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Old September 23rd, 2012, 03:58 PM   #601
K_
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I was in Spain a week ago, and made a long trip back from Galicia all the way to Switzerland by train.
What I saw confirms again that RENFE runs great trains. They were modern, clean and punctual. The staff was friendly. The food in the restaurant in the night train from A Coruña to Barcelona was the best I ever had on a train.
But RENFE doesn't show a lot of ambition when it comes to selling its product.
- In Vilagarcia de Arousa the ticket vending machine only sells tickets to stations that can be reached by direct trains from that station. I already had my tickets as I'd planned my trip using a Spanish railway map and the limited info on www.renfe.es. However I wonder what would have happened if I'd gone to the ticket office and asked for a ticket to Figueres.
- In Galicia the Vigo - A Coruña line offers trip times that are competitive with car travel times. Given the size of the towns along the route they could run far more trains. At the moment they appear not wanting to attract commuters at all, having for example bus stations at different location than train stations, and compulsory reservation on all trains. I would think that this line ought to have at least a limited stop, and an all stop train every half hour, with a few non stop trains Vigo - Santiago during the busiest times.
- Given the sizes of Madrid and Barcelona I don't understand why there isn't a non stop train between the cities at least twice an hour. Compare with Paris - Brussels, or Paris - Lyon for example.
- They should make more use of network effects. Having regional trains as real feeders in to high speed trains would allow attracting a lot more customers. At the moment this is neglected.
- I had to pass a checkpoint to get on the train to Figueres in Barcelona. I took me only 5 minutes to figure out a way how one could have bypassed that checkpoint and get on a high speed train to Madrid... Does anyone really believe these checks are useful? They are costly and annoying. The staff and resources employed here should be used to run more trains and generate more revenue.

All in all my experience was positive (I took 7 trains in succession to get home, all of them were on time. However the Spanish trains were as clean as the Swiss, whereas the French ones were dirty...). I do have the impression that at the moment investment in Spain is to much centered on infrastructure, and not enough on services. Maybe privatising RENFE would be the right thing to do here.
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 05:57 PM   #602
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I would be very cautious about privatizing railways. UK hasn't had all that great experience with it. The prices are above average and service below average compared to the continent. Doesn't mean it can't work somewhere else, but...
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 06:10 PM   #603
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step by step...


Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
I was in Spain a week ago, and made a long trip back from Galicia all the way to Switzerland by train.
What I saw confirms again that RENFE runs great trains. They were modern, clean and punctual. The staff was friendly. The food in the restaurant in the night train from A Coruña to Barcelona was the best I ever had on a train.
Really... but the train maybe wasn't full.

Renfe had some trains for night journey with seats, lits and a two bed cabin (and sometime different status)
The train you got was one of the newest in Spain. It is really fantastic!!! but it doesn't worth except if you make a journey corner to corner. Remember the amount you payed and compare with other ones.
Yeah... they included dinner, breakfast and several other facilities (including a 48h parking if return ticket).
The problem is that only seats are the alternative for short and middle distances as well as a bed cabin costs very similar even one or two person, even a middle or long trip.


Quote:
But RENFE doesn't show a lot of ambition when it comes to selling its product.
- In Vilagarcia de Arousa the ticket vending machine only sells tickets to stations that can be reached by direct trains from that station. I already had my tickets as I'd planned my trip using a Spanish railway map and the limited info on www.renfe.es. However I wonder what would have happened if I'd gone to the ticket office and asked for a ticket to Figueres.
They couldn't at all!!.
In other ways... some years ago there were several stations with a long distance ticket system and they could serve you a ticket. Other stations with staff (like the one you talked abou) could ask for a ticket to the nearest station with that system... asking by phone and receiving by fax. I used one of them, bought in the Sabiñanigo station (who asked for the ticket to the Jaca station). It was for a Zaragoza-Hendaye train and it took too long but I gained it.
Now it is impossible. There are few stations were a long distance train stops with no possibility of buying tickets... but the only alternative there is buying via internet (or in a travel agency if available in the town)

It apply for trains that are considered "long distance", so any "middle distance" train (that is, a regional train) can be bought there.


Quote:
- In Galicia the Vigo - A Coruña line offers trip times that are competitive with car travel times. Given the size of the towns along the route they could run far more trains. At the moment they appear not wanting to attract commuters at all, having for example bus stations at different location than train stations, and compulsory reservation on all trains. I would think that this line ought to have at least a limited stop, and an all stop train every half hour, with a few non stop trains Vigo - Santiago during the busiest times.
There is a high speed line Ourense-Santiago-La Coruña. It is still in Spanish gauge because as far as there is no link with the rest of the line, it will remain in Spanish gauge and avoiding a gauge changer.
When high speed railway will arrive Orense, this new line will update the gauge to international one.
Santiago-Vigo is under construction (and approaching Vigo you will find one of the longest city tunnels. This is, not to cross mountains but only to appear on city centre)

Santiago-La Coruña situation is different now. Vigo-Santiago... let give them time.


