours, when say the frecciarosso and the italo compete for business travelers? but all this is of course rather utopian with the way these things have been going in the eu.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 03:12 PM   #2231
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Night trains in Netherlands (and maybe some other countries) are also under threat due to new work safety regulations that prevent track works on dual track railways if one of them is active. This is to prevent what become the most common railway-related work injury: workers struck by trains passing close by their work sites and limitations on safety measures they could take because one of the tracks needed to be kept active.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 03:32 PM   #2232
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i agree with tauern ex that we need some agency to develop railways as a system as a whole, rather than thinking in just artificially produced market conditions (access fees), or just construction of infrastructure, etc. this should certainly include a unitary portal that could automatically find the best offer from several rail companies for international connections and print them onto a single ticket.
This agency exists, and the project to creat what you describe exists too. Has been for quite some time even. The problem is that large government agencies are slow.

I think that a good start would be if a sort of european HST interval timetable, with for example a two hour interval and a good connections in hubs (like Brussel, Köln, Paris CDG, Dijjon, Basel...) was setup.

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as to their profit margin: why should using a practically empty hsl in the dead of night cost the same as in peak hours, when say the frecciarosso and the italo compete for business travelers?
In the dead of night the HSL is often closed... Keeping it open for just a few trains is going to be expensive as well.

The main problem however is that in France the system for access charges is rigged in a way that makes it impossible for an operator that only runs a few train per day to do this cost effective.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 04:00 PM   #2233
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This agency exists, and the project to creat what you describe exists too. Has been for quite some time even. The problem is that large government agencies are slow.
are you talking of rail team?
of course the mere existence is not enough, they would need a powerful mandate and budget and then have a vision in line with train passengers, not bureaucrats.
i was gonna mention that a scheme to bring together prices had been announced a few years ago, but we are still waiting for it and have to shop around for different price offers from different national companies at the moment.
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Old December 18th, 2013, 04:29 PM   #2234
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The issue of multi-railway ticketing is an IT problem first and foremost.

Railways are behaving more and more like airlines, so they need to steep up their IT game to that level as well.

You need some protocols for cross-company ticket selling and arrangements for paying third-part selling, and maybe some rail-specific provisions like the concepts of "(un)authorized station connections".

Once that is in place, you don't need some new EU entity for that, the travel market will take care of selling third-party tickets like it does with airlines (any given major airline has dozens of vendors selling tickets for its own flights, major hotel chains do the same).
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Old December 18th, 2013, 04:45 PM   #2235
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are you talking of rail team?
No, that's more or less dead.

I'm talking here about the MERITS and PRIFIS databases. They exists, and I have started seeing more and better price information in online ticketing systems that use it.
b-europe has gotten quite good recently for example.

But a lot is also just disinterest amongst the railways. That you can't buy tickets between most random pairs of RENFE stations for example has nothing to do with Europe...
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Old December 18th, 2013, 06:30 PM   #2236
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I wonder if French influence is responsible for SNCB dislike of night trains in Belgium?
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Old December 22nd, 2013, 03:01 PM   #2237
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Old December 23rd, 2013, 10:09 PM   #2238
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Old December 23rd, 2013, 10:25 PM   #2239
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Old December 25th, 2013, 06:17 PM   #2240
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Narbonne-Perpignan-Cerbère/Portbou line.
Salses station.


The AVE 09731 Marseille St Charles-Madrid Atocha running through the station, with a delay of 2h30min due to a person accident at Port-la-Nouvelle station, two stations away towards Narbonne.




The number of incidents on the classic line between Perpignan and Nimes is starting to affect the Spanish HSR reliability, as we knew it would.

The France/Spain AVE/TGV services must have had in one week and a half more incidents and delays than the Figueres-Barcelona-Madrid AVE service in six months, and I´m trying to be optimistic.

Besides, on the Languedoc line (Perpignan-Narbonne-Beziers-Montpellier-Nimes) there are even more incidents than in other French regions, which is no small feat.

I guess that in a while, the Spanish passengers will start avoiding the AVE Marseille-Madrid for national trips (not the Madrid-Marseille though, which is always on time).
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