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EU High-Speed Rail - How Fast?

by epochepoque Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 02:12:35 AM EST

Having read DoDo's 2009 diaries about the status of HSR projects in Europe (Part 1, Part 2) I wanted to know how much of an effect those projects have had on actual travel time.

Photobucket
Cutout of European HSR map, original map by Wikipedia

So I looked at the timetables of the national railways for travel times of relations that use those high(er)-speed lines. Travel Speed = (Distance station-to-station) / (Minimal travel time in schedule).

front-paged by afew


Disclaimer: The minimal travel time should be accurate since I used the current timetables of DB, SNCF, Renfe, Trenitalia, and NationalRail. However, the actual travel distances, i.e. the distances on train track from station to station are inaccurate for GB where I couldn't find the data on Wikipedia (there may be mistakes for other countries, too). I just used the Google route calculator to get an approximate distance. Alternatively, one could uniformly measure the distances as the crow flies.


France, Benelux

The European pioneer of modern HSR is well on its way to offer travel speeds of 220km/h on every major relation. One little snafu between Belgium and the Netherlands: because of technical problems (see DoDo's diary) and a gap between Bruxelles and Antwerp travel speeds are 112km/h for Amsterdam-Bruxelles.

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France, Maximum design Speeds (km/h): 320-350, 300, 250, 200-230, actual travel speeds in boxes. Future travel speeds in italic. Adapted from Wikipedia map

Relation
(future lines in italic)
Length (km)Minimal
Travel
Time (min)
Travel
Speed
(km/h)
Maximum
design
speed
(km/h)
Effectiveness
Ratio
(Travel Speed /
Max Speed)
Paris-Strasbourg phase 243011023435066.97%
Paris-Bruxelle3058022932071.54%
Lyon-Marseille3659922132069.13%
Paris-Lyon42911722030073.33%
Paris-Tours2326421832067.97%
Paris-London48713521732067.67%
Paris-Strasbourg phase 143914018835053.72%
Bruxelle-Amsterdam21011311230037.17%
Paris-Bordeaux535(?)130(?)24735070.55%


Spain

The train in Spain does indeed beat the plane.

Update [2011-7-19 18:37:37 by epochepoque]: Distances, speed adjusted, thanks to DoDo. Too lazy to adjust the map. Someone says Barcelona-Perpignan will be 50 minutes.

Photobucket
Spain, Maximum design Speeds (km/h): 300, 250, 200-230, actual travel speeds in boxes. Adapted from Wikipedia map

Relation
(future lines in italic)
Length (km)Minimal
Travel
Time (min)
Schedule
Speed
(km/h)
Maximum
design
speed
(km/h)
Effectiveness
Ratio
(Schedule speed /
Max speed)
Madrid-Valencia3919524735070.56%
Madrid-Barcelona62115823635067.41%
Madrid-Malaga51314521235060.60%
Madrid-Sevilla47014020230067.17%
Madrid-Valladolid1795619235054.83%
Barcelona-Perpignan1795021535061.37%


Italy

Nothing over 200km/h as far as I can see. Maybe there are ongoing projects at major nodes for through-routing etc. There is still room for improvement.

Photobucket
Italy, Maximum design Speeds (km/h): 300, 250, 200-230, actual travel speeds in boxes. Adapted from Wikipedia map

Relation
(future lines in italic)
Length (km)Minimal
Travel
Time (min)
Travel
Speed
(km/h)
Maximum
design
speed
(km/h)
Effectiveness
Ratio
(Travel Speed/
Max Speed)
Milano-Bologna2156519830066.03%
Firenze-Roma2547919325077.04%
Roma-Napoli2057017530058.46%
Torino-Milano1485416530054.93%
Bologna-Firenze923714930049.73%


Germany

Time to make sad faces. Despite design speeds of up to 300km/h there is no true HSR in Germany except of the short (90km) trip Nuremberg-Ingolstadt (200km/h, price tag €3.6 billion). The most successful project still is the upgrade of Hamburg-Berlin (~€600 million) which resulted in the fastest [major] trip in Germany at ~183km/h. Nothing is on the horizon in terms of true HSR. Maybe the new Frankfurt-Mannheim line will enable 200+km/h trips but politicians seem keen to screw that one up as well (see below) and where is the money?

Photobucket
Germany, Maximum Design Speeds (km/h): 300 (new), >=250 (new), 200-230 (upgraded) and actual travel speeds in boxes. Future travel speeds in italic. Adapted from Wikipedia map

