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TGV: Triumph of the State

by r------ Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 05:35:27 AM EST

Dodo wrote up today's historic news of the new TGV speed record. I wanted to say a bit more about this, because aside from taking pride in Europe and France demonstrating once again our capacity to be world beaters, there's a backstory to this that is equally compelling and which dovetails with what many of us hold as values dear to us.

Not only did we push the technological envelope here, but we did so in a way which validates our socialist values. How's this? Because each TGV success is by definition the success of a State/State-owned/Private partnership which has for decades continued to produce technological advances in the service of mankind, providing a welcome antidote to the neo-liberal screeds of how State intervention in the economy = hopelessly inefficient = Soviet bread lines.

Now, we all know this is specious, but that's not the point. The point is the dominant political-economic narrative found in the Wall Street Journal, the FT and even, via Eric Le Boucher, Le Monde, doesn't have space to describe this development accurately.

Le Monde has an excellent opinion piece on this today, translated below the fold, the sort of commentary which points to why Le Monde is not just the definitive paper of record in France, but in all of the West. I'll leave the parsing of the Anglo-american neo-lib treatment of this achievement to others.

From the diaries - afew. Edited by Jerome to replace fuzzy image by video snap above.


Le modèle du TGV

La grande vitesse ferroviaire devient vertigineuse. Une tentative de record mondial à près de 600 km/h, mardi 3 avril, sur la nouvelle ligne du TGV Est, une exploitation commerciale à 320 km/h dès le mois de juin sur cette ligne, et peut-être plus tard à 350 km/h... Le plus étonnant dans cette révolution est qu'elle dure depuis l'automne 1981, avec la mise en service du premier TGV Paris-Lyon, et qu'elle ne cesse d'ouvrir de nouvelles perspectives.
 
Rail at such high speeds as to make one's head spin. An attempt at a world record of just under 600 km/h, on Tuesday 3 April, on the new Paris-Strasbourg TGV line, commercially viable speeds of 320 km/h no later than this June on the same line, perhaps later rising to 350 km/h...The most astonishing thing about this revolution is that it has continued since autumn 1981, with the launch of the first TGV line from Paris to Lyon, and that it has never stopped opening new possibilities.

Le TGV a bouleversé les notions de temps et de distance, introduit une nouvelle fluidité. Il a dessiné une géographie différente de la France, et s'apprête à le faire pour l'Europe. Alors que l'Europe institutionnelle patine, peut-être le véritable sentiment d'appartenance à une même entité viendra-t-il des habitudes et des possibilités créées par des programmes d'études dans plusieurs pays, comme Erasmus pour les jeunes, et par les lignes transeuropéennes de TGV pour tout le monde, quand Paris sera à 3 heures de Munich ou 5 h 35 de Barcelone, dès 2009.
The TGV has turned notions of time and distance on their head, and introduced new potentials.  It drew up a different geography of France, and is readying itself to do the same for Europe. All the while Institutional Europe is on the skids, perhaps a true sense of belonging to a common entity will come from the common customs and possibilities arising from common educational programs across many countries,  such as the Erasmus program, and by transeuropean TGV lines for everyone, when Paris will be 3 hours from Munich or 5:35 from Barcelona, beginning in 2009.
L'avance conquise et maintenue jusqu'à aujourd'hui par la France dans la course à la modernité ferroviaire est à l'évidence une réussite du "modèle français" si décrié, fondé sur l'alliance de l'Etat et des entreprises publiques avec le privé, pour produire des technologies de pointe et équiper le territoire. Les nouvelles avancées du TGV ne doivent toutefois pas faire oublier ses limites, voire les risques qu'il induit.
 
The lead that France has built and to date maintained in the race for modern rail transport is  an obvious success of the much maligned French model, founded on an alliance of the State, State-owned companies and private enterprise to produce cutting edge technologies and to  roll them out to the national territory. At the same time, the new TGV advances should not make us forget their limitations and the risks to which they may lead.
L'expérience des lignes précédentes a montré que le TGV n'est pas un instrument miracle du décollage économique. Il peut même vider encore un peu plus un territoire en déclin, car il a tendance à accentuer les dynamiques, plutôt qu'à les inverser. Il est porteur d'une dualité territoriale et sociale qui peut être préoccupante si elle n'est pas corrigée : d'un côté les territoires desservis, et les passagers qui peuvent payer plus cher ; de l'autre les zones hors réseau TGV, et les voyageurs qui n'ont pas les moyens de la grande vitesse.
 