Quote:
- Given the sizes of Madrid and Barcelona I don't understand why there isn't a non stop train between the cities at least twice an hour. Compare with Paris - Brussels, or Paris - Lyon for example.

Could be suprising but... I have checked timetables for this week and... departing Madrid since 5:50 and later since 6:30 every hour (7:30, 8:30... until 20:30 and last one at 21:00) there is a Madrid-Barcelona with a stop at least at Zaragoza

7:00, 7:20, 8:00 and 14:00 are direct Madrid-Barcelona non-stop

And... 8:20 now stops at Zaragoza (and you have a 8:30 Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona too.....)

this is:

6:30 M-B with stops
7:00 M-B non stop
7:20 M-B non stop
7:30 M-B with stops
8:00 M-B non stop
8:20 M-B with stops
8:30 M-B with stops

and later, every hour PLUS a 14:00 M-B non stop

When I say "stops" it can be several ones or only Zaragoza.
I do not know when and why they changed the 8:20 train... because there is other one to Zaragoza just ten minutes later.
But if they changed recently is because passengers require them. As I said, an important part of business are passengers M-B but not all of them.


By the way, I read that weekly days have more traffic in this corridor than a weekend. Saturday is the day with less traffic (no weekday, no weekend traffic) and... more traffic Monday to Thursday than on Fridays.
And it comes down on August.

Quote:
- They should make more use of network effects. Having regional trains as real feeders in to high speed trains would allow attracting a lot more customers. At the moment this is neglected.
Regional trains on old lines (these are, Spanish gauge railways) are really neglected in almost all corridors. There are just only some exceptions.

Regional trains on high speed lines (they are bought as "Avant") are not neglected and they offer you a good service. Take a look to Lleida-Barcelona (that is why no passengers on AVE M-B after Lleida) or to Madrid-Toledo for instance.

Commuter trains on city centre and surroundings (Murcia, Barcelona and Madrid can arrive too far with their networks) are... let's say 50-50...


Quote:
- I had to pass a checkpoint to get on the train to Figueres in Barcelona. I took me only 5 minutes to figure out a way how one could have bypassed that checkpoint and get on a high speed train to Madrid... Does anyone really believe these checks are useful? They are costly and annoying. The staff and resources employed here should be used to run more trains and generate more revenue.
NOTHING
Make a poll in Spanish forums about which "service?" will they erase of Renfe and be sure 100% will point that.
Has no sense

At Madrid, luckly, there are several scanners. I've been on peak hours on Friday evening and not special queue


Quote:
All in all my experience was positive (I took 7 trains in succession to get home, all of them were on time. However the Spanish trains were as clean as the Swiss, whereas the French ones were dirty...). I do have the impression that at the moment investment in Spain is to much centered on infrastructure, and not enough on services. Maybe privatising RENFE would be the right thing to do here.

A lot of forumers want a privatised Renfe too!!. More concurrence, better prices or services.

For example.... is it needed a full cafeteria wagon for a less than two hours journey?. You can use for more seats and seat price will decrease (a vending machines could be enough).
Is it needed to have lunch or a small snack in all first class tickets?. Or can you decide if you want or do not want (including buying it if you are on tourist class, or if it is not lunch time... let's think you left late from a meeting. Had no lunch, got the ticket and they only offer a little sandwich!!)
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 06:12 PM   #604
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by the way... my parents have a 40% discount because senior citizens (25% on weekends)

they need a ticket Zaragoza-Madrid to take a plane for next month. They know plane timetable so they can decide now the date and hour.

They can buy a Madrid-Zaragoza for only 24 EUR/person in AVE!!!!
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 10:04 PM   #605
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunfuns View Post
I would be very cautious about privatizing railways. UK hasn't had all that great experience with it. The prices are above average and service below average compared to the continent. Doesn't mean it can't work somewhere else, but...
But tickets in UK aren't expensive because the rail operators are private. They are a direct result of a political decision to reduce the share of operational costs borne by the general budget and shift them to passengers, coupled with very expensive franchise fees charged by the government to raise money. But even so, with carefully planning you can find knock-down deals.

