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Old June 11th, 2012, 10:06 AM   #1441
makita09
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Again, you apply the flawed Swiss paradimg to any other country in the World! I assume your major complaint about train services in Western US is that they don't have a every-15 departure for a Salt Lake City - Denver train...
Straw man.

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German is spending a lot of money on interesting infrastructure such as HSR in sectors of the route München-Berlin.

Nobody travels on that rout "on the whim". Many people will fly.
Specious unsubstantiated irrelvent claim.

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When distances are long, such as several hundred kms, time you save en-route can compensate to reduced frequency. You just wait one extra hour at a station instead of remaining seated one extra hour en-route and having trains every 30min instead of every 2 hours. OF course, any people with QI > 80 will just check departure times.

I bet you are pretty much against every single high-speed line built in Europe and maybe thing the train+ferry scheme in Calais was better than the Eurotunel if only they had more trains in Northern England with timed transfers for routes nobody cares about.
There was a time when your ideological ramblings made some sort of sense. Here you've desperately tried to placate the incessant voice in your head that demands the universe order itself unto the voice's narrative, and resulted in a sentence that barely threads together a few vague subjects that may or may not relate to anything K has ever mentioned.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 11:32 AM   #1442
Baron Hirsch
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I must in this discussion use the much repeated argument "Germany is Germany, not France and not Switzerland." This is something the anti-HSR partisans usually love isn't it (due to the claim that Germany is sooo overpopulated you have to stop everywhere, and France is a mooncrater with a single inhabited spot...) But provocation to the side, my point is, railways in Europe have developed very much as national systems and have developed national mentalities and approaches to railways. A Swiss potential railway client might be put off by the fact that there is no departure for over an hour. As the country is relatively small and the network is comprehensive, he hardly has to worry about distances he cannot reach within four hours, often much less, and because of high standards in punctuality, will plan his journey until the last bus stop in some Alpine village. In France, now accustomed to a large HSR network (and on many routes frequent departures), passengers will be put off by the fact that due to slow routes, they cannot reach their goal in less than 4 hours, even if there are horrific distances evolved. The fact that departures are not at regular intervals or that reservation is compulsory does not scare them, and they are not used to a door to door planning including consecutive busses etc. Germany is a hybrid between the two, trying to offer semi-regular intervals on main routes, offering door to door timetable searches, but often fails to meet the standards, as punctuality often leaves something to be desired (thus offsetting door to door planning), and DB trying to steer passenger demand by offeirng discount fares in a flexible off peak manner. Germans would probably neither accept prereservation services only nor big intervals in the schedule. As speeds achieved there are much lower than in France, many major towns cannot be reached from other major towns in less than the critical 4 hours, from when on a plane plus transfer to downtown will be the less time-consuming option for hectic travelers such as most businesspeople (hamburg to cologne, or worse stuttgart or munich, berlin to cologne or frankfurt or worse stuttgart, etc.). At the same time, lack of long distance services on non-major routes since the elimination of Interregio services and the low speed standards on these routes make a trip to Konstanz, Trier, Oldenburg, Chemnitz or Flensburg by rail (where there is at least no competition by major airports) less fast than by car. Thus, Gemrany in many cases fails to meet either the promises of Swiss (depart whenever you like and get to that forsaken village) nor of French rail (go there real fast). Whichever goal you want to set (serve the Flensburgers or Hamburgers), this takes investments, either into a select number of HSR and ICE trains or into mid-level upgrades accompanied by more frequent and not always feasible services, and neither one is progressing at a speed that would make any real difference.
Besides mentality, there is a logistic problem with too rigid intervals in the schedule though. In the old days, if passenger demand varied throughout the day/week/season, DB would just add or drop a few carriages. In case of overcrowding, they would even spontaneously add extra carriages and the train would be underway with just 15 minutes delay. Nowadays with ICE, you cannot just add or drop carriages, but must decide between single or double traction ICE or an extra train all together. I remember recently on an overcowded ICE on a Friday before a long weekend, the ICE was delayed until DB had kicked out enough passengers so it was empty enough to continue. If you augment these constraints by adding a very rigid schedule, chances are you will constantly have too crowded or too empty trains.
And last but not least, to explain the government funding issue: while Schroeder worked for his friends in the automobile industry fair enough, his government at least raised investment on rail infrastructure to an equal level with road investments. Under Merkel and later also the FDP, rail investments have been lowered under the heading of "reduction of goverment subsidies", while as a very blunt form of subsidy, the Merkel administration temporarily did away with the tax on new cars, a loss of revenues of several billions being the result. Mind you, you could not buy a new bicylce or upgrade your BahnCard instead. Today, investment into new rail infrastructure in Germany per capita, let alone per GDP, is among the lowest in Europe (in this respect for once, Switzerland and Austria win with immense investments per capita, but of course you can read in the German automobile lobbyist press that this is also just a waste of money...).