Relation
(future lines in italic)
Length (km)Minimal
Travel
Time (min)
Travel
Speed
(km/h)
Maximum
design
speed
(km/h)
Effectiveness
Ratio
(Travel Speed/
Max Speed)
Nürnberg-Ingolstadt902720030066.67%
Berlin-Hamburg2879418323079.57%
Hannover-Würzburg32711816628059.38%
Mannheim-Karlsruhe612216620082.77%
Mannheim-Stuttgart993616528058.93%
Hamm-Bielefeld672516120080.40%
Köln-Frankfurt1807015430051.43%
Berlin-Halle/Leipzig1877315420076.85%
Nürnberg-München1716715330050.99%
Hannover-Hamburg1706815020075.00%
Münster-Hamburg28813313020064.89%
Hamburg-Münster28813412920064.41%
Köln-Aachen703312725050.91%
Frankfurt-Mannheim (old)783712620063.24%
Hannover-Berlin25812512425049.54%
Ulm-Augsburg944612320061.30%
Köln-Liege1246112225048.79%
Frankfurt-Fulda1035211920059.42%
Dortmund-Hannover20710511920059.26%
Nürnberg-Würzburg1025211820058.96%
Hannover-Essen643311620058.18%
Leipzig-Dresden1206211620058.06%
Augsburg-München623211623050.46%
Frankfurt-Nürnberg23512211528041.19%
Köln-Duisburg643411320056.47%
Stuttgart-München24913611023047.74%
Frankfurt-Mannheim (new)8520-25(?)204-25530068-85%
Stuttgart-Ulm852818225072.86%
Nürnberg-Erfurt-Leipzig31310517930059.62%
Karlsruhe-Basel1826915825063.30%
Stuttgart-München2499515725062.88%

The €6 billion Köln-Frankfurt rollercoaster with its 30 tunnels and 18 bridges is a sad example: 154 km/h. Even the Köln-Frankfurt(Airport) trip clocks in at only ~175km/h. There are a number of reasons for that. Speeds at both ends of Köln-Frankfurt were not raised sufficiently enough; e.g. the short trip from Frankfurt-Airport to Frankfurt-Central adds 11+x minutes. But most stupidly, for political reasons they built stations in Siegburg, Limburg-Süd, (Wiesbaden,) and Montabaur. Minor villages but DB has to stop there anyway. SNCF&Co probably won't entertain such notions if they enter the German market.

And so it goes. Spend billions on fancy new lines but refuse to: do proper maintenance, eliminate slow sections, skip small towns, build bypasses around major cities etc. Queue a Spiggl article from last year:

The current state of the Stuttgart-Frankfurt project, meanwhile, offers the opposite to such intelligent routing decisions: no bypasses, pointless stops in Darmstadt and a grotesque waste of travel time in and around Frankfurt.

If things turn out the way he fears, concludes DB critic Andersen, "we might as well just go ahead and quit developing high-speed rail transportation in Germany entirely, right now."

The lack of proper investment also hinders international HSR from and to Germany, e.g. POS-North/South: Paris-Frankfurt, Paris-Stuttgart:

"The necessity of a direct route past Strasbourg arises only when the volume of traffic between the locations in question rises so strongly that additional sprinter connections such as Paris-Frankfurt are operating at full capacity."

The idea follows the logic of the old state-owned railway exactly: It's only when a poor product is in unusual demand that Deutsche Bahn rewards its customers with a better one.

Köln-Liege is a similar case with a travel speed of ~125km/h.

There are ideas to rectify the situation by putting in the investments where they count. Critic Sven Andersen has a plan but financing, an awareness of the problem and the political will to tackle it are non-existant to miniscule.


Great Britain

Except of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (aka HS1) there is no true HSR on the British Isles. I included it to confirm a point made by the chief engineer of the British HS2 project. In a talk about HSR in general and in Britain he said London-York (V_max=225) was as fast or faster as Köln-Frankfurt (V_max=300), which I didn't want to believe. But lo and behold, it is much faster: ~169km/h vs ~154km/h travel speed. Outrageous. In fact, most trips on the British main lines are faster than the German 'higher-speed' trips. The insanity...

Update [2011-7-18 9:17:35 by epochepoque]: Corrected distances and speeds for Britain, thanks to DoDo, Alon

Photobucket
Great Britain, Maximum design Speeds (km/h): 300, 200-230, actual travel speeds in boxes. Adapted from Wikipedia map

Relation
(future lines in italic)
Length (km)Minimal
Travel
Time (min)
Travel
Speed
(km/h)
Maximum
design
speed
(km/h)
Effectiveness
Ratio
(Travel Speed/
Max Speed)
London-York303.410816920183.86%
London-Glasgow64624815620177.76%
London-Newcastle432.417115220175.48%
London-Manchester295.612714020169.48%
London-Bristol179.87913720167.94%
London-Leeds29913213620167.62%
London-Birmingham181.78213320166.14%
London-Bristol (center)190.49911520157.41%


Far East: Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan

As the new "Highspeed superpower" China rises (DoDo's diaries here and here) it starts blowing everyone else out of the water with travel speeds up to ~300km/h. If you have a lot of money and a lot less democracy it's all par for the course. South Korea should catch up once they start 350km/h service.

Update [2011-7-19 21:8:48 by epochepoque]: Speeds and distances corrected, thanks to DoDo

Relation
(future lines in italic)
Length (km)Minimal
Travel
Time (min)
Schedule
Speed
(km/h)
Maximum
design
speed
(km/h)
Effectiveness
Ratio
(Schedule speed /
Max speed)
China: Wuhan-Guangzhou96819629635084.66%
China: Beijing-Shanghai131828827538072.26%
China: Zhengzhou-Xian50512025335072.14%
China: Beijing-Tianjin1173023435066.86%
Japan: Shin Osaka-Hiroshima305.88122730075.51%
Taiwan: Taipei-Kaohsiung3459621630071.88%
Japan: Tokyo-Shin Osaka51514521327078.93%
South Korea: Seoul-Busan41212819335055.18%
Japan: Tokyo-Shin Aomori674.9185(2013)-212191-21932059.69%-68.40%
Travel times pulled from hyperdia.com, travelchinaguide.com, korail.com, thsrc.com


Conclusion

The good rail projects reach an effectiveness ratio (travel speed / max speed) of 70%, very good ones reach 80%.

