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Old November 14th, 2014, 05:55 PM   #2421
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Originally Posted by Vaud View Post
Awful news. From a macroeconomic point of view, it's much more efficient to concentrate as many people as possible on a single mean of transport to take advantage of economies of scale.

The rails are already there only to be used by mass-transit; highways are also used by private transportation so it's not a good idea to increase their usage by letting buses use them too while railways are emptied.

I hope Switzerland never takes such a bad step.
I hope private buses get allowed in Switzerland. The SBB doesn't really have much to fear from competition.
here is really a need for a budget solution. I keep encountering people who can't comprehend that a ticket from Zürich to Geneva costs 84,- CHF and that there is no cheaper alternative. There are a lot of people out there for whom the price is most important, and who wouldn't mind spending half a day to get from Zürich to Geneve if they could do so at a discount.
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Old November 14th, 2014, 06:15 PM   #2422
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
For every study that claims that road isn't covering it's external costs there is one that claims it does. I don't think the matter is settled that clearly.
Not my point. My complaint is that there is a cross-subsidy between motorists
and truckers, which costs me money, and give them an unfair competitive advantage.

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For one thing, you forget speed, which also matters a lot and also influences the wear on the infrastructure disproportionally.
Sure, but that factor only varies 30% between cars and trucks, so the
differential creates could never be as big as with the axle load where the
difference is a factor of 10.

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The major reason why so much freight travels by road in Europe is because the railways are traditionally very unreliable, not because road has an unfair advantage.
That remains to be demonstrated. If it was not the case, then explain why
bus tickets always cost less than train ones ? It's not only because the bus
is more cramped than the train... And also, we have a chicken&egg problem
here, don't we ? Train became unreliable because customers moved off to road,
or customers moved off to road because trains became unreliable ?
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Old November 14th, 2014, 07:10 PM   #2423
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
I hope private buses get allowed in Switzerland. The SBB doesn't really have much to fear from competition.
here is really a need for a budget solution. I keep encountering people who can't comprehend that a ticket from Zürich to Geneva costs 84,- CHF and that there is no cheaper alternative. There are a lot of people out there for whom the price is most important, and who wouldn't mind spending half a day to get from Zürich to Geneve if they could do so at a discount.
Exactly!
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Old November 16th, 2014, 10:32 AM   #2424
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That remains to be demonstrated. If it was not the case, then explain why
bus tickets always cost less than train ones ? It's not only because the bus
is more cramped than the train...
I don't know what you are trying to say here. I was talking about freight moving to the road because the trains are unreliable. I know people working for transportation companies. They told me that if they send a truck to Spain they know when it would arrive at the customers to the hour. The railways wouldn't even commit to delivery on a particular day. Things have improved however.

As to buses: Yes, buses are usually cheaper than trains. Why is that a bad thing?

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And also, we have a chicken&egg problem
here, don't we ? Train became unreliable because customers moved off to road,
or customers moved off to road because trains became unreliable ?
Trains became unreliable because after nationalisation (and it's only after the state took over that the decline really began) the customer no longer mattered. Railways' core business became the provision of jobs, lucrative board positions for politicians, funnelling money to companies with good ties with the ruling party etc.
Everything but moving people and goods around. I can remember how it would be remarked, (often sarcastically) that the railways would actually prefer to run empty trains without people on them....

But what also happened is of course that society changed. Logistics changed, and the railways basically let it all happen. After all, why change? Change in any company only happens when the alternative to change is going bankrupt, and since state companies don't go bankrupt...

I think some competition for the railways is good. See what happened in Italy. For the first time ever it is now possible to reserve seats on Italian trains three months in advance even in the weeks running up to the timetable change. This only happened because Trenitalia realised they'd lose lots of customers to Italo if they didn't get it together. Interestingly Italo how offers reservations 8 months (!) in advance.
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Old November 16th, 2014, 10:00 PM   #2425
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Freight train transport also was also affected by other changes in logistics like the widespread adoption of just-in-time supply chains, and many other practices where timeliness is more relevant, up to a point, than cost, especially for higher added value cargo.

They still need to organize better transshipment to/from trucks on rail freight, since there is little (and dwindling) number of facilities directed connected to rail tracks that don't need truck for last mile transportation.
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Old November 17th, 2014, 01:19 AM   #2426
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We have been through this before. You don't know anything about dedicated goods transportation.
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Old November 17th, 2014, 10:37 AM   #2427
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The major reason why so much freight travels by road in Europe is because the railways are traditionally very unreliable, not because road has an unfair advantage.
That is actually not true. Pretty much any freight train in Europe run to a time table just like passenger train does, otherwise it would be impossible to to mix all those train on the same tracks.

The actual problem is speed: Road transport can deliver goods from door step to door step, trains usually can't. Over the last 30 years or so all over Europe facilities for loading/unloading goods have been removed everywhere but major hubs. The unfortunate part is that it is also not uncommon for freight trains to sit in sidings for a considerable time for improved time table integration or to be coupled to another freight train.