Last edited by Baron Hirsch; June 11th, 2012 at 11:49 AM.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 11:45 AM   #1443
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If you score 80 points on QI you should be considered the smartest man/woman on earth, no matter what your IQ is.


But what really comes through in this rather strange discussion are the network characteristics of the German High Speed network. In the current network the ICE isn't just used for the long distance trips but also for the middle distance trips. An this results in a conflict in timetable characteristics. On the Munich - Hamburg connection it's speed over frequency and integration. But travellers using the same train on the Munich - Nuremberg section prefer frequency and a easy to remember timetable over speed.

The current timetable reflects this and therefor it is criticized by people that want more integration and the people that want more speed. The problem is that topography of Germany doesn't really suit both sides. You got too many cities to have a completely integrated timetable. And there also too many cities to speed the system up by bypassing many of those medium sized cities. Therefor if you go either way you will have problems, therefor the we should conclude that the current time table isn't that bad. And judging from the new high speed lines that are under construction the DB is not going to change it anytime soon.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 11:57 AM   #1444
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Germany spends billions on completely useless projects.
There hasn't been a single useless project so far, neither is there any proposed. But if you know more than the German public then let us know where exactly the billions trickle away.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 12:12 PM   #1445
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If Germany *really* is too large for an integrated system, just split it into several countries roughly the size of Switzerland. Would also solve the issue of people complaining about the germanic hegemony in EU. Problem solved, next!

Also, for the country of its size, the system works fairly fine. Could be better, and use more investment, but HSR vs integrated is a false dichotomy. Not every kind of train has to leave at 15 minute intervals, some can even probably do two hours and still be fairly useful. The point is to have the average wait reasonable (yeah, I can check the schedule and stuff something into that additional hour, but I'll still be annoyed and late for dinner), and punctual. The speed itself is important, but not as close to critical as predictability.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 12:31 PM   #1446
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If Germany *really* is too large for an integrated system, just split it into several countries roughly the size of Switzerland. Would also solve the issue of people complaining about the germanic hegemony in EU. Problem solved, next!
It already is.

Switzerland total population 7,8 million. Germany 82 million - 10,5 times that of Switzerland. Germany consists of 16 states, of which 4 (North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Nether Saxony) are each more populous than Switzerland.

Thus, the problem of Germany is presumably that of fitting the intrastate and interstate schedules?
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Old June 11th, 2012, 01:50 PM   #1447
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Short lesson on German railway state-national level coordination: German states are responsible for local and regional train traffic, they order them from providers, DB or private companies. Thus running RegionalExpress or Regionalbahn services is state responsibility, and getting a local network together in a region such as Frankfurt - Wiesbaden - Darmstadt becomes difficult, as the cities lie in 3 different states, evne though they form one agglomeration.
What we are discussing here in the last few posts however is long-distance or Inter City services, which DB is responsible for on its own (or any private company willing to run such services without subventions). Unfortunately most Germans do not much care whether they are crossing a state border or not in an IC or ICE, they just want to get there. And most railway traffic in Europe is still intracountry, i.e. the TGV Lyra or the Railjet pass the respective borders fairly light, but quckly fill up again on the other side. Therefore the mere fact that Germany has states does not make any argument for banning ICE services and turning the whole country into clusters of Regional Express services.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 02:07 PM   #1448
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Originally Posted by Baron Hirsch View Post
Therefore the mere fact that Germany has states does not make any argument for banning ICE services and turning the whole country into clusters of Regional Express services.
Because banning ICE services is what everyone suggests .

