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Old April 26th, 2015, 12:09 PM   #601
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Originally Posted by Baron Hirsch View Post
I guess we have to accept one thing the Suburbanist said: the way things are going at the moment, night trains are a niche and most people believe that anything beyond 4 hours is best done flying.
To change that attitude, it would take a lot, perhaps promoting night trains more pro-actively is one thing, but also improving quality (better shock absorbers, sound insulation, more attached private showers, internet, maybe a film program). Mostly though the EU and its member states should give priority to environnment-friendly traveling by for example taxing flights of less than 1000 km prohibitively or banning them all together.
Also night trains should like in China wake up to the HSR age and offer fast overnight links between cities such as London and Barcelona, London and Berlin, Berlin-Paris, where daytime travel times are a turn-off (8 hours or more), but which can be done easily during a good night's sleep.
What are German rules about night closure of high-speed lines for maintenance/cleaning? I know more about the Italian network, where the priority is to keep daytime service intact as much as possible and shift all that is possible to night shift (from cleaning to replacing wires when needed). Moreover, certain new regulations (not sure how Germany is dealing with this) in places like Netherlands or Spain make much more difficult, for work safety reasons, to operate dual-track segments with one live track and one under maintenance. Just too many accidents happened and there is no longer a willingness to consider them part of the risk of doing railroad business.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 12:35 PM   #602
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"Banning" air because it manages to successfully compete with rail is not the way to support rail. There are quite a few sub 1000km routes in Europe where air is even the most environmental alternative. (Between the UK and Scandinavia for example...)
Air travel is heavily "subsidized" by tax exempts on the fuel compared both to rail and road transportation where the taxes are paid.

From the "environmental" point of view it doesn't make any sense at all...
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Old April 26th, 2015, 12:43 PM   #603
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Air travel is heavily "subsidized" by tax exempts on the fuel compared both to rail and road transportation where the taxes are paid.

From the "environmental" point of view it doesn't make any sense at all...
Yes. And tax exemption on aviation fuel is protected by international treaties.

The logical way to answer should be to make rail fuel also tax-free, and leave only road paying taxes on fuel.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 12:49 PM   #604
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What are German rules about night closure of high-speed lines for maintenance/cleaning? I know more about the Italian network, where the priority is to keep daytime service intact as much as possible and shift all that is possible to night shift (from cleaning to replacing wires when needed). Moreover, certain new regulations (not sure how Germany is dealing with this) in places like Netherlands or Spain make much more difficult, for work safety reasons, to operate dual-track segments with one live track and one under maintenance. Just too many accidents happened and there is no longer a willingness to consider them part of the risk of doing railroad business.
Germany keeps HSR open at night, there are even scheduled overnight ICEs (I guess it is just considered more economic than shunting them empty across the country). HSR maintenance takes place with scheduled closures and detours. Right now, the Köln-Frankfurt sees closures on a series of weekends for track replacement. A hassle, indeed, but probably more economic (since this is the vein of argument here) than stopping all possible traffic for several hours per day just for the chance that some maintenance is necessary. I am sure that other other countries could reorganize their maintenance of HSR too, especially if it is just for a handful of night trains and their occupancy of the line is limited.
About the double closure rule I am not sure but I believe it is in force in Germany at least on HSR.

And yes, I agree with chorned: prices of travel are always political; it depends on what social costs you dump on the carrier and what costs are covered by the state, private people, or insurances. In Germany railways must pay the environmental tax, even though DB uses to large degree environment-friendly energy, while air carriers do not even have to pay taxes on fuel. The Merkel government, in a populist and pro-car sector move, spent billions in subsidizing private people buying new cars. When someone took the government to court in order to demand the subsidy for buying a new bicycle, he was refused.

Last edited by Baron Hirsch; April 26th, 2015 at 12:54 PM.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 05:32 PM   #605
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One problem with this approach is that if you indeed turn night trains in to "rolling hotels", with maybe 20 passengers per carriage, weighing in at 60t each, it quickly stops being an "environment-friendly" way of travelling. Trains consume energy too.
This is true. Night trains are of course less efficient than regular non-highspeed trains. But if calculate with a capacity of 1/3 to 1/4 of a regular carriage (I think that is a reasonalbe number) night trains can still compete well with high speed trains in terms of energy efficiency. But they have the advantage of using night capacity, when tracks are not as used. (This advantage is of course only one for regular tracks, which don't need regular night maintenance).



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In fact, the most environmentally friendly way to travel long distance in Europe is by bus. So if the aim is to promote the environment busses should be allowed to compete with trains everywhere.
That is true. I do find it slightly awkward however that 10h busrides are deemed competitive while 10h train rides are not. Are railways really that much less efficient, or do bus coaches profit from higher indirect subsidies (mainly from subsized road infrastructure). Or why else are busses capable of being that much cheaper than trains?