Experience with previous lines has demonstrated that the TGV does not miraculously lead to a surge in economic growth. And it might even empty out to a greater extent some regions already in decline, as it tends to accentuate, rather than reverse, pre-existing business and demographic trends. It carries with it double-edged swords, both territorial and social in nature, which could be worrying if not corrected: on one side, areas served by the trains and passengers who can afford the higher fare; on the other, areas not served by the trains and those who cannot afford to ride them.
Le maintien d'un maillage suffisant pour le réseau classique, l'interconnexion avec le réseau des TER, le développement d'un TGV adapté au transport ferroviaire régional font partie des réponses adaptées à ce défi. Il y faut des moyens financiers, de plus en plus rares, de l'imagination et la volonté de développer des synergies. Or l'une des difficultés potentielles est que la multiplication des opérateurs, chacun animé de sa logique propre - celle de Réseau ferré de France n'est pas celle de la SNCF, qui n'a pas les mêmes objectifs qu'Alstom, sans parler des collectivités locales associées au TGV -, ne débouche sur une dilution des responsabilités, voire des conflits d'intérêts. Les risques sont connus et identifiés. Il est de la responsabilité de chaque acteur du TGV de veiller à les réduire, pour ne pas gâcher la belle aventure.
The maintenance of a sufficient network of conventional trains, interconnectivity with the TER (regional conventional passenger train service), and development of a TGV more adapted to regional rail transport all are part of an overall response to these challenges. Financial means, increasingly scarce, as well as a bit of imagination and the will to develop synergies will be needed. One of the potential risks in the project is the multiplicity of partners in it, all driven by their own motives and logic - those of the Réseau ferré de France do not align with those of the SNCF, which in turn does not perfectly share the objectives of Alstom, not to mention those of local communities associated with the TGV - and that this might lead to a dilution of responsibilities, even conflicts of interest. The risks are known and identified. It is incumbent upon each partner in the TGV project to work to reduce these so as not to wreck such a promising endeavor.

And, to finish for Le Monde, the most efficient actor to manage these partnerships is of course the State. In Brussels, in Paris, and of course, as partnerships extend, further afield.

Display:
Imho, this story points to the best EU integration model, which is via common industrial policies, coupled with common social policies and much stronger state partnerships in investment, including in the new 12 entrants.

Mr Blair's model? An economic union which will go nowhere. Hell, the UK, an economic union showing signs of passing its sell-by date, has failed to fully integrating one medium-sized island (plus a few unfortunate counties of another) after centuries of employing the model, and now Mr Blair would export this to the continent?

The General had it right then, and he is still right.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 at 12:32:17 PM EST
Check out the CNN video of the record run! There is an on-site reporter who knows all the right details, and there is a talking head. Around the middle, the tslking head interrupts, and in an unbelievably dismissive and arrogant tone, asks why such leisure travel needs such speed or something... the on-site reporter is speechless for a second.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 at 02:10:06 PM EST
Watching the video, it seems a hell of a lot more like a jet bomber than a train.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 08:29:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check this one out at 3:10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8skXT5NQzCg&mode=related&search=

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 08:40:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brilliant!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 09:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't get the CNN video to work.

Anyone have an idea what to do?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 09:07:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Consider yourself lucky.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 01:27:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
cross-post from other thread

probably shoulda been in this thread instead.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 at 05:12:27 PM EST
Thanks!
by cambridgemac on Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 at 08:32:39 PM EST
I agree, it's fantastic.  I've always assumed it makes a profit, because it is such a great service.  does it?
by wchurchill on Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 at 09:51:50 PM EST
AFAIK still yes, though I don't have current numbers ready. Ticket income minus operating expenses is not the cardinal issue, that is highly positive, but paying back the investment into fixed installations (e.g. the high-speed line) is the heavier part. I do remember that the first line (Paris-Lyons) got back the investment real fast, in a decade or so, but say the last line opened, TGV Mediterranée, was much more expensive.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 03:05:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm surprised no one mentionned the eurostar (Paris-London) line. "private" funding through equity and finally "private" banks are now taking control.

It's all interest and accounting, but then what should be the benchmark rates for long term projects?

by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 06:41:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly why public investment should be "paid back" escapes me, other than that it is the conventional wisdom (built into the current system that we cannot see beyond) that governments can only borrow to invest.

ie "Investment" is BY DEFINITION through a Limited Company. It's how we distinguish "Public" from "Private".

Balderdash.

