High Speed Trains are Killing the European Railway Network - LOW-TECH MAGAZINE

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Just play few sessions in OpenTTD, while it is a very simplistic simulator, you would easily see how as the automotive industry progresses, trains should be sifted in longer-distance heavier-load higher-throughput niche - or be extinct. With about Euro plus the ticket I was simply riding as long and as far as the available money would get me. My grandmother, who lived to be almost , used to say, "better is the enemy of the good". I've often wondered why there were not more freight trains carrying lorries. The apse mosaic in early medieval Rome. The Museo Catedralicio Cathedral Museum is situated on the cathedral grounds.

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Any advice and suggestions regarding content will be highly appreciated: In Switzerland intercity trains run every 30 Min on the busy routes. But that is inevitable. Roma, Quasar, , Thiasos. The Consorcio de Transportes de Sevilla communicates by bus with all the satellite towns of Seville. Outside of Seville are nine PS20 solar power towers which use the city's sunny weather to provide most of it with clean and renewable energy.

The name is attributed to the sharp ringing of a bell that was one installed in the tower. The building attached to it, built in the 16th century called La Galera, once served as city hall, then a prison and finally it is now the Archaeological Museum.

A well-tended garden surrounded this monument where archeological finds from the Visigothic, Roman, and other periods were found. The Vauban military fort was built in the 17th century during the war between Spain and Portugal that lasted from to as a defense measure to counter-attack forces entering the city from the northwest and southeast.

It is made of stone, brick and lime concrete. It has eight bastions built on the northern part of the fort as the Guadiana and Rivilla rivers on the south provided the defense.

The structure was completed in by a local businessman for commercial intent. Various proposals for the local government to acquire the building have been made, including plans for appropriating an expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts, a regional cultural centre, and an Easter -centric museum, Easter being a major touristic draw for the city. The Puerta de Palmas was built in The towers are fortified with battlements and they have two decorative cords at the top and bottom levels. Its entrance is east-facing, and is double-arched and is decorated with medallions of the shield of the Emperor Charles V.

It was once used as a prison, but has since undergone many renovations and has been an entrance point to the city. Clare in the city and lies in the heart of the old city. It was founded in by Ms. The monastery underwent a major transformation in the 18th century although the original structure partly remains. On the vault of the chancel stands a lookout tower with a lattice brick convent, topped with pinnacles. The church of the monastery has a single nave which was rebuilt in the late 17th century, and the presbytery is covered by a late Gothic rib vault dated to the first half of the 16th century.

The Jardines de la Galera date back to the 10th century. They are nestled between the Torre de Espantaperros and the Chemin de ronde , within the Alcazaba. Many Alhambran ruins still exist within the gardens, and have been open to the public since after the site was restored after being closed for more than thirty years. The etymology of the gardens stems from the fact that the gardens provided a respite for prisoners sentenced to the gallows in Seville. Plant species extant in the gardens include cinnamomum camphora , dichondra repens , ceiba speciosa , and trees of the myrtle , laurel , orange , lemon , and pomegranate.

The city also has a water and leisure park, called the Lusiberia. The building is located on the site of the old Pretrial Detention and Correctional centre, which had been built in the mids on the grounds of a former 17th-century military stronghold, known as the Fort of Pardaleras. The building houses the 16th-century palace of the dukes of Feria. The collection is organized into six major areas: The elegant building is built of stone and brick masonry, and has four towers at the corners with a terraced facade.

The interior is made up of Mudejar brick arches resting on octagonal columns. The Museo Catedralicio Cathedral Museum is situated on the cathedral grounds.

It provides a historical journey through the different stages of the building's construction. It also features artifacts from the founding of the archdiocese to the present day. It includes posters, photographs and objects from the world of bullfighting.

Costumes of groups who participated over the years in the city's carnival are exhibited in the museum. In , it joined the Extremadura network of museums. Plaza de Cervantes is considered place of importance for the history of Badajoz. Parts of the square occupy an area which belonged to St. Andrew's Church and its cemetery. It is decorated in white marble with a concentric mosaic of pointed stars dating to Plaza Alta, recently restored, was for centuries the center of the city since it exceeded the limits of the Muslim citadel; it was formerly known simply as "the square".

It currently houses the Archdiocese. Casa Puebla, built in , is one of the other designs of Pinna, who designed numerous buildings around Badajoz. It is one of the best examples of regional architecture in Andalusian style and the property has two facades, the main one featuring neo-Renaissance elements.

During the Arab period, burials were along the roads and near the eastern suburb of the Citadel, close to Cerro de la Muela and also in the area of Santiago bastion; these locations were noted during recent excavations. Badajocenses Christians from the earliest centuries towards the end of 19th century buried their dead in or near churches.

The city of Badajoz is home to four bridges, all of which span the Guadiana. The Puente de Palmas, also known as Puente Bobo, is the oldest bridge in Badajoz; the masonry was first laid in , but a sudden rise in the river's waters destroyed the structure in In , 16 of its 24 spans were destroyed by floods and were restored between and Puente de la Universidad is downstream of the old Palmas Bridge. It was built in It has a bicycle lane and links to the Elvas Avenue leading to Portugal and many other city centres.

