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Old August 4th, 2010, 11:12 PM   #221
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maarten Otto View Post
What I dislike about the whole operation is that NSHispeed (they can't even spell HigHspeed properly) has to pay 168 million a year for running this service, can't pay the premium to the government... and they get away with it by government granting them a 169 million financial injection.

Am I missing something... or do we (the tax payers) have a train running for EURO 500.000 a day and can't use it for free?
From what I have understood a while ago, the EU is currently looking into this as false pretenses might have been used for this financial injection. NS Hispeed referred to AnsaldoBreda's statement for the delay of the V250 trainsets, AB blamed it to the "uncertainty in ERTMS specifications".

However, as Karel Vinck (the person in charge of ERTMS at the ERA) said - ERTMS is mostly software and is a component which can easily be added. This is in direct contrast with AnsaldoBreda's claim that ERTMS is a core piece of train technology.

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Originally Posted by ArthurK View Post
It's a fundamental problem: the Fyra-services are not attractive enough to justify a big supplement on the (already high) regular ticket price. Even worse, the future crossborder Fyra-service to Antwerp and Brussels is in some way less attractive than the current Intercity-service.
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
The problem is of course that forcing people to commit to a particular departure, and to reserve seats reduces the value of the improvement somewhat. People are used to be able to go on a day trip to Antwerpen for example, and return when they feel like it, on any convenient departure.
From what I have understood, it is a clear wish of NS Hispeed that for any cross border travel, a reservation is required. This will mean that a last-minute decision to go shopping in Antwerp will not be possible, or only at the "high flex" pricings such as Thalys has today.

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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
But I know some people are whining about "why don't they run normal trains on this billion euro line"? I doubt HSA would make any money with the plethora of discount cards, free student travel etc. NS hand out at taxpayer cost. And I think the Fyra trains will be too good, comfort-wise and speed-wise, to be just another train in the network.
Running normal trains on HSL-Zuid is currently not possible due to the way the concessions have been given between HSA and NS Reizigers. Simply said, HSA is not allowed to run high speed trains beyond the boundaries of their concession (which is Amsterdam, Schiphol, Rotterdam, Breda, border) and NS Reizigers is not allowed to run trains on the HSL.

While this might sound silly (as NS Group owns NS Reizigers, NS Hispeed and 90% of HSA) it could get them into legal difficulties if they would have trains (such as the Den Haag - Venlo intercity service) running over the HSL-Zuid.
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Maybe they will change toward a cheaper supplement, like the ICE supplement, that allows passengers to use international ICE services between Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem for extra €2 per trip only.
From what I recall, NS Hispeed asked the government the question: "What do you want? More passengers but a lower income from the supplements, or less passengers but more income?". They were well aware that the high pricing would keep lots of customers away.

The government chose for the more expensive supplement as they didn't feel like losing too much income on the already expensive high speed line.


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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Benelux trains suffer a lot on that route. Every day they cancel one or two Benelux trains at least. That is another reason we need Fyra running ASAP - though now, as one colleague posted, there is no OFFICIAL expectation that Fyra trains can enter service anytime before 2nd semester 2011, due to delays on AnsaldoBreda.
No, we don't need Fyra. What we need, is a reliable Benelux connection. What it takes for this is reliable staff, coaches, locomotives, and cooperation from Infrabel and ProRail. A lot of Benelux trains are delayed when they leave Brussels because of the hectic Brussels South station, and the Benelux trains are held there longer than needed. The reliability of the Benelux trains is what should be tackled. These trains should become just as reliable as Dutch domestic trains.

By the way, take a look at the Thalys punctionality for the past couple of months. Thalys has been dramatic, and during the initial months Fyra was not really good as well on Amsterdam - Rotterdam. In the 3 weeks that I took the Fyra trains, I had delays from 10 to 45 minutes, and it happened three times in a row that the train was cancelled.

---

Some news about the V250 trainsets. From what I understood on Twitter from one of the train drivers that actually gets to play with the new toys, he is sceptic.

Appearantly, the drivers cabin of the V250 does not have air conditioning installed yet, which I would call remarkable for trainsets that should be 'ready for passenger travel'. From what I understood, all V250 trains that are in the Benelux now (except for the 4806) have an interior and basically should be ready. But they're not.

