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Old October 8th, 2012, 01:35 AM   #1461
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexis View Post
Are they going to upgrade the Soller line
The Soller line is a touristic vintage railway, so no.

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and Extend the Metro to the Airport?
No, there was a project of a tram, but it has been discarded due to the crisis.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 02:41 AM   #1462
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neb81 View Post
Also, please explain how and by what mechanism are private companies are meant to be cheaper? I have heard this about privatisation before but no one has ever provided a concrete example of this efficiency, or how it is generated in some way that can only be achieved by a private sector organisation and cannot possibly come about in any other manner. There is nothing mystical about share-holders and so I genuinely do not see any reason why they are credited some innate ability that the managers of a not-for-profit institution cannot posses.
Because, for example, private companies have different labor regulations than
public ones. Number of hours worked per day, people playing multiple roles,
number of people required to execute a task, all of that is different. A freight
train, in dark territory, with switching needed en route, might require up to 3
people for a train run by a state organization, while a private company will do
with one only. This is because historic operators usually have a strong union
presence, structured and able to impose strict work protection rules, while
new, lean and mean, private companies, usually don't have any.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 06:03 AM   #1463
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Three people for a freight train in a public company? In which country?
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Old October 8th, 2012, 09:31 AM   #1464
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Anyway there are private freight train operators in Spain.... some of them, like ALSA (owned by National Express since 2005) are getting experience for the liberalization of the passengers market.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 12:54 PM   #1465
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Originally Posted by 437.001 View Post
The Soller line is a touristic vintage railway, so no.
It has also retained its original gauge of 914 mm (= 3 feet = 1 yard), while as far I know the other lines of the island were converted to 1000 mm gauge only a few decdes ago, having originally also that 3 ft gauge.
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Old October 9th, 2012, 05:36 PM   #1466
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Then at least let's be honest and not say it's about doign the job "better" or with more actual efficiency (i.e. upgrading equipment or investing in modern training methods), but instead turning secure, long term, employees with a trained and experienced set of skills, who work as a cohesive unit and usually with considerable employer loyalty, into insecure, inexperienced, high-turnover low-pay and non-unionised jobs, with less oversight and minimal safe working practices.

Given the employment situation in Spain, and the eclectic nature of the equipment on the network, Rajoy's genius plan would be comedic is it wasn't so tragic to both the economy and the lives of workers and passengers on the rail system.

K_ : Regarding the Swiss/Swedish/Dutch/German examples, if the private sector can make lower bids even after profit-taking, then how come they didn't instantly drive the state companies out entirely? If they are more competetive then surely they must conquer the market rather than a minor corner or it?
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Old October 9th, 2012, 06:12 PM   #1467
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Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
It has also retained its original gauge of 914 mm (= 3 feet = 1 yard), while as far I know the other lines of the island were converted to 1000 mm gauge only a few decdes ago, having originally also that 3 ft gauge.
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Old October 9th, 2012, 07:45 PM   #1468
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neb81 View Post
Then at least let's be honest and not say it's about doign the job "better" or with more actual efficiency (i.e. upgrading equipment or investing in modern training methods), but instead turning secure, long term, employees with a trained and experienced set of skills, who work as a cohesive unit and usually with considerable employer loyalty, into insecure, inexperienced, high-turnover low-pay and non-unionised jobs, with less oversight and minimal safe working practices.
Spain can't afford it.

And also, the emboldened part of what you said is really not very true at all. It will be slightly more insecure, but you won't see people getting fired left right and centre, it'll simply be that the railways won't take on any new workers for a few years. Every corporation has about a 10-15% employee loss per annum, though changes in jobs, or the employees retiring.
As for inexperienced, I have no idea what you're trying to imply. It's almost as if you think they'd go through less training or something beforehand. There are doubtlessly national regulations for that. (This applies to the oversight and safe working practices that you mentioned too)

And frankly, unions are rarely a positive thing in the workforce these days. They were relevant when workers were *geniunely* exploited and abused, but that almost never happens these days. Outside of the more germanic style of union, which provides useful reports of conditions on the shop floors and a perspective from the workers (so that management don't try to do anything utterly ludicrous), most unions I know of exist almost solely to hike up wages way above the national average.