While not a city renowned for its culture and art, many notable artists, musicians, and writers were born in the city. Like much of southern Spain, flamenco is very popular, and performances are regularly put on in Badajoz on the Plaza Alta and other venues. Some flamenco palos linked to Badajoz are Extremaduran jaleos and Extremaduran tangos. The festival known as "Feria de San Juan" is held every year from 23 June to 1 July at this border town, which is a major attraction not only for people of Spain but also to the Portuguese who cross the border to attend the one-week festival.

This festival also includes bull fights. The university was founded on 4 November , when the Faculty of Badajoz belonging to the University of Seville was established. It underwent extensive refurbishment during the 16th to 18th centuries. The paintings of Luis de Morales, a local artist of the Renaissance period , are exhibited in the cathedral. Built with ashlar masonry, the windows are made of stone and carved. On two of its faces clocks were fixed during the renovations carried out in The tower has a belfry and is fortified with battlements.

Adoratrices is a small chapel dedicated to St. The Brotherhood of St. Joseph, founded in , functioned from this chapel. During the 19th-century War of Independence the chapel was bombed and its importance declined during subsequent years.

The San Andres and La Concepcion churches are of the 13th century. Its stadium is Estadio Nuevo Vivero. Cerro Reyes is currently unaffiliated with any league. Badajoz plays host to two golf courses. The course is described as "gentle and undulating", set on the banks of the Guadiana River.

Golf del Guadiana , is an hole construct built in The course is described as challenging, in part due to the 14 lacustrine features and abundance of trees on the course. Badajoz Railway Station, Spanish: BQZ , situated in the north of the city, is the only railway station at Badajoz. The station accommodates long-distance and medium-distance trains, both operated by the public company RENFE.

It is the last Spanish railway station before the Portuguese railway system. It is expected the station will be replaced by a new facility located at the border with Portugal with high-speed services run by the Southwest—Portuguese corridor and the Madrid—Lisbon line. In August Comboios de Portugal , the Portuguese national railway company, instituted a daily service from Badajoz to Entroncamento , with connections to Lisbon and Porto.

The airport currently caters for two civil routes, one to Barcelona and the other to Madrid , both operated by Air Europa. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Placa Alta Alta Square , Second left: Porta de Palmas , Third left: Alcazaba de Badajoz , Third right: Torre de Espantaperros Espantaperros Tower , Bottom: Siege of Badajoz Battle of Badajoz and Massacre of Badajoz.

Retrieved 12 July Retrieved 22 July Grupos de Amigos de Olivenca. Retrieved 9 July Retrieved 10 July Archived from the original on August 2, Retrieved 8 August Retrieved 15 May Retrieved 11 August However, numbers don't tell the whole story here. On a night train, passengers sleep about seven to eight hours, which brings the perceived travel time back to between four and five hours -- faster than the high speed train.

Furthermore, the night train meant you arrived in Paris or Barcelona in the early morning, which can be very practical.

If you want to arrive early morning by high speed train, you need to take a train the day before and book a hotel, increasing the overall cost. For die-hard idiots like me, there are still cheaper options available. From these border stations, you can hop on a domestic night train to Paris -- in spite of its extensive high speed network, France still has some domestic night trains. However, this is cold comfort as the trip takes close to 16 hours and requires an extra change.

And forget all the comfort and extras that came with the Trenhotel: The price has doubled, while the travel time remained more or less the same. The worst is yet to come, though. The high speed line between Paris and Barcelona has also cut off my gateway to Central and Eastern Europe.

Contrary to the "slow" train route that goes over the mountains and then heads straight to Paris, the high speed track does a sharp turn to the right, heading towards Narbonne and Montpellier in the south of France before setting course to Paris. The Catalan Talgo Barcelona-Geneva The completion of the high speed track between Montpellier and the Spanish border in led to the suspension of three "slow" trains.

The first was the Catalan Talgo , a direct train that had run between Barcelona and Montpellier since In fact, it originally operated between Barcelona and Geneva in Switzerland, but the route was shortened when the high speed line between Montpellier and Geneva was opened in I felt lucky to be travelling on this train, which still used the original rolling stock from But, again, this is not the time for nostalgia.

Look at the numbers. The original Catalan Talgo , running between Barcelona and Geneva until , completed the journey in 10 hours. My only option when travelling to Geneva now involves a combination of three high speed trains and a regional train with a total travel time of eight to ten hours -- just as fast as the Catalan Talgo in the s, but that was direct.

The train itself may have been in need of an upgrade, but the direct connection clearly wasn't. A trip from Barcelona to Switzerland or Italy now takes longer than before the installation of the high speed train. In spite of this, fares on the route have more than doubled.

The two other trains were abolished in December These were night trains: They each took about 13 hours to complete their journey, leaving around 20h30 in evening and arriving at 10h00 in morning.

The only way to get to Milan is now through a combination of two high speed trains and a regional train with a total travel time of over 12 hours. This is why I started thinking about doing my next trip by bicycle.

Despite its supposed efficiency, the high speed train will not make my travels any more sustainable. Passengers who switch from low speed trains to high speed trains, like I have to do now, increase energy use and carbon emissions. However, most Europeans aren't like me. If they travel between Amsterdam and Barcelona, they take a plane.

