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Old May 6th, 2010, 03:39 AM   #701
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Originally Posted by Koen Acacia View Post
This might effectively turn Brussels into a crossroads of the North-South line between Holland and Paris, and the East-West line between the Ruhrgebiet and London. A bit like Lille is now, only on a larger scale.
There are no high speed trains between Brussels and the Ruhrgebiet and none has announced some.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 08:07 AM   #702
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
In "those days" you didn't have either massive wannabe immigrants from underdeveloped countries or terrorists waiting to blowup our cities.
Oh, you had plenty of migrants in those days. Millions flocked to the US for example, and the only entrance requirement was for you to be able to write your name.
And there was more violence in those days than there is now. Those masses of terrorists wanting to blow up our cities only exist in your imagination.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 08:11 AM   #703
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Originally Posted by sergiogiorgini View Post
Do they really need a revolutionary new passport control system for the Netherlands, though?

I mean, Eurostar calls at Marne-la-Vallée - Chessy, the rather small connecting station located inside Disneyland Paris. It has two platforms. If they can manage the passport control there, surely Amsterdam and Rotterdam can manage it as well?
They can manage it in Marne-la-Vallée exactly because it is a small station, and it's only a train a day. They just close of a platform, then have security thoroughly sweep the area.
You can't do that in a busy terminal like Rotterdam or Amsterdam.
One place where it could be done is Basel. Since Switzerland is part of Schengen it ought to be possible to have all trains from France stop at the SBB station. Many do so already. The SNCF section, which is separate could then be used as a sterile zone for Eurostar trains.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 08:15 AM   #704
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Originally Posted by Stainless View Post
If whoever runs trains through the tunnel uses a few more conductors and just checks passports against a passenger list (pre booking would still be needed unfortunately) while people board. This could easily be done by only opening doors when a conductor is there and filling the train from one end to the other. It might not be the easiest solution but would allow the train to pick up passengers from any station.
Filling a train "from the end" is not really practical. You really want people to board directly in to their car.
What they could do, is have a stop in Lille, and a service stop in Calais. In Lille border police boards and works itself from one end of the train to the other, scanning all passports. Anyone flagged for non-entry in to the UK then leaves the train in Calais with the border police.
But I wonder, since waving through cars is OK at the ferry and shuttle terminals, why so much fuss for foot passengers on trains?
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Old May 6th, 2010, 12:05 PM   #705
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Filling a train "from the end" is not really practical. You really want people to board directly in to their car.
What they could do, is have a stop in Lille, and a service stop in Calais. In Lille border police boards and works itself from one end of the train to the other, scanning all passports. Anyone flagged for non-entry in to the UK then leaves the train in Calais with the border police.
But I wonder, since waving through cars is OK at the ferry and shuttle terminals, why so much fuss for foot passengers on trains?
But they have controls on the boarding area for both the shuttle and the ferries. They check passports and cars there.

I'm now imagining a practical situation of a onboard passport verification: 400m-long trains, plenty of passengers... not easy at all. Imagine if someone decides to take other passengers hostage to gain entry into UK while the train is moving. Or scenes of guards breaking in toilets to catch a woman who is trying to get entrance into UK with her child, both having had hidden themselves in the toilet to avoid being checked.

The chances of someone slipping away are high. We had better pre-check or post-check them, at the worst case scenario, but always on standing ground with plenty of law enforcement personnel available to detain unruly people.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 01:06 PM   #706
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There was even a time one could travel all over Europe without a passport. Those were days. It is said that freedom requires eternal vigilance. It is obvious we've been sound asleep for the last decades.
I wonder how old the lot of you are. Just until 2 years ago, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovenia had border controls in moving trains going to Germany, Austria, etc. The procedure was efficient enough, and the police force finished their inspection within half an hour. What you need is: border police must go through the train in large numbers to cover the entire train in little time; the two border police forces must coordinate their efforts. They must carry some mobile technology (basically laptops) and that is it. Police presence on the platforms and occasional checks before boarding could minimize the number of potential passengers without visa.
Nonetheless, it is doubtful whether the UK would see things so pragmatically. The main thing is you need the political will to liberalize Eurotunnel passenger traveling.
By the way, this is not the only inner-EU bottleneck for people with the desire to travel freely despite discriminatory visa regulations. If you have for example seen the port of Patras where ships depart from Greece for Italy, you will notice a similar refugee presence, and they manage to handle the situation without any blown up security apparatus, with the occcasional ID check, despite the fact that this is an internal border of Shengenistan.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 02:49 PM   #707
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I'm going to London by train this summer. Breda - London - Breda takes 5 hours and it is not very expensive: €99,-. If I would go by plain I would have to go Eindhoven, Rotterdam or Antwerp. That takes half an hour, add the check-in time and the traveltime between the airport and London and the total traveltime would be between three and four hours (depending on where you take off and land).