Display:
Especially the distances, though I don't think we'll see big differences in travel speed.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sat Jul 16th, 2011 at 07:26:32 PM EST
As a general note, I wonder what is your reasoning behind choosing maximum design speed (or line speed) rather than maximum operating speed in the 'effectiveness ratio' comparisons? If it is to be a proxy for the elaborateness (and thus price) of construction, I see that as problematic for three reasons:
  1. A lot of the relations you researched contain significant sections with lower line speeds. For example, on the Madrid-Sevilla line, 300 km/h applies only a third of the way from Madrid, then it's 250 km/h to Córdoba, and just 200 km/h to Sevilla.
  2. Some of the older lines (almost all in Japan, the first in France and the first two in Germany) saw their line speeds raised compared to the original design value without significant new construction.
  3. Design speed is usually taken to mean the speed permitted by the geometry (distance of tracks, curve radius, tunnel diameter) and the strength of superstructures. However, when actual operating speed is lower, that isn't necessarily because of a bureaucratic decision or technical problems, but the simpler scale of some components (which also brings costs savings): e.g. catenary with lower tension, less stable track, both of these maintained with wider tolerances; and there are the commissioning tests, too.

Some specific notes on line speeds:
  • France: I never heard of a line speed raise on the LGV Atlantique from 300 to 320 km/h, what's your source? As for the LGV Méditerranée, 320 km/h is the maximum operating speed (on a short section near Avignon, as test for TGV Est operation), design speed is 350 km/h. As for LGV Nord, design speed is 350 km/h too, but maximum operating speed is 300 km/h.
  • Spain: the LAV Córdoba-Málaga has a design speed of 350 km/h, too.
  • Italy: I think most of the new lines (maybe excepting Bologna-Florence) have a 350 km/h design speed, too. And FS ordered new high-speed trains with a maximum speed of 360 km/h (which doesn't mean that they will actually be operated that fast, of course; but IMHO it does mean that they considered requesting a line speed increase above the original design speed).
  • Germany, Mannheim-Karlsruhe: the 22 minute runs use the NBS (SFS) Mannheim-Stuttgart for half the distance, thus maximum line speed is 280 km/h. (Incidentally, this section was one limited to 250 km/h upon opening.)
  • Germany, Hamm-Bielefeld: it's worth to note that this is a mostly straight and level, four-tracked section, which was used for high-speed tests before the first high-speed lines were finished (record: 317 km/h with the InterCity Experimental).
  • Germany, Augsburg-München: 230 km/h is the design speed for after the upgrade and four-tracking, which was just finished (I travelled over it a week later BTW), but train schedules will change in December only.
  • Great Britain: 140 mph (225 km/h) is the design speed of the IC225 trains, but actual top speed and line speed on the ECML remained limited to 125 mph (201 km/h) due to a lack of signalling upgrade. (Hence London-York has an even more impressive travel/max speed ratio.)
  • Japan: Tokyo-Morioka line speed was raised from 275 to 300 km/h this March with the introduction of (and only for) the new E5 Shinkansens, and will be raised along with E5 operating speeds to 320 km/h later. This line started out at 210 km/h. Note that it now reaches well beyond Morioka: to Aomori.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 10:29:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(1): I used the maximum speed of the whole relation to see how balanced or effective those investments were. I didn't even know about 250 to Cordoba or 200 to Sevilla. Being a neophyte I wonder whether it makes sense to build 300-250-200 instead of building 250 uniformly for example. Did they do it for capacity reasons? Was it easier? The point was to get beyond the max speed fetish.

(2) + (3): "Design speed" is a bit confusing here. I took whatever was the maximum e.g. the 380 on Beijing-Shanghai, or whatever is currently allowed on the older HS lines - didn't know they had been upgraded/up-permitted. I should change that to "maximum speed currently allowed by authorities". Though, aside from economic reasons (e.g. less curvy = less maintenance), why build for 350-380 in the first place? If they up-permit it later then maybe using maximum design speed is not so wrong.

I will correct those numbers later.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 11:52:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For Madrid-Sevilla, the explanation for 250 km/h is that that section crossed mountains. I don't know why they saved on the Córdoba-Sevilla section, maybe because it is a fertile valley with relatively high population density -> more NIMBY problems if they don't build it alongside an existing traffic corridor (they built the 200 km/h alignment along the old Iberian gauge line).

aside from economic reasons (e.g. less curvy = less maintenance)

Well, less curvy is also = more superstructures, and less maintenance only if operated at the same speed.

why build for 350-380 in the first place? If they up-permit it later then maybe using maximum design speed is not so wrong.

