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Old October 25th, 2011, 09:38 AM   #161
MarcVD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krulstaartje View Post
Are there any travel time improvements once the N25 project finishes? For example on Rotterdam - Brussels.
Not known yet. But I don't hold my breath. After the completion of the
L2 and the 4 tracks between Brussels and Leuven, the service improvements
have been minimal. Basically, one does not travel faster between Brussels
and Liège now than in the seventies. Speed improvements are used to build
more slack in the schedules, so that SNCB does not pay penalties for their
trains being late. Hell, even with that, they can't keep up with the schedules,
late running has never been so widespread as today.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 09:42 AM   #162
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Recurring issue: the configuration of line essentially prevents any rail service Rotterdam-Bruxelles that doesn't, at least, slow down to 80 km/h for 3 kilometers in Antwerpen.
Not an issue at all given that there is no market for any high-speed train that
goes through Antwerp without calling at Antwerpen Centraal.

What is needed, now, is a rebuild of the Antwerpen-Berchem zone, in order
to avoid slowing down trains that do not stop there, and also because the
station itself badly needs it...
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Old October 25th, 2011, 09:51 AM   #163
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[QUOTE=Suburbanist;84936877Anyway, the Bruxelles-Antwerpen like is a critical case. They need a 270km/h line between two cities. In the Netherlands, they built HSL-Zuid between Schiphol and Rotterdam, a distance shorter than Antwerpen-Bruxelles. Then, they could run Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Bruxelles Midi trains that don't stop in Antwerpen, for instance, like they have Bruxelles Midi-Paris Nord trains that don't stop in Lille.[/QUOTE]

There is no market for trains Brussels-Amsterdam that do not call at
Antwerpen Centraal. And the area between Brussels and Antwerp is too
densely populated to build a high speed line without incurring insane
construction costs. You might think about using the central divide of the
E19 highway, like it has been done for the new L25N between Brussels
and Mechelen ; but unfortunately, this wide central divide does not
exists all the way up to Antwerpen, it ceases to exist somewhere in the
middle of the way.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 12:00 PM   #164
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I don't like comparing things all the time, but the Dutch Randstad is very populated, yet they managed to build a Schiphol-Rotterdam brand new alignment crossing populated areas, environmentally sensitive areas etc.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 12:32 PM   #165
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True, but it's a known fact that Belgium has never really followed the basic rules of urban planning. Instead of grouping things together properly, expansions were easy to make without any real master plans. So while the amount of the buildings in both areas is probably quite comparable, our lack of planning in the past (not that much has improved lately, but whatever...) makes it impossible to still find enough free space for such a line.

Also, I'm pretty certain there's no public support for such a line.

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Old October 25th, 2011, 01:03 PM   #166
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I don't like comparing things all the time, but the Dutch Randstad is very populated, yet they managed to build a Schiphol-Rotterdam brand new alignment crossing populated areas, environmentally sensitive areas etc.
But the "heart" of the Randstad is rather empty. Nevertheless the High speed line should never have been build. They should have upgraded the existing line in stead. Delft could have had its tunnel by now if they had gone that route.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 01:06 PM   #167
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Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
Not known yet. But I don't hold my breath. After the completion of the
L2 and the 4 tracks between Brussels and Leuven, the service improvements
have been minimal. Basically, one does not travel faster between Brussels
and Liège now than in the seventies. Speed improvements are used to build
more slack in the schedules, so that SNCB does not pay penalties for their
trains being late. Hell, even with that, they can't keep up with the schedules,
late running has never been so widespread as today.
That's what happens if you build first and then think about what you want to do with the infrastructure always...

They should take a page from the Swiss.
First comes organisation.
Then comes technology (particularly signalling)
And only after that comes concrete...
All the money invested in HSL in the Benelux countries could have bought 200kph for most intercity services...
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Old October 25th, 2011, 01:16 PM   #168
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The priority here is not to bring 200 km/h for all intercity services, but to provide (in the case of Belgium) very fast links between Brussels and Liège, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London and Paris.

