Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
I'm just back. I can't add much on this event, which was a ceremonial opening run before the 10 June opening to regular traffic. Some more general notes:

  • In terms of European linkup, we are a long way. The proper high-speed line extends only from Paris to beyond Metz, from where both branches (to Stuttgart and Stuttgart) use only upgraded lines (and some are a few months late in the Frankfurt direction).

  • However, the photo aptly shows the one significant progress made: at least the flagship trains of the two railways now offer full service on both sides. There has been parallel service of German Railways DB's ICE-3 and Thalys trains from the TGV between Brussels and Cologne for some time, but the former got speed restrictions in Belgium because their airflow picked up stones from the less solidly laid trackbed, and the latter had much lower top speeds in Germany because the transformer of normal TGVs isn't well suited for the differing frequency.

    Making the LGV Est Européenne parallel service cost above all the German railways much: €48 million for the modification of the first six trains, and another €28 million for extensive multi-year tests in France. On one hand, the stone-pickut problem had to be solved (changes in the aerodynamic shape of the undercarriage), on the other hand, SNCF had to see how a number of technologies not used in France works in their system.

  • The Paris-Budapest, and now Hamburg-Barcelona axes are a nice dream, but currently, talk about them is mostly smoke and mirrors. There are a number of national projects along these corridors, but also some gaps, and plans for mere upgrades, which won't allow truly fast service along the entire routes.

    No true high-speed line is planned from Strasbourg to Budapest, though some sections (to Karlsruhe, Augsburg-Munich, Wels(near Linz)-Vienna) are four-tracked with 200+km/h high-speed tracks. From before Straßbourg to Stuttgart, trains will travel in a big S, no straight line planned.

    Germany's domestic plans would include full high-speed or 250 km/h upgraded lines all the way from Hamburg to the French border (with roughly half already in service or construction), though they have been slowed town to near standstill lately. France's next TGV line will be the East leg of the LGV Rhin-Rhône, but Strasbourg-Mulhouse will only be upgraded, the South leg of the LGV Rhin-Rhône (to Lyon) is in the misty future. In the South, the border-crossing Perpignan-Figuera line and its continuation to Barcelona is in the works, but no plans for the Montpellier-Perpignan gap.

  • Still, if a future EU Commission decides to give a larger percentage of funds for rail projects it supports, what is talking hot air today can turn the inspirator of real policy tomorrow, and for this reason, that now there is talk of Hamburg-Barcelona, too, can be termed as progress.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 10:15:15 AM EST
* That rail alliance, Railteam, compromises state raílways from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, and international carriers Thalys, Eurostar and NS Hispeed (daughter of the Dutch state railways for Amsterdam-Brussels services on the to be opened high-speed line). This is kind of a reincarnation of the half-dead TEE Rail Alliance project by the German, Austrian and Swiss railways, which led to some airline-style joint offering but faltered after the failure to jointly jointly order new trains. Hopefully it works out better this time. The plans include such copies of airline policy like "railmiles" for frequent travellers.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 10:38:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Metz, from where both branches (to Stuttgart and Stuttgart) use only upgraded lines (and some are a few months late in the Frankfurt direction).

to Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

I collected some current data on the border-crossing lines.

Due to still unfinished works on the Frankfurt leg (renovation of Saarbrücken station and the line until Kaiserslautern), Paris-Frankfurt will start at 4h11m, cut to 3h49m at the end of the year. Top speed is generally 160km/h until the Rhine valley, even just 80-120 km/h across mountains. It will be raised to 200 km/h on two thirds of the line only after further works and testing of new signalling, plan is 2008, I place my bet on 2010. This will bring only a few minutes, the Mannheim-Frankfurt line will bring more -- as things now look, in 2017...

The Rhine bridge at Strasbourg and the connecting line of Germany's Right-bank Rhine Valley Line is only for 160 km/h and single-track, a new bridge and 200 km/h will be built probably 2008-10.

The second leg of the LGV Est Européenne proper high-speed line is now slated for 2014, with preliminary works already begun. But I wonder how much the French construction companies will take with a 4-km tunnel under the Vosges.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 11:41:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps I was (as usual) unclear:
Dodo, do you know anything about provisions for the handicapped on these technowonders?
Can you research it a bit? Like a ramp?
A bit of info would matter a lot to me.


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon May 28th, 2007 at 03:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very quick first reply: on every ICE train, there are 1-2 places for wheelchairs.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 29th, 2007 at 01:37:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A longer reply...

1) German ICE-3 trains:

These eight-car trains have two wheelchair-fastening places in the non-bistro middle car -- car No. 24, seats no. 65 and 67, between a 2nd-class compartment and a child facility, with a toilet for the disabled ("Behindertengerechtes WC") beyond the latter. The bar is just next in the neighbouring car. (Check groundplan of the train, car No. 24 is fifth from top.)

German railways DB has a so-called Mobilitätsservize, a special branch that, in case of no fixed ramp, will arrange for a mobile lift in any station for long-distance trains after a call a day before the travel, like this:

You can download a full brochure for the disabled [pdf!] in English.

2) French TGV POS trains:

In all TGVs, there is a four-seater compartment for passengers with wheelchairs at the first-class end of the train (car R1), though tickets for it are second-class. There is a button to call the conductor, who can bring special compact wheelchairs for moving on-board.

By booking a seat in the wheelchair zone 24 hours ahead, the boarding help service is activated in the appropiate stations. Read more here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 29th, 2007 at 05:05:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have used the TGV many times while in a chair, and the prices are good for me, the car is fine--it is doable, - but not as easy as it might seem. C'est la vie. Departure from Paris is OK, but arrival more often than not finds the lift equipment locked up, irrespective of notification, and in any case, this whole trip only works at one of the larger stations that has the rather bulky equipment. A poor system, in practice.

I have another solution. I get out of my chair just before the door, and buttwalk down the car's steps to the last step before the quai, drag my chair down and over my head, unfold it on the quai, and make the transfer. Only risk is that the front wheels will fall into the gap between the car and the quai. Big gap is scary. I need to press gang another passenger or two to hold up on the front of the chair and/or balance the back-- there are lots of people who see the need right away, and someone will usually step up and do it without a word, in France.

No ramp involved, but good upper body strength is needed. Grimy pants, but beats the alternative. Would be tough for a Para, impossible for a Quad, however. That ramp for the TGV could easily be a collapsing unit, stowed on board. There is such a ramp, but it appears only rarely- I dunno the problem. I politic for this ramp each time I travel, but with no apparent effect. Duh. I's only the user, boss.
Thank you, Dodo. A real help.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue May 29th, 2007 at 10:20:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

Impeachment gets real

by ARGeezer - Jan 17
20 comments

A Final Warning

by Oui - Jan 10
112 comments

Environment Anarchists

by Oui - Jan 13
4 comments

More Spanish repression

by IdiotSavant - Jan 6
8 comments

Occasional Series