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Old September 26th, 2007, 07:09 AM   #221
hkskyline
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EU To Open Intl Passenger Rail Svcs To Competition

EU To Open Intl Passenger Rail Svcs To Competition By 2010
25 September 2007



STRASBOURG, France (AP)--International passenger rail services in the European Union will open to cross-border competition by 2010, giving passengers more choice and railways new ways to fight stiff competition from airlines.

New guidelines approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday will be reviewed in 2012 to see if domestic train lines should also be liberalized, the E.U. assembly said.

A proposal to open those lines to foreign competition by 2017 has been rejected by countries where state companies dominate the market, such as France, Belgium or Austria.

Smaller E.U. states, such as Luxembourg and some Central European nations, also fear their national providers could fold if a giant company, such as Germany's Deutsche Bahn AG, entered their domestic market.

But competition will increase on international lines, where any company from any of the E.U.'s 27 member states will be able to run services.

In a package of rules governing the E.U. railway sector, lawmakers also voted in favor of setting minimum standards on compensation for delays on domestic and international routes, and of certifying train crews to show they meet professional, medical and linguistic standards.

Under the rules, which will enter into force in 2009, passengers could be compensated 25% for an hour's delay, if the operator is responsible, or 50% for a delay of two hours or more.

Also, operators must allow folding bikes on trains but may ban other bicycles if there is no space for them in the cars as most European trains are not yet designed to carry a large number of bikes.

The rules have already been backed by E.U. member states.
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Old September 26th, 2007, 07:23 PM   #222
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Was about time.
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Old September 27th, 2007, 07:47 PM   #223
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Good we need some competition on the Amsterdam - Brussel - Paris route!
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Old September 27th, 2007, 09:11 PM   #224
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Good news finally!
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Old October 17th, 2007, 01:51 PM   #225
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testing of line Liège-Aachen:
http://www.rtc.be/content/view/2952/166/
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Old October 17th, 2007, 08:58 PM   #226
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Thank you for info!
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Old October 18th, 2007, 12:05 PM   #227
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New high-speed train puts eastern France's wine and Champagne country on daytrippers' map
17 October 2007

REIMS, France (AP) - After a Paris breakfast of cafe and croissant, how about lunch and a glass of bubbly in France's Champagne region?

Thanks to a new high-speed train line, Reims, the ancient heart of Champagne country, is now just 45 minutes from Paris -- less time than it takes to cross the French capital during rush hour.

Running at up to 320 kph (200 mph), France's network of bullet trains -- known as the TGV, or Train a Grande Vitesse (high-speed train) -- is shrinking the country. Its newest line, the TGV Est, puts eastern France on the daytrippers' map, slashing travel times to the line's 30-plus destinations in eastern France and Germany.

The previous 90-minute trip to Reims has been cut by half. Colmar, a picture postcard town in another famed French wine region -- Alsace, on the German border -- is now three hours from Paris, down from nearly five hours before.

Shiny and sleek with their pointed, aerodynamic noses, the TGV lives up to its name. As it leaves Paris, the train picks up speed and landscapes dissolve into blurry, impressionistic patches of color. Gliding silently along, you almost feel like you're flying, soaring low over the plains that give way, eastward, to gently rolling hills.

Though you can't see the Champagne region's famous vineyards from the train as you arrive in Reims, the drink's enormous influence on the city is immediately palpable: More than an occasional, celebratory beverage, here bubbly is a way of life.

Decorative bunches of stone grapes adorn the stately bourgeois mansions in the historic center, and architectural details on City Hall and even the famous cathedral of Reims -- where generations of French monarchs were anointed -- pay homage to the sparkling wine.

Reims is the headquarters for many of France's main Champagne houses, including luxury labels Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart and Pommery. Most labels offer tours of their cellars with English-speaking guides several times a day.

Clustered in the residential neighborhoods south of the city center -- a good 45-minute walk from the train station -- the best way to get to the cellars is by taxi.

I visited Taittinger, founded in 1930 by entrepreneur Pierre-Charles Taittinger. Among the youngest of the major labels, the Taittinger cellar is built on the meandering corridors of a Roman chalk mine and dates from the 4th century. Vestiges of the mine -- and an abbey built in the 13th century by Champagne-making monks -- can be seen in Taittinger's 20-meter-deep (66-foot-deep) cellar, which holds some 3 million bottles of bubbly.

While in the cellar-filled southern part of town, be sure to swing by Saint Remi Basilica, an 11th century church that holds the remains of the city's most celebrated native son, Remi of Reims, a 5th century archbishop credited with converting France to Catholicism.

It was Remi who baptized the barbarian Clovis, the Franks' first king, around A.D. 498 in Notre Dame de Reims cathedral. For a millennium, nearly all French monarchs followed in Clovis' footsteps, holding their coronation ceremonies in the cathedral.