The speed raises in the past as well as the design speeds higher than initial line speeds had a variety of reasons, not all of which can be extrapolated.

  • First there is the maturing of a brand-new technology: say, going from 130 to 210 km/h was a great leap for Japan, but what they built was actually suited for even more by just increasing the mechanical tension of the catenary. Speed raises are obviously not so simple anymore.
  • Over the past few decades, there was a parallel improvement of track maintenance (the ability to keep tighter tolerances) and the running quality of vehicles (less strain on the tracks from random movements, lower propensity to derail), which allowed the elevation of speed limits in curves for example. There will surely be further optimisation, but these are no more the main obstacles (more later).
  • The last speed raises on Tokyo-Osaka and Tokyo-Aomori are related to the introduction of tilting high-speed trains. Tilting trains come around the problem of side accelerations felt by passengers, at the price of higher lateral track forces. But you rather don't do that on high-speed lines with ballasted track.
  • Sometimes line speeds are related to signalling. On France's first high-speed line, the less curved sections were uprated to 300 km/h after the signalling upgrade (of course with catenary improvement too). In Spain, the 300 km/h limit in operation is related to the lack of trust in the ETCS L2 signalling system, while all the rest of the infrastructure was in theory ready for 350 km/h.
  • As for China's 350 km/h Beijing-Tianjin and 380 km/h Beijing-Shanghai lines, as I wrote in my diaries, I think those are more a case of 'overclocking' than over-engineering (signalling inclusive).  
  • IMHO the  European lines with 350 km/h design speed have a somewhat similar issue, too. Here the thinking is that trains, rails, trackbed, catenary and signalling is replaced in a few decades, while lines will be there for a century or more, thus those replacements will allow the application of optimised technology without extra cost. However, I have growing doubts that this would go without a total track replacement (in particular for FS's 360 km/h plans). The Italian, French and Spanish lines with 350 km/h design speed have ballasted track, which for high-speed applications is inferior to slab track in several respects, in particular flying ballast due to vortices under the train. (This was an issue for the ICE3 in its original form on Belgian lines at much lower speeds.) I'm doubtful that further advances in underframe aerodynamics and tamping technology will suppress this problem enough, especially in snow.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 02:30:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tokyo-Osaka is ballasted.
by Alon (alon_levy1@yahoo.com) on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 04:43:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I second-guessed my memory on Madrid-Sevilla, and checked the current network statement, which shows maximum operating speeds on Map 6, page 206. Indeed the top speeds on the slower sections are different: 270 km/h from Ciuad Real to Córdoba, and 250 km/h from Córdoba to Sevilla. Ferropedia shows a more detailed (and generally lower) permissible speed profile, but I'm not sure it is up to date.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 01:52:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One note on travel speeds:

Even the Köln-Frankfurt(Airport) trip clocks in at only ~175km/h.

But then that still includes the 200 km/h max Cologne-Siegburg upgraded line. I checked the currently scheduled runs on the line, apparently the fastest travel times are those between Frankfurt(Airport) Siegburg/Bonn on Cologne bound runs (covering the entire high-speed section) that don't stop in Limburg Süd and Montabaur (38 minutes over 143.3 km = 226.3 km/h). But, the relatively short Siegburg/Bonn-Montabaur runs also clock a respectable 210.3 km/h in both directions (18 minutes over 63.1 km).

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

by DoDo on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 11:17:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but that's not the point of the exercise. Who travels on the short racetrack from Siegburg to Montabaur or Ffm-Airport to Siegburg?

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 11:29:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It does underline though that the real problem is not wayside stations and mountains, but the half-measures in the form of upgraded (yet not cheap) sections at the Cologne and Frankfurt ends. Another thing is the overall short distance in comparison with f.e. France, where you still have long slow sections leaving Paris or entering Lyon – methinks once Frankfurt-Mannheim is built, even if not bypassing Mannheim, there will be some decent Cologne-Mannheim times.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 11:46:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW: If anybody wants to play around with the numbers here is the EXCEL file. Or if you prefer Open Office click here.

Alternative links: ttimes.xls, ttimes.ods

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 11:25:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many of your distances are too long, since roads take more curves than high-speed railroads. Your speeds are too high as well, since the top service speed is rarely the same as the top design speed - e.g. Beijing-Shanghai trains are limited to 300 km/h, London-York trains are limited to 201, Paris-Strasbourg trains are limited to 320, Seoul-Busan trains are limited to 305.

Some better travel distances - the French ones from Wikipedia, the British ones from actually drawing the lines in Google Earth and adding it up:

London-Birmingham: 181 km
London-Manchester: 295 km
London-Glasgow: 642 km
London-York: 303 km
Paris-Lyon: 425 km
Paris-Marseille: 720 km

Using the fastest speed attained every 1-2 hours, rather than the fastest daily train, we get average speeds of about 140 km/h on the WCML, 160 between London and York, 218 between Paris and Lyon, and 230 between Paris and Marseille.

by Alon (alon_levy1@yahoo.com) on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 04:41:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dealt with British distances in my own comment downthread; on the French, Wikipedia or this site can be used:

  • Paris [Gare de Lyon]-Lyon [Part Dieu]:the precise distance is 427.258 km (kilometerage changes: 29.426/0.000 at the start of the high-speed line outside Paris, 389.314/13.528 at the first station past the Lyon end; Lyon-Part Dieu: 5.010).
  • Paris [Gare de Lyon]-Marseille [Saint Charles]: I know the diary has Lyon-Marseille, but I too think this is more interesting (and non-stop trains bypass Lyon). The precise distance is 747.904 km (Marseille end kilometerage change: 711.001/854.580, Marseille-Saint Charles track endpoint: 862.057; I guess Alon forgot to add the Paris end conventional section), though for travel distance, you have to subtract 400 m for train length due to termini at both ends.