If we are to believe the European Union, who has made the high speed train a key element in its strategy to make long-distance transportation less energy and carbon-intensive, passengers who now take planes will switch to high speed trains. A low-cost plane in Barcelona. However, if you compare the ticket prices, it's obvious that this won't happen. Furthermore, the flight only takes about two hours. Flying has become so cheap in Europe that it's now cheaper to live in Barcelona and commute by plane each day, than to live and work in London.

With the arrival of high speed trains and low-cost airlines, rich and poor are simply swapping long-distance transport modes. Historically, train fares have always been lower than air fares. The arrival of high speed trains and low-cost airlines in the s has inverted this.

Rich and poor have simply swapped travel modes: Since there are less rich Europeans, this obviously won't bring any energy savings or reductions in carbon emissions. High speed trains share a fundamental problem with almost all other "sustainable" high-tech solutions that are being marketed these days: This explains why installing 10, km of high speed train lines did not stop the growth of passenger air traffic in Europe.

Kris De Decker edited by Deva Lee. For recent timetables pre-dating December rail operators traditionally change timetables and trains routes in December , I have relied on the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable and my own collection of train tickets.

Information about train routes was found in a variety of rail maps and atlasses. See TGV-europe and the national railway operators listed above [1]. Fares from before December are based on my own collection of train tickets. The Man in Seat 61 provided missing information. Its introduction went together with the abolishment of a slightly slower but much cheaper alternative, the Benelux train -- which is also operated by the Belgian and Dutch railways.

If everything would have gone according to plan, the route between Amsterdam and Brussels would now be a copy of the route between Paris and Brussels.

Travellers would be forced to use the more expensive fast train, or take a combination of regional trains that would be ridiculously slow. However, the Fyra trains were plagued by technical problems and had to be retired after two months.

An alternative route has been established -- slower than the Benelux train , but faster than the combination of regional trains. It is still unclear how things will evolve in the future. For the calculations of travel times in this article, I assume that the Benelux train is still running. Posted on December 16, at You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post. Thanks for this article, very informative and reminds me of my three years of travelling exclusively by train in Europe on Interrail passes.

I think that is another option that was not covered here: Interrail is usually not valid without a significant surcharge on most high speed trains. Of course, living in China now, I can enjoy long distance high speed night trains: Leon White December 17, at The surcharge for InterRail depends a lot on the country and rail operator.

In Germany, you can board a high speed train without paying a surcharge. The other extreme is Thalys: In France, it depends on the time of the day, but surcharges are reasonable. I don't know how much you have to pay extra on the new high speed connection between Paris and Barcelona, which is operated by Renfe and SNCF.

InterRailers also have to pay a surcharge on night trains it used to be free, but not anymore. It's often around 30 euro for a "couchette". I find it often worthwhile to pay it, since you save yourself the cost of a hotel room. On the night train between Paris and Barcelona, however, the surcharge was rather high.

InterRail is my last resort. When I book a trip less than two weeks in advance, it is almost always the cheapest option. It is very slow if you want to avoid surcharges, but also comfortable because you enjoy total freedom. However, I wonder how long InterRail will remain available Kris De Decker December 17, at The old trains had another incredibly convenient feature: It was very useful for travelling very early in the morning without having gotten enough sleep at home.

You could even turn the entire compartment into one big flat surface for the whole family. I have however less fond memories of couchettes.

Normally at least one of the other passengers would snore loudly, or have smelly feet, or wake up everyone at 5. Gidon Gerber December 17, at Snoring can be a problem, yes. Especially if you are a man and you are on a night train that has separate couchettes for men and women like the Trenhotel. Train companies and youth hostels should reserve special compartments and rooms for people who snore.

It also depends on the amount of people in the compartment: You can always book a private cabin, of course. Especially if you are travelling as a couple, that could be very affordable At times, I have paid less per person for a double private compartment than for a bed in a shared couchette. And even a private compartment for yourself might still be cheaper than the high speed train, if you're lucky.

I still have to get used to talk about night trains in the past tense While stating the advantages of plane, completely missing the time and cost to travel to the airport which tends to be very remote for lowcost airlines , the time needed to register etc You can come take a Thalys 10mn before departure, and the railway station is in the city Bruno R December 17, at I still have a fond memory on my interrail trip in I rode the Amsterdam-Paris train overnight - and in fact, I rode all my trips over night, each and every night for 13 days in a row.

I did not use the trains for transportation only, but also as a place to sleep. With about Euro plus the ticket I was simply riding as long and as far as the available money would get me. One of the most interesting adventures of my life. All trains were overnight long distance trains. France was a bit uncomfortable since they had these plastic seats that were designed in a way that sleeping on two of them was a bit awful.

Nowadays, I would probably opt for couchettes. It's too bad that the time of these trains seems to be coming to an end. They provided such a great and inspiring freedom to me when I just finished school.

Hans-Werner December 17, at That's the reason why those who can afford it take a high speed train instead of a plane when travel time is under 3 hours -- I thought this was obvious enough. However, time is money only for those who earn good money. Half of the trips between Barcelona and Madrid, for instance, are still by plane, even though the plane takes longer than the high speed train if you take into account the time loss that you mention. Because the plane is much cheaper.

