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Old March 9th, 2010, 05:44 PM   #361
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Ah... yes. Well, I presume you are saying that if I had a train from say from Frankfurt to Lubeck, and the train was late and I missed my Lubeck connection, then yes they would put me on the next train for free.

Sounds familiar. If I have a flight from Frankfurt to Bristol and the plane to Amsterdam was delays, I will be put on the next flight for free as well.

So what's the difference?
The difference is that in the case of airlines it is based on goodwill, and what evetr conditions govern your fare. Ryanair even explicitly mentions that they will not put you on another flight if you miss the check in deadline because of a delayed inbound flight. Even if it's one of their own flights. This is quite common with many low fare airlines.
Ofcourse if you have a normal ticket from a regular airline things are different. But then from where I live Lufthansa or Swiss to anywhere in Germany, France or the Benelux will cost me several times what a train would cost.
With trains this is different. If you take the Thalys from Köln to Brussel, and have a seperate Eurostar ticket for Brussel - London, and your Thalys is late you will be able to take the next Eurostar at no charge. That is because in the case of rail travel this is an entitlement set down in law, not something dependent on goodwill. And because there are so many more railway stations than airports it's an entitlement that for most people will enjoy from much closer to where they start to a point a lot closer to their final destination.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 05:52 PM   #362
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The difference is that in the case of airlines it is based on goodwill, and what evetr conditions govern your fare. Ryanair even explicitly mentions that they will not put you on another flight if you miss the check in deadline because of a delayed inbound flight. Even if it's one of their own flights. This is quite common with many low fare airlines.
Ofcourse if you have a normal ticket from a regular airline things are different. But then from where I live Lufthansa or Swiss to anywhere in Germany, France or the Benelux will cost me several times what a train would cost.
With trains this is different. If you take the Thalys from Köln to Brussel, and have a seperate Eurostar ticket for Brussel - London, and your Thalys is late you will be able to take the next Eurostar at no charge. That is because in the case of rail travel this is an entitlement set down in law, not something dependent on goodwill. And because there are so many more railway stations than airports it's an entitlement that for most people will enjoy from much closer to where they start to a point a lot closer to their final destination.
Insignificant issue. Even the cheapest and most basic travel insurance would cover any costs involved in the unlikely situation where a budget airline refuses to cover the cost of a missed flight due to a previously delayed flight.

By the way, a disadvantage to missing a train and getting the next one, is that one, at least in Germany loses their seat reservation. It may not be possible to reserve another seat in the time available and although you can get on the next train, you may have to stand for the entire journey. This is quite a common problem, as some connections in train travel gives only a few minutes to change trains.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 06:04 PM   #363
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Insignificant issue. Even the cheapest and most basic travel insurance would cover any costs involved in the unlikely situation where a budget airline refuses to cover the cost of a missed flight due to a previously delayed flight.
Typically only when the delay is significant. The small print on my police says that delays have to be at least three hours. So that means I need to plan 4 hours between connecting flights. Trains suddenly becomes even more attractive...

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By the way, a disadvantage to missing a train and getting the next one, is that one, at least in Germany loses their seat reservation. It may not be possible to reserve another seat in the time available and although you can get on the next train, you may have to stand for the entire journey.
Fortunately trains stop quite often in Germany. There's always someone getting off. The only time I ever had to stand the whole journey on a train was on a TGV when SNCF managed to thouroughly mess up their booking.
(They'd sold every seat on a train twice...)

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This is quite a common problem, as some connections in train travel gives only a few minutes to change trains.
Short transfer times are one of the big advantages of a good system, and it also allows me to demonstrate how you can invest billions in speeding up trains without making travel faster. Before the HSL from Liège to Aachen opened the transfer time between ICE's on the Basel - Köln route and Thalys on Köln - Liège was 10 minutes. Now it's 40 minutes, because the trains take 30 minutes less...
All these billions invested and I'm not a minute faster. Do you understand why I'm arguing that you first should look at your network, and where you can optimize it, before you start pouring lots of expensive concrete?
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Old March 9th, 2010, 08:30 PM   #364
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Short transfer times are one of the big advantages of a good system, and it also allows me to demonstrate how you can invest billions in speeding up trains without making travel faster. Before the HSL from Liège to Aachen opened the transfer time between ICE's on the Basel - Köln route and Thalys on Köln - Liège was 10 minutes. Now it's 40 minutes, because the trains take 30 minutes less...
All these billions invested and I'm not a minute faster. Do you understand why I'm arguing that you first should look at your network, and where you can optimize it, before you start pouring lots of expensive concrete?
This is just your egocentric view. There are other people who in contrast to you actually do save a lot of time due to this high speed line.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 09:12 PM   #365
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Typically only when the delay is significant. The small print on my police says that delays have to be at least three hours. So that means I need to plan 4 hours between connecting flights. Trains suddenly becomes even more attractive...
I suggest you get a better policy.