It need not be so: why should not non-toxic investment in railways be part of a "National Equity" - giving (say) the reasonable (as opposed to "locust") index-linked return on investment that pension funds are clamouring for - rather than this investment being hidden within the grossly misleading, surreal and plain bonkers "National Debt".

A government can sell revenues, without selling ownership and control, and may do so either through a "Unit Trust" wrapper (eg the Canadian Income Trust approach) or the "Capital Partnership" I advocate, where units consisting of proportional "equity shares" in revenues are sold to investors.

The only costs that need to be defrayed from revenues are in fact operating costs and maintenance/ depreciation.

Granted that railways don't necessarily cover these costs either, but there is no reason why those who benefit from:
(a) bringing employees to work in a timely fashion (the French approach, I understand, re the Metro); or
(b) the increased rental value of a location near a station;
should not contribute to such operating losses.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 09:05:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
governments can only borrow to invest

Because taxes are bad.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 09:12:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition, there's the fractional-reserve credit multiplier. Jerome once claimed investing without debt would be at least 10 times smaller.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 09:14:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are confusing:

(a) credit/debt (where there is an obligation to repay/perform) - I think of this as enabling value exchanges/ "dynamic" Value (Value in motion = "Money" IMHO) and I describe it as "deficit-based" finance; and

(b) investment (where there is no obligation to "repay") - which I think of as "static" value (ie "Capital") and I describe this as "asset-based" finance.

The reason for any confusion is that both secured and unsecured credit are conflated and the vast bulk of so-called "investment" currently comes about from money issued by banks as secured loans: ie deficit-based, but asset-backed.

Now this secured bank credit COULD (using asset-based techniques such as trusts or partnerships) be replaced by "investment", but because it is created as loans within a deficit-based monetary system it is actually debt.

The vast bulk of our "Money as Debt" supply actually isn't circulating: it is static, being tied up in fixed assets such as property.

I agree with Jerome that credit creation is necessary but not that banks are any longer necessary as credit intermediaries.

A Guarantee Society/Clearing Union achieves the same result, but with the added benefit that it will also permit value to be created and kept locally without leakage to Wall Street and the City.

"Banks" in this disintermediated model are service providers who manage the bilateral creation of "trade" credit (and any necessary default fund) and no longer put capital at risk as intermediaries.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 10:50:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The key issue really is that "tax and spend" is bad, but "tax and pay interest" is good, ideologically.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 10:53:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently the TGV has driven regional airlines in France out of business.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 04:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some notes to the article:

when Paris will be 3 hours from Munich or 5:35 from Barcelona, beginning in 2009.

The second may be true, but Munich in 3 hours, maybe in 2025...

Contrary to the triumphant tone of the article, it is actually still a problem that railways and countries seem to keep up firewalls between their high-speed systems.

  • France+BeNeLux - Germany: though with the existing parallel Thalys and ICE trains between Cologne and Bruxelles, and the future Paris-Frankfurt, Paris-Stuttgart services, trains and services will now be properly linked up, they (will) do so across non-high-speed sections. No high-speed beyond the Belgian border near Aachen, the TGV Est européenne first leg will only go beyond Metz, and no true high-speed is planned across the border or from Karlsruhe to Stuttgart in Germany. So Stuttgart, will already be 3h40m away from Paris from this summer, reducing to c. 3h10m.

  • within Germany itself (which would be necessary as a central EU artery): from Stuttgart to Munich, apart from the first 100 km, only finishing the upgrade to 200 km/h is planned, so Paris-Munich in 5 hours would be the best I'd expect in the medium term. (From this summer, 6 hours would be possible, but there won't be direct services.)

  • France-Spain: there will be high-speed line all the way from Sevilla to Perpignan/France, and also from Madrid to Irún at the Atlantic coast, but this time it is France that maintains the firewall: no high-speed planned from Perpignan through Narbonne to Montpellier, nor from Bayonne to Bordeaux (and even from Tours to Bordeaux, the full line won't be ready for at least a decade).

  • France-Italy: waiting for the giant tunnel under the Alps. And no full high-speed planned on some sections before the tunnel on both sides.

  • Germany-Austria-Italy: a big tunnel planned there too, and a line doubling is already in construction in Austria, but no Bologna-Verona-Trento-Bolzano.

The lead that France has built and to date maintained in the race for modern rail transport

Well, both on level of technology and passengers carried, Japan may be justified to contest that claim, even without ever holding the speed record. And the lead ahead of Germany, Spain or Italy is not that big.