Low-cost air travel which today is not anymore the domain of "low-cost carriers", since many traditional airlines aggressively compete on price for short haul journeys has been killing night trains, high-speed substitution present or not. As with other transportation solutions, it also creates its own demand like middle-income professionals in London being able to take bank holidays in Croatia or the Canarias, something that would have not been possible with any train.

The author also mixes up commercial decisions pricing system with costs of travel. Many night trains used to be subsidized, heavily subsidized indeed, especially domestic ones. Changing towards a yield-management pricing style like airlines is not related to the speed trains travel around.

In Italy, for instance, regular prices on all routes but regional short-distance traffic were raised, a lot, and counterbalanced by more advance-purchase discounts and variable pricing. Yield-management aims to fill trains as much as possible earning as much as possible, advance purchase discounts is one way to achieve that.

None of it has anything to do with rail technologies used for travelling. There is nothing inherently related to high-speed rail tracks that requires yield management pricing. The issues of subsidization of rail are important to be discussed, because many countries are clawing back train operations that don't break even, for a variety of reasons.

Nothing would preclude subsidies to make high-speed travel cheap, but budgetary concerns. Also ignored are capital and operational cost distinctions. Building high-speed rail is expensive, but once works are completed, maintenance cost is rather low. High-speed rail tracks have, by necessity, advanced automated systems that greatly reduce manpower needed to operate tracks. Being also built to modern standards, high-speed tracks are fully segregated from obstacles, grade crossings, and tunnel through mountains instead of negotiating avalanche-prone slopes.

All of this make high-speed marginal costs of operation cheaper. December 17, at Compared to building costs, maintenance costs pale into insignificance.

It costs on average 18 million euro to build 1 km of high speed rail, while maintenance costs are 30, euro per km. Even if maintenance costs of high speed rail would be somewhat lower for high speed rail than for low speed rail, this is not going to make a significant difference.

Furthermore, you don't mention operational costs. You have buildings costs, operational costs, and maintenance costs. The first two are the most important and they are higher for high speed rail. So even if maintenance costs for high speed rail are lower, who cares? All transportation modes are subsidized by European governments: The construction of the complete high speed rail infrastructure is financed with tax money.

You can run millions of night trains with that money, for hundreds of years. Not only Italian rail operators, but for example also Finnish rail operators have introduced these pricing mechanisms. It indeed increased the income of the train company, but of course at the expense of the customers.

The promotional fares induce demand, while regular passengers see their costs increased. It is a pricing system that does not belong in public transportation. By the way, even without yield management high speed trains would have considerably higher ticket fares than low speed trains because building and operational costs are higher -- see above. Logically, the advance of low-cost airlines did the night trains no good. The same can be said from the car.

Railroads have lost much more traffic to cars than to planes. The cheaper rail alternative was abolished without a low-cost plane for the masses. In , air fares on that route as on most European routes were still higher than rail fares, even higher than high speed fares. The night train between Barcelona and Paris has been running for many years despite the presence of low-cost airlines on that route. It was a hugely popular train, and more than once I had to take an alternative route because it was booked full.

It was only killed when the high speed train arrived. Airlines and cars compete with trains, but the railways themselves have decided to kill their own products. They could as well have decided to invest the money in lower fares and more comfortable trains -- so that people could sleep better -- instead of in building a whole new high speed rail network.

Just imagine how the low speed network would look if it would have received all the money that is being invested in high speed rail.

Transportation in Europe is changing. I agree that fast trains are too expensive. I can't afford any more last minute Paris or London trip by fast train. The train is becoming the luxury city center to city center option. For me, the solution is the buses network. I use Eurolines or Megabus and I can travel in most countries for a cheaper price and last minute tickets are not much more expensive. Gaetan December 17, at I still think you are tackling three non-strongly related issues: States used different financial engineering operations to build their high-speed networks.

Italian government just took up the tab and put most of it on general budget. France threw debt on RFF. Germany used infrastructure funds. How this debt is paid is a separate discussion, it might or might not be tied to fares collected likewise a new highway might or might not have its construction costs covered by tolls collected from drivers.

It is not appropriate to compare capital costs with possible alternative uses on operating and maintenance expenses. Use of yield-management has its ups and downs. It tackles price elasticity of different group of travelers, since not everyone is willing to pay the same to travel on a given date by a giving mode. Last-minute long-distance travel is often the domain of a subset of costumers which, in average, have are willing to pay much more to take the trip regardless of whether they are business people travelling on corporate tab or someone travelling urgently for family matters, that is irrelevant from the railway revenue perspective.

The discussion on whether high-speed rail has higher costs must take into account policy and market decisions, such as charging higher access fees for high-speed tracks. If government decides to not collect as much fees from the railway path allocations on high speed tracks, part of that cost would go down.

High-speed rail operators that are separate entities Eurostar, Thalys, Italo turn on hefty pre-interest gross profits. You need to consider that many of the lower-speed routes were once-daily services. A Trenhotel has a total capacity of passengers depending on its composition - that is 1. When fully implemented in one year, there will be 5 daily high-speed trains between Paris and Barcelona, each carrying at least double the capacity of Trenhotel.