He also 'fears' that the trainsets will still be doing test runs around christmas time. And just above I read that it's expected that the trains won't be ready until the 2nd half of 2011. I find this worrying.

Despite that NS Hispeed wants to increase the frequency of their service by doubling the amount of Amsterdam - Rotterdam trains per October 4th, and even adding another train pair somewhere in December (which would make 2x an hour for Amsterdam - Rotterdam, once an hour for Amsterdam - Breda and then Thalys), they still won't be having cross border traffic which is one of the major selling points for Fyra.

They need the V250 trainsets for this as NMBS has clearly stated that they are not willing to operate Fyra using the Traxx/ICRm-trains that run on Amsterdam - Rotterdam and the current Benelux trains. To me, it seems as if NMBS is not really interested in Fyra at all anymore and only keeps participating because of the contracts they have.

As for the V250 trainsets themselves: so far, only the pantograph appears to have been approved in the Netherlands. In Belgium there seem to be issues with the train being outside of the loading gauge in certain bends, which could cause the train to scrape against another one when it's taking a point...
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Old August 5th, 2010, 12:24 AM   #222
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I took a Fyra Rotterdam-Amsterdam service today at 17.30, just for curiosity (the time saved doesn't justify the 7€ supplement over the 13€ ticket). 6 carriages and few passenger, I would say that no more than 20% of the seats were occupied. New lines should be used as much as possible like in Switzerland and Germany, otherwise they are only a waste of public money.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 12:45 AM   #223
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Is it possible that you actually mean surcharge when you write supplement?
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Old August 5th, 2010, 12:57 AM   #224
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
I took a Fyra Rotterdam-Amsterdam service today at 17.30, just for curiosity (the time saved doesn't justify the 7€ supplement over the 13€ ticket). 6 carriages and few passenger, I would say that no more than 20% of the seats were occupied. New lines should be used as much as possible like in Switzerland and Germany, otherwise they are only a waste of public money.
I would actually be surprised if 20% of the seats were occupied. A couple of months ago the average occupation rate was 7.5%, where other NS trains have an average occupation rate of 29% during off peak hours.

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Originally Posted by flierfy View Post
Is it possible that you actually mean surcharge when you write supplement?
Yes, it is indeed a surcharge. However, NS Hispeed calls it a "Fyra supplement". It is also called like that whenever an announcement is made ("Ladies and gentlemen, Fyra to Schiphol and Rotterdam will depart from platform 15a. For this train a supplement is required.") and on the NS Hispeed website.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 01:20 AM   #225
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Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
New lines should be used as much as possible like in Switzerland and Germany, otherwise they are only a waste of public money.
New Italian HSL's (Bologna-Firenze, Torino-Milano) are quite busy and ridership has been above expectations after first weeks of problems due (also) to heavy winter storms.

But the Italian train system has a different organization, distances are higher, old train lines are crappier and terrain doesn't help "classical" lines. Also, Trenitalia curtailed a lot of money-losing semi-fast semi-direct trains in classical routes to boost its Frecciarossa ridership - it seems to be working, and - more important - they had a perfect opportunity to put their fares at par with the rest of developed-rail Europe (France, Germany etc.) due to 'increased speeds and costs of new high speed state-of-the-art lines'.

My point is: there isn't just one way to make HSL work. You can work them as integrated parts of your network, like Germany, or as segregated systems like France. Both can be successful. And Dutch and Belgian riders will have to learn to book in advance as French, Spaniards and Italians learned too.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 01:36 AM   #226
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Distances in the Randstad are too small. You can't plan a 40 km trip 2 months in advance.

Torino-Milano HSL is nearly unused, with 8 train pairs per day and no plans to increase significantly the number of trains.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 10:03 AM   #227
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
New Italian HSL's (Bologna-Firenze, Torino-Milano) are quite busy and ridership has been above expectations after first weeks of problems due (also) to heavy winter storms.
One reason for the higher ridership per train is that Trenitalia doesn't run that many trains.