When the HSR Breda - Brussels is running I can go to Londen in four hours! Experienced eurostar travellers say that you can easily check-in on the Eurostar in Brussels 20 minutes before it departs. So if I know that I can do that, it would take me 3 1/2 hours!
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Old May 7th, 2010, 02:04 AM   #708
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Originally Posted by Kaasbroodje View Post
Experienced eurostar travellers say that you can easily check-in on the Eurostar in Brussels 20 minutes before it departs. So if I know that I can do that, it would take me 3 1/2 hours!
Did it in 5 minutes as my connecting service from Amsterdam was running 30 minutes late (again)
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Old May 7th, 2010, 09:20 PM   #709
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Originally Posted by Baron Hirsch View Post
I wonder how old the lot of you are. Just until 2 years ago, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovenia had border controls in moving trains going to Germany, Austria, etc. The procedure was efficient enough, and the police force finished their inspection within half an hour.
I'm old enough I can still remember border checks at the Dutch - Belgian border... I do remember that checking passengers on the train without stopping it was the norm in Europe, before it dissapeared alltogether a few years ago.
On the Croatian - Slovenian border however they do stop trains for half an hour, while both Slovenian and Croatian border police check passports, and a Customs officer comes around asking anyone if they've got any Croatian booze with them...
They even checked for stowaways above the false ceiling in the sleeping car we were in...
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Old May 7th, 2010, 09:23 PM   #710
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Originally Posted by Kaasbroodje View Post
When the HSR Breda - Brussels is running I can go to Londen in four hours! Experienced eurostar travellers say that you can easily check-in on the Eurostar in Brussels 20 minutes before it departs. So if I know that I can do that, it would take me 3 1/2 hours!
In theory they only allow people with business select tickets to check in at the last moment. In practice they are quite flexible, especially if it's not your fault you're a bit late. Anyway it's a lot easier for Eurostar to let you board your booked train anyway than book you on another one.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 03:57 PM   #711
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I would take this train if it existed.

I see the discussion has focused on passport checks - that's a fairly trivial aspect in establishing a direct link between Holland and England.

What you all have apparently overlooked is that the Belgians would have to dig up half their capital city to facilitate such a connection.

It's currently impossible for the Eurostar trains to get from their terminus in Brussel Zuid/Midi to Holland without reversing and crawling around the city center on commuter tracks in what will not only be a time consuming but also highly irritating part of the trip. Adapting the station Zuid/Midi will not be enough - the tunnel that leads to Brussels Central and North is stuffed with traffic and can't handle extra trains. You would have to dig a new tunnel underneath Brussels. Good luck with that.

Furthermore, there is no high speed railway link between Brussels and Antwerp. This is unlikely to change given the enormously cluttered and crowded nature of the landscape between the two cities as well as highly contested State borders that need to be crossed. Still, it's a short stretch so it would be doable.

Even if the Belgians managed to overcome communal squabbles and somehow find enough money in socks and under mattresses to dig a tunnel underneath their troubled capital city, I'm not at all convinced 4 hours is a realistic estimate given the state of the track between Brussels and the Dutch border.

Compared to that - reserving a platform or 2 and installing border control booths in a handful of Benelux train stations (Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam) is pennies compared to pounds of gold.

Is all this trouble worth a direct train service between the Dam and the City? I doubt it. People from the Southwest of Holland just drive to Lille and board a Eurostar (total travel time: slightly less than 3 hours). People from the Southeast use Eindhoven Airport. Schiphol and Rotterdam-The Hague airport also offer cheap and short flights. There are also overnight ferries. Existing train services fill up any remaining gaps. It's hard to find any justification for spending billions of euros on such a project.