Consider the possibility that if anyone here tried to actually describe a comprehensive policy, you'd have to start including things like hub-and-spoke, cooperation of entities that are related but in different states, economic and funding issues and whatsoever. The result would be a multi-megabyte post representing the life's work of its author. And it would be quickly torn to shreds by people who only read the first paragraph, because it would be completely and utterly unreadable, at least for people who didn't get paid to read it.

Therefore (I get to use that word too! Yay!) assuming that the posters state comes down to the simplest possible interpretation (thinks ICE/HSR isn't the end of it all => wants to ban ICE) is generally unhelpful. Especially as a response to...
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Thus, the problem of Germany is presumably that of fitting the intrastate and interstate schedules?
Yes, services like ICE are needed, and in my opinion they should keep an interval schedule, different than local but fitted into whatever locales they're crossing. And there's boundary issues with clusters-of-REs, issues which hopefully can be pushed down to irrelevance by introducing local entities specific to places where the issues arise. Or something. NOTICE: this post is not intended for inclusion in state law, and shouldn't be treated as such, nitpickers.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 02:15 PM   #1449
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Frankfurt - Wiesbaden - Darmstadt becomes difficult, as the cities lie in 3 different states, evne though they form one agglomeration
I'm quite sure each of them is in Hessen.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 03:19 PM   #1450
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Just to clarify (and then I will stop hogging this thread like my personal blog): Wiesbaden is the capital of Rheinland-Pfalz; Darmstadt, you are right is in Hessen but Aschaffenburg, which some consider part of RheinMain, is Bavarian. There are other examples of such complex regions, like RheinNeckar, which extends across Baden-Würtemberg, Reheinland-Pfalz and Hessen.
Just trying to prove a point: while we need smaller entities to plan traffic (there are institutions at the agglomeration level) b crossing administrative boundaries will alway be a problem, as of course are too central planning institutions. And no, chorned's point of trying to make the two levels interact better is of course valid, but he has made the e before here that Germans should start to behave like Swiss and not move more than 200-300 kms distance and that is just wishful thinking, forgive me if I have brought this up at the wrong moment:
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Most states of Germany would do well to adopt the Swiss railway system. Well, maybe with the exception of the sparsely settled Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Last edited by Baron Hirsch; June 11th, 2012 at 03:34 PM.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 03:45 PM   #1451
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You mean Mainz instead of Wiesbaden.

Mainz is the capital of Rheinland-Pfalz, Wiesbaden is the capital of Hessen. They lay just a couple of KMs apart with just the Rhine between them. Which actually underscores the point that make about the complexity of some of the regions. Since it's 1 urban agglomeration that just happens to have a state border between the 2 municipalities.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 04:31 PM   #1452
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But what really comes through in this rather strange discussion are the network characteristics of the German High Speed network. (...)
Finally someone who brings some sense into this discussion dominated by the two extreme positions (suburbanist and K_, that is).

I'd suggest either more ICE-Sprinter services which stop at the big stations (that's not cities, as there are some important rail hubs in smaller cities). Ideally with HSL bypasses of the rest, although this in most cases wouldn't be justifiable in terms of investment. Or they should cut down ICE services which call at more stations to ICs (they could use the current trains, though).


Regarding the often-missed InterRegios: they in fact were a very good product at least from a passenger point of view. Some were replaced by ICs (e.g. the ones going to Oberstdorf), others by long-distance RegionalExpress trains operated by DB (e.g. Lindau-Nuremberg) or private companies (ALEX). That of course means cheaper tickets, so it's not that bad. The image that some regions were left without any long-distance services, although tecnically true, doesn't necessarily mean that service quality has sunk that much (see the examples in that paragraph).
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Old June 11th, 2012, 04:56 PM   #1453
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In France, now accustomed to a large HSR network (and on many routes frequent departures), passengers will be put off by the fact that due to slow routes, they cannot reach their goal in less than 4 hours, even if there are horrific distances evolved.
OTOH other passengers are horrified by the fact that SNCF will claim with a straight face that you can't travel by train between some city pairs, even though they both have SNCF stations... It's telling the the German railways' website is better at finding the best route between two French towns than the SNCF site....