The best Paris-Marseille time is 183 minutes, giving a travel speed of 245.1 km/h.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 03:02:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seoul-Busan is designed for 350. If their TGV knockoff can't do 350 yet it's their problem. Likewise for the Chinese if they don't want to raise speeds for whatever reason. Come to think of it, I should put the 225 back into the East Coast Main Line. Tough break if their signaling system isn't up to par.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 06:58:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is this cool tool to calculate rail distances.

  • London [King's Cross]-York: 188 mi 40 ch = 303.4 km
  • London [King's Cross]-Newcastle: 268 mi 56 ch = 432.4 km
  • London [Euston]-Glasgow [Central (high level)]: 401 mi 34 ch = 646.0 km
  • London [Euston]-Manchester [Piccadilly]: 183 mi 52 ch = 295.6 km
  • London [Euston]-Birmingham [New Street]: 112 mi 73 ch  = 181.7 km
  • London [Paddington]-Bristol [Parkway]: 111 mi 57 ch = 179.8 km
  • Note that Bristol Parkway is an exurban station. The downtown connection is
    London [Paddington]-Bristol [Temple Meads, via Bath Spa]: 118 mi 26 ch = 190.4 km
  • London [King's Cross]-Leeds: 185.9 km = 299.2 km

Except for Glasgow, all distances are significantly shorter. Recalculated travel speeds:

  • London [King's Cross]-York: 168.5 km/h
  • London [King's Cross]-Newcastle: 151.7 km/h
  • London [Euston]-Glasgow [Central (high level)]: 156.3 km/h
  • London [Euston]-Manchester [Piccadilly]: 139.6 km/h
  • London [Euston]-Birmingham [New Street]: 133.0 km/h
  • London [Paddington]-Bristol [Parkway]: 136.5 km/h
  • London [Paddington]-Bristol [Temple Meads] (best time for direct trains: 99 minutes): 115.4 km/h
  • London [King's Cross]-Leeds: 136.0 km/h


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 05:18:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some others:

  • Wuhan-Guangzhou: as outlined on my diary a year ago, the 1069 km distance seems to be a typo or includes branches; the actual distance is 100 km shorter.
  • Japan: Tokyo-Morioka is 496.5 km. Shin-Osaka-Hiroshima is 305.8 km.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 05:28:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The go-to source is Ferropedia.

  • Madrid [Atocha]-Valencia: here Ferropedia lacks kilometerage, while the Spanish Wikipedia has an error (no indication of 0.0 at Atocha), but 391 km appears correct by checking against the sum of project section lengths. The ADIF Network Statement gives 362.9 km for the new line, + the Madrid-bifurcation point distance of 28.0 km is 390.9 km, again between termini, subtract 200 m.
  • Madrid [Atocha]-Barcelona [Sants]: 621.3 km
  • Madrid [Atocha]-Málaga: the kilometerage change is at 357.997/-0.094, Málaga at 154.517, thus the distance is 512.608 km. Again a case of two termini, thus actual travel distance is 200 or 400 m shorter.
  • Madrid [Atocha]-Sevilla: 471.8 km is probably the length of normal-gauge track, which extends beyond Sevilla station; the travel distance is 470.286 km.
  • Madrid [Chamartín]-Valladolid [Campo Grande]: due to a station relocation, the Madrid end is actually at 0.5 on the old line, and the normal-gauge track kilometerage was apparently started in sync, thus travel distance is 179.1 km.
  • Barcelona [Sants]-Perpignan: Ferropedia only has the Barcelona Sants to Figueres-Alt Empordá distance (129 km) and the length of the PPP section (44.38 km), but the rest is two short sections each 2-3 km long, thus about 178-179 km altogether.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 05:02:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For high-speed trains to reach top speed can take dozens of kilometres, so indeed short station distances or slow intermediate sections result in lower travel speeds (as in Germany), as do underpowered trains (as in Italy), while long non-stop trips with few speed limitations can reach a high travel to max speed ratio (London-York, Wuhan-Guangzhou).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 08:09:45 AM EST
So for functioning highspeed rail you need an industrial (as opposed to financial), centralised (as opposed to decentralised) and not-so-corrupted (as opposed to Italy) power structure?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 08:53:22 AM EST
Central government planning authority is an important important factor (as opposed to federalized - we can see that in Germany).

Moreover, there needs to be an understanding that this is a new transport mode and not some glorified conventional railway. Fast travel for medium distances of 300-800km instead of a gold-plated RegionalExpress or Interregio.