Rebuilt in the 12th century after a devastating fire, the cathedral represents French Gothic architecture at its riotous, exuberant best, with intricately carved sculptures that cover the inside and out, bursting from the limestone surfaces.

The Germans heavily bombed the cathedral during World War I, knocking hundreds of sculptures off the walls and destroying many of the arched stained-glass windows.

Russian-born French artist Marc Chagall designed replacement panels, depicting Old Testament scenes and the coronation of several French kings in light, bright stained glass. Installed in 1971, Chagall's hallmark dreamy, curling figures never looked so ethereal as in this holy site.

Another panel pays homage to Champagne, depicting workers making the drink, step by laborious step.

Many of the sculptures damaged during WWI found their way to the Palais du Tau, a former archbishop's residence next door that has been converted into a museum. As well as giving a unique, close-up view of the sculptures, it also houses a rich collection of paraphernalia used in regal coronations.

A host of restaurants around the cathedral serve up delectable local dishes like "pied de porc," or pig's foot, a traditional specialty that washes down well with -- surprise, surprise -- a glass of Champagne.

France's TGV network dates back more than 20 years. The first line, connecting Paris with Lyon, was inaugurated in 1981. The addition of each of the network's now six main lines has shrunk France, putting destinations like the Mediterranean port city of Marseille and Bordeaux, on the Atlantic coast, nearly in Paris' backyard.

And they keep getting faster. A special train with a 25,000-horsepower engine and special wheels broke the world speed record for conventional rail trains, reaching 574.8 kph (357.2 mph) on a stretch of the TGV Est's track.

Stay on the TVG Est beyond Reims and you leave Champagne country and head into sweet white wine territory -- Alsace.

Just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the German border, the town of Colmar is a picture-perfect hybrid of French and German culture, with typical German half-timbered houses and broad French promenades and parks.

It's about a 20-minute walk from the station into the historic city center. A small tourist bus that stops in front of the station will get you there as well -- with running commentary in English, French and German detailing the history of local landmarks.

Better yet, rent a bike at a stand in the Champ de Mars park, a 10-minute walk from the station. The bikes -- which come with baskets perfect for stashing bread, cheese, sausage and other picnic essentials -- cost euro5 (US$7) for half a day and euro6 (US$8.50) for the entire day.

With its light traffic, Colmar is ideal for cyclists, though the old town's cobbled streets make riding here a bumpy affair. Navigation is a cinch: Just head for the towering spires of the Collegiale Saint Martin. The luminous 13th century monument marks the heart of the old city.

Moderately priced cafes radiating out from the cathedral are great stops for invigorating midmorning shots of espresso.

Hop back on your bike for a quick visit to the Unterlinden Museum, housed in a 13th century Dominican monastery. The jewel of the museum's collection is the Issenheim Altarpiece, a triptych with layers of panels depicting the lives of Christ and several saints that unfold like a massive book. The paintings, by 15th century German artist Matthias Grunewald, look like Technicolor dreamscapes: haunting, expressive, disturbing.

Another nearby museum, the Musee Bartholdi, pays homage to sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi -- a Colmar native and the designer of the Statue of Liberty. Sketches and clay mock-ups of Lady Liberty make up the core of the collection.

If you're museumed out, head for the Petite Venise, or Little Venice neighborhood -- a canal flanked by charming German-style buildings with exposed crossbeams and flower baskets overflowing with geraniums. You can even take a ride in little wooden boats that look like truncated gondolas.

But don't expect to be serenaded.

"We don't do that kind of thing," one boatman told me.

Restaurants serving local specialties like a beef, potato and white wine stew called baeckeofe and saumagen, or stuffed pork stomach, line the canal.

Colmar's twice-weekly farmers' market is also a showcase for the region's culinary traditions.

Local vintners hawking crisp local white wines rub shoulders with organic farmers offering homemade sausages, hand-picked berries, yogurts and cheeses. Bakers, drawing from the best of the French and German traditions, sell both crusty baguettes and oversized, doughy pretzels.

Most of the region's vintners are based outside Colmar, amid the endless rows of vineyards that surround the city, but a handful of wine makers do their production in Colmar.

Domaine Karcher is one of them. In a small compound tucked into a side street in old Colmar, Georges Karcher and his family turn chardonnay and pinot noir grapes into seven varieties of wine.

Karcher offers daily tours of his wine cellar, with new stainless steel vats and century-old oak barrels. No visit would be complete, of course, without a tasting. Karcher's fruity Riesling and his sweet Gewurtztraminer -- which both run for about euro7 (US$10) a bottle -- are not to be missed.

And after sampling half a dozen varieties of Karcher's wines, the high-speed train ride back to Paris ought to go even faster.

------

If You Go...

