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Old December 31st, 2009, 03:28 PM   #1041
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No need for that. With low driving and car ownership costs, everyone could drive 100 miles to the nearest station or renting a car in a station and driving 100 miles to a small town. It would be too costly to provide every single incorporated town a public transit connection.
I'm not saying that every town and settlement should be served by Thruway Motorcoaches. Sometimes it's not worth driving because you'd have to pay for overnight parking and gas, so if a bus can take you from your town to the train station, it could be a good deal, especially because Thruway Motorcoaches' schedules are usually coordinated with train schedules.

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How much intercity market share does Amtrak have? I doubt it is over 1,5%, but right now DOT site is under maitenance, so maybe I'll check later and edit this post.
I don't know the market-share numbers, but I know that last year Amtrak ridership was 28.7 million passengers. This is a historical record on Amtrak's life and ridership has raised for six years in a row. If Amtrak was counted as an airline, it would be the 8th in number of passengers served.

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As for long routes, I've read conflicting reports, but all from news outltes, that routes like the Sunset Limited operate at a loss equivalent at more than $ 200 per passsenger travelling the whole route from N. Orleans to California... Indeed, I'd say every multi-day transcontinental journeys are unprofitable. Does anyone have more detailed information in which Amtral services are profitable, and which are not?
As far as I know, there are very few profitable services on Amtrak's network. I read somewhere that pretty much only the Northeast Corridor is profitable. Other than that, the Cascades service (Portland, OR-Seattle-Vancouver, BC) is also profitable along with some service operating from Chicago.

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Europe is cutting hard on overnight train services due to competition with both faster high-speed day trains and low-cost airlines. Amtrak should to, at least, the same and drop those routes leaving to Chicago all the way to the West Cost, the Sunset Limited, Florida - Virginia trains, Crescent express etc. Only vacationers are served with 72h train journeys departing 3 times a week. Concentrate operations in commuting and medium distance clusters in California, around Chicago, between Texas and Oklahoma, in the NEC, and that is it - no need to run biweekly trains just to have a nice route map.
Right, but we can't forget that ridership has increased on services like the Empire Builder (Chicago-St. Paul-Montana-Spokane-Seattle/Portland) and the Silver Services (New York-Florida). I think they need to reorganize schedules and offer additional service in certain segments where there is demand (like Minneapolis/St. Paul-Chicago).

Overnight trains can still be a good option in the United States. It will take some time until the US can build up a high-speed rail network as extensive as Europe's. Some services like the Pennsylvanian take more than 9 hours to complete the journey. I have taken this service before and I would take it overnight if I was going from New York to Pittsburgh. Although I had booked a coach seat I was surprised to see how comfortable it was -- it offers a lot of legroom, decent recline and footrests. I think it is more comfortable than most first class domestic airline seats. Also, sometimes people paying for their own trips prefer to travel overnight, so they can save money that would be spent on an extra night at the hotel. Just a few overnight trains to a few different destinations should do it. There's no need to have more than one overnight departure (maybe two, depending on the demand) to the same destination, because you can always couple more cars to the trains, so if demand is high, you can run with 8 cars instead of 6.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 12:01 PM   #1042
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Right, but we can't forget that ridership has increased on services like the Empire Builder (Chicago-St. Paul-Montana-Spokane-Seattle/Portland) and the Silver Services (New York-Florida). I think they need to reorganize schedules and offer additional service in certain segments where there is demand (like Minneapolis/St. Paul-Chicago).

Overnight trains can still be a good option in the United States. It will take some time until the US can build up a high-speed rail network as extensive as Europe's.
Excellent point, StreetView. Personally I suspect that Europe right now is in a temporary lull as far as night trains are concerned. A few weeks ago there was a big feature article in the Frencly magazine La Vie du Rail about sleeper trains in Russia. The article couldn't help sneering a bit (well, it was after all French... ) at railway solutions of a kind that are, in France, nowadays consideres as sooOOO "last century". (In all fairness the magazine did recognise that a huge nation like Russia may have to do things a bit differently...)

I think they were too hasty. The Russians are now planning to mix HS and night trains by introducing highspeed (well, almost...) sleeper services, starting by Moscow-Sochi in time for the 2014 winter olympics. The Chinese railways are far advanced in the same direction. IMHO the Europeans will, within the next 10-20 years move in that direction as well. The keys to this development will be (1) the development of the so-called Trans-European Networks; and (2) the opening of competition across borders from 2011. Because...

