Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 04:24:55 AM EST
This time, I report on the start of another cross-border TGV service, on a station renovation in Paris, on problems with privatisation models in Europe, and on damping vibration and noise emanating from tunnels.
|DB Konzern - Eröffnung Direktverbindung Frankfurt - Marseille|| DB Group - Opening of the Frankfurt - Marseille direct connection |
|Die Deutsche Bahn und die SNCF haben heute die Direktverbindung zwischen Frankfurt (Main) und Marseille in Betrieb genommen. Über die neue Schnellfahrstrecke ,,Rhein-Rhône" verkürzen sich die Reisezeiten zwischen Südwestdeutschland und Südfrankreich damit um bis zu 90 Minuten. Die Direktverbindung zwischen Frankfurt und Marseille führt über Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Straßburg, Mülhausen, Lyon, Avignon und Aix-en-Provence. Zum Einsatz kommt der neue Doppelstockzug TGV Euroduplex. Er erreicht auf der täglichen Hin- und Rückfahrt Spitzengeschwindigkeiten von bis zu 320 km/h.||German Railways DB and [French State Railways] SNCF have put the direct link between Frankfurt (Main) and Marseille in service today. Travel times between south-west Germany and south France shorten by up to 90 minutes along the new "Rhin-Rhône" high-speed line. The direct connection between Frankfurt and Marseille is via Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Lyon, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. The new double-deck train TGV Euroduplex is used. It reaches top speeds of up to 320 km/h on the daily round-trip.|
A week earlier:
|EBA: TGV 2N2 jetzt mit Deutschland-Zulassung- Nachrichten bei Eurailpress||EBA: TGV 2N2 now has approval for Germany - News at Eurailpress|
|Das Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (EBA) hat dem ersten von 30 französischen Hochgeschwindigkeitszügen der Bauart ,,TGV-2N2-Euroduplex" die Zulassung für Deutschland erteilt.||The Federal Railway Authority (EBA) certified the first of 30 French high-speed trains of the type "TGV 2N2 Euroduplex" for Germany.|
This is in contrast to the delays in the certification of the DB train intended for the same cross-border traffic (and those delays are still growing, also pushing the start of London-Frankfurt services with the same train to 2016).
:: :: STATION RENOVATION IN PARIS :: ::
Railway Gazette: Paris Saint-Lazare station reborn
FRANCE: A day of celebrations including dancers, horseriders and art activities for children on March 21 marked the completion of a 10-year programme to refurbish Saint-Lazare station in Paris.
...Property company Klépierre has invested 160m to build a three-storey shopping centre beneath the historic terminus, its 10 000 m2 of letting space now home to a Carrefour City supermarket and Virgin Megastore as well as 80 retail and catering outlets.
Used by 450 000 passengers a day, Saint-Lazare is the second-busiest station in Europe after Paris Nord, according to SNCF.
Of Paris's six big terminal stations, four (Gare de Lyon, Gare Montparnasse, Gare du Nord, Gare l'Est) were renovated upon the introduction of TGV services, while that of the two remaining (Gare Saint-Lazare and Gare d'Austerlitz) got underway more recently. Renovation is great, but I can't befriend the trend that main stations are turning into just another shopping centre – at least the shops at Saint-Lazare are underground. The atmosphere of the surface part was portrayed several times by impressionist painter Claude Monet (below from Wikipedia):
:: :: PROBLEMS OF PRIVATISATION :: ::
NTV is Italy's and the EU's biggest long-distance passenger venture out to compete a former state railway (under the EU-mandated principle of open access to rail infrastructure). As I reported and analysed, the launch of NTV's ".Italo" high-speed services was delayed by squabbles and financial uncertainties, and is presently promised for after Easter. Now the March issue of the International Railway Journal reports on how the arrival of a strong competitor and the new 'expert' government affect the incumbent Italian State Railways (FS).
The article first points out that the new transport minister led a bank which is one of the main shareholders of NTV, but then goes on to note that paradoxically, the new government brought an increase of transport infrastructure spending. Then the article quotes from an interview with FS CEO Mario Moretti in L'Espresso. After some obligatory three cheers for competition and liberalisation, Moretti continues with something I never read articulated this explicitly from someone in the higher echelons of power:
IRJ: Italy speeds into an uncertain future
"Every day, Trenitalia, at its own risk, runs about 400 long-distance trains, including the high-speed services. Of these, around 100 operate at a loss because they run on routes with low population density. Moreover, we lost about 200m in 2011 for running universal passenger and freight services in the south. Today these losses are compensated by profits from the high-speed services: if new competitors only operate on the profitable routes, they reduce our ability to make up for these losses. The consequence for Trenitalia could either be a new gradual indebtedness until its collapse, or to abandon loss-making routes."
However you look at this, the problem Moretti points out is a fundamental issue with open access (one I mentioned in both The Dawn Of Open Access (2/2) and Open Access: privatise profits, socialise losses). Then again, this will be dismissed as sore loser excuse from an incumbent by those who can't think outside the box for two seconds, a demographic that apparently includes 98% of EU politicians with actual power.
Railway Gazette: DSB seeks to exit Göteborg contract
SWEDEN: Danish state passenger operator DSB is seeking early termination of its contract to operate commuter and regional services around Göteborg on behalf of transport authority Västtrafik.
Jacob Kjær, Acting Chief Executive of DSB and Chairman of its Swedish subsidiary DSB Väst, said that the services were reliable and punctual, but the operation was suffering from 'major economic problems'. Attempts have been made to grow revenue and cut costs, but the monthly deficit equivalent to SKr100m a year is commercially and politically unsustainable.
Sweden is the European pioneer of rail privatisation by the franchising model. (The franchising model, best known as applied in Britain, is different from open access; but it is the preferred way to 'reform' local passenger transport across the EU.) In recent years, DSB, the former state monopolist of Denmark, went for franchises in Sweden aggressively, until corrupt practices at the subsidiary led to the dismissal of the CEO. IMHO DSB's Göteborg troubles demonstrate the main problem with the franchising model: competitors who take on too much risk to win franchises undermine the stability of services.
:: :: DAMPING VIBRATION FROM TUNNELS :: ::
Said diagonal line is the second main artery for the busy suburban rail network of Zurich (see Local Rail - An Overview). The linked EI article details the use of the so-called mass-spring system.
The advantage of slab track over conventional ballasted track is that it is much less maintenance-intensive, a particular benefit in tunnels. Its disadvantage is that it is more rigid, and thus a conduit for all kinds of vibrations. This can be changed (though not without significant costs) by placing the rail-carrying slabs themselves on springs. The idea is to lower the eigenfrequency of the track to a bandwidth in which the ground conducts vibrations weakly. For this, you first need to model and measure the vibration behaviour of the ground around the tunnel, in detail. At Zurich, the mass-spring system will be applied at three points, all with different eigenfrequencies.
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