A quick search for flights between Barcelona and Paris on second week of January http: Finally, low-cost high-speed train operators are starting to appear. France has the OuiGo www. If there are going to be running five high speed trains per day between Paris and Barcelona, let's hope they won't be running empty. Spain has a great tradition of building high speed lines that nobody uses.

One line between Toledo and Cuenca saw just 16 people a day using it on average and was shut down this year source: Moreover, you can run five daily high speed trains on the route, but you could as well decide to run five or ten night trains on the route. The capacity would be the same.

By the way, I think these are the figures you are looking for: Concerning the French idea of running low-cost high-speed trains: If you jack up people on trains like you do on planes, but the plane is faster, then everybody will still take the plane.

If you have to travel uncomfortably, then you want it to be over as fast as possible. Lastly, I really couldn't care less about the financial engineering that was used to finance the high speed train lines.

What counts is who pays the bill in the end, and since we all know who that will be. Kris, very informative and well-written article, a curious point of view I've never heard. While reading over this, I can't help but think that the pricing for HSR will go down dramatically once the fixed costs are paid off by revenue, however many years that may be. This begs the question, wherein does the unsustainable nature of HSR stem from, the source of energy?

I do acknowledge that the speed difference between traditional rail makes HSR significantly less efficient, but I'd say that construction of high speed rail lines now are of vital importance to future travel in Europe when petroleum inevitably starts becoming expensive in however many years that may be.

Omari December 17, at I think one of the things that drives HSR as a concept, is the idea that 'time' is everything. Why we need to 'save' all this time is seldom mentioned directly. Travel time needs to be kept to a minimum, even though that goal is seldom met in reality, for a reason.

Elon Musks latest tech-no-boondoggle, the hyperloop, is a perfect picture of the 'speed is everything' mentality. Leaving aside the minor problems that the US of Oil lacks the technical know-how, the money, the land, or any means to make this a reality.

The real question of who would benefit from being able to travel from L. F in 45 mins is seldom articulated. Of course the entire idea is silly and so is Musk, but its still all about, bigger, faster, better. If HSR or high cost jets exclude large portions of the population then that really isnt a problem either since they have no money anyhow so serving them is seen as a waste of valuable resources.

The high speed over-all approach is not to limited to trains. Road expansion is also marketed using pretty much the exact same language. Then it stops saving you time. I think as long as we have this idea that we have to move people at the maximum possible speed, even if it doesn't make sense energetically, or financially to do so, well keep on building systems that we cant afford. Nor does it help that our market totalitarian system that places a premium on getting people back to there cubicles as fast as possible.

DC December 18, at The fixed costs of high speed rail will never be paid off by revenue, because as the article states, there is not one high speed line that recovers capital costs, and only in some countries some lines can recover operating costs. But your point is valid in the sense that one day the capital costs will be recovered by the tax money paid for the construction. The unsustainable nature of high speed rail stems from building the infrastructure on the one hand, and the higher speed of the trains on the other hand.

Both raise costs and energy consumption compared to low speed trains -- which are in fact not or not much slower because the speed of a train is just one of many factors that determine travel time [it's not just about night trains -- see part 2 of the article].

We could build cheaper and less-energy intensive if we opt for a network of somewhat slower trains. In that case, many more people could afford to travel on these trains, and the energy investment could be recovered much faster. We would get more value for our money. As DC notes in the comment just after yours, the fundamental problem is our distorted view of progress.

I think you also demonstrate this when you write that "the construction of high speed rail lines are of vital importance to future travel in Europe when petroleum inevitably starts becoming expensive". If you want to operate trains on renewable energy, the need to reduce speeds only becomes larger. Kris De Decker December 18, at The article has generated lots of comments at Hacker News: Interesting is that many people are relating that they have switched to buses for medium distance trips because trains have become too expensive.

My grandmother, who lived to be almost , used to say, "better is the enemy of the good". So a good train system can be wrecked by building a better high speed system.

What we seem to be facing are the ego-maniacs who want to make an impression rather than practical people who would just do what would work well for most people. Kris, While I agree with you're idea of a "distorted view of progress", but I think there's a few things to consider.

The first is that HSR if you make a distinction between rail is still in its infancy relative to airplanes and automobiles. In essence we air currently viewing the historically most primitive HSR engines, rolling stock,and overhead wiring etc. It seems worth investing in late rather than never, much like sustainable technology could have been more developed in the 20th century instead of hydrocarbon tech.

I don't think the global demand for high speed transport of goods or people will ever completely disappear, in a few instances none that I can offhand think of there may even be a need for it in a globalized world.

Omari December 18, at I remember taking the intercity from zweibrucken to Augsburg one night. The postal service was sorting mail on the train. What did the postal services do when the night trains ended? David Locke December 18, at That is a shame, because trains are still by far, the most efficient way to move people we have, outside of bikes of course.

The diesel, or gas-powered bus, is IMO, just an oversized car. Loud, noisy, polluting, uncomfortable, and are no more efficient per-passenger-mile, than amerikas garbage-can cars. It may turn out that HSR is, in effect, pricing itself out of its own market. I cant take a train to Vancouver, about 4 hours away, at any speed. Nor can I get to Calgary hrs. The national capital miles? No route possible, directly or indirectly. There are rail lines going to those places of course, but what are they actually being used for?