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As speeds achieved there are much lower than in France, many major towns cannot be reached from other major towns in less than the critical 4 hours, from when on a plane plus transfer to downtown will be the less time-consuming option for hectic travelers such as most businesspeople (hamburg to cologne, or worse stuttgart or munich, berlin to cologne or frankfurt or worse stuttgart, etc.).
It'd be interesting to make the following comparison: Total population of the cities within 4 hours from Paris versus total population of the cities within 4 hours of Frankfurt. And do the same for other major cities.
In France the system does not perform very well once you try to use it to go from "somewhere not Paris" to "somewhere else not Paris".
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Old June 11th, 2012, 04:59 PM   #1454
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There hasn't been a single useless project so far, neither is there any proposed. But if you know more than the German public then let us know where exactly the billions trickle away.
I was talking in general, not just rail. Look at the billions (about 100 billion in the last decade so far) wasted in the promotion of alternative energy.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 05:19 PM   #1455
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I'd suggest either more ICE-Sprinter services which stop at the big stations (that's not cities, as there are some important rail hubs in smaller cities). Ideally with HSL bypasses of the rest, although this in most cases wouldn't be justifiable in terms of investment. Or they should cut down ICE services which call at more stations to ICs (they could use the current trains, though).
A good hierarchical network is needed. And yes more direct trains if the market for them exists. However, the problem is that if you have to many different stopping patterns you also make the task of designing the timeteble quite complicated. That's why SNCF is moving away from complicated schedules too.

If you have most trains do A - B - C - D and then you have just a few of them skip B and a few of them skip C and some others skip B and C you end up with either irregular departure times in A, or irregular arrival times in D, which cause all kinds of issues. If the time saved skipping a station ends up being used waiting for a track to become available at the destination or sitting behind a freight you can as well keep the stop, even if only a few people use it.

Having a strict interval timetable is a planning tool. It has a lot of advantages for the network operator, and that is why RFF is now forcing it on to SNCF.

An interval timetable in long distance is not (as Suburbanist seems to think) about making impromptu travel possible, or making schedules memorisable. It's about efficient infrastructure capacity planning.
And it's about maximizing value. DB once offered an hourly departure on all major city pairs. That is what you need if you want to get people out of their cars.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 05:31 PM   #1456
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OTOH other passengers are horrified by the fact that SNCF will claim with a straight face that you can't travel by train between some city pairs, even though they both have SNCF stations... It's telling the the German railways' website is better at finding the best route between two French towns than the SNCF site....



It'd be interesting to make the following comparison: Total population of the cities within 4 hours from Paris versus total population of the cities within 4 hours of Frankfurt. And do the same for other major cities.
In France the system does not perform very well once you try to use it to go from "somewhere not Paris" to "somewhere else not Paris".
On the first point, d'accord, you need HAFAS to discover that you can actually sometimes travel rather nicely from say Stuttgart to Carcasonne rather comfortably with a leisurely stopover in Mulhouse, Lyon PD or Montpellier rather than the nightmarish commute between Paris train stations (although, as HAFAS must use the FRench System one is too often misguided into Paris).
On the second point you are however cheating your own argumentation. Frankfurt IS railway technically speaking the Paris of Germany: largest station, most frequent departures and least distances timewise to any place in the country. Your argumentation would only convince us if you would base it on Hamburg, Berlin or other cities that generate a serious amount of rail travellers but are geographically on the fringe of the country, which wisely emough you didn't, as the comparison would come up with little in favor of the German system of networked, but not seriously HSR-linked metropolises.
A quick play with HAFAS as illustration - two towns in the far north and south of the two countries, both off the HSR net:

Hendaye - Dunkerque: fastest time: 9.31 h with two changes (i.e. on/off metro in Paris between stations), five daytime connections
Konstanz-Sassnitz: fastest time: 12.33 h, with four changes, five connections in daytime (in both cases I have eliminated variations of the same departure that HAFAS coughed up).
Now tell me which system is catering more to the needs of long distance travellers outside the metropolises.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 07:33 PM   #1457
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While Germany's(or any country for that matter except for maybe Japan) railway network could be better, overall it's an impressive network that is far better than most countries in the world.
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Old June 12th, 2012, 02:53 AM   #1458
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Once again you demonstrate how little you know (or care).
And yes, people will check departure times. And many people will see "oh, there is only a train every other hour" and choose to drive in stead. You've just lost another customer. A train every hour is the minimum if you want to get people out of their cars. Really.
This does not correspond very well with my experience.
In Finland having trains depart much less often than once every 2 or 2½ hours might have the effect claimed by you, though.
Because the country has the same area as Germany, but only one sixteenth of the inhabitants, trains running on an hourly schedule would be only two or three cars long on most relations.