Different priorities (for political and economic reasons), different approaches.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 01:24 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
But the "heart" of the Randstad is rather empty. Nevertheless the High speed line should never have been build. They should have upgraded the existing line in stead. Delft could have had its tunnel by now if they had gone that route.
They said the same about HSL-3 (Bruxelles - Liège - Aachen) in the past.

The HSL-Zuid is more suitable for discussion on the Dutch thread, but the new route cut a significant distance of the old one. AFAIK, Hooffdorp-Rotterdam via HSL-Zuid is 47km via the new alignment (high-speed), whereas the old route via Leiden and Den Haag is 64km (with some sharp curves and excessive traffic between Leiden and Den Haag N.O.I., which means delays at the slightest problem)

I know that HSL-3 cut the Bruxelles - Liège distance in 13km comparing to the old line. So it's not only about higher speeds but shorter and increased distances as well. Get over it: Belgium is part of EU and it is not following the communist-style centrally planed and monopolistic integrated system of the Swiss. To allow competition (like Thalys and ICE trains serving the Bruxelles - Germany route), you need to have more capacity than if a tyrant railway management existed. But it brings choice and diversity of offers of service, which is a laudable goal in itself.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 06:19 PM   #170
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As long as you don't want to go anywhere else.
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Old October 25th, 2011, 11:18 PM   #171
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I know that HSL-3 cut the Bruxelles - Liège distance in 13km comparing to the old line. So it's not only about higher speeds but shorter and increased distances as well. Get over it: Belgium is part of EU and it is not following the communist-style centrally planed and monopolistic integrated system of the Swiss. To allow competition (like Thalys and ICE trains serving the Bruxelles - Germany route), you need to have more capacity than if a tyrant railway management existed. But it brings choice and diversity of offers of service, which is a laudable goal in itself.
The capacity problem has obvioulsy been solved, but the speed improvements
we are still waiting for... A new high speed line to obtain just the same
journey times than 40 years ago does not bear a very high level of social
return, to say the least. Specially considering that it has entirely been built
with public money. One might have expected more tangible returns from their
tax Euros at work... Mind you, it's not the decision to build the line that I'm
criticizing, but merely the total inability of our national operator to take
advantage of this new and expensive infrastructure to offer a better
service...
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Old October 25th, 2011, 11:32 PM   #172
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
That's what happens if you build first and then think about what you want to do with the infrastructure always...
I don't believe it has anything to do with that. The decision to build that line
was a sensible one, and the way it was planned to use it is sensible too. But
in the mean time, the belgian operator started suffering from 4 major
problems:

- organizational problems caused by the split of the company in 4 separate
entities ;
- reliability problems with all new equipment which is failing way too often,
mainly because it is too complicated to maintain and operate ;
- security over-design and over-achievements which are hindering the
capacity to operate efficiently ;
- manpower problems caused by old bad decisions, like for example stopping
recruiting and training train drivers 20 years ago, the problem being now
that the training capacity can not even compensate for the natural attrition.

All of that ends up with a network which is totally mis-managed and thus
unable to follow their own schedules. For example trains are routinely late
(5 to 10 minutes) on a 30 minutes journey while this same journey was
accomplished in 25 minutes with no punctuality problems 30 years ago
in the same trafic density and conditions.

