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Old February 20th, 2011, 01:17 PM   #481
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Thalys trains attract a low of commuters, if not daily ones, on the Brussles-Paris route. And it doesn't take standing passengers, which adds to the perceived quality of the service, allowing it to brand itself as worth their rather expensive last-minute fares. If your train is full, take the next one - or plan in advance.
One of the less know facts about Thalys is that although you do get a reservation when you buy a ticket you don't have to take that train if your ticket is a flexible one. Frequent travellers can board another train, even without exchange your ticket. You just don't have a guaranteed seat. Just like a conventional train, realy...
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Old February 20th, 2011, 02:29 PM   #482
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One of the less know facts about Thalys is that although you do get a reservation when you buy a ticket you don't have to take that train if your ticket is a flexible one. Frequent travellers can board another train, even without exchange your ticket. You just don't have a guaranteed seat. Just like a conventional train, realy...
Sure, but those cost way more than the € 39 one-way tickets you can buy with 2/3 days in advance (sometimes even the day before). And by costing more I mean 100% more. Thalys and Eurostar seem to have the highest price dispersion in European HS network, but both are doing relatively fine, so I guess they manage to cater for different market segments with their policy.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 03:14 PM   #483
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Sure, but those cost way more than the € 39 one-way tickets you can buy with 2/3 days in advance (sometimes even the day before). And by costing more I mean 100% more. Thalys and Eurostar seem to have the highest price dispersion in European HS network, but both are doing relatively fine, so I guess they manage to cater for different market segments with their policy.
The difference is of course that for Thalys and Eurostar the competition is the plane. For the Dutch - Belgium HSL service the situation is different. The Fyra is basically a medium speed domestic service that just happens to cross a border that in a logical universe wouldn't even be there.
The main competition here is the car.
Another difference is that before Thalys there were a few international trains between Paris and Brussels, and most required reservation too. Between Amsterdam and Brussel the current service is however an hourly IC running at regular intervals. You can reserve seats on this train, but hardly anyone ever bothers.
The fact that the old IC would have to be discontinued to get enough passengers for the Fyra service says enough...
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 10:37 PM   #484
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The difference is of course that for Thalys and Eurostar the competition is the plane. For the Dutch - Belgium HSL service the situation is different. The Fyra is basically a medium speed domestic service that just happens to cross a border that in a logical universe wouldn't even be there.
The main competition here is the car.
Another difference is that before Thalys there were a few international trains between Paris and Brussels, and most required reservation too. Between Amsterdam and Brussel the current service is however an hourly IC running at regular intervals. You can reserve seats on this train, but hardly anyone ever bothers.
The fact that the old IC would have to be discontinued to get enough passengers for the Fyra service says enough...
Thalys has both the plane and the car as competitors. On Paris-Brussels,
plane competition has been eradicated. If they want to still increase their
market share, it's the car and the bus they have to go against now.

There were many conventional trains between Paris and Brussels, too much
to qualify that as "a few". Six TEE trains per day and per direction, plus
almost 10 conventional trains. Slower than the current TGV of course, but
far more comfortable, good food service in the TEEs, and more convenient
as they also served some intermediate stations that are almost unreacheable
today. On TEE, reservation was mandatory (you could not by a ticket alone)
but on other trains it was just "recommended", and extremely cheap.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 12:24 AM   #485
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Thalys has both the plane and the car as competitors. On Paris-Brussels,
plane competition has been eradicated. If they want to still increase their
market share, it's the car and the bus they have to go against now.

There were many conventional trains between Paris and Brussels, too much
to qualify that as "a few". Six TEE trains per day and per direction, plus
almost 10 conventional trains. Slower than the current TGV of course, but
far more comfortable, good food service in the TEEs, and more convenient
as they also served some intermediate stations that are almost unreacheable
today. On TEE, reservation was mandatory (you could not by a ticket alone)
but on other trains it was just "recommended", and extremely cheap.
AFAIK, regular trains took more than 4h30! Absurd.