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"Banning" air because it manages to successfully compete with rail is not the way to support rail. There are quite a few sub 1000km routes in Europe where air is even the most environmental alternative. (Between the UK and Scandinavia for example...)
Only with a sea in between. Nothing wrong with aviation in such cases indeed.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 05:45 PM   #606
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Originally Posted by Slartibartfas View Post
This is true. Night trains are of course less efficient than regular non-highspeed trains. But if calculate with a capacity of 1/3 to 1/4 of a regular carriage (I think that is a reasonalbe number) night trains can still compete well with high speed trains in terms of energy efficiency.
How does the energy efficiency of high speed trains compare against slow speed trains?
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Old April 26th, 2015, 05:51 PM   #607
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That is true. I do find it slightly awkward however that 10h busrides are deemed competitive while 10h train rides are not. Are railways really that much less efficient, or do bus coaches profit from higher indirect subsidies (mainly from subsized road infrastructure). Or why else are busses capable of being that much cheaper than trains?
Only for travellers who have very little money and are looking for the cheapest form of transportation. Buses are cheaper because they only have to pay for fuel there as train companies have to contribute also to track maintenance. In a sense it's logical because buses constitute only a tiny percentage of all road traffic where as nothing else is moving on the rails.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 06:00 PM   #608
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Only for travellers who have very little money and are looking for the cheapest form of transportation. Buses are cheaper because they only have to pay for fuel there as train companies have to contribute also to track maintenance.
If (at least passenger?) trains were subsidized by maintaining the rail tracks at taxpayer cost like buses drive on roads maintained free at taxpayer cost, how would train ticket prices compare?
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Old April 26th, 2015, 06:05 PM   #609
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Cheaper obviously, but that wouldn't make sense. Highways are maintained from public money (mostly) for the benefit of private cars not for buses or trucks. Local railway traffic is heavily subsidised as well.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 07:16 PM   #610
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Only for travellers who have very little money and are looking for the cheapest form of transportation. Buses are cheaper because they only have to pay for fuel there as train companies have to contribute also to track maintenance. In a sense it's logical because buses constitute only a tiny percentage of all road traffic where as nothing else is moving on the rails.
If this were the only reason busses would be only cheaper because of subsidies and nothing else. I am not sure this is the case but if it is, this is a very weak argument in favour of busses.

Busses might contribute only a small percentage of road traffic but wear down the road much more than cars. The damage down to the road is not rising linear with the axis weight but rather exponential, isn't it?
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Old April 26th, 2015, 07:29 PM   #611
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Originally Posted by Slartibartfas View Post
If this were the only reason busses would be only cheaper because of subsidies and nothing else. I am not sure this is the case but if it is, this is a very weak argument in favour of busses.

Busses might contribute only a small percentage of road traffic but wear down the road much more than cars. The damage down to the road is not rising linear with the axis weight but rather exponential, isn't it?
Following that argumentation, buses should be taken more into account than private car owners, who however have a much worse environmental impact factor than bus passengers. Infrastructure usage, environmental impact, plus health impact would all have to be taken into account to come to a fair assessment of social costs. How many people suffer from serious noise, exhausts etc. from each form of transport?
Railways are a complicated infrastructure that takes lots of maintenance, roads are by comparison simple.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 08:16 PM   #612
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Who says that roads need less maintenance than rail, or that it is harder to maintain a rail track than a highway lane? I agree with the points you raised regarding busses though and that is why I do support the lift of the bus ban in Germany. Being dogmatic about rail doesn't help either.
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Last edited by Slartibartfas; April 26th, 2015 at 08:39 PM.
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Old April 27th, 2015, 01:41 PM   #613
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How does the energy efficiency of high speed trains compare against slow speed trains?
At the same speed the high speed train will be more energy efficient, because it's lighter and more aerodynamic. At high speed you need power to overcome the drag and friction.

But the high speed train itself costs around 3 times as much to build (compare: a complete 230 km/h Railjet set costs around 10 million euros, a 330 km/h ICE3 set 30+ million euros). That's exactly the reason DB is going for the ICx project. These slightly heavier and slower trains are intended to be much cheaper to run then a fleet of Velaro D's.
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Old April 27th, 2015, 02:33 PM   #614
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Originally Posted by Slartibartfas View Post
This is true. Night trains are of course less efficient than regular non-highspeed trains. But if calculate with a capacity of 1/3 to 1/4 of a regular carriage (I think that is a reasonalbe number) night trains can still compete well with high speed trains in terms of energy efficiency. But they have the advantage of using night capacity, when tracks are not as used. (This advantage is of course only one for regular tracks, which don't need regular night maintenance).
Don't underestimate night time traffic on the main lines. And here the recent increase in infrastructure spending is actually a problem.
When the Zürich - Barcelona night train was still running it was cancelled about half the time because of engineering works. The same fate would probably have befallen the Copenhagen - Basel train if they would have kept it this year.