...for geographic reasons up to now no west European nation has had to contemplate, within its own borders, train traffic covering more than at most 1,000 km. With such distances the gung-ho French (and more recently Spanish) approach makes a lot of sence. In parody: "We need to optimise all such routes for speeds not significanly exceeding 3 hours. Anyone speaking of night trains are w**kers who are too timid or stingy to invest in proper highspeed trains". In a domstic French context this attitude makes perfect sense, but...

...what of, for example, emerging TEN corridors like Paris-Munich-Vienna-Budapest? Are they to be used only for point-to-point traffic between, say, Vienna and Stuttgart or Munich and Strassburg? Longer than that and you'll be above the 3-hours limit where trains start losing their competitiveness vis-a-vis planes. My very firm guess is that Europe will see the re-introduction of sleeper trains - but this time sleeper trains racing at 300 km/h through the night (OK, only 250 km/h in Germany...).

There needs not be a huge passenger demand: the infrastructure will be in place already, so the marginal cost of a few HS sleeper trains will be managable. Moreover, the changing geographic structure of Europe (more and more people living in fewer and fewer middle- to large-sized citieis) pulls in the same direction. And, perhaps most importantly, the night trains will have gained on on the (plane) competition by having become much more comfortable than their predecessors. One achilles heel of such trains in the past was that the sleeper waggons were often hinged and unhinged unto different train sets all through the night with the result that the passengers got less than a good night's sleep. That's not going to happen with HS sleeper trains rushing through Europe on dedicated tracks.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 11:26 PM   #1043
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Interesting. I'm not really an insider when it comes to rail transport in Europe, as I don't really read much about it and I have never been to Europe, unfortunately. I can totally understand why France sees overnight trains as a "last century" solution -- France is a small country, compared to the US, and they have an extensive HSR network.

But things are different in the US & Canada, don't you think? Both countries are really large in territory, none of them has a well-developed HSR network and car-culture prevails in both countries (generally -- not talking about specific cities or regions).

On my previous post I meant to say that night trains could be a temporary solution while HSR is not available in places other than the Northeast Corridor. As the HSR network get improvements and expansions, night trains could be phased out, although I think that night trains could be kept in certain routes, so Amtrak's guests could have options of different service speeds and fare (based on speed). Other than that, I think what you wrote on the last paragraph can be pretty much applied to the United States scenario, considering that Midwest and Rocky Mountain states are not as densely populated as states of the East and West Coasts, Great Lakes region and Texas. For obvious reasons I'm not including Alaska and Hawaii on that scenario.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 12:20 AM   #1044
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C'est que... please don't misunderstand my purpose, Streetview. If anything I wanted to say that North America need to keep their nighters alive for ex-act-ly the same reason that the Russians do so: the distances are simply 3x bigger than in Europe. On a corridor of less than 1,000 km (i.e. a corridor of "European" rather than "American/Russian" length) I'd persist in calling it a bit "last century", but, again, I agree with you that if the clients are there then whyever not? It may as you say serve as a stop-gap until something more modern has been developed.

My second point was that "habitual scoffers" such as La Vie de Rail may yet have to eat their own words for a second reason, namely - as I argued in a good many words - that the sleeper trains may yet gain a renaissance in the form of night HS trains.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 12:28 AM   #1045
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Got it. I guess we are talking about the same thing.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 03:32 AM   #1046
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Guys, air travel doesn't know borders. No one (except for rail fans) would travel LAX-ORD or MIA-BOS in a multiday journey. Full HSR is a very intersting concept, but it is not suitable for >1500 km journeys as it is not suitable for regional commuting (<50 km, say).
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:41 AM   #1047
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Suburbanist, you don't quote me/us correctly. I agree with you that there is no mass market for multiday train journeys. We were speaking of night trains. Let me give you a concrete example: 15 years ago I lived in Switzerland. My mother, then still a busy and quietly successful business woman, would drop in from Denmark and visit me occasionally. Her time was not to be wasted, WHICH IS PRECISELY WHY she always took the night train back and forth. She slept (unlike yours faithfully, BTW) excellently in a moving train, so for her the best of all worlds was getting into a train after the end of a working day (I think it left around 8 pm) and arriving to Basle just after 8 am. Conversely, had she taken the plane she would have wasted the better part of half a working day in each direction. (Admittedly it was before the days of Internet, mobile phones and Blackberries: You couldn't work in an airport.)

