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Old June 3rd, 2011, 12:14 PM   #541
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
... and instead of travelling standing, you wait another hour for the next train.

How can that be a bad thing?
I know of many people to whom being able to travel standing on an overbooked services in stead of having to take the next one is one of the major advantages of trains.

For the Amsterdam - Brussels trains, don't forget that they don't exclusively serve the Amsterdam - Brussels market. There are a lot of people travelling Rotterdam - Antwerpen for example. Even commuters. Over the high speed line time is about half an hour. People expect such services to be "turn up and go", and if you don't give people what they expect they don't buy your service.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 12:22 PM   #542
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You mean that piece of shit stopper train between Antwerpen and Roosendaal? Give me a break.
Well, that will hopefully improve. The best thing the NMBS can do with that line once long distance services go over the new line is to run a twice hourly local train with modern material, with a schedule that integrates with the twice hourly services to Amsterdam, Zwolle and Vlissingen in Roosendaal. This will improve local services significantly.
For long distance services the right way to use all that expensive infrastructure would be to run at least a Brussel - Amsterdam IC over the new line, and an Brussel - Antwerpen - Breda one, with stop in Noorderkempen. Let Thalys service the To/From Paris market, with its own tarif schedule, but integrate the other high speed trains in the IC network. Make it possible to reserve seats on those trains, but don't make it compulsory. However, make it clear that if a train is too full that people without reservations can be refused access.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 12:51 PM   #543
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Finally a sensible comment in this thread.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 01:56 PM   #544
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Originally Posted by 33Hz View Post
You forgot to add losing restaurants and replacing it with crap food...
NS removed restaurant cars in 2005 or 2006 after a comprehensive studied showed that train food revenues didn't pay for themselves, and something like 92% of domestic journeys were below 2h30. There were also issues with platform length in certain stations, as new trains ordered by then were longer EMUs.

They replaced restaurants with hundreds ok "Kiosk" stores and other food outlets in stations, some of then in the middle of platforms where there was space.

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Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
The point is that the rail industry these days are trying their best to take everything we hate about air travel and implementing it. Baggage checks, safety checks, rigid reservations.
Baggage and safety checks so longer only exist for Renfe LAV's trains and Eurostar - it was a precondition for the British to authorize passenger operations and the Chunnel construction in first place.

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And to worsen the situation, they're abolishing choice. If you wanna take a decent train to Belgium in the future, you're stuck with a "high speed" (which it isn't, as anyone who's ever traveled between Antwerp and Brussels can testify) train that requires you to book a family visit 3 months in advance or pay through the nose for it and you can't take a regular intercity anymore because, why sheesh, that's just gone.
I am in favor of competition, provided both services are not operationally subsidized (which is the case of Fyra and Benelux Intercity anyway, both quite expensive for European standards). The decision to abolish the Benelux trains was taken by Dutch and Belgians authorities before they started investing in HSL4/HSL-Zuid.

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All of which will lead people to... drive a car.

Well done. Really. Excellent business plan.
With current fixed prices, it is already cheaper AND faster, except on the worst of peak road traffic, to drive from Rotterdam to Antwerpen or from Den Haag to Bruxelles than take the train if you have 3 passengers and are going/coming from any place further than 20 minutes from one of the stations involved, including parking fees on expensive garages.

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Originally Posted by K_ View Post
I know of many people to whom being able to travel standing on an overbooked services in stead of having to take the next one is one of the major advantages of trains.
But standing passengers bring discomfort not only for themselves, but to passenger to whom being seated is an important factor. With standing passengers, your ability to move is constrained, and if the train is really crowded, it makes it uncomfortable for everyone, with those bags/suitcases hanging on the hands or arms or standing passengers.