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That is true. I do find it slightly awkward however that 10h busrides are deemed competitive while 10h train rides are not. Are railways really that much less efficient, or do bus coaches profit from higher indirect subsidies (mainly from subsized road infrastructure). Or why else are busses capable of being that much cheaper than trains?
Don't forget that buses are also quite popular in places where they have to pay highway tolls. I think the main reason why buses can be so cheap is that buskm are cheap to produce. The overhead of most bus companies is quite low, and you don't need a lot of personnel. Most railways aren't very efficient...

But there is also the simple fact that I can buy a bus ticket from Brussel to Rome, but now try to buy a train ticket...

The problem with the disappearance of the night trains is that this meant the disappearance of direct trains. For many railways places that don't have direct trains from their own territory simply don't exist.

Trenitalia doesn't sell tickets to places in Switzerland that you can't reach by direct train. As a result I can't buy a ticket for the 17:25 EC to Geneva if I want to go to Bern for example, and I can't buy a ticket for say Grindelwald.
SBB still sells connecting tickets for Italy, and as a result you will hear more Swiss German on the IC from Milano to the Cinque Terre then any other foreign language.
Many railways still seem to only interested in running trains, not in attracting passengers...
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Old April 27th, 2015, 02:34 PM   #615
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The logical way to answer should be to make rail fuel also tax-free, and leave only road paying taxes on fuel.
Isn't that already the case in many countries?
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Old April 27th, 2015, 02:46 PM   #616
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Originally Posted by Slartibartfas View Post
The damage down to the road is not rising linear with the axis weight but rather exponential, isn't it?
To be exact, it is linear to the fourth power of the axle load.
A typical car has an axle load of 500 kg, a typical bus or truck has an axle
load of 5 T, so the wear induced is 10.000 times higher. The taxes aren't
in the same proportion, so you can consider that all of you car drivers are
heavily subsidizing, against your own will probably, the bus and truck
business. Even in Switzerland.
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Old April 27th, 2015, 02:57 PM   #617
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But there is also the simple fact that I can buy a bus ticket from Brussel to Rome, but now try to buy a train ticket...
Indeed. I went to Brussels Midi last september to buy a ticket from Brussels
to Palermo, and it took about half an hour to have everything fixed, although
I prepared all the itinerary, down to the train numbers, myself.

Next week I'm going to Athens, took an interrail ticket for that (simpler and
cheaper) but still went anyway to the station for the train reservations.
The girl at the counter could only reserve the Brussels-Basel leg. For the
Zurich-Budapest-Craiova-Sofia part, I finally got my reservations from
the "special products" division of SNCB, it took 3 days to sort that out.
And for Sofia-Thessaloniki-Athens, no way.
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Old April 27th, 2015, 03:00 PM   #618
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Isn't that already the case in many countries?
Indeed, as far as I know, the fuel used by SNCB is not taxed (or taxed like
the fuel burnt in a central heating system, if not even less). But this is
largely irrelevant, as the belgian network is 90% electrified. And for the
electricity prices, it is a wholly different story.
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Old April 27th, 2015, 03:10 PM   #619
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Busses might contribute only a small percentage of road traffic but wear down the road much more than cars. The damage down to the road is not rising linear with the axis weight but rather exponential, isn't it?
That is correct. I don't know about buses but a typical articulated lorry causes more than 100,000 (yes, one hundred thousand) times as much wear on roads than a typical passenger car.

Buses are obviously lighter but still quite heavy - 20-25 t.

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Isn't that already the case in many countries?
Unfortunately not everywhere. In Estonia trains used to have a lower excise tax on fuel but starting from this year it's the same as for road vehicles.
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Old April 27th, 2015, 03:31 PM   #620
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I won't extend the off-topic, bur articulated lorries are not the worst offenders in terms of road damage. Short trucks with dense loads are the worse, such as those hauling sand or concrete to building sites.

Actually, that doesn't follow that cars shouldn't pay tolls, because cause still need space, and space is expensive to provide (all but very few highway segments in Europe would suffice on a 2x2 alignment if only trucks used them). One 3-axle truck takes the space of 4-6 cars in a dynamic traffic situation, on flat ROW. Yet, cars are subsidizing heavy vehicles.

------------------

As for electricity costs for railways, how significant is that? I think costs in Germany are rather independent of grid prices because DB maintains its own grid, so it probably owns a couple power-generating plants, right?

Why do they stick to 16.7Hz I'll never understand.
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