Hauling coal,tar-sands goop, lumber or other raw materials to ports, or swtichyards in Vancouver for 'export' to the US at below-market rates. But back to my options here in my local space. Planes-Heavily subsidized, polluting, and least efficient way to travel ever devised. Least subsidized of the three. Service sporadic, expensive, and uncomfortable, and amazingly slow.

If HSR can never recover its capital costs then the cars-onlys roadways dont either. According to the Victoria Tranportation institute, http: The rest if deficit financed or simply allowed to fall further into dis-repair.

Not that there is anything wrong with public subsidies in all instances, but everywhere you look public resources ALWAYS seem to end up going to the least-efficient, most energy intensive options we can think of.

HSR looks like its joining airlines and cars-only transportation as a subsidy sink. E December 18, at Today, it is perfectly feasible to leave Paris Saturday morning, arrive in London for lunch, spend a night in town theater, live music, whatever , sleep there and come back next Sunday morning in time to have lunch in Paris again.

That would have never been possible with trains before you could fly, but that would take more total time. In Italy, Milan and Florence are as close as 1h40min. That makes it possible for people to travel for leisure from one city to another and come back same day. In the past, that would not have been a feasile proposition. December 18, at But that is inevitable. Compare automobiles from years ago and today. Lorries, buses - they made a huge leap. Trains should run ahead of them to be competitive.

Just play few sessions in OpenTTD, while it is a very simplistic simulator, you would easily see how as the automotive industry progresses, trains should be sifted in longer-distance heavier-load higher-throughput niche - or be extinct. Arioch December 18, at As an avid rail traveller I have seen the changes in Europe over the last 35 years: We said goodbye to pre-war technology and heavily subsidized not-so-fast trains. Business travellers welcome a viable alternative to air travel. When it comes to cost - especially in Italy this meant much higher prices.

In the 80s I used to hitchhike accross Europe except in Italy with its ridiculous low rail fares. The situation in Switzerland and Austria is similar. In Germany we still have a healthy second tier with InterCity trains serving smaller cities, and private companies do cherry picking on select routes. Bernhard December 18, at Austria and Switzerland have no high speed trains, and Germany runs their high speed trains on common tracks, making them slower but also more affordable, as you say.

Quite importantly, these are among the European countries where most people use the train. As I explain in the second part of the article your last sentence shows you did not read that , train travel is still affordable in Central and Eastern Europe. Great, but don't forget the negative consequences: Nobody denies that high speed trains bring advantages -- to those who can afford them. The point is that the technology is sold to us as a means to make transportation more sustainable, which it does not.

It is indeed ironic that American trains are mainly used to haul around unsustainable cargo. For example, without trains, we would not be able to burn as much coal as we do now. It's a similar story. A train is not by definition a sustainable choice.

You have to ask why it is running, who or what is onboard, and for what reason. High speed trains have been around for quite some time now. The first modern high speed rail dates from in Japan. That's exactly half a century ago. And basically, high speed trains are trains, a technology that is much older still, older than airplanes and automobiles.

Of course, you are right that it will improve in efficiency and quality, but another problem is that this progress might be nullified by higher speeds. The high speed trains of today will be considered slow in ten of fifteen years time. Train manufacturers are building ever faster high speed trains. A great article which I as a dedicated rail traveller, I'm quite afraid of flying, can feel very emotional about. However I do belive you're a bit unfair to high-speed rail, it's not the technology per se that is the problem.

As I understand the rail investments in Spain - compared to speculations and bubbles in the housing sector - have deliverd positive results. What's happening is that national governments and the EU have not yet introduced a strategy to shift transports to sustainable alternatives. High-speed rail is just a feather in the hat while we're seeing an explosion of "unnecessary" air travel. Taking the example of Paris-Barcelona, there's no doubt that there is a market for both day- and night-time travel options.

It's just a question of marketing and priceing. And even if the night-train would have to be subsidied a bit that cost is dwarfed compared to the invesments in infrastructure. We need a cultural change - and a political one - when looking a rail travel.

The notion that we are able to travel more is mostly positive but we need to build a much more integrated and reasonable network.

Jonas Ryberg December 18, at Bertrand December 18, at I partly agree with you. What you write is a summary of the second part of the article, which many people don't seem to have read: Maybe it's a bit confusing, but the complete article was just too long to be published on one page. I was afraid that people would not have bothered to start reading it. The first part relates my own experience, the second part is based on scientific research and investigates the modal shift between planes and trains.

And if you take away the cheap planes, things start to look a whole lot better. I doubt that high speed rail in Spain has a positive result. What happened with high speed rail is very similar to what happened in the housing sector. One example is Barcelona. As I relate in the second part of the article, local train traffic around the city is a total mess. The irony is that many people who commute by train to Barcelona pass "La Sagrera", the new station that is being built exclusively for the high speed train.