How could old crappy trains that used COMPARTMENTS, those strange and uneasy seatings facing each other in a closed space be more comfortable than Thalys?

As for intermediate destinations, just get off at Lille and change trains there.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 08:21 AM   #486
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How could old crappy trains that used COMPARTMENTS, those strange and uneasy seatings facing each other in a closed space be more comfortable than Thalys?
I like compartments. Many people do. It's a lot quieter. Having to share a whole Eurostar carriage with French teenagers, that is uncomfortable.

And Thalys suffers from the fact that it was designed by the French, and thus the legroom is insufficient for a Dutch or Belgian male of average length (and made even worse by a foot rest that doesn't fold away completely) I always travel first classe on French TGVs. It's the only way for me.
And isn't it ironic that you can get good food prepared by French Chefs on German trains, but not on French trains?
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 08:45 AM   #487
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How could old crappy trains that used COMPARTMENTS, those strange and uneasy seatings facing each other in a closed space be more comfortable than Thalys?
Because they have windows.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 12:32 PM   #488
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Because they have windows.
So now windows and food catering, not speed and punctuality, become the most important factors in determining what makes a train "better"? That would be strange.

Thalys has 2 classes for a reason. The difference is meaningful enough to justify the price difference between them. On an ICE, the difference is not that significant, and usually entice users for the fact 1st class is generally less crowded. On Thalys and TGV trains, you can notice the difference.

As for windows: there is no need or "right" for each seat row to have its own window. Trains travelling at 250km/h are not meant to provide a scenic view of the countryside of Northern France. Sunlight will enter the train anyway, a carriage will have plenty of windows, maybe just one not 15cm from your eyes!
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 06:08 PM   #489
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So now windows and food catering, not speed and punctuality, become the most important factors in determining what makes a train "better"? That would be strange.
Everything matters of course. Punctuality and reliability comes first. Then speed, however speed isn't everything.
For example, compare between 8 hours in two TGVs, requiring a transfer between stations in Paris, with 8 1/2 hours in two ICEs, not requiring a change of stations. Now add in the fact that an ICE is a lot more comfortable than a TGV, and that the food is better, and that a trip of more than 8 hours eats up a day anway.

I suppose you start to see that speed isn't the only criterium.

Quote:
Thalys has 2 classes for a reason. The difference is meaningful enough to justify the price difference between them. On an ICE, the difference is not that significant, and usually entice users for the fact 1st class is generally less crowded. On Thalys and TGV trains, you can notice the difference.
Yes, on the TGV I have the choice between uncomfortable and comfortable. On the ICE between comfortable and more comfortable. And that makes TGV superior in which way?

Quote:
As for windows: there is no need or "right" for each seat row to have its own window. Trains travelling at 250km/h are not meant to provide a scenic view of the countryside of Northern France. Sunlight will enter the train anyway, a carriage will have plenty of windows, maybe just one not 15cm from your eyes!
You're not entitled to anything, indeed. But the railway isn't entitled to my money either...
Your "the public be damned" attitude is unfortunately however very popular with some railways.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 06:59 PM   #490
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You're not entitled to anything, indeed. But the railway isn't entitled to my money either...
Your "the public be damned" attitude is unfortunately however very popular with some railways.
Which makes the case for competition, and not coordination. If many different companies had their own trains, and windows become an important feature for costumers, rail companies will not buy or lease train cars with windowless seats! But once you have real monopolies, there is no way to ascertain whether presence of a window in each row is important, or not.

Bring competition, the discussion is rendered pointless.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 04:26 AM   #491
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Which makes the case for competition, and not coordination. If many different companies had their own trains, and windows become an important feature for costumers, rail companies will not buy or lease train cars with windowless seats! But once you have real monopolies, there is no way to ascertain whether presence of a window in each row is important, or not.