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Fortunately trains stop quite often in Germany. There's always someone getting off. The only time I ever had to stand the whole journey on a train was on a TGV when SNCF managed to thouroughly mess up their booking.
(They'd sold every seat on a train twice...)
Never had to stand on a plane.

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Short transfer times are one of the big advantages of a good system, and it also allows me to demonstrate how you can invest billions in speeding up trains without making travel faster. Before the HSL from Liège to Aachen opened the transfer time between ICE's on the Basel - Köln route and Thalys on Köln - Liège was 10 minutes. Now it's 40 minutes, because the trains take 30 minutes less...
All these billions invested and I'm not a minute faster. Do you understand why I'm arguing that you first should look at your network, and where you can optimize it, before you start pouring lots of expensive concrete?
40minutes? Earlier on you were saying how sitting on a train is go great and fantastic because you don't have the 40minutes at an airport.

But now 40minutes is no problems at all. Because it's associated with train travel.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 07:43 AM   #366
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40minutes? Earlier on you were saying how sitting on a train is go great and fantastic because you don't have the 40minutes at an airport.

But now 40minutes is no problems at all. Because it's associated with train travel.
You have to read better. The 40 minutes are a problem. I would have wished that they'd moved the departure/arrival times in Brussel in stead of those in Köln, so I could enjoy the time gain all those billions supposedly bought. I just gave this as an example how speeding up trains is pointless for long distance travel if all it gets you is more time at the station.

Which is why you need to look at the network you want to create first, and then start to build. Alas, in Belgium it's "first pour concrete, then think" when it comes to railway investment.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 07:45 AM   #367
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This is just your egocentric view. There are other people who in contrast to you actually do save a lot of time due to this high speed line.
And these people will still save a lot of time, even when we optimize schedules so that other people save time too.

That's not egocentric, it's "network centric".
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Old March 11th, 2010, 12:11 AM   #368
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And these people will still save a lot of time, even when we optimize schedules so that other people save time too.
I already told you how unlikely that is. Stop dreaming of idealistic time tables when the real savings are made between the stations.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 09:56 AM   #369
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If timetables are badly designed all time gained on the HSL is lost changing trains (I don't know iff this is the case).
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Old March 11th, 2010, 09:59 AM   #370
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I already told you how unlikely that is. Stop dreaming of idealistic time tables when the real savings are made between the stations.
Someone quickly tell the Swiss Railways they're impractical dreamers then. After all, they've only concentrated on optimizing their timetable for a few decades yet...
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:01 AM   #371
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If timetables are badly designed all time gained on the HSL is lost changing trains (I don't know iff this is the case).
The point is to do both. But designing an optimal timetable first allows you to find the point where speeding up trains starts to have ever lower returns in total travel time. Thus you avoid investing in a 350kph railway when a 220kph railway will do just fine.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 04:00 PM   #372
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Someone quickly tell the Swiss Railways they're impractical dreamers then. After all, they've only concentrated on optimizing their timetable for a few decades yet...
Just that optimizing their time table was attended by large investments in railway capacities. The SBB could afford it as it is significantly better funded.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 05:08 PM   #373
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Just that optimizing their time table was attended by large investments in railway capacities. The SBB could afford it as it is significantly better funded.
Ja schön wäre es... I'm not sure that's true, flierfy, but I don't agree with K's point either.

You see, in most international comparisons the Swiss intercity trains come out as among the slowest in Western Europe in terms of effective speed. This applies even to routes that are not (or at least not very) affected by the country's mountainous geography. To some extent this reflects more frequent stops in a densely populated country. (Another "laggard" is the Netherlands...) But it also reflects the fact that the Swiss rail schedule planning is ex-treme-ly conservative, so as to ensure that the trains almost always have time to recouperate accidental delays. Not long ago I spent some "quality time" in a train gazing at the beautiful mountains of western Wallis (I'm not joking: they are breath-taking...) because the driver was beginning to panick that he might be arriving to Sion too soon.