Last edited by Slagathor; May 17th, 2010 at 04:02 PM.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 06:26 PM   #712
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Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
What you all have apparently overlooked is that the Belgians would have to dig up half their capital city to facilitate such a connection.

It's currently impossible for the Eurostar trains to get from their terminus in Brussel Zuid/Midi to Holland without reversing and crawling around the city center on commuter tracks in what will not only be a time consuming but also highly irritating part of the trip. Adapting the station Zuid/Midi will not be enough - the tunnel that leads to Brussels Central and North is stuffed with traffic and can't handle extra trains. You would have to dig a new tunnel underneath Brussels. Good luck with that.
There are already high speed trains between Brussel and Amsterdam. The railways of both countries want to run a train every half hour on that route. So they seem to believe the track capacity is there.
So what would be needed would be a significant easing of the security and passport regime for cross channel services. The Amsterdam - Brussel - Londen trains could then call at platforms 3-6 in Brussel Zuid, and would also be able to transport Amsterdam - Brussel passengers, which would allow them to run in a path originally intended for a Amsterdam Brussel Service.
So the passport/security regime is the main obstacle. Finding place in the Noord-Zuid Verbinding is not the issue.

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Furthermore, there is no high speed railway link between Brussels and Antwerp. This is unlikely to change given the enormously cluttered and crowded nature of the landscape between the two cities as well as highly contested State borders that need to be crossed. Still, it's a short stretch so it would be doable.
Actually a new fast line from Brussel to Mechelen (halfway to Antwerpen) is currently under construction. This line will enable more and faster trains on this route, and will also speed up entry in to Brussel. This line could be continued to Antwerpen if needed. There is actually less clutter in the way than you think, largely thanks to a car mad minister of public works a few decades ago.

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Even if the Belgians managed to overcome communal squabbles and somehow find enough money in socks and under mattresses to dig a tunnel underneath their troubled capital city, I'm not at all convinced 4 hours is a realistic estimate given the state of the track between Brussels and the Dutch border.
Currently the fastest trains on Brussel London and Brussel Amsterdam both take a bit less than two hours. So four hours is already possible with current infrastructure.

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Compared to that - reserving a platform or 2 and installing border control booths in a handful of Benelux train stations (Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam) is pennies compared to pounds of gold.
Reserving a few platforms in Amsterdam for Eurostar services is impossible. Period. So why would this be "pennies"?

Quote:
Is all this trouble worth a direct train service between the Dam and the City? I doubt it. People from the Southwest of Holland just drive to Lille and board a Eurostar (total travel time: slightly less than 3 hours). People from the Southeast use Eindhoven Airport. Schiphol and Rotterdam-The Hague airport also offer cheap and short flights. There are also overnight ferries. Existing train services fill up any remaining gaps. It's hard to find any justification for spending billions of euros on such a project.
As I and others have demonstrated this does not need billions.
The infrastructure that is there already allows a travel time of 4 hours.
The trains that can do this trip already exist.
The only thing that needs to be done is convince the bureaucrats to allow it to happen.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 10:48 PM   #713
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Actually a new fast line from Brussel to Mechelen (halfway to Antwerpen) is currently under construction. This line will enable more and faster trains on this route, and will also speed up entry in to Brussel. This line could be continued to Antwerpen if needed. There is actually less clutter in the way than you think, largely thanks to a car mad minister of public works a few decades ago.
I can add some more information about that: it's not yet certain how fast will be allowed to go there, but looking at the overhead wiring poles they've placed so far, I'm assuming at least 160kph+. That would be a small improvement over the 120 to 140kph that's currently allowed on the existing parallel line. More important though will be the bypass around the station of Mechelen since it will allow trains to pass through more quickly.