If the early routing decisions were faulty and the culture is locked in it's very difficult to make the conversation more rational. Again, the new Frankfurt-Mannheim line: they prevented a bypass around Mannheim. So Darmstadt (population 144,000) wanted the new line to go through their city center as well. The full city council (left-to-right) wants it that way but if you did that it would no longer be a high-speed line. During the planning process it transpired that such a city-center route would be very intrusive and expensive. There is a curious (but common sense) coalition of environmentalists and the chamber of commerce that advocates a new station outside of town directly on the new line. The mayor (SPD) changed his mind, too. But the city council still insists on having a 'full connection'. It's no longer about rational decisions but about getting what they want, acting like children, and playing to some imaginary fear of getting left behind. But if no one gets 'left behind' on HSR and every little village gets a HSR connection, everyone will get left behind. The new Green mayor (!) has joined the 'full connection' caucus. "We need the ICE!" he says. What a tool!

But the funds aren't there to start building in the next decade. Maybe that's enough time for moods to cool off, to change out city council members, and for common sense to prevail. Unfortunately, more likely than not those unhelpful attitudes will be passed down to the next generation of decision makers.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 09:36:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure about the "less corrupted" part, considering what has been going on in the Railways administration in China these last few years as they have been building up as much high speed lines yearly as the rest of the world since the beginning of the concept...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 04:35:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the real question : How far are Europe's HSLs going ? Beijing-Shanghai or Guangzhou-Wuhan are commensurate with Paris-Berlin, not Paris-halfway to Strasbourg !

Why is the EU giving up on trains for any international trip or any night trains ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 04:40:43 PM EST
On the demand side:
  • Budget airlines: it's become dirt cheap to get from one end of Europe to the other. Trains are slower and more expensive. (Night) trains are not doing so well with that kind of competition. Demand for that kind of service could increase when airtravel becomes a luxury again. But then we'll have other problems to deal with.
  • International connections are not that big a market, however much they talk about 'European integration'. Eurostar offers very competitive, attractive (speedwise) connections. However, it hasn't reached half of its 20 million projected boardings per year.
On the technical side:
  • Building those things amount to expensive, multi-decade projects that are still completely dependent on member states, where a lot of things have to go right. Those member states are primarily interested in national traffic. Even with appropriate infrastructure I doubt they could push Paris-Berlin under 5 hours.
  • Technical integration is a bitch: some of those international train have to be able to use four different electrical systems and carry multiple train control systems around. Does ETCS actually help?


Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 06:38:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Night) trains are not doing so well with that kind of competition.

Do you have figures on that? Most of the ones that I have seen abolished, such as Munich-Prague, Venice-Zurich, Amsterdam-Milan have been pretty full when I have taken them, so I'm not sure what "not doing so well" means. (The one exception was the Kurswagen from Vienna to Innsbruck, where I was once the only passenger in the whole car).

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 02:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, CityNightLine passenger numbers have grown from under 150,000 since the middle of the nineties to 700,000 in 2004. I don't know how much they have grown since. Compare that to 9.5 million on Eurostar or >6 million on Thalys. Clearly there is a market albeit a limited one.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 10:21:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unlike Thalys or Eurostar, City Night Lines is pretty much unmarketed in France, for example. Artesia also has one million passengers, with probably a third at least taking the night train...

In China or in Russia sleeper trains are quite competitive with airplanes not only for cheap trips but also on some quite luxury market segments...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 03:13:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sleeper trains are unloved by managements for some reason. I never looked at their economics, but if it is problematic then not for lack of demand: all the sleeper trains I took so far (and all of them to or from France) were chock-full and some booked up in advance for weeks, meaning that there would be room for running more trains. Maybe it's a similar case to the demise of Germany's popular InterRegio, or the elimination of most conventional expresses on the Wuhan-Guangzhou line: an idiotic attempt to redirect passengers to more expensive services (and then wondering why those passengers choose buses instead).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 03:27:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect it may simply be a case of sleeper trains not playing very nice with the much larger cargo market - goods being the main thing moved on the rails at night. If so, a dedicated-to-passengers hsr network would likely have much better economics for longdistance sleeper service than the current rail net.
by Thomas on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 06:36:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sleeper trains aren't that fast and run when few passenger trains run and freight trains themselves are less frequent on conventional lines, too. No, sleeper trains aren't a capacity problem. Today in Europe, the economics of sleeper trains on high-speed lines would probably be coloured by the differential in track access charges.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 07:14:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that the number of running sleeper trains is quite smaller than in the 1990s or even 1980s, and the rail cargo volumes are probably lower as well. So capacity should not be a factor.

What about Eastern Europe? No chance for any upgrades, or even stopping the rot?

by das monde on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 11:35:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it's because they are highly specialized (expensive?) trains that make one revenue run per night and then have to sit somewhere doing nothing?

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Jul 21st, 2011 at 05:44:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The French railways system has started having its Paris-Toulouse sleepers trains go the other way during the day, at very discounted rates for a not very comfortable trip.

