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Old September 2nd, 2014, 03:25 PM   #1981
MarcVD
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
What I am saying however is that the money spend on HSL2, 3 and 4 could have been used in stead to increase speeds to 200 kph on quite a sizeable portion of the network, and four tracking everything near Brussels.
Being done as we speak. Done since 1935 all the way to Antwerp, done recently to Leven and Halle, and in Progress towards Gent, Charleroi and Namur. It won't solve a lot though, because the main bottleneck now is
the stations within Brussels.

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Which is mostly two tracks, and carries freight as well last time I looked...
And causing a lot of problems, and in the way of being 4-tracked too, as far as I know. We've just been a bit faster.

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NMBS has a good market share in commuters that come from far away. But amongst people who commute from the closer suburbs it share is actually quite low. The fact remains that there are still quite a few suburban services that run only hourly, and some not at all during weekends. In my city (Bern) many suburban lines already run every 15 minutes. And we're talking about a town the size of Brugge.
True. Not because of the railways but because urbanistic rules in Belgium
allowed very dispersed housing (such as american suburbs, which have the
same problem) which cannot be served efficiently by public transport. Also
real estate in Brussels suburbs is extremely expensive so people living there
are not those who naturally use public transport. And despite reports saying
that Brussels is the most congested city of the western world, it is still
relatively easy to come to work - and to park - with your own car. Unless
that changes, cars will always retain a share of the modal split... So the train
offer in the immediate suburbs of Brussels is poor because there are no
customers, not the other way around.
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Old September 2nd, 2014, 03:57 PM   #1982
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And causing a lot of problems, and in the way of being 4-tracked too, as far as I know. We've just been a bit faster.
Which problems?
Geneve - Lausanne operates with the same lack of drama as the rest of the Swiss network.
It is indeed gradually being expanded, true. But at least first some thought is poured in to what the infrastructure must do, in stead of first building, and then thinking...
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Old September 2nd, 2014, 11:13 PM   #1983
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Well, is it? In the last five years, Belgium has been surpassed by both the UK and the Netherlands in terms of rail usage per inhabitant. I don't doubt there are many passengers on the high speed lines, but I suspect that if the amounts spent on the HSL had instead been spent on timetable optimization and commuter improvements, more traffic would have ended up on the railways.
I presume that high-speed programs are a part of the EU budget, and the costs for domestic services shall be borne by Belgium. So, there’s no reason for any competition between these two services.

It’s not high-speed vs. commuter networks. Both are neccessary. Why are you systematically hammering high-speed? Your sacrosanct clockface timetable certainely has a few advantages, but it makes us waste so much time with its dramatically low commercial speed!
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Old September 3rd, 2014, 12:16 PM   #1984
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I presume that high-speed programs are a part of the EU budget, and the costs for domestic services shall be borne by Belgium. So, there’s no reason for any competition between these two services.
Your presumption is incorrect. The High Speed programs are payed for by the national governments.

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It’s not high-speed vs. commuter networks. Both are neccessary. Why are you systematically hammering high-speed? Your sacrosanct clockface timetable certainely has a few advantages, but it makes us waste so much time with its dramatically low commercial speed!
Resources are limited. An efficient timetable allows efficent use of those resources. The end result of the clock face timetable in Switzerland is that the value of the transportation network is increased for the passengers.
What matters is not how fast the trains are. What matters is how many destinations can I reach within my time budget. In places with high population densities you don't need high speeds for that.
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Old September 3rd, 2014, 02:46 PM   #1985
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In places with high population densities you don't need high speeds for that.
Not entirely true. If there are urban centers large enough to generate a
sufficient volume of travel demand between them, then a high-speed network
can be beneficial. This is what happened between Paris, Brussels, London,
Köln, and Amsterdam. None of the things you propose would have made
possible a journey time of 1h30 between Paris and Brussels.
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Old September 3rd, 2014, 07:25 PM   #1986
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
What matters is not how fast the trains are. What matters is how many destinations can I reach within my time budget. In places with high population densities you don't need high speeds for that.
You are repeating it over and over, but the world is not black and white. Just to give an example currently non-stop Basel-Zurich service (twice an hour) takes 54 min. If it took 30 min instead due to faster trains it would be a major improvement to most of those taking this train. I'd be willing to bet that 2/3 or more do not take another train in Zurich or Basel and thus are not so concerned with very short connection times.