REIMS: http://www.reims-tourisme.com

COLMAR: http://www.ot-colmar.fr

GETTING THERE: From Paris' Gare de l'Est station, there are eight round-trip high-speed trains to Reims daily and three to Colmar. Ticket prices vary by season and time; round-trip to Reims currently runs about euro45 (US$63), to Colmar about euro130 (US$183). Buy tickets in person at one of the SNCF railway company's Paris boutiques, not online. You need a European credit card in order to pick up tickets purchased on the Web site.

IN REIMS: Reserve visits to Champagne cellars at least 24 hours in advance. Most cellars offer at least three English tours daily. Tickets cost about euro10 (US$14) per person and generally include a glass of Champagne.

WHAT TO EAT: Try a "biscuit rose de Reims," a light, crunchy delicately rose-flavored cookie that puts the perfect finishing touch on a hearty Champagne-country lunch.

IN COLMAR: The farmer's market is held Thursday morning around the Koifhus and on Saturday mornings at the Place St. Joseph. Domaine Karcher wine cellar: 11, rue de l'Ours in Colmar; http://www.vins-karcher.com . Open Monday-Saturday on demand during business hours and Sunday morning.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 01:59 PM   #228
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Lol.. the map on the first page isn't right either. Places like Breda and The Hague aren't on the map.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 02:20 PM   #229
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When are SNCF extending their TGV network to Birmingham and Manchester?
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 03:51 PM   #230
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Do you like strike ? SNCF


Strasbourg station, the recently added front glass.
Pictures by Grumpy









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Old October 22nd, 2007, 07:01 PM   #231
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Très belle!
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川添 Kawazoe (riverside) 海斗 Kaito (big dipper of the ocean), in Japanese.
Yo si la ciudad no tiene metro, como que no es gran ciudad y entonces ya paso de vivir allí. Norreport+12000
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 09:56 PM   #232
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Why the hell this glass front? The old building looks too good that it would need such architectural trash.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 12:35 AM   #233
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WOW! Awesome! It looks so futuristic!
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Old October 24th, 2007, 01:00 AM   #234
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I like it as well. But the best about it I guess is that if trends change and people start hating it, you can get rid of it again and the old facade will reappear pretty unharmed.
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 07:42 PM   #235
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German railway wants to work with Eurostar on London services

BERLIN, Nov 1, 2007 (AFP) - The German railway operator Deutsche Bahn said Thursday it wanted to work with Eurostar on routes to London via the Channel Tunnel and rejected a report it had sought clearance for its own services.

"At the moment, we have no concrete plans to run direct services (from Germany) to London with the ICE (high-speed train). Accordingly, we have not asked for clearance (from Eurostar)," a Deutsche Bahn spokeswoman told AFP.

The spokeswoman, asked to comment on a British report that the German railway wanted to compete with Eurostar on the route, said routes to London had a promising future.

"Our common interest, with Eurostar, is to increase the role rail plays in transport services to London," she added.

Currently, German rail passengers travelling to London have to change to Eurostar services in Brussels, making for a six-hour journey from Cologne to the British capital.

The Times of London reported earlier that Deutsche Bahn wanted to operate its own services through the Channel Tunnel in direct competition with Eurostar, hoping to cut journey times from Cologne to four hours.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 07:20 AM   #236
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How does a rail operator apply to get accreditation to run thru on the Chunnel?
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 04:30 PM   #237
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That would be amazing if it happened, I would love to travel on an ICE direct to Cologne
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Old November 4th, 2007, 02:15 PM   #238
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cal_t View Post
How does a rail operator apply to get accreditation to run thru on the Chunnel?
The Channel Tunnel and the rail link is built to a European standard, so it shouldn't be too hard I think. If the operator wanted to run trains on the normal old uk railway lines that would be hell to organise though. The main issue I believe is fire-protection through the tunnel - Eurostar and Le Shuttle having back up doors and such like.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 02:26 PM   #239
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elfabyanos View Post
The Channel Tunnel and the rail link is built to a European standard, so it shouldn't be too hard I think. If the operator wanted to run trains on the normal old uk railway lines that would be hell to organise though. The main issue I believe is fire-protection through the tunnel - Eurostar and Le Shuttle having back up doors and such like.
Thanks for that. Where do we find the Specs for the tunnel compliance? If DB did want to run such services, then we might see an ICE 3M mk2! :p
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 11:38 PM   #240
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In Spain we have 2 central government owned rail companies, ADIF (infraestructure manager) and Renfe (passenger services).

Almost the entire rail network is owned by ADIF, regional governments can also build infraestructure (like in Madrid where the autonomous government extended a line because it wasn't on ADIF's plans), I don't know if private companies can build it, so when a Renfe's train (or other companies' trains, but actually only for freight trains) stops in a station or goes throw a rail, they pay a fee to the infraestructure owner (usually ADIF).

An example of private rail company in Spain is Continental-Rail http://www.continentalrail.es/, partly owned by an important bus company called Continental-Auto.

:P Bye^2
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