Let's not forget: this is also part of "K's parcel". Trains that run significantly slower that they might to be sure to provide connections at n+1 different junctions on the route.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 01:37 PM   #374
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Ja schön wäre es... I'm not sure that's true, flierfy, but I don't agree with K's point either.

You see, in most international comparisons the Swiss intercity trains come out as among the slowest in Western Europe in terms of effective speed. This applies even to routes that are not (or at least not very) affected by the country's mountainous geography. To some extent this reflects more frequent stops in a densely populated country. (Another "laggard" is the Netherlands...) But it also reflects the fact that the Swiss rail schedule planning is ex-treme-ly conservative, so as to ensure that the trains almost always have time to recouperate accidental delays.
The SBB understand the psychology of public transit very well. The result of their "conservative" schedule is the highest rail modal share in Europe, so they are a success.

The important thing to understand is that the passage of time is a very subjective thing. Time moves slowly when you're waiting. Especially when you're waiting in an uncomfortable place. Once you are in a moving vehicle that changes.

The bus I can take to get to the station runs ever 10 minutes. Exactly every 10 minutes. I know when it comes to my stop, I know I need about 90 seconds to walk to the bus stop. The result is that I rarely spend more than one minute waiting for the bus. Something you get to appreciate when it's -10 degrees. (I can also walk to the station in 12 minutes, which is my preferred way to get there when it's not freezing).
The bus company could run the buses at 8 minute intervals without having to add busses or drivers, but that would remove all slack in the schedule. Busses would become less punctual. Everyone would end up spending more time waiting for buses at the stop.
That's why punctuality matters more than frequency or speed.

In Switzerland all IC trains run according to the same pattern. Every st. Gallen - Geneva IC stops in Winterthur, Zürich Airport, Zürich main station, Bern, Fribourg and Lausanne. SBB could conceivably run a faster Zürich - Geneva service by having one that does the whole trip non stop at the fastest speed the infrastructure allows. However such a train would only be usefull for people going from Geneva to Zürich. They would still need to run Bern - Zürich trains, and Bern - Fribourg trains etc. Also there would not be enough demand to run such a train every hour.
There is a train ever half hour from Bern to Geneva. This train takes 1h45min. Driving this distance takes about the same time btw, so the SBB isn't that slow.
Maybe they could run a few trains faster. Without any stops it ought to be possible to do it in 1h30 minutes. However a train ever half hour is easier to fit in your schedule than a handful of trains per day. Frequent trains mean that If your meeting finishes earlier you are home earlier. Frequency matters more than speed.

The value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of points it connects. I know that to get from Bern to _anywhere in Switzerland_ all I need to do is just go to the railwaystation at the top of the hour. For most larger places getting there at the half hour mark works too. I know that being there at 8 will see me in Zürich by 9, in Basel by 9, in Geneva before 10. Setting out half an hour later means arriving half an hour later. That gives flexibility. Network effects matter.

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Not long ago I spent some "quality time" in a train gazing at the beautiful mountains of western Wallis (I'm not joking: they are breath-taking...) because the driver was beginning to panick that he might be arriving to Sion too soon.
That's not nuts. The train might have been early that day, but maybe on another day it has to wait five minutes in Lausanne for a connection. That this is possible without having to miss your postcar connenction in Sion is something many passengers quite appreciate.

Geneve - Sion takes about 1h3/4 by train. There are few faster trains. By car it takes about 1 1/2 hour, so the train isn't that much slower. The SBB has plans to increase the speed on this line, but their point is that any investment in an increase in speed must benefit as many passengers as possible. So just cutting of a few minutes does not bring any advantages if it just means that passegeners only get to admire the new station in Visp a bit longer. The plans are to increase speeds to 200kph for large parts of the Geneva - Brig line.