That means that trains can just barely compete with road transport on really long distances or when great volumes or weight need to be moved. But when it comes to great volume and weight the next step is shipping.
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Old November 17th, 2014, 02:13 PM   #2428
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What is the percentage of freight moved by rail in germany are there good stats on it. For example between cities far apart and cities that are closer?
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Old November 17th, 2014, 02:52 PM   #2429
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What is the percentage of freight moved by rail in germany are there good stats on it. For example between cities far apart and cities that are closer?
There is a wealth of data available to help people analyse the market share that rail has of cargo movements both within Germany and across Europe generally.

While I don't have to hand any of this data I can tell you that the rail mode is hugely important in Germany for all types of cargo transport.

A number of factors are important to consider here, such as the dominance of the manufacturing sector in Germany, the fact that many German companies supply the rest of Europe and may have operations elsewhere in Europe, the fact that centres of production are distributed all over Germany, the fact that Germany is at the centre of Europe with land connections in all directions, and so on.

And I think it's probably worth noting that the railway in Germany isn't only important for carrying the traditional bulk cargos. It is also very important for conveying high-value, time-sensitive cargos, many of which are conveyed via the intermodal services of, for example, Kombiverkehr.
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Old November 18th, 2014, 07:11 PM   #2430
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That is actually not true. Pretty much any freight train in Europe run to a time table just like passenger train does, otherwise it would be impossible to to mix all those train on the same tracks.
The trains might be on time, this does not mean that the freight is.
Especially carload, and less than car load is very unreliable via rail.
Intermodal block trains between terminals are doing quite well, especially since private competition has been made possible. But for conventional freight the service as delivered by the state railways has usually been terrible, with cars often spending days idling in yards, and sometimes even being completely forgotten. Especially France is a notorious black hole where rail freight often disappears for days...

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The actual problem is speed: Road transport can deliver goods from door step to door step, trains usually can't.
If speed and door to door delivery is so important, why does half of the freight travel by ship in Europe? And I'm not just talking about bulk goods. I am also talking about intermodal containers.
I spend a week on a "short sea" ship, that called at quite a few different ports on its route. Shippers prefer to send a container to a port close to the destination, rather then trucking it around from some central point. And we had all kinds of stuff on board... Not just cheap bulk cargo. Temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals for example.
The most important thing is reliability. Modern logistics doesn't care that much for time in transit, what is important is that the time in transit is constant.

Quote:
Over the last 30 years or so all over Europe facilities for loading/unloading goods have been removed everywhere but major hubs.
Because forwarders stopped using them, because wagonload freight was unreliable. Because if a customer called to ask the railway where their load was the railway didn't even pick up the phone.
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Old November 18th, 2014, 07:36 PM   #2431
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Because forwarders stopped using them, because wagonload freight was unreliable. Because if a customer called to ask the railway where their load was the railway didn't even pick up the phone.

The picture is different now though, especially in Germany, Austria and a few other central and northern European states. The state-owned companies of these countries and some others, which operate the wagonload system, have, for example, formed the Xrail Alliance.

This set-up is there to improve the efficiency of the wagonload system as well enable shippers to gain real-time information on the progress of their shipments.

On the other hand frequent strikes and other issues have meant that there is no longer the most flexible type of wagonload system operating now in France and the same goes for Italy, where certainly most of the marshalling yard humps have been shut down. (I think the only one operating is in Chiasso).

But even so, if one believes what SNCF says, the new, less-flexible wagonload system in France which has been around for at least a couple of years or so is now becoming reasonably reliable.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 05:04 PM   #2432
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The picture is different now though, especially in Germany, Austria and a few other central and northern European states. The state-owned companies of these countries and some others, which operate the wagonload system, have, for example, formed the Xrail Alliance.
Something had to change. And I think that fact that there is now competition, and that the deficits of the freight operation are no longer covered by the state has gotten things moving.

But I think personally that inter-modal is the way of the future. Especially with the new 45unit containers that have the same capacity as a standard truck.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 05:41 PM   #2433
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Intermodal systems for intra-European trade will continue to grow in importance, that's for sure. However, this doesn't mean that at the same time the wagonload system can't thrive, just as it does in North America.

With regards to your point about 45ft-long units, while these certainly have wider geographical reach than piggyback trailers, given that only certain areas and corridors in Europe can accommodate trains carrying 4m-high trailers, there are several reasons why, given the choice, many logisitcs companies will prefer to ship products in piggyback trailers.

Hence why, for example, companies like Samskip operate a transport fleet that includes both 45ft containers/swap bodies as well as piggyback trailers.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 06:07 PM   #2434
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Intermodal systems for intra-European trade will continue to grow in importance, that's for sure. However, this doesn't mean that at the same time the wagonload system can't thrive, just as it does in North America.
I don't think wagonload really "thrives" in North America. It's mostly intermodal and block trains there as well.
Of course, one difference is that the last mile is done by shorelines who cannot afford to give bad service...

Quote:
With regards to your point about 45ft-long units, while these certainly have wider geographical reach than piggyback trailers, given that only certain areas and corridors in Europe can accommodate trains carrying 4m-high trailers, there are several reasons why, given the choice, many logisitcs companies will prefer to ship products in piggyback trailers.