Quote:
For the Amsterdam - Brussels trains, don't forget that they don't exclusively serve the Amsterdam - Brussels market. There are a lot of people travelling Rotterdam - Antwerpen for example. Even commuters. Over the high speed line time is about half an hour. People expect such services to be "turn up and go", and if you don't give people what they expect they don't buy your service.
They will be able to buy tickets at the last times on ticket machines with automatic seat assignment. There will be subscription plans in which passengers can get a certain number or free ticket changes without penalties, online, per month. The only thing they will not be able to do is buy a subscription card allowing immediate entrance to a train anytime.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K_ View Post
Well, that will hopefully improve. The best thing the NMBS can do with that line once long distance services go over the new line is to run a twice hourly local train with modern material, with a schedule that integrates with the twice hourly services to Amsterdam, Zwolle and Vlissingen in Roosendaal. This will improve local services significantly.
After the opening of HSL Zuid, there will be no more twice hourly Vlissingen-Amsterdam trains on their current route, but only a watered down Intercity service via Haarlem. Indeed, there will be no more Amsterdam-Rotterdam trains via Schiphol without a change, but only Fyra

Quote:
Let Thalys service the To/From Paris market, with its own tarif schedule, but integrate the other high speed trains in the IC network. Make it possible to reserve seats on those trains, but don't make it compulsory. However, make it clear that if a train is too full that people without reservations can be refused access.
Thalys trains have load factors above 80%, most trains departure Rotterdam almost sold out, and the service marketed as a "better" alternative to flying between Schiphol and Paris. Standing passengers would taint that brand image they so carefully built.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 04:28 PM   #545
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
NS removed restaurant cars in 2005 or 2006 after a comprehensive studied showed that train food revenues didn't pay for themselves, and something like 92% of domestic journeys were below 2h30.
And SBB did the oposite. Reintroduced restaurant cars on all IC services in 2004.

Quote:
I am in favor of competition, provided both services are not operationally subsidized (which is the case of Fyra and Benelux Intercity anyway, both quite expensive for European standards). The decision to abolish the Benelux trains was taken by Dutch and Belgians authorities before they started investing in HSL4/HSL-Zuid.
But you seem to be against making money, as you keep on suggesting that the companies should ignore what their customers want...


Quote:
But standing passengers bring discomfort not only for themselves, but to passenger to whom being seated is an important factor. With standing passengers, your ability to move is constrained, and if the train is really crowded, it makes it uncomfortable for everyone, with those bags/suitcases hanging on the hands or arms or standing passengers.
which is why I would not let to many standing passengers on the train. I did write that if a train gets to crowded passengers without reservations should be refused access.


Quote:
They will be able to buy tickets at the last times on ticket machines with automatic seat assignment. There will be subscription plans in which passengers can get a certain number or free ticket changes without penalties, online, per month. The only thing they will not be able to do is buy a subscription card allowing immediate entrance to a train anytime.
One can indeed hope this will be possible. But given the current state of NMBS ticket vending machines I'm a bit worried here.

Quote:
Thalys trains have load factors above 80%, most trains departure Rotterdam almost sold out, and the service marketed as a "better" alternative to flying between Schiphol and Paris. Standing passengers would taint that brand image they so carefully built.
Thalys should do what they want, and they can compete with the other services. However the expensive, tax payer funded HSL Zuid should serve the base IC network too. Just like the NBS Bern - Olten does in Switzerland.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 06:58 PM   #546
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I don't understand the anti-reservation tendencies. As an example, I usually book my London-Amsterdam trips on Eurostar about a week and a half in advance, not three months. I pay very low fares, usually from £59 (the cheapest possible) to £110 (the youth fare I pay if super-saver fares ran out).

If you really place that much value on planning trips close to the trip date, then yes, you're going to be charged that extra value. I don't think this is a 'vast majority of people' opinion. If this is really true we'll find out soon enough, as the NS is not against making money and will run a trial with unreserved seats if people seem to be really wanting those.

TBH it's the fact-free politics surrounding these issues that annoys me. This issue is very, very easy to find out with a few seconds of research. I think it will turn out that, like many issues, the Dutch (we) just complain in advance because we don't like change but are in the end completely fine with what it turned out to be.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 12:02 AM   #547
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krulstaartje View Post
I don't understand the anti-reservation tendencies. As an example, I usually book my London-Amsterdam trips on Eurostar about a week and a half in advance, not three months. I pay very low fares, usually from £59 (the cheapest possible) to £110 (the youth fare I pay if super-saver fares ran out).