Bring competition, the discussion is rendered pointless.
Dear Suburbanist

Air travel is an example of a fierce competitive market. There is no technical need to have windows on aeroplanes. Actually windowless aeroplanes would be lighter and structurally stronger.

But aeroplanes do have windows and this for the simple reason that the vast majority of people do prefer to see the sunlight. Indeed sunlight has a tremendous effects on the human body. This also the reason why in the pasenger area of modern aeroplanes tere is extensive use of several light wavelengths , in order to positively affect passenger mood and comfort.

With regards to various comments you have posted earlier on TEE trains and compartments etc, I would like to add that the majority of people, over long distances , do prefer to travel in compartments because they feel that compartments allow a greater degree of privacy.

To the majority of rail travellers the bus-seat arrangement you favour give the impression of a narrow and crowded long corridor.

On very long distance rail travel comfort is given by a mixture made of sufficient vital space, perceived privacy, adequate natural and artificial lighting , comfortable seating , windows cafeteria/ restaurant cars, etc., and the new long distance HSTs will have to take this well known factors into due consideration.

Your TGV seating accommodation model is intrinsically flawed. The TGV layout was originally designed for the short journey times necessary to cover the distance from Paris to Lyon, i.e: less than 2 hours.
This mistake became obvious immediately on HSTs journey lasting 3-5 hours or more. With the extension of rail HST journeys over longer distances , sometimes in excess of a 1,000 kms the railways operators are acutely aware of need for more comfort and of the need for several types of car passenger layouts (saloons, compartments, semi-compartments, etc) .

In the future we will have direct HSTs over six hours long journeys such as between Paris and Madrid (6 ½ hours – 7 hours) , Paris – Frankfurt , Paris Bratislava 6 -1/2) and these trains will have to be more comfortable than the comfort offered in the “old” 2nd class TGV style seating arragements

Indeed the old 2nd class of those first TGV sets Paris Sud -Est have been recently modified.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGV

The original 2nd class layout of the ICE 1 was a totally different story ....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICE_1

Personally I would prefer to travel 3 ½ ~ 5 hours in the ICE1 pre-refurbishment second class than 2 ½ hours in 2nd class ICE 3, or 1 hour in a 2nd class TGV.

Furthermore, by in large, long distance train travellers do not like to change trains. They prefer direct services.

Last but not least: I do not think that you theories about car/plane transport systems vs modern European HSTs travel systems can work on the 21st century European HSTs models , especially if these theories of yours are combined with USA theories on private and unregulated market practices which were in fashion in the States in the early thirties (of the last centuries).
The Japanese who were the firs to build an extensive HSt network, now in excess of 2500 km , for their HST trains have adopted a very generous loading gauge and theyr trains are wider (3,4m) than those HSTs used in Western Europe , yet the Japanese haven’t shrunk the seating modules, nor eliminated the windows nor removed the toilets.. Yet theyr HS trains can carry over 1300 passenger and the firsts HS line they have built, the Tokyo- Osaka carries on average well over 500.000 passengers a day.

The Japanese also use 3 categories of High Speed Trains , for Fast, Semi -Fast and Stopping services.

For each categories of trains they use train sets capable of 300 km/h or more. Indeed, in the past they used even the Nozomi 500 - a train which, originally, was designed for 350 km/h - and lately - at the end of its revenue life , was confined to slow stopping services!

How do you reconcile the Japanese HST model of highly successful HSTs mass transport system with your theories?

Was the Japanese model of HST trains dictated by free market competition of by sound technical considerations?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/500_Series_Shinkansen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C5%8D...%8D_Shinkansen
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Old February 24th, 2011, 09:52 AM   #492
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AFAIK, regular trains took more than 4h30! Absurd.

How could old crappy trains that used COMPARTMENTS, those strange and uneasy seatings facing each other in a closed space be more comfortable than Thalys?

As for intermediate destinations, just get off at Lille and change trains there.
Mire like 3 hours. 2h30 for the TEEs that ran without any intermediate stop,
if I remember well. TEEs were just fast enough to have a very good meal
served at your seat (a real meal, not the typical aviation junk food that you
can get now) during the trip.