Quote:
My point is: there isn't just one way to make HSL work. You can work them as integrated parts of your network, like Germany, or as segregated systems like France. Both can be successful. And Dutch and Belgian riders will have to learn to book in advance as French, Spaniards and Italians learned too.
Looking at Spain and Italy I see a lot of expensive but underutilized infrastructure, so I don't think that's the example to follow. Looking at France I see a system that is fast for TGV station to TGV station trips, but that is slow everywhere else. SNCF will not even admit it is possible to travel between some pairs of stations that do have service. Not integrating the two systems means that a lot of the speed gained gets lost again in all kinds of transfer friction. What counts to the traveler is how fast he gets from host origin to his destination, not how fast the train gets from station to station. the Swiss and German approach is far superior in this respect.
The Dutch railways should not forget that they run a countrywide metro system, and not force compulsory advance bookings on their customers if they wish to keep them.
On Amsterdam - Brussels the main competition is the car, and you don't need to book your car advance.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 11:37 PM   #228
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My point is: there isn't just one way to make HSL work. You can work them as integrated parts of your network, like Germany, or as segregated systems like France. Both can be successful.
I doubt the latter can be succesful on this HSL. You should distinguish Thalys and Fyra. Thalys is a TGV (just like in France) which is used by long distance travelers who can book in advance, and business travelers who don't care about the price. For Thalys, an airtravel-style ticketing system (seat reservation, early booking discounts, etc) can work.

The Fyra is more like an extra fast Intercity-service than an high speed train. The current Benelux Intercity-service is fully integrated in the domestic Intercity network in The Netherlands and Belgium, which is the main reason why it is so succesful and profitable. You can just go to the station, buy a ticket and hop on the train. And after spendig a nice day in Antwerp or Brussels, you can just return to the station and take any train you like back to The Netherlands.
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
And Dutch and Belgian riders will have to learn to book in advance as French, Spaniards and Italians learned too.
How can I book in advance if I decide NOW that I'm going to Antwerp tomorrow morning? It's very stupid to have an airtravel-style ticketing system on the Fyra, because it's unsuitable for the majority of the passengers.

Brussels-Antwerp-Rotterdam-The Hague-Amsterdam is like one big agglomeration. The Fyra is more an high speed commutertrain than an TGV or Eurostar. Travel time isn't very important; ticket price, flexibility and reliability are far more important. It's insane to require advance booking (or a ridiculous high ticket price) for travelling such a small distances by train. Especially if there is no reasonable alternative because current Intercities will be discontinued.
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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
The Dutch railways should not forget that they run a countrywide metro system, and not force compulsory advance bookings on their customers if they wish to keep them.
On Amsterdam - Brussels the main competition is the car, and you don't need to book your car advance.
I totally agree with you. Actually, the main competitor for Fyra would be the regular Benelux Intercity-service which hasn't to be booked in advance either. Would be, because as we all know now, they're going to dissolve the Benelux ICs just to prevent competition. NS HiSpeed disencourages travelers to go by train, which is pretty strange for a railway company.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 12:34 AM   #229
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I was just doing a little experiment with the ticket pricing of NS HiSpeed with an interesting outcome. I was booking (fictive) a daytrip on the HiSpeed website from my hometown Groningen (in the north of The Netherlands) to Antwerp, arriving tomorrow in Antwerp around noon, leaving there around 8 pm. Discount card 40% for the Dutch railway network. The results:

Thalys (via HSL)
Price: 144,20 euro (157,20 euro without discount)
Groningen 07:46 - Antwerp 11:28
Travel time: 3h 42 min, change trains at Utrecht and Rotterdam
Antwerp 20:31 - Groningen 00:14
Travel time: 3h 43 min, change trains at Rotterdam and Utrecht

Benelux Intercity (via Roosendaal)
Price: 66,90 euro (80,80 euro without discount)
Groningen 07:46 - Antwerp 12:00
Travel time: 4h 14 min, change trains at Utrecht and Rotterdam
Antwerp 20:00 - Groningen 00:14
Travel time: 4h 14 min, change trains at Rotterdam and Utrecht