Only relations on which a stable hourly schedule is possible are those between Helsinki and other big cities within two hours reach from Helsinki. Because of the long distances, any kind of intercity traveling is always considered a project of its kind, no matter whether you take the car, train or plane. Getting from one city to another always requires planning, so people are used to checking timetables for each specific journey. Looking at the timetable now I can notice, that there indeed is an approximately hourly or bihourly schedule between many cities, but not many people actually seem to be aware of this, because nobody goes completely randomly from one city to another without any planning. And if they do, they go to the train or bus station, check the timetables and wait for the next connection to leave. Sometimes it might take 3 hours, but such is life.

In Switzerland people are used to something better and could therefore not imagine things being worse. But the most Finns have never seen anything better and if they do while traveling abroad, they understand just fine, that such service is impossible to provide in a scarcely populated country such as Finland.

But still, I have _never_ heard anybody here argument that because of trains departing too seldom, they take the car instead. When people do take the car, their arguments are that cars bring without interchanges from door to door and luggage is easier to transport by car.
If these things are not considered a problem or they are understood to be offset by good sides of train traveling, a Finn will happily take the train. And before doing so, he grabs the timetable book or nowadays goes to the Internet and checks the timetable so that he knows when to leave. And he does either does this some two to five days in advance, not thinking having to read a timetable is a huge burden. If he isn't sure when precisely he'll be able to depart, he writes down the departure times of each interesting possible connection on a piece of paper and puts it into his back pocket.
Even with the hourly schedule between Helsinki and Tampere, some of the trains pass even medium-sized cities (some 20 000 to 50 000 inhabitants) without stopping, resulting in the schedule being somewhat unpredictable for those living for example in Hämeenlinna. But since people are used to reading timetables, nobody considers that itself a problem.
Also, when I once had to leave the city of Kuopio for Helsinki at 17:30 and noticed the previous train had left at 17:20 and the next one would leave at 19:38, I was somewhat annoyed. But I wasn't annoyed at the train timetables, I was annoyed at my bad luck. Because it didn't come to my right mind that the trains /could/ depart any more often.

What this shows is that the nonexistence of a stable hourly schedule is not necessarily a hindrance for considering train a feasible means of transportation. If people consider it a self clarity that timetables must be checked each time before taking the train and they don't think reading the timetable is very difficult, they are happy even without a fixed hourly schedule.

One of the most important rail connections in Finland is Helsinki – Oulu. Go to bahn.de or oebb.at or wherever and check the timetable
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Old June 12th, 2012, 08:45 AM   #1459
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A quick play with HAFAS as illustration - two towns in the far north and south of the two countries, both off the HSR net:

Hendaye - Dunkerque: fastest time: 9.31 h with two changes (i.e. on/off metro in Paris between stations), five daytime connections
Konstanz-Sassnitz: fastest time: 12.33 h, with four changes, five connections in daytime (in both cases I have eliminated variations of the same departure that HAFAS coughed up).
Now tell me which system is catering more to the needs of long distance travellers outside the metropolises.
Dunkerque isn't really "off" the HSR net, so it's not entirely fair. You've picked two places on major mainlines for your first example, and on secondary lines for your second. That's not a fair comparison.

My point however is that the main competition for the train is the car, not the plane. Compare Toulouse - Bordeaux (be sure to pick a date after june 22nd) with München - Stuttgart and now ask yourself: In which city will business travellers drive their car to an appointment with then other city, and where will they take a train?

If you want to get people out of their cars frequent departures are a must.
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Old June 12th, 2012, 08:51 AM   #1460
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Because the country has the same area as Germany, but only one sixteenth of the inhabitants, trains running on an hourly schedule would be only two or three cars long on most relations.
You have a point there. However Germany does have a high population density. Most medium distance relations warrant a train every hour.

I'm just advocating they make better use of the fact that almost all their medium distance services run every hour to offer hourly solutions for long distance trips too.
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