All I'm saying is, in those days of slow-moving trains this "good-night's-sleep-and-arrive-in-the-morning" was possible on distances of 800-1200 km. In the brave new world of cross-border HS trains it may be possible on distances of 2000-2500 km?

Finally, I'm perhaps a bit more sceptical of the potential for this concept in the United States. It would work in Europe because the HS links between related cities (e.g. Paris-Lyon; Madrid-Barcelona) is slowly coming together to a network. In the US I'd say HS is for "local use". San Francisco-LA, Boston-NY-DC and some sort of "HS star" around Chicago make excellent sense to me. (I'm sure some other prospective local HS projects could be added to the list. Florida? Texas?) Trying to connect these to a nation-wide network, however, would for the reasons you mention, seem a bit futile.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 05:58 PM   #1048
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All I'm saying is, in those days of slow-moving trains this "good-night's-sleep-and-arrive-in-the-morning" was possible on distances of 800-1200 km. In the brave new world of cross-border HS trains it may be possible on distances of 2000-2500 km?
I had that idea myself already but it seems its not realistic, which is a pity. The reason is that high speed tracks need a lot of regular maintenance which is carried out during the nights, when there is no service. That's what I was told at least.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 06:58 PM   #1049
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Exaclty Slartibartfas. I'll talk a little about the situation in Europe.

Demand for night trains is falling fast, and with the annualy timetable adjustment (done in mid-December yearly) for 2010, a lot of night services have been axed. For instance, in Italy they cut more night trains past December, they are down to 34% of services offerred 10 years ago.

Night trains interfere excessively with freight operation that dominate most Western Europe railways. For a freight train, it is not big deal to be held for 2 or 3 hours, or to operate under "strange" schedules if that is what optimizes traffic. Same cannot be said for passenger traffic. Indeed, passenger traffic is very disruptive to freight traffic as peak-holiday car traffic (Christmas, summer weekends etc.) severely disrupts truck traffic in Western Europe.

Assuming night trains are not operating regular seat cars, they need to be very long and thus operate with extended platforms.

There is, also, a cultural change: shared compartments are not longer vastly tolerated as something civilized. Many people that wouldn't mind be stranded on an airplane seat for 3 or 4 hours would not accept the idea of sleeping in a bunk bed, in the dark, in a 500m-long trains in a compartment filled with strangers. It is a pattern with consequence in other areas, like demise of hotels with shared bathrooms, end of organized tours that offered "shared accomodotation" to people travelling alone, children having their own bedroom from early age etc. Private night compartmens can be luxurious, but they are expensive.

Finally, as Slartibafpas said, high speed rail is desgined to operate without restrictions during peak/day hours, like a subway, but then they need to be partially or totally closed during the night to allow space for cleaning maitenance etc. It is not feasible to operate a round-the-clock high-speed line with the extremely high reliability we have today.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 08:02 PM   #1050
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Suburbanist, you speak like a very "thrifty" (if not to say pernicious) person. Are you by any chance Dutch?

Your reservation about shared cabins is, to some extent, well taken, but already the experience of my old mother that I cited played out in first-class sleeping cabins with a bed of her own, a private wash basin, etc. etc. I remind you that, outside the Germanic parts of Europe, plenty of "ordinary folks" travel first class with their whole family including three children and grandmother. Let us admit that in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and my native Denmark people buy luxuries only because they're either filthy rich or showy airbags. In many other countries like, say, Italy people buy luxuries because, since they can afford them, it would be silly not to. Summing up, I'd expect future HS sleeper trains to have single and double cabins only.

As for the argument about tracks having to be closed all night because of maintenance, I have heard that argument as well. I'm not sure if I believe in it, though. Sure, "technicians" such as SNCF, DB and all the others will tell you that these things are ab-so-lute-ly necessary to secure themselves an easy li... ah, sorry, I meant to secure the safety of passengers. OK, of course it's easier for them if they have the tracks to play with all night, but I think their verification and maintenance work can, realistically speaking, be done in a couple of hours per night. (Anyway, I guess the problem would be bigger in France than in most other countries: our gravel-and-stones ballast is more delicate than the cement trackbeds of countries like Germany and Netherlands.) It's like the airlines: they couldn't POSSIBLY fly between London and Paris for less than 200E and if Easyjet is allowed to do that then it wil SERIOUSLY imperil passenger safety. Governments told the airlines to stuff it, and... voila, two months later Air France and BA were flying between Paris and London for less than 200E. What a miracle!!!