So according to HiSpeed, Thalys is 144,20 euro, Benelux 66,90 euro. A big gap, but the information on the HiSpeed website is incorrect. It is a lot cheaper to buy a day pass (dagkaart) for the Dutch railway network (26,80 euro, 44,60 without discount) and a returnticket Roosendaal border - Antwerp (11,20 euro, no discount), which makes 38 euro for a daytrip Groningen-Antwerpen. I think it's misleading that NS HiSpeed doesn't give this information on their website.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 12:46 AM   #230
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The Fyra is more like an extra fast Intercity-service than an high speed train. The current Benelux Intercity-service is fully integrated in the domestic Intercity network in The Netherlands and Belgium, which is the main reason why it is so succesful and profitable. You can just go to the station, buy a ticket and hop on the train. And after spendig a nice day in Antwerp or Brussels, you can just return to the station and take any train you like back to The Netherlands.
This is easy: they can keep selling tickets on machines, but charging appropriate (= higher) prices for last-minute reservation. Even if majority of seats are unassigned, they can still control the number of people travelling in each train, preventing anyone from travelling standing without a seat. They could also sell top-flexible fares with open days/travel times for, say 160% of the average 24h-advance ticket price.

Trips at the spur of the moment are usually done by people who need to do it (or by those with poor planning skills, but that is not the case), so HSA can and should extract more money from them to help repaying its debt load, which is indeed quite high.

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Brussels-Antwerp-Rotterdam-The Hague-Amsterdam is like one big agglomeration. The Fyra is more an high speed commutertrain than an TGV or Eurostar. Travel time isn't very important; ticket price, flexibility and reliability are far more important. It's insane to require advance booking (or a ridiculous high ticket price) for travelling such a small distances by train. Especially if there is no reasonable alternative because current Intercities will be discontinued.
You can always use regional services from Essen to Roosendal, then national Intercity services to continue your journey. 3h45 should be enough to do the whole trip changing trains twice.

Quote:
I totally agree with you. Actually, the main competitor for Fyra would be the regular Benelux Intercity-service which hasn't to be booked in advance either. Would be, because as we all know now, they're going to dissolve the Benelux ICs just to prevent competition. NS HiSpeed disencourages travelers to go by train, which is pretty strange for a railway company.
I prefer competition to non-competition scenario. However, given our V-0 in this matter, it is either sticking with Fyra as it stands (premium price) or SNCB and NS taking a huge one-off financial hit (= dissolving HSA) and running Fyra trains as part of their network, including outrageously student partially free travel if the want to go party across the border

With my still limited knowledge of local politics of Netherlands, I keep wondering whether a billionaire rail project would ever take place here again if HSA fails. If HSA goes bankrupt and regular-fare NS trains (updated to ERTMS-2 of course) start using those tracks, maybe we will not see any other major HSL in Netherlands for the next 20 years or more. Then any expectation of a new, segregated Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem HSL, for instance, would be dead, let alone planes to bring HSL service to Maastricht or Groningen from Utrecht.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 08:48 AM   #231
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With my still limited knowledge of local politics of Netherlands, I keep wondering whether a billionaire rail project would ever take place here again if HSA fails. If HSA goes bankrupt and regular-fare NS trains (updated to ERTMS-2 of course) start using those tracks, maybe we will not see any other major HSL in Netherlands for the next 20 years or more. Then any expectation of a new, segregated Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem HSL, for instance, would be dead, let alone planes to bring HSL service to Maastricht or Groningen from Utrecht.
That would not be such a bad thing. The HSL should never have been build. The money would have been better spend upgrading as many conventional lines as possible to ERMTS and 200kph service.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 09:22 AM   #232
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Slightly off topic, but are there plans to build HSR from Amsterdam to Hamburg?
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Old August 6th, 2010, 09:23 AM   #233
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That would not be such a bad thing. The HSL should never have been build. The money would have been better spend upgrading as many conventional lines as possible to ERMTS and 200kph service.
You will NEVER achieve 320 kph in "upgraded" tracks. If anything else, lateral clearance is too low for two trains crossing at that speed. Then you would never have 4h10 Amsterdam-Paris Thalys services or 1h47 Amsterdam-Brussel/Bruxelles services, but instead, AT MOST, 4h40 and 2h15.

I know you are against HSL per definition as you are timetable- and commute-centric, which is your right, but that doesn't preclude the fact European countries, save for Andorra, San Marino and so, all need HSL to put more and more big cities within commuting time from one another across borders.