And the simple resaon why DB and SSB et al. are running a high percentage of lines is that there are still massive barriers to entry on the rail markets, which, undoubtably, being the monopolists, the national rail firms are very happy raising these barriers further, stifling much of the competition.
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Old October 9th, 2012, 10:39 PM   #1469
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neb81
K_ : Regarding the Swiss/Swedish/Dutch/German examples, if the private sector can make lower bids even after profit-taking, then how come they didn't instantly drive the state companies out entirely? If they are more competetive then surely they must conquer the market rather than a minor corner or it?
In the case of Spain that is indeed what we see. Private coach companies like ALSA enjoy quite a high share of the market, and successfully outcompete RENFE on many routes...
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Old October 10th, 2012, 05:55 AM   #1470
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I think some forumers are still ignoring a key factor: private management can bring savings not only by reducing wages, but by improving the operational and financial processes of a railway.

And, then, it can get something done cheaper than the government despite having been expected to turn a profit (which, in any case, for transportation companies of all modes is usually well below 10% of revenues turned into net profits).

Quote:
Then at least let's be honest and not say it's about doign the job "better" or with more actual efficiency (i.e. upgrading equipment or investing in modern training methods), but instead turning secure, long term, employees with a trained and experienced set of skills, who work as a cohesive unit and usually with considerable employer loyalty, into insecure, inexperienced, high-turnover low-pay and non-unionised jobs, with less oversight and minimal safe working practices.
There are some flaws with this argument, but the major problem is this: a railway company is NOT an employment agency. Its major function is to provide transportation (of goods and people depending on the case). Jobs are generated as a byproduct (as with any other economic activity, from food and home appliances industries to the prostitution and drugs trades if you want to include them).

Unions, as many of them still operate today, are stuck in a 1950s context where raw manpower was required and the overwhelming majority of functions were narrowly specialized "screwdriver operator" ones.

Understandably so (although narrow minded), unions in heavily unionized services want to preserve "good jobs" at all costs. That mentality helped (or at least accelerated) the killing of manufacturing on many European countries. Then, local-based industries (you can't "offshore" a rail line!) sometimes got unions even more entrenched on that.

Then, we have people making stories fly about how someone from my grandparents' generation was "able to feed a family of 5 by working a secure jobs as train conductor for his whole life and having proud on what he did".

Sorry, this is not the World we live in anymore.

Many fanboys out there resent privatization not because it directly affects them on their employment (since many don't work for railways anyway), but because it "corporatizes" their object of affection. Some of the worst rants I've read on this forum or elsewhere are not related to objective quality of service, but things like livery, how "bad on the map" a network looks, how modern trains "lacks character and look the same all over the World" etc.

With privatization, jobs that require extensive training and high qualifications are not going to see high turnover as it is counterproductive for the company. On the other hand, jobs that are grossly overpaid by CURRENT standards (including things like station agents that get automatic extra 10% increase every 5 years merely by doing the same thing for that long) are likely to see more turnover, as it is the case with airlines, for instnace (look at the turnover of pilots vs. turnover of baggage handlers)
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Last edited by Suburbanist; October 10th, 2012 at 06:01 AM.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 02:23 AM   #1471
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
In the case of Spain that is indeed what we see. Private coach companies like ALSA enjoy quite a high share of the market, and successfully outcompete RENFE on many routes...
This is largely historical. Inter-city bus travel Spain has long been more popular than in most of western Europe. As the Spanish rail network is less dense than others, and is more radial in nature, inter-city buses play a more important role than Germany, Britain or the Netherlands.

What is more significant is that how investment in RENFE / ADIF has transformed the market share of rail. With the completion of the Madrid-Barcelona LAV, passengers loading on the Puente Aereo slumped drastically, and a huge switch took place to rail, just as the TGV did with Paris-Marseille.

Targeted investment brings change far more simply and reliably than depositing a few billion a year in the lap of a guy in a flash suit and asking him to show you his magic wand. Targeted investment doesn't even have to be large to generate impressive results, as the InterCity 125 / HST programme in the UK demonstrated.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 03:12 PM   #1472
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neb81 View Post
What is more significant is that how investment in RENFE / ADIF has transformed the market share of rail. With the completion of the Madrid-Barcelona LAV, passengers loading on the Puente Aereo slumped drastically, and a huge switch took place to rail, just as the TGV did with Paris-Marseille.
Yes, but one of the things that strikes me as odd is that RENFE isn't really running that many trains over its high speed lines. Given the sizes of Barcelona and Madrid I'd expect at least a train every 15 minutes.
Look at the traffic on the LGV Sud - Est in France for a comparison. That line has 13 trains per hour...
And RENFE really should start considering it's network as a network, not a collection of train services. Any place less than an hour from Barcelona is now less than four hours from Madrid. Where are the through tickets and coordinated schedules?
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Old October 18th, 2012, 04:42 PM   #1473
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The rail market on the first French TGV line has 30 years and counting, time enough for it to mature. That is not the case of relatively new services to/from Barcelona-Zaragoza-Madrid.