OTOH, there aren't that many day trains running during the night and that's not so big a problem...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 07:42:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
linca:
at very discounted rates for a not very comfortable trip

They should start offering very discounted rates for the night trip too, then.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 08:52:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Further to linca's point; that doesn't explain situations where demand exceeds supply. Passengers would hate it, of course, but in such a situation, if the train doesn't make a big profit to warrant capturing more of the demand with more trains, the economics could be improved by increasing ticket prices.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Aug 6th, 2011 at 06:06:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(discussions long ago at theOilDrum) :

Energy efficiency (and economics) suck for sleepers because of low passenger density. Implicitly this was in a discussion of American trains, with luxury individual cabins. Euro-sleepers with 4 bunks or so ought to be rather better, and Chinese three-high bunks, I imagine, work pretty well (I did some memorable, and fairly comfortable, 10 hour trips like this years ago)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 06:38:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However they don't have to go as fast as high speed train (after all, that's a means of transportation that has a minimum travel time of 8 hours...).

But the average Russian sleeper car is heated with coal, to 30°C, in the middle of the Siberian winter. That can't be very efficient, or carbon neutral.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 07:42:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Paris-Toulouse sleeper, mentioned elsewhere by linca, is 6 bunks or uncomfortable reclining seats, on pretty worn-out rolling stock. (4 bunks = 1st class). In my (unhappy) experience, passenger density is way too high for comfort. This is where you get the clear understanding that SNCF is only interested in the TGV.

Perhaps the regions need to invest in this too, as they do in TER (regional lines).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 08:50:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On my first trip to Europe back in the early 90's a lot to time was spent on trains. I fell in love with trains, and train travel. From the first journey from Uppsala, Sweden to Göteborg, viewing the snowy landscape from the elegant, white tablecloth dining car, to night trains in Germany, where much of the time was spent standing in the narrow aisle ways sipping cognac and engaging in conversation with passer-bys. As I recall, the only difficulty was actually sleeping.

Small, compact, bunk-like quarters that go clank-clank in the night are one problem, but I can't imagine the additional stress of sleeping with strangers. Maybe when I was younger it would have sounded more interesting. I think I'd like to check out some of those luxury cabins eurogreen speaks of. I love the concept of getting from one place to another while sleeping, using the time wisely, but couldn't the experience be upgraded slightly and still make money for the railroad? Or am I just a solitary thinker/dreamer in this regard?

by sgr2 on Sat Jul 23rd, 2011 at 06:21:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've done Lyon-Nantes in six-bunk class, and I'd do it again. No worse than a hiker's bunkhouse.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jul 25th, 2011 at 09:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try the reclining seat option with insufficient space per passenger and people and their stuff everywhere. Or the top bunk in a carriage that has been out in the sun all day and is experiencing periodic electrical failure.

Mind you, I've spent nights in stifling mountain huts too. The consolation being you're usually so worn out you sleep anyway.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 06:06:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've done the reclining seat option on the Madrid-Paris or Paris-Barcelona trains and there's more than sufficient space.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 06:08:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's possible SNCF puts less comfortable or worn-out rolling stock on the Toulouse trip. My experience, anyway, has not been good.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 06:13:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your milage may vary - I think yours and Mig's experience differ because Mig is shorter than you are. I'd probably be quite uncomfortable.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:28:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mig is quite a bit taller than I am... :)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then I must misremember from the last meetup. I could have sworn that you were about as tall as me, and Mig was a head or so smaller.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:42:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not a head shorter than you unless you're over 2m10...

But I am at least a head narrower :P

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 04:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I must have stood tall when I tried the salmiak. ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 04:29:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Still sore about that, eh? How will I ever get you to try our food again?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 05:12:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You misunderstand me. It made me breathe in hard and shoot up several centimetres.

Temporarily.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 05:15:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The top bunk was my preference for the Germany-Italy route. If it was full of tourists, they would open the window to get some cool air, and then get soaked when it rained while crossing the Alps. The top bunk was safe from the rain.

These days, they have air conditioning that usually works, so the main risk is freezing,

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:37:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I travelled in a sleeper train for the first time (it was a two-bed sleeper cabin from Vienna to Strasbourg), I barely slept: my biggest problem was the air conditioning (either it was too warm inside for sleep or there was cold wind and the sinuses hurt), second to it the suboptimal running quality and the just-above-consciousness-level noise at high speed. I got used to these on later sleeper rides, though.

In terms of malfunctioning equipment, I had no issues with air conditioning, but in a sleeper car of the Italian Railways, I had a wash cabin lamp that wouldn't switch off (the conductor gave me a truckload of serviettes to block all the gaps in and between the wash cabin doors).

I also rode in six-bunk couchette cabins twice, in both cases with (functional) air-conditioning. However, although there were six beds, tickets were sold for four only, and in both cases, I had only one co-passenger who didn't snore, so I don't have experience how it is when the cabin is really cramped.

Two weeks ago I rode in a non-air-conditioned sleeper cabin for the first time (from Venice to Budapest via Slovenia and Croatia). It was also an old car with tread rather than disc brakes (makes for louder and more sudden and shaky braking). For the first three hours (until midnight), I pulled down the window and just waited for the inside to cool down to a temperature one can sleep in. However, those three hours also included frequent stops in Italy and the curve-rich climb up the mountains on the Italian-Slovenian border, when I wouldn't have gotten any sleep either. (Watching the train's lights alongside the tracks, I saw that all other cabins had the lights on until the same time, even if the windows were up – must all be experienced riders, I thought.)