Any private company making the same management mistakes would go
bankrupt in almost no time...
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Old October 26th, 2011, 02:27 AM   #173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
But the "heart" of the Randstad is rather empty. Nevertheless the High speed line should never have been build. They should have upgraded the existing line in stead. Delft could have had its tunnel by now if they had gone that route.
High Speed Zuid is the only direct rail link between Rotterdam and Schiphol. That alone was worth all the expenses. Beyond that HS Zuid is a success even without suitable rolling stock as rising patronage proves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
First comes organisation.
Then comes technology (particularly signalling)
And only after that comes concrete...
A strategy which leads the Swiss railways straight into capacity shortages and overcrowded services.
The right way is to occupy areas first and fill it with technology later. Otherwise other developments take up crucial space and block later expansions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
All the money invested in HSL in the Benelux countries could have bought 200kph for most intercity services...
Not building HSL doesn't just mean no additional capacity. Upgrading existing lines even means less capacity as the speed spread widens.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 08:09 AM   #174
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
The priority here is not to bring 200 km/h for all intercity services, but to provide (in the case of Belgium) very fast links between Brussels and Liège, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London and Paris.
So far the only line that has achieved this is the HSL to Paris. That is the only one that should have been built.
The HSL to Liège has not significantly sped up trip times on Brussel - Liège, so I would not call that money well spent.

Quote:
Different priorities (for political and economic reasons), different approaches.
The first priority should be not to waste tax payers money on projects with low economic value.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 08:11 AM   #175
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Get over it: Belgium is part of EU and it is not following the communist-style centrally planed and monopolistic integrated system of the Swiss.
You know, you should stop using "communist" as an epithet. It doesn't signal intelligence...
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Old October 26th, 2011, 08:14 AM   #176
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A strategy which leads the Swiss railways straight into capacity shortages and overcrowded services.
When you see a queue in front of a restaurant what does that say to you?

Now think again what overcrowded trains actually signify... The Swiss railway is probably the most successfull railway in Europe.
(And don't overstate the overcrowding problem. I commuted Bern - Zürich daily for 2 1/2 years. Never had to stand. Only twice arrived with more than 5 minutes delay...)
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Old October 26th, 2011, 08:18 AM   #177
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- organizational problems caused by the split of the company in 4 separate
entities ;
I know that the split in infrastructure and operation is the favorite scapegoat at the moment. However I think that the main problems are that the fares (as paid by the passengers) are to low. Most of the revenue of the railway actually comes from the State, and so the company will concentrate on serving it's real customers: The politicians.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 07:02 PM   #178
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
Now think again what overcrowded trains actually signify... The Swiss railway is probably the most successfull railway in Europe.
(And don't overstate the overcrowding problem. I commuted Bern - Zürich daily for 2 1/2 years. Never had to stand. Only twice arrived with more than 5 minutes delay...)
The SBB themself state that capacity is their biggest concern. And that shortage of capacity go down to the refusal to build new railway lines in anticipation of an increased demand.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 08:26 PM   #179
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Well, in Switzerland has a lot of new railway projects that are in the political pipeline that take forever to take shape. It's not that surprising that the SBB wants to stress the need for those extra lines. But the situation in Belgium can hardly be compared to Switzerland, and that discussion is better for the Swiss thread.


Back to the Antwerp-Brussel line, was it ever considered to extend the tunnel in Antwerp past Berchem? That could have meant a considerable time saving going in and out of Antwerp from the South. Plus it would be extra capacity at a place where it's actually most needed.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 09:12 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by Momo1435 View Post
Back to the Antwerp-Brussel line, was it ever considered to extend the tunnel in Antwerp past Berchem? That could have meant a considerable time saving going in and out of Antwerp from the South. Plus it would be extra capacity at a place where it's actually most needed.
There were dozens of alternatives for the HSL lines in Belgium, there even was a proposal where the HSL's would only call at Brussels with a triangle near Herentals where the linesfrom (Paris-)Brussels, Germany and Holland would interchange.
This was early abandoned due to the lack of benefits for the domestic travel.

There also was once a proposal to have a line over the full length of the E19 motorway between Antwerp and Brussels, the endpoints were to be decided.

Also there was a plan to end the tunnel from Antwerp northbound behind the Albert canal, making the tunnel twice as long.

More than enough plans and proposals, but we're stuck with some bits and pieces where the big advantage for domestic travel are almost non-existant.
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