Even Switzerland would need some 340kph HSL, to allow really fast connections to/from neighboring countries. Imagine travelling from Zürich to Lugano in an express train in 45 min., or Genéve-Chür in 1h10, for instance...
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Old August 6th, 2010, 10:22 AM   #234
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You will NEVER achieve 320 kph in "upgraded" tracks. If anything else, lateral clearance is too low for two trains crossing at that speed. Then you would never have 4h10 Amsterdam-Paris Thalys services or 1h47 Amsterdam-Brussel/Bruxelles services, but instead, AT MOST, 4h40 and 2h15.
You don't need 320kph on those short distances.
It's about 240 km from Amsterdam to Brussel. With 200kph trains on that route timings of under 2h would have been possible. And basically all that would be needed here is 1h55, together with 1h25 on Brussel - Paris that would have been all that is needed to create a perfectly coordinated schedule on that route.

Quote:
I know you are against HSL per definition as you are timetable- and commute-centric, which is your right, but that doesn't preclude the fact European countries, save for Andorra, San Marino and so, all need HSL to put more and more big cities within commuting time from one another across borders.
I'm not against HSL. I'm in favor of gaining speed wherever possible in a cost effective way. And that you can gain speed by tweaking the timetable is a given. Don't forget that most passengers don't start their trip a major station. What is the use of gaining 1 hour on Amsterdam - Brussel if you waste half an hour waiting for your connection in Amsterdam? A system that optimizes the interfaces between the different services can save a lot of time at far lower costs than getting the fastest train money can buy.
France is a good example: Sure they have the fastest trains in Europe. But once you try to get to a place not served by the TGV you often lose a lot of the time gained on the TGV.
The HSL in the Netherlands was build because they wanted to join the HSL club. But typically for the Dutch they didn't want to pay for it. So they came up with a way of building it while pretending it would pay for itself...
The money that was poured in the HSL could have paid for an upgrade of most IC lines, which would have meant that more people would have been able to enjoy reduced travel times. The only new line that should have been build is Antwerpen - Breda - Utrecht, and that as a 200kph line.

Quote:
Even Switzerland would need some 340kph HSL, to allow really fast connections to/from neighboring countries. Imagine travelling from Zürich to Lugano in an express train in 45 min., or Genéve-Chür in 1h10, for instance...
Switzerland doesn't need this. That Switzerland is doing the right thing when it comes to investing in their railways is shown by the fact that more people travel by train in Switzerland than anywhere else in Europe, and the number of passengers is growing at a rate that has everyone worried. That is because SBB makes sure that _everyone_ benefits from its investments.

A lot more people travel Geneve - Lausanne than Geneve - Chur. And these people are commuters, not holiday makers. Giving them more trains is the right priority, so SBB is investing in upgrading Geneve - Lausanne and putting more (and larger) trains on that line,

Giving people more trains, is giving them flexibility in when they want to travel, and that saves time too, and at a lower cost. I commute from Bern to Zürich every day, and what I want to see happening is the service to go from two trains per hour to four trains per hour. That would save me a lot of time.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 01:57 PM   #235
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K., I understand your reasoning, but you can't just focus on the commuters. The same debate exist in France, even with some ethnic-class rage involved: TGV are mostly used by mid-to-upper classes, allowing some wealthy families to have a parent commuting several times a week from Paris to Strasbourg, for instance, while regional services (used mostly by poor, immigrants and lower skilled who can't afford cars) in every other big city but Paris suffers.

However, if European countries hadn't invested billions in HST, we would be still in no position to compete with rails. Remember: it is the already completed Brussels-Lille-Paris HSL that killed the air shuttle in the route, and it is the same line that allows Thalys to Amsterdam to be competitive against air service in the route. Same goes for the Eurostar...

In the 80's, it took more than 7h for Amsterdam-Paris trips, and most of those trips were made overnight, a completely unacceptable situation nowadays - unless, of course, you suggest that travelling in trains overnight, in couchettes, disrupting cargo traffic, is a good way to design an intraeuropean passenger network...