Most trains had the choice between compartment and coach cars. I would
always choose compartments, much more quiet and comfortable specially
if you intend to work - or take a nap - during the trip. And all seats had
a real window, and ample leg room.

Thalys trains do not serve Lille. And it is a very big detour if you have to
go to, for example, Aulnoye or Saint Quentin, stations that were served
by the pre-TGV trains. People who used to take the train to Paris in Mons
(all those who live in the south-west part of Belgium) now have to go to
Brussels, a detour that cancels all the time won by the high speed between
Brussels and Paris.

The pre-TGV trains did not require reservation, which was sometimes very
handy... You could decide to hop on a train to Paris without any preparation.
I did that myself several times. Sure, sometimes you did not get a seat. But
with a compartment car, you could stand in the gangway; and lean over the
window all the way to Paris - another thing I enjoyed which is almost not
feasable anymore today.

No, fast and modern does not always mean enjoyable and convenient...
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Old February 24th, 2011, 10:13 AM   #493
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Let me reply without extensive multi-quoting.

In regard of compartments, they do not allow (easily) for something that is becoming more and more critical for the modern traveler: a tray and individual power sockets to open a notebook/netbook. Unless you make compartments with very large seat-to-seat distances, which means reduced capacity per car. It also implies more cameras are needed for electronic surveillance of each compartment instead of only 3/4 strategically positioned in each open-seat car.

Japanese 2nd car trainsets have 3+2 arrangements on 2nd class, rendering the extra gauge useless in terms of comfort.

I am sure sunlight is important, and I wasn't advocating train cars entirely windowless. However, to have in each car 30-40% of seats without a DIRECT view of a window is no big deal as long as there is enough sunlight coming from all the other windows in the car. It will, at most, affect claustrophobic people feeling "uneasy" by not having something to stare outside train.

Passengers will usually prefer direct services, but it is tantamount of any network that resorting to connections will greatly improve two other standards: frequency and coverage. You need connections to allow passengers to reach wider areas. Moreover, if the offset of having less connections is to have more stops, you can easily lose any time advantage of a fast trains on multiple stops -just look that the ICE network in Germany and its politically motivated stops in routes like Frankfurt-Berlin.

I know some are complaining that the new Fyra services will "bypass" Den Haag and Dordrecht, but that is the price of progress. Passengers from those cities will be able to take connecting trains to reach their destinations and those travelling to/from elsewhere will reach their destinations faster. This "I don't want to make a connection" reminds me, according to what a friend detailed described to me, of the restructuring of NS networks earlier last decade, in which many long-distance sneltrein and stoptrein were curtailed, shortening travel times for most passengers but "obliging" passengers to make connections. It's like those who prefer speed won, those who prefer taking a direct Rotterdam Alexander - Bilthoven train stopping in countless stations instead of changing trains twice and arriving 10 min earlier lost.

The French case is a very specific one in the way it was designed, allowing for services to/from Paris to operate up to final destinations in radial lines, however, that is not the case of most networks. Even some Lille/Southern France trains were recently curtailed, now requiring a transfer (between different stations!) in Paris, which is of course a problem.

As for the free market issues, I guess it is something you believe and put in practice, regardless of experience. It is like human rights of free speech, you don't mingle around thinking of whether free speech makes a society more or less efficient, you promote it because it is a right thing to do. I am not leveling free market to free speech, just pointing that, as in human rights, there are some economic axioms we don't have to test for anything as they are inherently fair and corollary of a democratic society like: private property, right to compensation if expropriated via eminent domain, free markets and free association as defaults (exception is to have them restricted, and not present) and alike. So unless there is a compelling case for not having free market operation of trains (infrastructure is a different, exceptional discussion), there should be free market for trains, period.