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

by DoDo on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 04:32:58 AM EST
France-Spain: there will be high-speed line all the way from Sevilla to Perpignan/France, and also from Madrid to Irún at the Atlantic coast, but this time it is France that maintains the firewall: no high-speed planned from Perpignan through Narbonne to Montpellier, nor from Bayonne to Bordeaux (and even from Tours to Bordeaux, the full line won't be ready for at least a decade).

Is there a way for the EU, Spain and the respective Départements to get around this?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 04:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To promise higher EU subsidies, and that not only for border-corssing lines themselves? Two notes:

  1. The most ambitious Spanish-French project is a 40 km Trans-Pyrenées base tunnel, both for high-speed and freight. But this may be comfortably in the far future for decisionmakers to do much, and to do anything on access lines.

  2. For a really competitive Madrid-Paris train service, we'd need even higher top speeds, and (a) a fully built-out Irún/Bayonne corridor or (b) long new high-speed access lines to the Transpyrenées tunnel or (c) Perpignan-Monpellier and a new Paris-St. Etienne-(Valence), even more than for higher high-speed to have the capacity (Paris-Lyon is nearing saturation in rush-hour).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 06:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have or can point to data on the PAris Lyon traffic and saturation ? I'm interested

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 06:52:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will look it up.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 06:54:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't found a direct path data, so had to look through the timeplans.  

The busiest section is Moisenay junction to Pasilly junction (e.g. the end of the Interconnexion to the branch-off towards Dijon). I looked up Monday and direction away from Paris (Gare de Lyon/Massy/CDG). Between 15:50 and 20:00, I counted 46 trains (may have missed some).

Minimum headway was 5 minutes on the old units with old signalling, it's now 3 minutes with the TVM 430. But scheduled times usually alternate between 4 and 6 min, only sometimes down to the 3 min minimum. Yet this is not being generous with time: you need some buffer for lateness, and if the previous train has one more stop, then the next non-stop train must leave a longer buffer for the first train to accelerate back.

So with view to this, between these 46 trains from 15:50 and 20:00, I found just six empty slots (had they been used by trains from Gare de Lyon: 16:14, 16:34, 16:40, 19:34, 19:50, 19:54). And those slots will certainly be filled up once the TGV Rhin-Rhône and the line to Turin are built. Pretty close to saturation.

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

by DoDo on Thu Apr 5th, 2007 at 07:01:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks a lot. That's certainly close to saturation...

However, how is TGV Rhin-Rhône supposed to feed that branch?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Apr 6th, 2007 at 04:43:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Despite the name, LGV Rhin-Rhône is an Y concept, with the three branches pointing to Mulhouse, Lyon -- and Paris, across Dijon.

Though, it is just the Ouest branch that'll be built last, and until then, Mulhouse will also get access from Paris via Strasbourg, so maybe there won't be much of a frequency increase via Dijon when the first leg opens (2011?).

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 6th, 2007 at 05:24:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first leg being the Est one, sorry. (For that one, construction already began.) Also, I see the LGV Rhin-Rhône now also has its own homepage.



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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 6th, 2007 at 05:33:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The shortest Madrid-Paris route is through Irun, and I'm guessing doing Madrid-Zaragoza-Irun might be easier than a more direct route straigh north from Madrid because one can follow the Ebro river basin up from Zaragoza rather than having to cross the Central System running SW-NE.

Madrid-Zaragoza-Irun-Bordeaux-Tours-Paris is 1400 Km according to Google maps. That's 4 hours at 350 Km/h [though I'm not counting the stops]. It would blow all but low-cost flights out of the water, because of the time to get to/from the airports at either end, and the waiting times at check-in and baggage collection.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 06:56:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Drawing from this discussion, I suppose I should look at intermediate stops no less than 133Km apart (corresponding to 30 minutes). Madrid - Zaragoza - San Sebastian - Bordeaux - Tours -Paris could take 5h10m.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 07:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is of course not finding the shortest route, but the one optimising both for length and new major tunnels to build.

As things stand, Zaragoza to Pamplona will be a partial high-speed line, the rest in direction of San Sebastián less certain, while the main route towards Irún will be through the Guadarrama tunnel to Valladolid, across Burgos to Vitoria, then on the Basque Y ("Y Vasca") to Irún (altogether c. 530 km). Madrid to Irún will be c. 2h20m, the Paris to Bordeaux line (535 km), if all ready by 2016, is promised at 2h10m, a Bordeaux-Dax-border line (235 km) could be done in one hour, that would add up to 5h30m. But 350 km/h and non-stop, 1300 km, even 3h50m would seem possible.