Now of course if there was a real proposal for a new line we could discuss whether the alignment is the best and is the price appropriate for the advantage gained, but there is none so all we are discussing is a general idea and the idea is a good one.
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Old September 3rd, 2014, 09:16 PM   #1987
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Not entirely true. If there are urban centers large enough to generate a
sufficient volume of travel demand between them, then a high-speed network
can be beneficial. This is what happened between Paris, Brussels, London,
Köln, and Amsterdam. None of the things you propose would have made
possible a journey time of 1h30 between Paris and Brussels.
The Paris - Brussel line made sense, although it did reduce travel options (and increased time) for those places that were once on the old connection. If you try to get from Mons to Compiegne now...

When the new Bahn 2000 timetable was introduced the SBB published a matrix, that showed for each major city pair how travel times would improve under the new timetable. The whole project was intended to make travel faster for everyone, not just for a few city pairs. And is getting faster to Paris really that much more important then getting more commuters from the suburbs to switch to public transit?

It's quite telling that despite all those fast TGVs in France the most convenient (and best value) route for me to get from Switzerland to Belgium is usually via Germany.
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Old September 3rd, 2014, 10:18 PM   #1988
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The Paris - Brussel line made sense, although it did reduce travel options (and increased time) for those places that were once on the old connection. If you try to get from Mons to Compiegne now...
I don't know why are you so obsessed with minor relations in the grand scheme of things.

Your analysis doesn't make much sense if you don't weigh the travel times on a matrix of O/D relations by the potential travel demand involved.

I don't have numbers, but I'd bet that the total number of passenger-km travelling on the Paris-Bruxelles axis is much higher now, even if some relations had service completely degraded to the point using trains is no longer a reasonable option.

So there is the thing: would more efforts by SBB be put on creating direct fast train links between Genève, Bern, Basel and Zürich attract more demand to these trains (including new non-daily commutes made viable by a 75min Geneve-Zürich train service, for instance) than the eventual loss of some passengers travelling between Estavayer-le-Lac and Aarau?

If you extend this logic of reaching the maximum number of destinations on the fastest scalar sum, you'd end up with an optimized metro system more apt for situations where travel demand is relatively evenly split between stations, which is not the case on a national rail system. Conversely, if you want to just minimize total sum of travel time from a given station, the best way to mathematically achieve that is just to close the higher possible number of stations in the system!
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Old September 4th, 2014, 02:24 AM   #1989
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Your presumption is incorrect. The High Speed programs are payed for by the national governments.
According to Wikipedia:

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In 2007, a consortium of European railway operators, Railteam, emerged to co-ordinate and boost cross-border high-speed rail travel. Developing a Trans-European high-speed rail network is a stated goal of the European Union, and most cross-border railway lines receive EU funding. Several countries — France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia and the United Kingdom — are connected to a cross-border high-speed railway network. More are expected to be connected in the coming years as Europe invests heavily in tunnels, bridges and other infrastructure and development projects across the continent, many of which are under construction now.

Last edited by quimporte; September 4th, 2014 at 02:32 AM.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 08:53 AM   #1990
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According to Wikipedia:
In 2007, a consortium of European railway operators, Railteam, emerged to co-ordinate and boost cross-border high-speed rail travel. Developing a Trans-European high-speed rail network is a stated goal of the European Union, and most cross-border railway lines receive EU funding. Several countries — France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia and the United Kingdom — are connected to a cross-border high-speed railway network. More are expected to be connected in the coming years as Europe invests heavily in tunnels, bridges and other infrastructure and development projects across the continent, many of which are under construction now.
And now the facts:

- Rail Team is something like the alliances you see in the airline sector. I don't hear much about it anymore though.
- Europe isn't investing heavily, some of the countries that make up Europe are however. And there are in fact not that many cross border high speed lines. There are only 3 at the moment, and one of them only carries a pittance of high speed trains... There are no cross border high speed lines under construction right now that I am aware of.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 09:00 AM   #1991
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Only three? France-Spain near Barcelona, the tunnel between France and England, Paris-Brussels line. No cross border sections between Belgium and Netherlands? There is also a real HS traffic between France and Germany even if not 100% on dedicated lines.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 09:07 AM   #1992
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I don't know why are you so obsessed with minor relations in the grand scheme of things.
I'm not "obsessed with minor relations". I'm obsessed with getting value for money as a tax payer.
And so should everyone.

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Your analysis doesn't make much sense if you don't weigh the travel times on a matrix of O/D relations by the potential travel demand involved.
The highest demand is for local traffic. The average train trip length in Switzerland is 42 km.

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I don't have numbers, but I'd bet that the total number of passenger-km travelling on the Paris-Bruxelles axis is much higher now, even if some relations had service completely degraded to the point using trains is no longer a reasonable option.
It is much higher now, but increasing traffic in itself should not be the goal.

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So there is the thing: would more efforts by SBB be put on creating direct fast train links between Genève, Bern, Basel and Zürich attract more demand to these trains (including new non-daily commutes made viable by a 75min Geneve-Zürich train service, for instance) than the eventual loss of some passengers travelling between Estavayer-le-Lac and Aarau?
The fact that one can as easily get from Estavayer-le-Lac to Aarau as from Zürich to Geneve as a major factor in the allowing the SBB to sell 460000 GA's a year. And these form a major source of revenue.
The aim of the SBB is to offer a nation wide mass transit network, that an replace ownership of a car for a large number of people. This allows SBB to charge more, and make more money. I quite appreciated the fact that I can as easily get from Basel to Payerne as from Bern to Basel yesterday...

Increasing the value of a product should be something someone like you who appears to be in favor of capitalism ought to approve off. Or are you only in favor of capitalism when the results are what you want?

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If you extend this logic of reaching the maximum number of destinations on the fastest scalar sum, you'd end up with an optimized metro system more apt for situations where travel demand is relatively evenly split between stations, which is not the case on a national rail system.
It is actually pretty much the case for most of the Swiss railway system, (and even more for the Dutch system) that it indeed aims to be a sort of nationwide metro, optimized for traffic that is indeed distributed over the whole network. If you would stay on a Geneva - St. Gallen train for the whole trip, and observe the passengers you would notice that the majority of them only travel as far as the next stop... There are a lot of people getting on and off at every stop. It's not like for example taking a train to Paris which fills up on the way in, and empties out on the way out...

One reason why the SBB wants to serve secondary places better is that the railways already pretty much own the market for commuting to/from the major places. If they want to grow they need to tap more in the market of tangential and regional traffic, like from one suburb to another. It's a way of increasing revenue at relatively low cost.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 09:12 AM   #1993
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Only three? France-Spain near Barcelona, the tunnel between France and England, Paris-Brussels line. No cross border sections between Belgium and Netherlands? There is also a real HS traffic between France and Germany even if not 100% on dedicated lines.
I'm talking here about high speed lines, not high speed services. There are as far as I know only three places where trains cross a border at speeds above 200 kph.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 03:14 PM   #1994
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I don't know why are you so obsessed with minor relations in the grand scheme of things.
Because the Swiss population is comparably evenly distributed in the inhabited areas. If you look at Eastern Austria for instance, you have big population centers in Vienna, Graz, Linz, and Salzburg, with some smaller centers in between like St. Pölten, Wiener Neustadt, Bruck/Mur, Amstetten, Wels. In such a setup it makes very much sense to build a high speed line between the nodes and create the local timetables around the hub cities accordingly. Furthermore, the small-to-large-bound traffic and vice-versa domiates the traffic pattern.

