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Feelgood train blogging

by Jerome a Paris Sat May 26th, 2007 at 05:09:13 AM EST

Via Magnifico"s wonderful Overnight News Digest, which he posts daily on dKos and is kind enough to crosspost in our Salon, this bit of positive news:


A German ICE and a French TGV arriving together in Paris
after travelling from Frankfurt and Stuttgart, respectively

Europe-wide high-speed rail closer to fruition

PARIS (AP) Sleek and swift, two trains zoomed out of Germany on Friday toward a milestone in the longheld dream of a Europe-wide high-speed rail web and pulled into Paris

(...)

Rail officials are planning two high-speed axes that meet in Strasbourg: one running between Paris, Munich, Vienna and Budapest; the other linking Hamburg, Frankfurt, Lyon and Barcelona.

Mehdorn said a contract would eventually be signed by nine European railways. The deal would cement a common service level and allow for crossbookings, much as airlines offer.

"The TGV is very efficient," said Pierre-Louis Rochet, a former SNCF official. He said one traveler's trip on a TGV train produces four to five times less carbon emissions than on a plane.

DoDo would have lots more to say, but I'm not sure he's around, so this is just a quick post to note that national bareers in the sector are finally beginning to break down slowly, and that this is a useful step towards the replacement of the plane by the train on more short haul international trips in Europe.


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Crossbookings is a vital and much welcome step. It's already in place across a number of countries, but expanding it emphasises the network advantages of the train.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 05:23:14 AM EST
"He said one traveler's trip on a TGV train produces four to five times less carbon emissions than on a plane."

I'm still curious about the real data is per passenger-km.

I also read the trains were 30 minutes late :).

by Laurent GUERBY on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 07:52:20 AM EST
Well, the French TGV obviously doesn't emit any carbon dioxide to speak of, since it is effectively nuclear powered.  The numbers for the German ICE, which is powered mostly by burning dirty lignite, would be more interesting.  Unfortunately, I don't know them either.  (Going at full tilt, an ICE uses about 8MW electricity.  Of course, that doesn't tell you much, since they don't go at full power all the time.)
by ustenzel on Sat Jun 2nd, 2007 at 05:38:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great news for me- I love trains as a mode of transport, and it is a great joy to ride the TGV Atlantique. As it approaches it's maximum legal speed on the run to Irun,-- around 380 KPH-- it begins to "get light"- to dance just a bit. Almost flying. Great feeling if you are not too faint of heart.
I used to fly the family Cessna Turbo 210 along the TGV tracks from Toussous-le-noble to Dijon. The train would appear from underneath the rear of the aircraft, and just steam off into the distance---ahead. Our cruise was about 210 Knots- 350 KPH.

   Train travel for the handicapped is a serious and selfish issue for me- and the TGV is a quantum leap forwards from all other French trains in that respect, for many reasons, but best of all because the cars have a place for me. Though the stations usually have good lift equipment, it is still hard to find someone to operate it. Hope the German train and the German system will do as well --or better. If they can put an onboard ramp on a bus, a train ramp surely cannot be too difficult.

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

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 08:26:40 AM EST
it is a great joy to ride the TGV Atlantique. As it approaches it's maximum legal speed on the run to Irun,-- around 380 KPH

380 km/h? Surely that is a typo? The TGV Atlantique sets have a regular top speed of 300 km/h, and certainly wouldn't be allowed to run faster than 330 km/h under any other circumstance than a test, what's more, 380 km/h would be really at or beyond the physically possible without modifications. Maybe your cruise with the Cessna was against the wind?


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

by DoDo on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 10:39:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes and no. You're right--280 was what I meant to write, but turns out that is actually too slow.
I checked my logs, and though they contain nothing to show our actual ground speed at the exact time we went to Dijon, I found the date and flight plan, and we were probably cruise climbing to an assigned altitude, so our speed was less-- yes. About 160 knots, I would guess- or 270 kph or so. And good old wikipedia and some phone calls show the run was certified to 300 KPH at the time. Do the trains actually run that fast on revenue runs? My friend says sometimes yes. Depending on traffic, and on temperature, and on arcane stuff beyond my ken, to do with catenary sag and temperature. If that's true--then the train would easily outrun us. Which it did. More than once. I asked him if they ever pushed it. He slithered around the answer. However,

My son (who was about 13 at the time) and I used to pass the time on the Atlantique run to Spain- Irun- timing the kilometer markers, and waiting for the dance. We found we could tell the speed of the train quite well by the motion. 12 seconds per kilometer was 300 kilometers per hour. We knew we were really rolling when it would start to snake, and get down to 10--which it did, occasionally, no matter what they say.
Yes!!
What was the Chuck Berry lyric?

Good lord, I see spots!
The lines in the road--they just look like dots!

 

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 08:46:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
certified to 300 KPH at the time. Do the trains actually run that fast on revenue runs?

Yes, but not on the whole stretch, not even the whole high-speed stretch (from the outskirts of Paris to Tours). Acceleration beyond 200 km/h is not so good, and moderate hills or bifurcations may cause slowdowns. The fastest Massy-St. Pierre des Corps trains cover 206.9 km in 49 minutes = 253.3 km/h on average.

We knew we were really rolling when it would start to snake, and get down to 10--which it did, occasionally, no matter what they say.

I still strongly doubt it. First, even ignoring the signalling system, going more than permitted speed +10% (that is, the top speed of type tests) would mean going into uncharted territory and thus will get you fired. But it can't come to this because there is an automated system that brakes down the train when it exceeds permitted speed by some amount, whatever the train driver does. At the top speed of 300 km/h, this is at 315 km/h, at which one kilometre is 11.4 seconds. If your trip was in the last three years, there is an outside possibility that you travelled on a train that for some reason (big lateness? special in-service trials?) had an allowed speed of 320 km/h, and superseded it to reach 335 km/h, still 10.75 seconds.

I suspect human error in clocking: a combination of differing time to look at the clock and the 1 second imprecision. At these speeds, it's better to clock times for 2-3 km.

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

by DoDo on Tue May 29th, 2007 at 06:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry about not answering the handicapped part, I must have overlooked the whole paragraph.

I add that while onboard ramps are now built into almost all new regional trains, DB drags its feet on building them into its high-speed ICE trains and IC cars. But the disabled lobby may force them to improve in the future.

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

by DoDo on Tue May 29th, 2007 at 05:09:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
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 ]


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