And, anyway, if this exercise is so futile, how come Bombardier is currently working flat out on an order from the Chinese Ministry of Railways on sleeper trains enabled for 250 km/h? Have the Chinese made a colossal blunder? Have they failed to understand that these things are just not possible?
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 09:26 PM   #1051
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The point of sleeper trains is not to compete with air travel, really. It is to compete with car travel.

People make cross country trips all the time... and I have no doubt that expanded long distance trains in the U.S. would see expanded ridership as well. Already the sleeper cars on Amtrak are booked solid months ahead of time.. yet they can't expand service because they are beholden to government subsidies and politicians that have no problem with highways being a money pit... but expect Amtrak to turn a profit.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:16 PM   #1052
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Minnesota just published its first draft of a comprehensive state rail plan:

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/planning/...inalReport.pdf

Of course I don't think it goes nearly far enough. They are pushing for paltry 110mph service from the Twin Cities to Duluth and to Milwaukee/Chicago.

If the line were to go through Rochester, Minnesota's 3rd largest metro and fastest growing city, new tracks would need to be built, enabling speeds "up to 150mph".

While any passenger rail plan in the U.S. is bold, this is kind of anemic. But they need to set realistic goals in order to get federal funding, I guess.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 11:57 PM   #1053
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The point of sleeper trains is not to compete with air travel, really. It is to compete with car travel.
Finally someone's got it here . Sleeper trains are to compete with car travel.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 06:43 AM   #1054
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People make cross country trips all the time... and I have no doubt that expanded long distance trains in the U.S. would see expanded ridership as well.
I don't think so. First, people usually don't driver overnight expecting to enjoy the whole following day. I've done some overnights driving trips (Irún-Genova, Amsterdam-Firenze, Los Angeles-Salt Lake City for instance), and they worn you out once you arrive. Even more important is the fact that group car travel (4 people in the same car) is fairly cheap even with insidious gas taxes and overpriced tolls in Europe. Families take the car to their vacations because it allows them to make short trips once they arrive in their destinations, giving them unmatched flexibilty once you arrive.

When it comes to price, it is unfeasible that an overnight train will ever match low-cost airfares. If I were an airline CEO, I'd put my prices as low as possible in any new overnight train route to fight it to the death, if I ever felt that it were to be a threaten to my business. Same for speed: no comercially competitive 500 mph trains are expected to be in service for the foreseeable future.

So the only advantage of a (non subisidized) night train would be delivering passengers willing to pay premium fares for single/double compartments so they can travel overnight. Moreover, many night routes are purposedly "slowed down" in order to increase total travel time. This is the only reason to explain why some night trains take as long as 40 years ago to travel in conventional rail where extensive modernization was done in past decades, yet who wants to arrive at 3 AM in Berlin?

Even in Europe, after cars became comfortable and more reliable in the mid-60's, night train travel never accounted for a significant part of long distance travel. It was, is and will always be a niche that will be never profitable in many routes.

In Italy, when they cut down the "espresso" night services up to 80%, there was an outcry far beyond reasonable. It was a kind of "entitlement" those 1500km+ routes linking different regions, and journalists complained that it would be "unfair" to target cheap services that catered for the poor Italians and students who couldn't otherwise afford holiday trips to their hometowns to have luch with mama. These trains had a lot of seat compartments that allowed one to travel from Milano to Reggio Calabria, for instrance, for less then 40 euros (1880km...) in 15 to 17 hours! An absurd, Third-World service indeed.

Most of those trains were cut and nobody (save for rail fans or eldery retirees "too old to start flying" Easyjet at 60 y.o.) misses it. I don't like the idea of government stepping in to finance backpacker's transportation too (so they can maximize the # of cities they visit during their winter break by taking as many night trains as possible...).

Freeing up the tracks for freight-only operations during the night would be an AMAZING thing to do. Suppose it were possible to run only frieght trains, innovative route planning and service scheduling schemes could be placed to increase efficiency and speed of European cargo rail service, which is lagging behind US in many aspects.

In case of US, the share of overnight train trips is so, so small that increasing it 10-fold would be still negligible.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #1055
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Minnesota just published its first draft of a comprehensive state rail plan:

Of course I don't think it goes nearly far enough. They are pushing for paltry 110mph service from the Twin Cities to Duluth and to Milwaukee/Chicago.