The tracks between Mechelen and Antwerp are currently at 160kph (roughly speaking). I'd love it if they'd be able to upgrade that to 200kph or more, but I personally doubt that will happen because there are so many tunnels and bridges which will make it very costly. There's currently also works on easing a curve in the line by placing a new bridge to cross the Nete river, which should improve the speed there: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=51.082942,4.4973918&z=16

For those who are unfamiliar with the area and are wondering why there are no plans for a separate line which evades the city centres and allows for a much quicker connection: the whole area is built up very closely and sadly enough there was no structural planning at that time (well, I'm not seeing much of an improvement nowadays, but that's another story...). Due to the combination of these two factors, it's very hard to increase capacity or speed on these lines. But with those four tracks, I think we currently have enough capacity on that line anyway.

About the Brussels North-South connection: Infrabel, the rail infrastructure company, said two years ago that it would like to expand it due to those capacity problems. The building of the original North-South connection caused serious problems in Brussels though, so people are very sceptical about it.

Greetings,
Glodenox

Last edited by Glodenox; May 18th, 2010 at 12:23 AM.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 11:44 PM   #714
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If the entire line from Schaarbeek(Brussels) to Berchem(Antwerp) is built/upgraded to 160 km/h then there will be a speed gain, because at this moment there are numerous speed restrictions on the old line.

if the part between Mechelen and Mortsel becomes the problem, there is still space available next to the lines 25/27. only the part between Mortsel and Berchem is more problematic due to the suburban environment. But this is only the last 5-6 km, so this won't be the main time-loss
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Old May 18th, 2010, 07:07 AM   #715
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I can add some more information about that: it's not yet certain how fast will be allowed to go there, but looking at the overhead wiring poles they've placed so far, I'm assuming at least 160kph+. That would be a small improvement over the 120 to 140kph that's currently allowed on the existing parallel line. More important though will be the bypass around the station of Mechelen since it will allow trains to pass through more quickly.
Actually speed isn't really the biggest issue here. Its capacity. In the 80ies trains took less time to get from Antwerpen to Brussel than they do now, and that was on lines where you could only run 120kph. But then there were less trains running.
The real problems are near Brussels where conflicting movements slow trains down. This is one major problem the new line will solve, which will speed up things quite substantially.

Quote:
About the Brussels North-South connection: Infrabel, the rail infrastructure company, said two years ago that it would like to expand it due to those capacity problems. The building of the original North-South connection caused serious problems in Brussels though, so people are very sceptical about it.
One way to ease the congestion is to run some suburban trains via a different route. A start has already been made here, but NMBS isn't really forward looking enough here.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 12:24 AM   #716
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Reserving a few platforms in Amsterdam for Eurostar services is impossible. Period. So why would this be "pennies"?
What if they use Amsterdam Zuid as departure point, instead of Amsterdam Centraal?
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 01:24 PM   #717
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What if they use Amsterdam Zuid as departure point, instead of Amsterdam Centraal?
Amsterdam Zuid doesn't have any spare tracks either. It only two island platforms with each two tracks, and it has already 12 trains per hour in each direction. (Last time I was there however it had only one platform with two tracks...)
In fact, no station in the Netherlands has spare tracks. The NS never builds infrastructure unless it intends to use it intensively. A platform that would only be used by a handfull of trains a day is completely out of the question. (And rightly so)

Last edited by K_; May 22nd, 2010 at 01:29 PM.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 06:23 PM   #718
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The passport check is really not that big of a deal. I used to live in Austria close to the German border, in the pre-Schengen times. We had (and still have) regional trains that would go over the border to Lindau, which was a popular destination for the weekend or shopping. There you would leave the train, pass through a room, where they quickly checked your documents and that was all. And this wasn't even a big train station, it was merely a local one.

So all of this was common practices some 15-20 years ago, in many parts of the European Union. Only the British seem to make a big deal out of it these days.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 01:20 AM   #719
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You've heard of the Madrid bombings in 2004, haven't you?
I sure do.

And I even remember very well that those bombings occured in very
crowded suburban trains, so as to maximize the effect of the explosions.

And as a reaction to that, RENFE leaves the suburban trains as unprotected
as they were before, but engages in X-ray checking of the luggage of
travelers boarding long-distance trains. If this is not a decision taken after
heavy smoking of illicit substances, then what ?
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 04:16 PM   #720
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It's not practical to search everyone who boards a commuter train, but RENFE need to be seen to be doing something, so they resort to "securty theatre".
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