If France didn't have HSL all around, the bulk of Cote d'Azur - Paris traffic would still be done in expensive air shuttles or slow 10h+ overnight trains, and flights like Bordeaux-Paris, Strasbourg-Paris, Lyon-Paris would be clogging Orly and other Parisian airports.

However, once the HSL were opened in France, new patterns arise. Just take a look on how Genève and Paris became more interconnected once eastward lines were opened. Many EU officials travel easily between Paris and Brussel/Bruxelles because of the TGV. Those cities would never been seen as "suburbs" of one another if travel times took still the old 3h40...

Look at Germany: its unwillingness to invest in HSL is leaving Germany slow in this trends of wealthy people living far from the crowed metros where they make their money. If a HSL existed, Nuremberg could house countless executives working in Munich. But they keep making "incremental" improvements with the philosophy of allowing "slower" trains on HSL.

If you want (as I'm sure HSA wants here in Netherlands) to be a competitor to the airlines, you need speed, speed, speed. Forget about regional timetable coordination, people can't count on that when they take a train to Schiphol to board a plain. Put a decent, premium and very fast service and people will use it.

Of course, the HSL in Netherlands has flaws. It begins with the lack of an underground HS link to downtown Amsterdam, possible with a new station like St. Pancras in the Zuid area, close to alignment of the North-South subway line. Sure, it would have cost a couple billion Euros, but that is the price to pay to be at-par with the best cities and have a dedicated HS terminal.

Then, they didn't construct a bypass of Rotterdam for "through" trains. It will almost oblige trains to call at Rotterdam. They could have opted for a solution like Bologna (IT), building an underground train station just below the regular train station in Rotterdam only for high-speed services. It would cost, but speeds could be increased.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 02:32 PM   #236
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If you want (as I'm sure HSA wants here in Netherlands) to be a competitor to the airlines...
On Amsterdam-Rotterdam?
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Old August 6th, 2010, 02:49 PM   #237
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That's the big flaw in the model for Fyra.
They didn't realize that the distance is much too low to justify such premiums for such a small cut in overall travel-time.

The fat they built a new line is OK, but it was totally unnecessary to build a 300 km/h line between Amsterdam (in fact Schiphol airport) and Rotterdam.
If it was a (partly upgraded) line of 200-250 km/h it would have been OK and it would have benefited the domestic travel.

As I said before, look at HSL2 in Belgium where Thalys goes 300 km/h while the domestic trains go 200 km/h.

The Benelux is to densly populated to justify a HSL system like in France or Spain. A TGV that goes 300 km/h looses too much time and energy with stopping every 40-50 km so that's plain stupid.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 03:03 PM   #238
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However, if European countries hadn't invested billions in HST, we would be still in no position to compete with rails. Remember: it is the already completed Brussels-Lille-Paris HSL that killed the air shuttle in the route, and it is the same line that allows Thalys to Amsterdam to be competitive against air service in the route. Same goes for the Eurostar...
The point I'm making is that competitive timings (Amsterdam - Paris in less than 4 hours, Amsterdam Brussel in less than 2) would have been possible with upgrades to the existing network. The brand new HSL was not needed for that. Upgrading the existing network would have achieved what the HSL has achieved, but would also have meand faster trains for everyone else. When you spend a lot of money I want to see the maximum in benefit realised. This is not the case here.
We're not talking about Paris - Lyon - Marseilles here. In France there is a lot of empty space between the cities. Amsterdam - Brussel however is a continous urban area.

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Look at Germany: its unwillingness to invest in HSL is leaving Germany slow in this trends of wealthy people living far from the crowed metros where they make their money. If a HSL existed, Nuremberg could house countless executives working in Munich. But they keep making "incremental" improvements with the philosophy of allowing "slower" trains on HSL.
In Germany getting from A to B by train is generally a more agreeable experience than in France. The French system is good as long as it's Paris you want to get to or from, but once you try to get from "somewhere not Paris" to "somewhere else not Paris" the system often downright sucks. In Germany the system will transport you from A to B with more or less the same efficiency regardless of where A and B is.