UK ridership is the highest since the 1920s.
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 10:55 PM   #606
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well... a ticket Stansted airport - London centre, as fas as I know costs more than half a ticket on high speed Madrid-Zaragoza (and they are more of 300 on a new railway platform)
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 11:29 PM   #607
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Out of interest I made a price comparison. Let's say someone is planning to make a trip to his/her capital city the weekend after next (October 6th-7th) leaving with the first train and coming back with the last. I chose the following roughly comparable pairs of cities and went for the cheapest ticket as long as it didn't occur massive time loses (like taking a local train would). The distances given are on the road, time with the train and prices in euros.

Barcelona-Madrid 617 km, 3h 36min/3h 10 m, 169 euros
Avignon-Paris 690 km, 2h 40min, 154 euros
Milan-Rome 580 km, 2h 55 min, 172 euros
Glasgow-London 643 km, 4h 30 min, 141 euros

Looks like Suburbanist was right, although for two weeks in advance the cheapest tickets are probably already gone. I know from experience that much cheaper tickets than this are sometimes available on Italian Frecciarosa.

P.S. I used official websites to get these numbers.
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 11:56 PM   #608
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169 EUR Barcelona-Madrid on tourist class??

119,80 EUR only on trains with at least one stop (3h10m) and 141,40 EUR on trains non-stop (2h30m the best time, 2h45m the last one)

So it goes to the bottom of the list
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Old September 24th, 2012, 12:02 AM   #609
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Sorry, but that's all I found on renfe site for those particular dates (or perhaps I don't know how to search). I believe your numbers are right for many dates, but I wanted to compare apples with apples. For Italian trains also only the expensive standard tickets were left.
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Old September 24th, 2012, 12:04 AM   #610
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Barcelona-Malaga: 1.200 km (by road). 5h30min.
Two daily trains (one of them nonstop Zaragoza-Cordoba). On summer, somedays with a third one with shuttle at Cordoba (Barcelona-Cordoba nonstop and possibility to connect to another train in just a few minutes to Malaga)

146 EUR on tourist, 175 EUR on business, 263 EUR on first class


I think it is the record in price/distance on high speed




And... those are standard prices. Return ticket has a 20% in all cases.

Looking for 15 days since today: Barcelona-Malaga departing at 15:50 and arriving at 21:40 with only 58,40 EUR!!!!!!!!!
One week later, Malaga-Barcelona, they are a little more expensive: 87,60
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Old September 24th, 2012, 12:06 AM   #611
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunfuns View Post
Out of interest I made a price comparison. Let's say someone is planning to make a trip to his/her capital city the weekend after next (October 6th-7th) leaving with the first train and coming back with the last. I chose the following roughly comparable pairs of cities and went for the cheapest ticket as long as it didn't occur massive time loses (like taking a local train would). The distances given are on the road, time with the train and prices in euros.

Barcelona-Madrid 617 km, 3h 36min/3h 10 m, 169 euros
Avignon-Paris 690 km, 2h 40min, 154 euros
Milan-Rome 580 km, 2h 55 min, 172 euros
Glasgow-London 643 km, 4h 30 min, 141 euros

Looks like Suburbanist was right,
Well, if you look at the time it takes, the British price compares very unfavorably. Walking would be even cheaper, but would take even longer.

I would rather pay 154 euros to travel 690 km in 2:40, than pay 141 euros to travel 643 km in 4:30.
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Old September 24th, 2012, 12:26 AM   #612
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I just wanted to see if British trains really are more expensive with moderate planning and looks like they are not. To be sure they are slower (albeit by not as much as one would suspect) since there are no dedicated high speed lines there. I have not used AVE yet, but Frecciarosa tends to be cheaper than TGV. Off peak (in the middle of working day) one can go from Milan to Rome for 20 euros. No chance of that between Basel and Paris...

That Barcelona-Malaga train does seem really cheap although 5 1/2 h is pushing it. If I could travel without a baggage, I would probably fly.
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Old September 24th, 2012, 12:29 AM   #613
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly_Walks View Post
I would rather pay 154 euros to travel 690 km in 2:40, than pay 141 euros to travel 643 km in 4:30.
Right, but you can only pay for something that exists. The average speed is still very respectable 140 km/h, though. Not going to beat that time driving.
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Old September 24th, 2012, 12:45 AM   #614
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunfuns View Post
That Barcelona-Malaga train does seem really cheap although 5 1/2 h is pushing it. If I could travel without a baggage, I would probably fly.

Yeah... there is too many concurrence Barcelona-Malaga with plane.

But the train also allow trips such Malaga-Tarragona/Lerida/Zaragoza, Cordoba-XXX and Ciudad Real-XXX and upside down in north-south direction.