It's just one big construction site that does not seem to advance. It's a megalomaniac project that is hugely expensive and might never be finished. That money could have been invested in the local train network instead. By the way, most of my friends, and myself, usually don't travel by high speed train in Spain. We can't afford it. My friends fly or go by car, and I undertake epic travels by low speed trains, for which I am ridiculized. In fact, RENFE has recently lowered the fares for the high speed trains because they were not able to obtain enough passengers.

However, this only shifts the financial burden to the state operated company, and thus the tax payer. Germany has many high-speed lines. The difference is that the Germans were already using a more high-speed apt for high speed electrification system Everything red and orange on that map is, for all European purposes, high-speed rail and much of blue lines are as well.

The original historical lines of Germany also had better alignment and much was reconstructed to better standards already after destruction following World War II. Spain, in contrast, didn't even use standard gauge on its tracks until it started building the first AVE Sevilla-Madrid, and alignments here pretty bad e.

In any case, there is a new threat to night trains, a fresh one: Here in the Netherlands, as from Jan 1st, , it will be no longer allowed for track workers to be in some dual track ROW where one track is kept online for traffic and the other disabled works. ProRail the rail infrastructure manager completely changed procedures, there will be less overall disruption, but far more all-night closure of whole lines for works. Partial closures where one track is kept opened are no longer allowed in Netherlands due to several incidents where workers were struck or had close calls with trains on the active track.

This brings traditional lines more in tandem with the standard practice of high-speed tracks keep service intact during the day, shut down the whole line 4h every night and do all work there at once.

Italy is said to be studying similar regulations, and so is Belgium. If the practice becomes spread, it will be the virtual end of night passenger trains freight trains can still be re-routed over longer distances, but passenger trains lose their fixed route. I did not express myself well. Germany has indeed high speed lines, but it is the only country with a "fully mixed model", which means that both high speed and conventional services can run on each type of infrastructure.

High speed trains can use upgraded tracks while freight services use the spare capacity of high speed lines during the night. Furthermore, while they have dedicated high speed tracks, you have to admit that they have very few of them at the moment. German high speed trains are also comparatively slow. About work safety regulations: If there is one thing interesting about high speed trains, i''s that they could also offer night services.

This would allow them to compete against planes for much longer distances. Thanks for the link. Shows clearly that the high speed train was initially openly aimed at business people travelling by expensive planes. The Low-tech Magazine article has been translated into French by carfree.

Kris De Decker December 19, at The notion that HSR is somehow "greener" than transport by aircraft is wholly flawed because the comparison is generally made btwn HSR and turbine-powered jets designed to fly at 40,ft at twice the rate of speed as the HSR. The real question is: HSR Cynic December 19, at The undeniable advantage of planes is that they don't need any infrastructure between point A and B. Cut their speed in half and they beat high speed rail, both in travel time and energy efficiency.

Thanks Kris, for this article describing exactly what I was already suspecting. I am a frequent business traveler. So frequent that I got sick of flying: So I started to take the train instead. And I enjoy the space and the relative tranquility.

But due to the continued abolishing of night trains, the train travels are getting slower and slower. Next month, I need to go to Madrid, from Rotterdam. Until last week, that meant leaving Rotterdam at 4 pm and arriving at 9 am the morning after.

Now I'll arrive in Madrid at 2 pm 5 hours later or have to leave from Rotterdam at 10 am 6 hours earlier. I loose at least half a working day. Until last year, however, there was a direct night train from Amsterdam to Milan, from which one could take an HSR to Turin or rent a car: I can take a night train from Paris, but that means leaving Amsterdam at 3 pm instead of 7 pm: HSRs are great, but the subsequent abolishing of the low-speed network renders the advantages of the HSR mostly useless.

I stopped flying to Paris, okay, but will start flying again to other destinations to which I used to take the train. Or stop flying all together and find another, less productive and less socially useful job. Frank December 20, at I'm back here to pinpoint some aspects of what is behind the "high-speed rail" and criticize the "low-tech rail" label.

The very basic most important requirement are appropriate curve radii - you need wider curves for higher speeds, and there is no run-around on that. Yet, trains could still travel faster without being at any risk of derailment for a given curve radius, but they don't out of comfort of passengers. The demands of curve radii can be reduced for a given speed with track superelevation and tilting trains. So curve radii are the major drive on alignment decision for high-speed rail, and the reason by which is might need long tunnels as tracks can't follow a meandering river valley or contour smaller mountains the upside: Now there isn't a cut-off between high-speed tracks and "low-tech tracks", it is all about the relatively straightforward calculations using not-so-complex Physics.

Before the current age of high-speed rail construction, many countries namely Italy, Switzerland and France engaged on heavy construction activity on the interwar period to upgrade earlier slow speed tracks and often substitute newer much faster alignments for them, facing the same challenges as today - straighter tracks need more tunnels, earthworks and high viaducts if terrain doesn't help.

For the rest, the parameters of high-speed tracks are just a combination of measures and improvements that have been deployed over traditional rail infrastructure as well:.

So it is not something exclusive of HSR. High-speed trains cannot rely on giving information to drivers via trackside signals or alerts, hence trains need to communicate on real-time with a central data center.