...

While any passenger rail plan in the U.S. is bold, this is kind of anemic. But they need to set realistic goals in order to get federal funding, I guess.
In your place I'd worry more about the politics of this than the Vmax. The "beefy" part of this proposal is the almost-high speed link between the Twin Cities (I assume this means Minneapolis/St.Paul?), Milwaukee and Chicago. If I can read a map then only about one third of that route is the state of Minnesota.

The proposal is basically about getting federal co-funding to (1) enable Minnesota's participation in the integrated Midwestern traffic initiative; and (2) getting ditto for an upgrade of the monocentric networks lining the rest of the state to the Twin Cities. The proposal throws in as a bonus ("...and if you want to see REAL highspeed, then...") the greenfield link via Rochester.

In brief, it looks to me (and I've spent 18 years close to politics) as a scheme to leverage the "H-word" to get federal funds for a pragmatic upgrading of the intra-Minnesota railroads. If the States of Michigan and Illinois get moving, great, then there will also be a fast connection to Chicago - but if they vacillate (like they have been since the early 1990s) then the Governor of Minnesota can throw up his hands and say "Hey, we were preparing for HS. It's not my fault it didn't get built".
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Old January 4th, 2010, 07:00 PM   #1056
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I don't think so. First, people usually don't driver overnight expecting to enjoy the whole following day. I've done some overnights driving trips (Irún-Genova, Amsterdam-Firenze, Los Angeles-Salt Lake City for instance), and they worn you out once you arrive.
You're not saying anything other than what's obvious. Of course that if you spend a night driving instead of sleeping you'll have to sleep sometime, earlier or later -- during the day, probably. But if you take a train at night, you don't have to be awaken to drive -- all you have to do is seat back and relax, then be awake before your final destination.

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When it comes to price, it is unfeasible that an overnight train will ever match low-cost airfares. If I were an airline CEO, I'd put my prices as low as possible in any new overnight train route to fight it to the death, if I ever felt that it were to be a threaten to my business.
So I guess if you were an airline CEO in the US, you'd drive any airline to bankruptcy. Airline is the most troubled industry in the United States and, except for Southwest and jetBlue, none of the airlines are doing well. Also, we're talking about the US. Flying has become too much of a hassle for many people, with all those new security rules, baggage fees, low service standards and much more, so people are opening their minds to travel options that offer more convenience.

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So the only advantage of a (non subisidized) night train would be delivering passengers willing to pay premium fares for single/double compartments so they can travel overnight. Moreover, many night routes are purposedly "slowed down" in order to increase total travel time. This is the only reason to explain why some night trains take as long as 40 years ago to travel in conventional rail where extensive modernization was done in past decades, yet who wants to arrive at 3 AM in Berlin?
This statement shows that you either don't understand the purpose of overnight trains or that you pretend not to understand. First of all, if it's overnight it's not meant to "arrive in Berlin at 3 AM" -- 3 am is in the middle of the night. You're supposed to spend the overnight part of the day on a train. Overnight trains should be arriving at 6am or later (maybe 5am or 5:30 the earliest, depending on the destination). Also, you don't need to reserve a compartment to travel overnight, because coach cars offer seats comfortable enough to sleep (good recline, armrests, footrests, legrests, reading lights, etc).

Also, you are the one who is always saying that people have to have options to choose from, so why can't people have a choice to travel during the day by HS train, car or flying and have an option to travel overnight by train? They can't have an option because they are not driving and you only support initiatives that favor driving somehow?

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Freeing up the tracks for freight-only operations during the night would be an AMAZING thing to do. Suppose it were possible to run only frieght trains, innovative route planning and service scheduling schemes could be placed to increase efficiency and speed of European cargo rail service, which is lagging behind US in many aspects.
Nobody is saying that there should be a high-frequency overnight service, we are just saying that there should be overnight service. As little as it would be, it wouldn't hinder that much freight operations, especially considering that freight trains also run during the day, no matter what.

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In case of US, the share of overnight train trips is so, so small that increasing it 10-fold would be still negligible.
It is indeed small, but it doesn't mean that it cannot change to a greater number.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 08:27 PM   #1057
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..........
In Italy, when they cut down the "espresso" night services up to 80%, there was an outcry far beyond reasonable. It was a kind of "entitlement" those 1500km+ routes linking different regions, and journalists complained that it would be "unfair" to target cheap services that catered for the poor Italians and students who couldn't otherwise afford holiday trips to their hometowns to have luch with mama. These trains had a lot of seat compartments that allowed one to travel from Milano to Reggio Calabria, for instrance, for less then 40 euros (1880km...) in 15 to 17 hours! An absurd, Third-World service indeed.