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If you want (as I'm sure HSA wants here in Netherlands) to be a competitor to the airlines, you need speed, speed, speed. Forget about regional timetable coordination, people can't count on that when they take a train to Schiphol to board a plain. Put a decent, premium and very fast service and people will use it.
I'l repeat it again:
- The main competitor is the car. The main feature you are competing against is flexibility.
- The current best times achieved with the HSL could have been achieved without it. The distance Amsterdam - Brussel is 240 km. The fastest train now takes 1h37. That is an average speed of 150 kph. If the line would have been upgraded so continous running at 200 kph were possible all the way from Amstedam to Brussel timings would have been similar to what has been achieved now.

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Of course, the HSL in Netherlands has flaws. It begins with the lack of an underground HS link to downtown Amsterdam, possible with a new station like St. Pancras in the Zuid area, close to alignment of the North-South subway line. Sure, it would have cost a couple billion Euros, but that is the price to pay to be at-par with the best cities and have a dedicated HS terminal.

Then, they didn't construct a bypass of Rotterdam for "through" trains. It will almost oblige trains to call at Rotterdam. They could have opted for a solution like Bologna (IT), building an underground train station just below the regular train station in Rotterdam only for high-speed services. It would cost, but speeds could be increased.
Sure. They could have done like Italy. Spend more money on infrastructure, and then underutilise it. you can do that in a country where the railways are still mostly run for the benefit of the employees, the building firms and railway rolling stock manufacturers. However in a country where trains are supposed to actually serve the public other solutions need to be given priority.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 03:18 PM   #239
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Slightly off topic, but are there plans to build HSR from Amsterdam to Hamburg?
No serious plans at the moment.

An high speed connection between Amsterdam and Hamburg was suggested by the northern provinces (Groningen, Fryslân and Drenthe) in The Netherlands, just a few years ago. The current rail connection is rubbish; travel time from Groningen to Amsterdam is 2h30min by train, while it's just 1h45min by car. First, the plan was an HSR next to highways A6 and A7 from Amsterdam via Lelystad and Heerenveen to Groningen. That would be the so-called Zuiderzeelijn (Southern Sea Line). That line could have been extended to Hamburg. Later, they became enthusiast of a Maglev like the German Transrapid, which had a test track just over the border.

The Zuiderzeelijn became an issue in national politics, and after years of talking and many contradicting research reports, they decided NOT to build the Zuiderzeelijn and give the northern provinces "compensation money" to invest in other infrastructural projects. An HSR or Maglev Amsterdam-Groningen-Hamburg is now off the table.

It's unlikely any HSR will be constructed in The Netherlands the next decade. The HSL to Belgium became far more expensive (7 billion euro!) than expected and the opening was delayed by many years. It is delayed so many times, I can't remember the openingdate in the original plans. I think it was early 2006, or even earlier. In fact, it's still just partially running. Everything what could have gone wrong, went wrong.

The other big railproject of the last decade is the Betuweroute, the dedicated freight railroad from Rotterdam to Germany. Same story: billions more expensive than planned (4.7 billion instead of 2.5), years of delay and still not proper functioning. It's no surprise the public opinion is sick of those big railprojects. The HSL Oost (HSL East) from Amsterdam via Arnhem to the German border has been cancelled some years ago. The focus has shifted to improve the main railways to 4-tracks, allowing to run intercity and local trains every 10 minutes.

There is just one entirely new railway under construction, the Hanzelijn between Lelystad and Zwolle, which will be completed by 2012. I don't think there will be any new big railprojects the next decade. Maybe the northern provinces use the "compensation money" to build a regional railroad between Groningen and Heerenveen.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 03:33 PM   #240
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Dutch SSC'ers should listen to this radio newsreport, which has been broadcasted on public radio on august 4th 2010 (the day before yesterday!).

I have no time to make a proper English summary, but it's headline is "Is there a future for the HSL?" The CEO of NS says they are in trouble because of the economic crisis and the ongoing problems with the HSL to Belgium.

A transport economist (Bert van Wee) explains why the HSL is a faillure. The time saving is far too little to justify such surcharge and they did not understand this HSL is uncomparable to the succesful stories elsewhere, because the distances are very short. Thus this HSL is not competing with air travel and won't attract new passengers because of the little time saving and high surcharge.

So very in line with what is already said in this SSC-thread.
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