Even more than that, the previous rail service was laughable, too slow and outperformed and out-ridden by buses on the lower end, airplanes on the upper end of those markets.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 05:04 PM   #1474
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The LGV Sud-Est links many cities also outside the main axis Paris-Lyon-Marseille, and none of them has more than 2 tph to Paris. On the other hand there is not much outside Madrid, Barcelona and the cities in between. The only other services that use this line, exiting it, are the Madrid-Pamplona/Logroño and Barcelona-Pamplona/Logroño, and in future maybe some Madrid/Barcelona-Tarragona.

But it's true that a train every 60 minutes with a few extras at peaks and some other servicers is not that much.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 05:06 PM   #1475
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Last weekend, being Zaragoza major days, Renfe put several extra AVE services and an Avant service Madrid-Zaragoza-Madrid just for a couple of days.

This last one had less facilities than the other trains but costed only 30 euro (no discounts except return, youth, etc...).

FULL....
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Old October 18th, 2012, 10:14 PM   #1476
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The AVEs should look more like AVANTs and the AVANTs like Cercanías....
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Old October 18th, 2012, 10:54 PM   #1477
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neb81 View Post
This is largely historical. Inter-city bus travel Spain has long been more popular than in most of western Europe. As the Spanish rail network is less dense than others, and is more radial in nature, inter-city buses play a more important role than Germany, Britain or the Netherlands.
Indeed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K
Yes, but one of the things that strikes me as odd is that RENFE isn't really running that many trains over its high speed lines.
Renfe lacks gauge-changing trains, which are more expensive then other trains, I guess.

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Given the sizes of Barcelona and Madrid I'd expect at least a train every 15 minutes.
Look at the traffic on the LGV Sud - Est in France for a comparison. That line has 13 trains per hour...
Spain has 45 million inhabitants, France 65 million inhabitants.

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And RENFE really should start considering it's network as a network, not a collection of train services. Any place less than an hour from Barcelona is now less than four hours from Madrid. Where are the through tickets and coordinated schedules?
They´re starting to appear. But they are not yet known by the average Spaniard.
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Old October 21st, 2012, 09:57 AM   #1478
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Canfranc station after rains


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Old October 21st, 2012, 06:02 PM   #1479
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Spain has 45 million inhabitants, France 65 million inhabitants.
Population alone does not even begin to explain the underutilization of the line. It is clear that Renfe has failed miserably in its attempt to catch a large enough market share when close to 50% still favor the airline option over the rail.

On top of this you have dozens of coaches every day between Barcelona and Madrid, ALSA alone runs 30 a day each way.

The current 2,5 million people traveling between Barcelona and Madrid on rail does barely reach i quarter of the estimated 10-11 million trips done on a yearly basis.

As an example, Between Stockholm and Copenhagen the proposed HSR line would have a 30 minute headway outside of peak load hours, and that rail corridor does not even reach half the population of the Madrid-Barcelona one, during rush hour they calculated a base need of one train every 6 minutes.
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Old October 21st, 2012, 06:45 PM   #1480
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Population alone does not even begin to explain the underutilization of the line. It is clear that Renfe has failed miserably in its attempt to catch a large enough market share when close to 50% still favor the airline option over the rail.
Does that count out those who use Madrid or Barcelona as a transit point for further flights? Even if it does there is a tough competition on this route and the time and distance is close to the edge of what is optimal for HSR. I wouldn't expect airlines to completely give up like they did on a much shorter Paris-Brussels route.

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On top of this you have dozens of coaches every day between Barcelona and Madrid, ALSA alone runs 30 a day each way.
That's a different market segment. HSR is a bad news to airlines, not so much to bus companies because they are usually significantly cheaper. Much longer too, but for many people that's not so important.

Having said all that Renfe can certainly do a better job running more trains and having more connecting options. As far as I see they are slowly moving into that direction. A competing operator wouldn't hurt either.
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