Most of those trains were cut and nobody (save for rail fans or eldery retirees "too old to start flying" Easyjet at 60 y.o.) misses it. I don't like the idea of government stepping in to finance backpacker's transportation too (so they can maximize the # of cities they visit during their winter break by taking as many night trains as possible...).

In case of US, the share of overnight train trips is so, so small that increasing it 10-fold would be still negligible.
Actually, Turin -Reggio Calabria is only 1300 km long via Piacenza- Bologna-Rome Route. In Italy most of the night services have been systematically killed off by Trenitalia SpA.

Now this State Railways fully owned company offers a "fast combination" of afternoon + night services between Turin a Reggio Calabria for only 139 euros (one way, in second class and 189 euros in first) with a 4 1/2 hours stop over in Rome Termini Station, in the middle of the night , for a journey time of only 14 and 1/2 hours.... (sic!)

Mind you, Trenitalia is a very classic expample of how NOT to run a state railway owned company.

20 years ago the Turin-Reggio C. service was much faster.

I do believe that fast night trains could still have a very good market in Europe.

A London to Milan night services via the present HS lines would take only 9hrs and 30 minutes, and 7h 30' in the future.

Obviously, if you live in Kent, like myself, the journey by plane , from my home to the final destination can take up to 9 hours, of which only 1h 30' of the time spent on air..

Perhaps, even a New York -Miami night service could be attractive, if the journey time were to be around 9-10 hours......
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Old January 4th, 2010, 08:43 PM   #1058
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Flying has become too much of a hassle for many people, with all those new security rules, baggage fees, low service standards and much more, so people are opening their minds to travel options that offer more convenience.


Everybody is closing eyes for the (lack of) security in high-speed travel. I hope we don't have to see the first coordinated high-speed trains suicide bombing with 2000 or more deaths before Europe beefs up, harshly, security in long-distance train travel, even if it means creating dedicated stations with airport-like sterile areas that do not share platforms with more risky, but less terror-attractive, commuter/regional rail.

It is a complete stupidity to allow, as in Italy, Germany and The Netherlands, someone without a ticket, without even an ID, to approach a HSR platform and BOARD the train. They don't even need to be suicidal: it would be enough to hop on at Milano Centrale, leave a time-delayed bomb in a bathroom, leave the trains and create wavock.

Sooner or later HSR will be subject to some restrictions like airplanes, such as carrying liquids etc. I hope this day come sooner rather than later.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 08:56 PM   #1059
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Careful, now. You're on a slippery slope: if you decide to provoke people then you're condemned to provoke stronger and stronger still for eternity to make yourself heard.

I confess that personally one of the things I like about HSR is the relaxed attitude to security. The one exception is, of course, Eurostar, but among normal European nations (which in my vernacular means excluding the United Kingdom) trains are not subject to any more restrictions that cars and busses. I grant you that trains COULD be subject to terrorist attacks. Recent experience in Russia includes a derailment because of a bomb, and in the Netherlands there was a train-jacking in the 1970s. However, I fail to see that any of these incidents could be best prevented by hassling the passengers with body searches, etc.

In France there's extensive security around the tracks - and especially the bridges - to prevent people from placing bombs there. But... what damage could a terrorist do by carrying 5 kg of explosives onto a train? It would kill himself and a handful of other people (he could obtain the same effect in a cinema) but definitely not derail the train. If he carried a handgun he might attack the driver, but these days the drivers are shielded from direct contact with the passengers as well, so that route also IMO seems closed. If you can think of any way in which a train passenger could wreck havoc from within the train, please let me know. Because...

...that case would apply equally to, say, Greyhound busses. Perhaps we should also have strip searches and early check-ins at all the bus stations across the United States?
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Old January 4th, 2010, 09:44 PM   #1060
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A small bomb in a train would do little damage indeed. Airplanes are pressurised aluminum cilynders and composite materials, very lightweight and fragile.

Try toput 5-8 kg of explosives into a train that weights hundreds of tons, and unless you manage to take out the bogie or a couple of wheels (unlikely with that charge).
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