If you really place that much value on planning trips close to the trip date, then yes, you're going to be charged that extra value. I don't think this is a 'vast majority of people' opinion. If this is really true we'll find out soon enough, as the NS is not against making money and will run a trial with unreserved seats if people seem to be really wanting those.

TBH it's the fact-free politics surrounding these issues that annoys me. This issue is very, very easy to find out with a few seconds of research. I think it will turn out that, like many issues, the Dutch (we) just complain in advance because we don't like change but are in the end completely fine with what it turned out to be.
Apparently, many Thalys intermediate fares can routinely be found even in the night before travel date. It is my guess that some people just feel "cheated" they are paying more for exactly the same service "just because they bought the service at the last minute".

However, as airlines have learned, last-minute traveled may whine, but they will keep travelling, regardless of any perceived unfairness on last-minute fares.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 11:52 AM   #548
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Originally Posted by krulstaartje View Post
I don't understand the anti-reservation tendencies. As an example, I usually book my London-Amsterdam trips on Eurostar about a week and a half in advance, not three months. I pay very low fares, usually from £59 (the cheapest possible) to £110 (the youth fare I pay if super-saver fares ran out).
Do you also book Amsterdam - Rotterdam in advance?
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Old June 4th, 2011, 10:39 PM   #549
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Depends on my specific travel needs, I sometimes take Thalys for the Brussels - Amsterdam part and sometimes take the IC. When doing the latter, I've never taken another IC than I planned to, so I wouldn't mind reserving seats, it wouldn't change my journeys at all. Actually, quite a large proportion of the international travellers on the IC to Brussels already have reserved tickets for a specific train or (by a connecting service) are required to take one specific train anyway.

Note that from an economic perspective, reserved seats are just a form of (or a mechanism to allow) price discrimination. Price discrimination allows higher occupancy rates, and from an equity perspective benefits those willing or able to pay only low prices at the expense of those paying higher prices.

But, again, to conclude: I'm not really a proponent if it isn't necessary, but I can't see the huuuuge downsides some people suggest either. That's why they should run a trial
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Old June 4th, 2011, 10:59 PM   #550
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You're not answering the question, are you a politician or something like that ?
The question was: are you booking a trip of 60km/36min in advance?
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Old June 5th, 2011, 10:08 AM   #551
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Note that from an economic perspective, reserved seats are just a form of (or a mechanism to allow) price discrimination. Price discrimination allows higher occupancy rates, and from an equity perspective benefits those willing or able to pay only low prices at the expense of those paying higher prices.
I'm not against price discrimination. But you should realise that there are different ways of achieving it. And it doesn't always work the same way in every market.
Would compulsory reservation based price discrimination work on Utrecht - Eindhoven? If you agree it doesn't, then why would you think it would work in Rotterdam - Antwerpen? Yes, they are in different countries, but that's only because a tragic accident... The border between the Netherlands and Flanders is getting less relevant every day.
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Old June 5th, 2011, 04:53 PM   #552
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@Pietje: I thought K_ was asking about the non-Eurostar portion of my regular journey... but for your question, all my rail travel in the UK is booked in advance, even tiny trips of about 30m. I don't really mind, and pretty much everyone seems to be doing it. I've never done so in the Netherlands because it hadn't been possible while I was permanently living there (and I was a student with OV).

@K_: it's a trade-off between the benefits of price discrimination versus the transaction costs imposed by reservations. The latter are fixed per trip, so for short trips it'd wouldn't be worth it. Where that line is, is quite hard to tell. I don't think Rotterdam - Antwerp is 'clearly' or 'definitely' not worth putting reservations on. As I said before... they should do a trial.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 04:42 PM   #553
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From what I know about the Netherlands, a reservation system wouldn't work because of the train system functioning more like a subway system than an actual train system. Some people might have their entire life planned out, and will be able to reserve all their travel days or weeks in advance, but when I was there, I often made ad hoc trips to the next city because of a good party going on there, or I would travel Maastricht-Nijmegen or Nijmegen-Amsterdam over Den Bosch, instead of Venlo or Arnhem, because of delays or overcrowding on the other lines. This is possible in NL because the trains function more like metro's or suburban railways...