In Switzerland, you do not have those dominant cities, the companies providing work are spread out much more as is the population in medium sized communities. In such a setup, suddenly relations like Schaffhausen - Lenzburg or Weinfelden - Luzern have significant importance to the average citizen, but none of those city pairs justify the construction of a high speed line between them. Here an integrated timetable shows its strength: by creating nodes in the rail network through infrastructure improvements, those significant city pairs get reduced travel time without any high speed line in between them! And for that effect, the as-fast-as-necessary philosophy is the most cost-effective philosophy you can get.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 07:34 PM   #1995
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Some "netzgraph" timetables (I don't know the English word for them) planned for 2025: http://www.bav.admin.ch/fabi/04579/index.html?lang=it (first PDF file on the right)
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Old September 5th, 2014, 01:29 AM   #1996
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Some "netzgraph" timetables (I don't know the English word for them) planned for 2025: http://www.bav.admin.ch/fabi/04579/index.html?lang=it (first PDF file on the right)
network graphs
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Old September 5th, 2014, 02:36 AM   #1997
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In Switzerland, you do not have those dominant cities, the companies providing work are spread out much more as is the population in medium sized communities. In such a setup, suddenly relations like Schaffhausen - Lenzburg or Weinfelden - Luzern have significant importance to the average citizen, but none of those city pairs justify the construction of a high speed line between them. Here an integrated timetable shows its strength: by creating nodes in the rail network through infrastructure improvements, those significant city pairs get reduced travel time without any high speed line in between them! And for that effect, the as-fast-as-necessary philosophy is the most cost-effective philosophy you can get.
But a Geneve-Bern-Zurich and Bern-Basel T-shaped system would allow Geneve, Lausanne and everything in between to be withing reasonable distance for 3x/week commuters to/from Zurich or Basel, something that is difficult to achieve today.
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Old September 5th, 2014, 07:32 AM   #1998
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But a Geneve-Bern-Zurich and Bern-Basel T-shaped system would allow Geneve, Lausanne and everything in between to be withing reasonable distance for 3x/week commuters to/from Zurich or Basel, something that is difficult to achieve today.
So would giving everyone a helicopter....

The question always is: do the benefits outweigh the cost? It's a lot more efficient to distribute economic activity. If you're from Geneva and take up a job with the Swiss Government you won't commute to Bern. You'll probably commute to Lausanne...
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Old September 5th, 2014, 09:00 AM   #1999
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The Paris - Brussel line made sense, although it did reduce travel options (and increased time) for those places that were once on the old connection. If you try to get from Mons to Compiegne now...
K, I agree with you that with the kind of population and job distribution that
you have in Switzerland, the way the rail network is organized is optimal. The
facts prove it, in fact, if it was not optimal there would not be so much
widespread usage of it.

But what I don't agree with, is your obsession to port the solutions that work
well for Switzerland everywhere else, assuming that they would be optimal
there too. It is far from being the case.

Notably, for this Mons to Compiègne example, the demand is so low that this
is a market that is best left to the car and totally ignored by the railways. Rail
is a mass transport system that has so high fixed costs that it can only be
efficient for high volumes. The money to spend to allow an efficient (that is,
fast enough to convince people not to take their car) relation between those
two cities would not be money well spent. The same money spent to enhance
relations between larger cities will produce a much better return on
investment.

All this boils down to a fundamental question : railways, when people did not
have cars, tended to be a "universal" service", supposed to bring the
advantages of fast transportation to anyone in the country. This is still
the case today for other services such as post distribution, electricity supply,
fixed phone lines, and so on. But today the situation has changed - both
technology and social habits. So, should we still spend money on maintaining
such universal services everywhere in the country, or should this money be
only used where it generates enough return ? I don't believe every country
answered this question the same way... And here in Belgium - and I suppose
in other countries too - the same question starts to be asked about the other
"universal" services that cost a fortune to fund in non-urban areas.
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Old September 6th, 2014, 10:48 AM   #2000
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But what I don't agree with, is your obsession to port the solutions that work
well for Switzerland everywhere else, assuming that they would be optimal
there too. It is far from being the case.
I'm not obsessed with exporting Swiss solutions everywhere. I am debating the (un) wisdom of importing French solutions in to Switzerland. And I am using the mixed experiences when Belgium and the Netherlands imported French solutions as an example.
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