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

by DoDo on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 10:36:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you saying that the existing Guadarrama tunnel on the A6 highway would be used for the high-speed rail, while the series of tunnels on the A1 (most notably, Somosierra, but there are others) would not? Because going to Burgos via Valladolid is a sizeable detour.

Of course, politically, the Autonomous Community of Castilla-Leon would prefer to see Valladolid served first. I wouldn't be surprised if the connection between Burgos and the Basque Y takes a long while to be completed, especially if the PP is in the National government.

Valladolid would likely become a hub in any event, serving Madrid, Burgos-Vitoria, Galicia and Porto.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 10:58:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I meant the 28.419/28.408 m long Guadarrama tunnel (both tubes of which have been holed through in 2005), on the new Madrid-Valladolid high-speed line, which will be the world's 4th longest when the line opens at the end of this year...



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

by DoDo on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 11:33:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dodo beat me to it.
He is a professional writer...

I agree that such a triumphalism let me feel a bit uneasy.
Cooperation beetween Deutsche Bahn und SNCF is nihil, and it won't be better.

Problem is, Siemens choose the transrapid, and being in bed with the DB, they are now entrenched in a defensive position. And I believe the SNCF guy are not the most international experienced of the french economy too.

Just an example: You can't buy a special fare ticket of one country in the other. German Bahncard has agreement  with 26 countries in Europe, but not France. So, I should get out of the train in the first station after the border.

The TGV in Munich is just a Show, no improvement between Stuttgart an Munich.
I stop here, I'm just upset. I have sent a customer brief to the DBahn out of frustation amonths ago when I discovered the "fahrplan" won't change in any meaningful way to attract interstate traffic.

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.

by lacordaire on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 05:36:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't thinking Le Monde was expressing triumphalism so much as they were pointing, with a hopeful disposition, in the direction towards a better and stronger Europe.

Doesn't mean it will happen, of course. And it will take stronger federal institutions, or maybe just forcing existing insitutions to do their job in the public interest (eg I can't believe that the competition commission isn't doing something about this, are they only good for ramming through neo-lib prescriptions on behalf of private industrial interest?)

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 10:27:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding DB-SNCF cooperation, it is improving, even if with babysteps. On the TGV Est Européenne, the former's ICE-3 sets will alternate with the latter's TGV POS sets, while dual-system freight locos pass the border for a year now.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 10:42:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dodo,

I have read that one of your compatriot is the project manager put in Charge by the commission for accelerating the corridor paris -Munich -Vienna -Budapest - ?

I hope he is good...

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.

by lacordaire on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 07:17:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read his name recently, but never heard of him before. Will try to check up on him.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 07:57:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I found that Péter Balázs is an economist, who worked on EU integration and accession from the earliest stages. He is also a university professor and a career bureaucrat/diplomat who worked under both left and right governments. Was ambassador in Denmark, Germany, then at the EU, was member of the EU Convent (the body that prepared the Constitution under Delors). Then after working for some time under his predecessor Michel Barnier, he was briefly member of the Prodi Commission as commissioner for regional politics (strange that I forgot him).

Seems to be a good EU bureaucrat, even if probably marketista, what he isn't is either a railway expert or someone influential who could push national governments around.

What I could gather from press reports is that the EU's effect so far is constrained to countries promising at least no delays in already planned projects along the corridor. I mean, in practice -- the press conferences made these appear bold new initiatives.

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:20:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the body that prepared the Constitution under Delors

Under Giscard, surely?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merde!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:55:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The last in detail -- all the pre-existing plans/reality along the corridor:

  • Paris-Baudrecourt (beyond Metz): this is the LGV Est Européen first leg, to open 10 June
  • Baudrecourt-Strasbourg: TGV Est Européen second leg, originally due by 2010, then Chirac's various governments left it hanging in the air, presently it is said to come "by 2014 at the latest"
  • Strasbourg-Kehl-Appenweier: the crossing of the Rhine and the Franco-German border -- merely by upgrading for just 160(-Kehl)/200(Kehl-) km/h and double-tracking the existing railway was originally scheduled to open along with the TGV Est first leg, now 2010 or later
  • Appenweier-Karlsruhe: part of DB's long-planned and several times part-delayed four-tracking of the Rhine Valley route, partially built today, the high-speed tracks for 200-250 km/h
  • Karlsruhe-Stuttgart: this is a hole in the network, no straight line planned, trains go first North on a conventional line then Southeast on the existing Mannheim-Stuttgart high-speed line
  • Stuttgart-Ulm: expensive city-crossing tunnels and mountain-crossing high-speed line long planned, will it be built by 2015? Forget it
  • Ulm-Augsburg: upgrade to 200 km/h in progress, no high-speed planned
  • Augsburg-Munich: complete four-tracking with high-speed tracks' upgrade to 230 km/h in progress for years (ready by 2010), no high-speed planned
  • Munich-Salzburg: some 200 km/h at the beginning, the rest 160 km/h and only minor upgrades planned, except in Salzburg where three-tracking is in progress -- motivated by the local rapid transit, no EU policy
  • Salzburg-Wels (before Linz): minor upgrades for mostly 160 km/h, four-tracking or even the more sensible new high-speed parallel alignment was planned but then became a victim of budget cuts
  • Wels-Vienna: four-tracking with 200 km/h high-speed tracks, many sections already in operation, most of the rest already in construction &should be ready by 2014
  • Vienna-Bratislava: the only project along the corridor that received a boost recently, after Austrian railways ÖBB tried to please demand with another, cheap-o link between the two capitals; an upgrade to 160 km/h (presently 120 km/h or less)
  • Vienna-Budapest: mostly 160 km/h already today, mostly minor upgrades and track renewal planned, plus EU money may finance one city bypass in Hungary


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Suppposed express Amsterdam-Paris seems to often involve a stop in some scenic Belgian industrial slum where a transfer to a museum piece local is required and then a frantic rush to get onto the TGV in Bruxelles and a number of those 1.5meter Belgian grandmothers who seem to have elbows of some advanced machined metal. Must be the vast distances or the mountain terrain. Those Belgian/Dutch Alps are terrifying, monstrous cliffs that drop disorientatingly hundreds of centimeters, impassible ranges that seem to pierce the very clouds (which themselves float often meters above the earth).
by citizen k (sansracine yahoo.fr) on Thu Apr 5th, 2007 at 01:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aha! Yet another example of need for European infrastructure integration! We need a continental rail service department which builds and operates a European train network, run from Brussels. Obviously, an important sector like basic infrastructure for movement of people and goods cannot be efficiently and reliably provided by the private sector. National approaches are too small scale and cause problems with cross border transit. Thus the obvious need for a European level rail operator, providing fast and convenient links between major European metropolitan areas. With subsidies to ensure a favourable comparison with the pests that are low cost airlines, and taxes on air fuel...
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 05:57:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, I never finished my map of the "natural" EU high-speed rail network in the vein of BruceMcF's diary.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 06:03:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly was I was going to say!

The European Rail Road Agency, railroading local communities from Porto to Tallinn!

Seriously, this should really be a federal issue.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 08:27:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why stop at Tallinn?

Seriously, this is exactly where I was going with this. And if I might be permitted to connect a few more dots, this is seriously a competitivity issue.

Anybody remember this from last week?

Now, remember that what Migeru says about what happened to regional carriers in France after the TGV roll-out is largely true, and it stands to reason that if one can get to Barca or Rome of Franfurt from Paris in 5 hours, this will put some more pressure on other carriers. And then, open skies agreement with US is clearly advantageous to the EU and EU carriers, and less so to US carriers.

The important thing is what lacordaire is alluding to, above. Which is clearly a case where competition, and I mean this in a larger sense, is not served by competing firms whose interests are simply expressed by the state entities (like db) to further the sorts of parochial interests that weaken Europe.

The answer is less market liberalisation, not more.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 10:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 06:41:45 AM EST
If I were French I would certainly be asking Sarkozy what "liberal" (in the European sense) policies have led to similar triumphs.
by Matt in NYC on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 11:10:57 AM EST
Thank you Jerome for posting up the video instead of my blurry picture. I'd like to think that blurry picture was because the train was going so fast, but really it was because my html skills are horseshit.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 11:12:27 AM EST
actually, it's a video of the earlier tests, not of yesterday's train (which has a different color pattern).

To embed youtube videos, you should simply write the following:

{{ youtube [code] }}

with:

  • ((parenthesis)) instead of {{brackets}}
  • the [code] is the letter string in the youtube code that comes after the v="   ")


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 12:50:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You could actually see the color pattern on that thing moving so fast?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 12:54:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the tip, btw..

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 at 12:55:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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