My impression is, that by introducing compulsory reservations on any intercity or "local" high speed train in that country, one would more or less achieve that more people would take a car to go somewhere, because the flexibility the current system offers would cease to exist. The only thing I could see as what might be beneficial in the Dutch railway network would be to adopt a system similar to the German one; where there are three train categories, with different pricing, and the possibility for reservations on request for the highest train categories. That way there could be a system where stoptrains, sneltrains and intercities (dubbeldekkers?) would be similar to RB and RE, IC+ (between Limburg and Randstad - does it still run?) would become the new class of IC, and the Fyra/ICE would be the highest category. For the latter two categories it should be possible to reserve in advance and pay less, but it shouldn't be compulsory...
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Old June 7th, 2011, 04:53 PM   #554
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There are no more IC+, and reservations will be compulsory only on International Fyra services to Buxelles Midi, not on the domestic Fyra Breda-Amsterdam, AFAIK, where they will remain optional - though they should.

In any case, compulsory reservations are not the end of the world. People can always buy a ticket 4 min. before departure, for instance, and choose random seat assignment in 10 minutes. It is not going to happen, though, in regular train services, just on Fyra.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 05:14 PM   #555
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When I worked in Rotterdam (living in Amsterdam), I used Fyra twice daily (when it ran). But my schedule depends on the work load, so it's not easy to plan ahead. What I wanted to be able to do is go to the train station at the last minute, run for the train and be on my way home after a day of work.

I had an NS train pass, and bought the fyra supplement in advance only to stamp/validate it on the platform/in the tunnel.

If I would need to be at the station 5 mins in advance in order to make a reservation, that is 25% of the 20 mins gained by using Fyra instead of conventional rail. If there is a line for the reservation machine, I would risk missing the Fyra, adding to the uncertainty.

Making a reservation just before leaving the office, and then finding out the train is cancelled (not uncommon) means jumping through hoops to get your money back (= time lost), which is not an attractive option either.

THE (only) selling point of Fyra is time gain.
Time gain = minimum hassle = minimum transactions = no reservation.

If the Eurostar train is cancelled, you wait for the next one. There is no alternative. If a Fyra is cancelled, you take a regular train, and you have to deal with the hassle of getting your money back.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 06:26 PM   #556
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Well, that option will take you longer, as Intercity trains from Rotterdam-Amsterdam will be routed through Haarlem and stop in 6 extra "status upgraded" stations. So the time advantage for Fyra will be like 42 minutes.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 11:09 PM   #557
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Maybe a sollution to the reservation issue as well as the ridership issue is to make fyra partially reservation only for example half the cars and make the rest just like a regular train i think this way it will overflow with people
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Old June 9th, 2011, 07:16 AM   #558
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Well, that option will take you longer, as Intercity trains from Rotterdam-Amsterdam will be routed through Haarlem and stop in 6 extra "status upgraded" stations. So the time advantage for Fyra will be like 42 minutes.
Which is just a dirty trick by NS to force passengers into Fyra or face longer travel in the further eruding of the intercity train concept.

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Maybe a sollution to the reservation issue as well as the ridership issue is to make fyra partially reservation only for example half the cars and make the rest just like a regular train i think this way it will overflow with people
Reserving a seat in Fyra is already possible in one carriage.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 12:38 PM   #559
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Which is just a dirty trick by NS to force passengers into Fyra or face longer travel in the further eruding of the intercity train concept.
It may be, but the increase of travel time as Suburbanist suggests is not true. The re-route via Haarlem and the extra stops adds 7 minutes between Amsterdam CS and Rotterdam CS (same travel time as the current Sneltrein serving that route).

For many travellers (for instance me) who use Amsterdam-Zuid, the increase in travel time will be less, because they can change in Leiden to the intercity to Schiphol, Amsterdam-Zuid and Lelystad.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 06:16 AM   #560
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