I make the parallel to airlines: airports are mostly government-owned or heavily regulated, as there is just so much land that can be reasonably devoted to big air terminals in a city/region. However, governments don't interfere (anymore) with schedules, which companies offer connections to which places, if any, which operates only direct flights etc. Rail transport could be managed the same way. Then, again, discussions like "is it essential to have windows in every seat row" become pointless: market will decide and solve such controversies.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 01:58 PM   #494
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How could old crappy trains that used COMPARTMENTS, those strange and uneasy seatings facing each other in a closed space be more comfortable than Thalys?
Compartments are much better then a noisy open space. IMHO traveling in compartments is much more confortable.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 04:19 PM   #495
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Compartments are much better then a noisy open space. IMHO traveling in compartments is much more confortable.
Compartments are extremely uncomfortable late at night. The noise at day time is rather fun compared to the spooky silence at night.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 07:37 PM   #496
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Compartments are extremely uncomfortable late at night. The noise at day time is rather fun compared to the spooky silence at night.
Again, if compartments are made of 2 rows of 3 seats, they can get:

- impractical to be fit with individual trays/tables for notebooks/books
- uncomfortable if they are full (be a stranger among 30 is better than be a stranger among 4 if you have no intentions on wasting your time chatting with people that are sit there).
- less efficient in terms of space use
- more demanding in terms of cameras and alike
- more difficult to oust people who have taken your reserved seat ("but my daughter would have to travel alone on the other compartment")
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Old February 25th, 2011, 07:47 AM   #497
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Again, if compartments are made of 2 rows of 3 seats, they can get:

- impractical to be fit with individual trays/tables for notebooks/books
- uncomfortable if they are full (be a stranger among 30 is better than be a stranger among 4 if you have no intentions on wasting your time chatting with people that are sit there).
- less efficient in terms of space use
- more demanding in terms of cameras and alike
- more difficult to oust people who have taken your reserved seat ("but my daughter would have to travel alone on the other compartment")
That's why an intelligent design (like the ICE) offers both compartments and open space seating.
BTW, if find that when I want to work on my laptop the best thing to have is a real solid table. Like SBB has in it's business cars, and will also offer in it's new double deck trains:
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Old February 25th, 2011, 08:39 AM   #498
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- uncomfortable if they are full (be a stranger among 30 is better than be a stranger among 4 if you have no intentions on wasting your time chatting with people that are sit there).
lol! You speak as if everyone think the same. I, for one, actually enjoy chatting with people in the train.

Having said that, I like both compartments and the german style tables. I travelled daily in a IRE and it had this table sitting similar to the SBB photo.

The one I find by far the most unconfortable, noisy and squeezed is bus-style sitting. This kind of sitting already makes airplanes such a horrible travel experience. You sit there squeezed just hoping that the trip will end ASAP instead of actually relaxing and enjoying it. Why would anyone want to repeat that in trains which are supposed to exactly have the main advantage of being confortable?
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Old February 25th, 2011, 12:08 PM   #499
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Why would anyone want to repeat that in trains which are supposed to exactly have the main advantage of being confortable?
Comfort requires space. And space is limited which you have to pay for ultimately. Not everyone is will or able to pay for that.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 12:53 PM   #500
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The one I find by far the most unconfortable, noisy and squeezed is bus-style sitting. This kind of sitting already makes airplanes such a horrible travel experience. You sit there squeezed just hoping that the trip will end ASAP instead of actually relaxing and enjoying it. Why would anyone want to repeat that in trains which are supposed to exactly have the main advantage of being confortable?
Aligned parallel seats proved definitively more space when a train is full. It's simple physics: facing seat allow one to stretch her/his legs if they are up to half-full. However, when they have more than 50% load factors, people are in much less comfort as the space beneath the seats is wasted and people have to hold their legs against their own seats (which is very uncomfortable on longer journeys). Hence, trains like Eurostar and Thalys, usually running on high load factors most of the day, are keen to use parallel aligned seats (bus-like).
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