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Let's not forget: this is also part of "K's parcel". Trains that run significantly slower that they might to be sure to provide connections at n+1 different junctions on the route.
Wel, if you have a a line that does A-B-C-D than offering a half hourly service that does A-B-C-D offers more travel options, and thus value to your customers than running a handfull of A-B trains, another handfull of A-C trains, another handfull of A-D trains, and maybe one B-C train. SNCF sometomes manages to come up with schedules that make travel between two stations on the same line almost impossible. You won't find that a lot in Switzerland...
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Old March 12th, 2010, 01:45 PM   #375
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Just that optimizing their time table was attended by large investments in railway capacities. The SBB could afford it as it is significantly better funded.
The SBB is funded to about the same level as the NMBS in Belgium is. However the service is far superior. One of the reason is that they are so timetable centric. They will only invest in infrastructure if it allows a asufficiently better timetable.
Everyday on my morning commute I pass a section where the SBB is currently building a third track alongside the dual track mainline. This track is only about 5 km. long. This third track will make it possible to increase the frequency oner local service from once an hour to twice an hour, and will allow one extra long distance service per hour.
So basically they first created the timetable, than they started building.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 04:37 PM   #376
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I'm really enjoying this debate.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 05:12 PM   #377
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The SBB is funded to about the same level as the NMBS in Belgium is. However the service is far superior. One of the reason is that they are so timetable centric. They will only invest in infrastructure if it allows a asufficiently better timetable.
Everyday on my morning commute I pass a section where the SBB is currently building a third track alongside the dual track mainline. This track is only about 5 km. long. This third track will make it possible to increase the frequency oner local service from once an hour to twice an hour, and will allow one extra long distance service per hour.
So basically they first created the timetable, than they started building.
How narcissistic does one have to be to write such bollox. Someone who travels from Switzerland to Belgium by train should know better. If the services of DB, SNCF and SNCB were as slow as those of the SBB your journey would take all day. Despite some longer stays at intermediate stops travelling through Germany or France is still fast enough to keep railway travelling competitive to other modes of transport.

The Swiss approach of minimizing waiting time at interchange stations works fine for short distance journeys. For anything beyond 150 km it's just painfully slow.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 07:45 PM   #378
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How narcissistic does one have to be to write such bollox. Someone who travels from Switzerland to Belgium by train should know better. If the services of DB, SNCF and SNCB were as slow as those of the SBB your journey would take all day. Despite some longer stays at intermediate stops travelling through Germany or France is still fast enough to keep railway travelling competitive to other modes of transport.
I'm sorry, but I'm not writing "bollox".
Firstly, I've you'd paid attention you would have noticed that I have given examples of how traveling from Belgium to Switzerland is sometimes equally fast via Germany than via France, despite the lower maximum speeds (and the longer distance!) in Germany. This just to show that trying to go as fast asp possible isn't everything.
Secondly I have lived in Belgium, the Netherlands and now in Switzerland. I've commuted by train in each of these countries. I know where it's the most pleasant experience. And SBB easily beats NMBS when it comes to average speeds. And don't get me started about NMBS service quality.
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Old March 13th, 2010, 01:43 PM   #379
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K, we by now know where your grandmother lives, where you have been living, how many minutes you live from your station etc. But please, from time to time, let us not only get personal in this column.
Not everybody's expectations of public transport are the same, and they differ considerably from place to place, specifically because of what people have learned to expect from public transport. I imagine you standing in downtown Istanbul or London or Berlin and expecting the bus to show up on the dot according to schedule. This works fine in your Swiss small town, but will not work in a congested big city. In big cities, people expect from public transport frequency rather than perfect timing.
The same goes for trains: SBB might be near perfect in keeping its schedule, but do no expect this from DB! And waiting times at stations - I find nothing so bad about it if it is at a civilized station with opportunities to eat, have coffee and shop; if it is on a freezing platform in the Alps, yes of course I want that connecting train to be there within 5 minutes.
Let us return to the subject here: Stuttgart 21 is not being built to serve an area as small Switzerland (in that case we should discuss only how it will effect Württemberg, not even Baden); the idea is that it will be a link in the first Transeuropean East to West highspeed corridor.
In this case, we will have to discuss not if this should be operated like DB would like it or like ÖBB, MAV or SNCF (or K.), but how to combine these different approaches. For ex., German passengers are not used to reservation only systems on HS trains, DB has so far always managed to negotiate exceptions for their unruly customers in contrast to the more tamed passengers of SNCF who by enlarge accept the mandatory reservation system. So merging national HSL systems has many open questions.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 03:24 AM   #380
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For ex., German passengers are not used to reservation only systems on HS trains, DB has so far always managed to negotiate exceptions for their unruly customers
DB has reservation-only trains. The three "ICE Sprinter" lines (reservation-only since 2002, first class since 1998).

Also, this has nothing to do with Stuttgart 21.
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