Hence why, for example, companies like Samskip operate a transport fleet that includes both 45ft containers/swap bodies as well as piggyback trailers.
I know Samskip. I spend a week on one of their ships this summer, and I see their containers regularly here in Switzerland, so the 45foot container can make it across the alps.
Shipping stuff across France however the problem is not "4m" but "SNCF".
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Old November 19th, 2014, 06:31 PM   #2435
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I wonder if the freight rail industry needs to learn a thing or two about how modern ports (such as Rotterdam) move containers with extreme efficiency around, and completely reorganize classification years accordingly, instead of using the dumb gravity system.

I also wonder if there is scope for some integrated classification-transshipment yard, where some for of automated lift/transporter takes designated containers and stack them on trucks that are waiting on precise positions, and also over other flat wagons. Or maybe they could come up with a "standard European length" for a flat wagon train, and build/retrofit yards that can easily be used to shuffle containers instead of wagons, be it to other wagons or onto trucks. something with those massive longitudinal cranes (I forgot their specific English names, I refer to those structures commonly seen on heavy manufacturing fabrics, where two parallel rails build over supporting columns can be fit with one or more lifting machines used to lift and move heavy stuff around the floor.)

I was thinking on a yard design where several "standard European length" trains would park, with some space for trucks to also park alongside vagons vir tunnel entrances at some points. Then, computer programmed routines would shuffle containers all around wagons and trucks, as soon as a train or truck is good to go, it goes.

Today, the process of sorting out wagons is too slow.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 06:34 PM   #2436
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Best leave it to the experts to work that one out. I trust the Germans to come up with the cleanest and efficient solutions around...
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Old November 19th, 2014, 06:43 PM   #2437
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I don't think wagonload really "thrives" in North America. It's mostly intermodal and block trains there as well.

Most trains might be intermodal or block trains but that doesn't mean that the wagonload system isn't thriving. Perhaps it's best for me to say that the wagonload system in North America is both efficient and profitable and there's no reason why the one in Europe can't be as well.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 06:53 PM   #2438
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Shipping stuff across France however the problem is not "4m" but "SNCF".

SNCF is mostly certainly a problem and arguably the most important problem.

However, in the context of intermodal transport, the fact that most of the French network doesn't allow for the operation of trains carrying 4m-high trailers on standard pocket wagons is a big problem.

SNCF itself recognised this and that's why we now have the Viia services which utilise the specially developed Modalohr technique.

Just recently has the route between Lyon and Bettembourg/Duisburg/Cologne has been cleared to allow 4m-high trailers to be carried on standard pocket wagons. CFL Cargo is running a service for trailers on the Bettembourg corridor and Kombiverkehr can now do so on the existing Duisburg and Cologne trains.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 10:18 PM   #2439
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I wonder if the freight rail industry needs to learn a thing or two about how modern ports (such as Rotterdam) move containers with extreme efficiency around, and completely reorganize classification years accordingly, instead of using the dumb gravity system.

I also wonder if there is scope for some integrated classification-transshipment yard, where some for of automated lift/transporter takes designated containers and stack them on trucks that are waiting on precise positions, and also over other flat wagons. Or maybe they could come up with a "standard European length" for a flat wagon train, and build/retrofit yards that can easily be used to shuffle containers instead of wagons, be it to other wagons or onto trucks. something with those massive longitudinal cranes (I forgot their specific English names, I refer to those structures commonly seen on heavy manufacturing fabrics, where two parallel rails build over supporting columns can be fit with one or more lifting machines used to lift and move heavy stuff around the floor.)

I was thinking on a yard design where several "standard European length" trains would park, with some space for trucks to also park alongside vagons vir tunnel entrances at some points. Then, computer programmed routines would shuffle containers all around wagons and trucks, as soon as a train or truck is good to go, it goes.

Today, the process of sorting out wagons is too slow.

What point of building expensive system that will serve only containers, but not the other types of cars? Modrn gravity yards can also be automatised to very high extent.
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Last edited by XAN_; November 20th, 2014 at 12:25 AM.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 10:31 PM   #2440
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What point of building expensive system that will serve only containers, but not the other types of cars?
I'm not sure what you're asking. Are you referring to the transfer terminals and railway wagons that help form an intermodal system?

First of all, an important reason for intermodal networks existing is so that shipping containers can be carried more efficiently than by road and faster than by barge. So these containers would still exist tomorrow even if you came along with a magic wand and destroyed the intermodal terminals and wagons in Europe.

Secondly, given that shipppers are free to choose to transfer many things by road these days using tractors and semi-trailers, again if you wave your magic wand and destroy all the intermodal terminals and wagons this isn't going to result in a sudden upsurge in wagonload trains. Instead all of this former intermodal traffic will just go by road only.

Thirdly, the hump marshalling yards that you refer to are not being wiped out by intermodal systems.

In fact in Germany there is a network of ten hump yards in operation all of which are automated. And in a few years a brand new yard will open in Halle (Saale), enabling the closure of the hump yard in Leipzig and the yard in Dresden, which doesn't now have a working hump.
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