This is... there is a good link point to point, but let's think in any travel of only 5:00 hours or less. Price will be decreased and...... there is no other alternative (maybe bus!) and the 300 km/h speed with non-stop at Madrid is the same than in a Madrid-Barcelona



PS. There are two daily trains Barcelona-Sevilla full high speed (one more several days in summer nonstop with shuttle to Malaga), two daily trains Barcelona-Malaga, and one daily train Valencia-Sevilla with a shuttle Cordoba-Malaga.

Maybe in these trains the rating price/speed could be the best in all Europe. If you find a 60% discount (I found it for 15 days ahead!)... think on price.
Ryanair is more expensive in that case.
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Old September 24th, 2012, 02:43 AM   #615
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunfuns
10-20 km railway tunnels are very common both in Europe and East Asia.

Right now the top 3 are Seikan (53 km), Channel (50 km) and Lotschberg (35 km). Are there any other (besides Gotthard) 50 km+ tunnels in advanced planning stages or under construction already?
Brenner Base Tunnel, is basically under construction already (exploratory tunnels are being dug right now).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenner_Base_Tunnel
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Old September 24th, 2012, 03:24 AM   #616
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Spain is going to privatize or at least drastically liberalize its train OPERATIONS. Not the infrastructure.
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Old September 24th, 2012, 08:43 AM   #617
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well... a ticket Stansted airport - London centre, as fas as I know costs more than half a ticket on high speed Madrid-Zaragoza (and they are more of 300 on a new railway platform)
There are also far more trains Stanted - London than Madrid - Zaragoza.

You shouldn't just look at the prices. If train prices are kept artificially low for political reasons the result is that the railway is starved of money, and that service levels remain low. This is a serious problem in Belgium for example.

You are not entitled to something being offered at a particular price...
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Old September 24th, 2012, 09:16 AM   #618
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunfuns View Post

Barcelona-Madrid 617 km, 3h 36min/3h 10 m, 169 euros
Avignon-Paris 690 km, 2h 40min, 154 euros
Milan-Rome 580 km, 2h 55 min, 172 euros
Glasgow-London 643 km, 4h 30 min, 141 euros
Now repeat that with:

Vilagarcia de Arousa - Toledo.
Vesoul- Perpignan
North Berwick - Brighton
Salerno - Padova
There is more than just the speed from main hub to main hub.

For the first one RENFE won't even tell how much it cost, or what the timetalbe is.
For the second one SNCF gives you 5 solutions, the fastes is about 9 hours and costs 94,-. But in fact you can do it in 7h45, if you are willing to make three changes. But SNCF will not sell you that.
For the UK example: 7h20, and I can buy a ticket for tomorrow for 90 euro. I can buy this ticket conveniently online, and there is a departure every hour!

But Italy wins here. Trenitalia offers frequent departures, sometimes with travel times under 6 hours even, at unbeatable prices. But to be fair, the UK example involves passing through London. If most long distance trains would call at the same station in London (like they do in Rome) trips that passed through London would be an hour faster.

Renfe must just send a check to Hafas and have a proper online booking and planning engine. They should also send a check to SMA to have the timetable optimized.

There is more to running a railway than just running trains as fast as you can.
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Old September 24th, 2012, 09:27 AM   #619
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Quote:
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I would be very cautious about privatizing railways. UK hasn't had all that great experience with it. The prices are above average and service below average compared to the continent. Doesn't mean it can't work somewhere else, but...
I'd say the the experience is mixed. UK service is not below average compared to the continent. Compared to Switzerland, yes, but I would consider it superior to Belgium and France for example.
Given that the trains are more popular than ever I would say that they are not to expensive either.

The problem in the UK was that the infrastructure had been somewhat neglected for the last decades prior to privatisation. The private companies were expected to increase service levels (which they did) but also to reduce the investment backlog (which they didn't). Another problem in the UK is that the Franchises are to short.

Spain can avoid some of the mistakes the UK made. What I've seen is that the physical plant appears to be in quite good shape. There is a lot of spare capacity on the network. They could start in a few regions by tendering a bundle of lines that logically fits together, and doing so for a long enough time.
Give SBB a 25 year franchise to run the trains in Galicia and you'll get a great system there...
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Old September 24th, 2012, 09:42 AM   #620
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly_Walks View Post
I would rather pay 154 euros to travel 690 km in 2:40, than pay 141 euros to travel 643 km in 4:30.
What passengers are actually are interested in are door to door times, not main railway hub to main railway hub times. It the choice is between spending 4 hours on a conventional train on the one hand, or 2 and a half hours on a high speed train, half an hour on a shuttle bus and one and a half hours waiting at a station the conventional train wins...
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