All countries have long-term projects of fitting the latest state-of-the-art electronic signaling systems into all trains. This will make older rail tracks much more "high tech" in the process. In any case, all countries have some modern signaling system that is nothing like the low-tech mechanical wayside signs of early 19th Century.

Part of it comes from the need for modern safety systems that prevent crashes, running into forbidden tracks, overspeeding etc.

Part of it comes from the need to increase the number of trains that can run on a single track sector by having all trains relay and read real-time dynamic information on other trains and signaling commands, so that instead of a train having to block a sector based on its speed and distance required to stop, it uses as little space as safely needed based on dynamic information on other trains.

This is becoming mandatory on many busy older lines, even if they see just lower traffic. Then, you have all the train improvements themselves, like on-board Wi-Fi that works even in tunnels, travel information panels, GPS-tracked pre-recorded announcements, all of it add a bit to train costs but greatly improve travel experience for anyone using it as transportation and not nostalgic ride.

December 22, at Nowhere in the article or in the comments did I use the label "low-tech" trains. I was talking about low speed trains. You don't have to convince me that low speed trains can be high-tech, or that the 19th century is over. If you want to make the point that there is no difference between high speed trains and low speed trains, then what exactly explains the large price difference between them when I want to book a ticket?

Kris De Decker December 23, at So Thalys saves about 2 hours, not only 1! You have to modify your conclusions. The number changes, but the conclusion remains the same.

However, your comment raises more questions than it answers. There is a document on the Thalys website describing the history of the train, which states that the first connection Paris-Amsterdam dates from June 2, and took 4h One year later, with the completion of the Belgian high speed line between the French border and Brussels, travel time came down to 4h And, most importantly, is their 4h19 the same as your 4h19? Or is that coincidence? On the French wikipedia page for the LGV Nord, it is stated that only three of four low speed trains were replaced by high speed trains from January 23, If someone has rail timetables available for the early s, please join the discussion.

This is the only way to resolve the matter. And of course the question remains how we should label a train that does less than one third of its route on high speed rail in , dedicated high speed track did not reach further than Paris-Arras , and follows the old trajectory for most of the trip. Good afternoon, Kris, I thoroughly enjoyed your article, and I fully agree with your sentiments. I believe that the only real high speed train that was a benefit to the traveller was the democratic and successful HST diesel train that was built by British Rail and formed, and still does form, the basic intercity train in the country, the new franchised operators have not found a suitable alternative in many cases.

The UK wishes to build a HSL High Speed Two which will sit in splendid isolation from the rest of the network, and will not even connect directly into the HS1 to give direct train services to the continent, i. Pancras to pick up a Eurostar. Whilst not against high speed trains in principle, they should be integrated into the conventional network and conventional trains and sleepers should not be withdrawn just to force people on to the new trains.

In the case of the FYRA debacle, the majority of the public did not want this service, but government and the railways particularly NS buried their heads in the sand and went ahead anyway. The resulting mess has reinstated the Benelux intercity, but I expect to hear later that they will want to try something else that the public will not want. Many of the members of my association also sell long distance bus as very often the prices are more acceptable and nowadays not so slow as you would think.

Many of the members of my association would entirely agree with your article. Bertrand December 24, at As an American who spent three glorious months in traveling by rail literally all over western Europe, it is depressing to read this excellent article. That rail network was robust, extensive, and unbelievably affordable. In Italy, the fares were so absurdly low it seemed like they almost paid YOU to ride their trains. One could wake up in the morning in a European city of almost any size, throw a dart at a map, consult the Thomas Cook European Timetable, and within a few hours, be on a train to that destination that would be reasonably direct and reasonably priced.

And if you had a Eurail pass, as I did for two of those months, it was even more affordable. Just a crying shame that they have so badly undermined that wonderful network. And to add insult to injury, assuming European politics works anything like American politics, I'm sure a lot of politicians, bureaucrats, unions, and private sector contractors got rich at the public's expense as well. Buckaroo Banzai December 24, at Ok, but aren't holiday trips unsustainable de facto? Allowing more people to travel less unsustainably is good?

Are the operators or the people to be blamed? Peter Baksa December 25, at However, there has been a remarkable reaction to it from politicians, urban planners and even a few CEOs of large companies coming out against it. Hopefully the trains will remain if pressure is kept up over the next months! Otherwise I just wanted to say that I agree with Bob Hex entirely. Rail integration urgently needed and despite all the talk we're heading in the wrong direction!

Also, there must be a political decision to support reasonable fares. Governments must atleast own parts of rail companies and make sure that citizens of all classes can afford to travel. Jonas Ryberg December 26, at One point missing in the discussion is frequency of service. For a leisure traveller one train per day per direction might be all right. But for a business traveler several connections per days are needed. In Switzerland intercity trains run every 30 Min on the busy routes.

And this headways need to be cut to 20 or 15 Minutes to be competetive with door to door travel time and flexibility of cars. Now we have freight, slow commuter fast commuter, interregio intercity and eurocity on the same track. All those trains have different speeds.

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And, most importantly, is their 4h19 the same as your 4h19?

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YourNameIsRequired March 17, at Retrieved 14 July My trip from London to Eastern Europe km costs about for diesel. By the way, most of my friends, and myself, usually don't travel by high speed train in Spain. From private to public.