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

by DoDo on Sat Aug 6th, 2011 at 05:41:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Honestly, you are all much too focused on energy efficiency. There is nothing inherently enviormentally damaging about the use of energy. The damage comes from, and is dependant on the fossile basis of our current transport. If the future features flagrantly energy prolifigrate transport systems such, oh, supersonic vaccum maglev, that is not a problem as long as the electricity driving everything is clean. Energy does not equate to carbon or enviormental damage.
Carbon equates to Carbon.

A plan of action that focuses on cleaning up electricity production and substituting forms of goods and services that are electricity dependant for goods and services that are oil dependant is approximately infinitely more likely to actually get carried out than one that relies on getting people to do without energy intensive goods and services. Hairshits do not win elections.

by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 09:24:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hairshits do not win elections.

Except in the context of the Euro crisis.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 09:50:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Environmental damage is not the only variable used to evaluate decisions. Nor is production of power the only cost that this profligate society might incur moving forward. Thus efficiency is and should remain a key parameter when evaluating energy scenarios.

Hairshirt? Lächerlich.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 09:52:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because clearly energy will be too cheap to meter.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 12:07:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but there is very, very little reason to belive that a properly designed post carbon grid will cost us any more per-kwh than coal does, and very good reasons to belive that it will deliver equivalent-or-lower costs than coal with the additional bonus of lower externalities.

Pathway "Absolutely zero technilogical advances happen, but we go low carbon anyway": This means instituting copies of the French, Swiss and Swedish grids everywhere, because those are the already extant low emission grids. Yes, this means mean, vicious, ugly nuclear power. Boo-hoo. You know what else those grids have in common? They produce electricity cheaply. About half the cost of german electricity, with a tenth or less the emissions per kwh.

Pathway: "Very conservative estimates of the technological progress of renewables hold true, and real money is spent on them for the purposes of actually producing power, rather than greenwashing coal/gas" This means no solar whatsoever (in europe), wast windfarms, robotically controlled kites harvesting energy from the jetsteam above our cities and chunks of granite the size of small mountains being raised and lowered hundreds of meters to store power enough to power the entirety of the union for weeks on end. All of which will cost us less per kwh than most of europe presently pays.

Pathway: "Technological surprise": Someone perfects something clever. - There are half a dozen technologies under development that hold out the promise of stupidly cheap electrical power. Not free electrical power, because most of them will still need at least to pay for grid maintainance, but significantly cheaper than either of the first two senarios. In order of probability:

  1. Cheaper, safter, and just generally superior  fission reactors via ground up redesign - Molten salt, fission fragment, gas phase. Most likely out of India.
  2. Small scale fusion : One of the dozens of teams working on achiving fusion via any of a half dozen of esoteric ways to confine, heat and compress very small amounts of plasma succeed in producing a design that is a viable power source. Possibly even the coverted aneutronic boron fusor.
  3. LERN.
  4. WTF? Did not see that coming.

To sum up: the future will be short on oil. Gas will be expensive. Coal will, if there is any justice, be outright illegal. Electricity? There will be lots of electricity. All the electricity you care to pay for.
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 02:20:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pathway "Absolutely zero technilogical advances happen, but we go low carbon anyway": This means instituting copies of the French, Swiss and Swedish grids everywhere,

That is not possible. Those grids rely on imported load balancing capacity. Please see the diurnal variation figures here.

Pathway: "Very conservative estimates of the technological progress of renewables hold true, and real money is spent on them for the purposes of actually producing power, rather than greenwashing coal/gas" This means no solar whatsoever (in europe),

Uh, no, not unless you assume that doing nothing what so ever for ten years while we build the infrastructure to transport electricity from the Sahara to Germany is preferable to building solar power in Germany during this period.

Ramp-up times are not your friend if you are in the business of selling magic bullet solutions, a point that I have tried and apparently failed to get through to you before.

and chunks of granite the size of small mountains being raised and lowered hundreds of meters to store power enough to power the entirety of the union for weeks on end.

Uh, no. That is not required to load balance a sustainable grid.

All of which will cost us less per kwh than most of europe presently pays.

That does not strike me as a very good reason to ignore even cheaper energy savings. If I can save ten MWh per year for 10 €/MWh, why would I buy ten MWh per year for 12 €/MWh?

Cheaper, safter, and just generally superior  fission reactors via ground up redesign

Cute. Build me one and then turn off all active safeties and prove that it will shut down on its passive systems alone without blowing up. Then we're talking. Something that will pollute like a coal-burner if the operators fuck up is not a sustainable power source.

Small scale fusion: One of the dozens of teams working on achiving fusion via any of a half dozen of esoteric ways to confine, heat and compress very small amounts of plasma succeed in producing a design that is a viable power source. Possibly even the coverted aneutronic boron fusor.

Meh. Even if you had a working prototype tomorrow, the ramp-up time would be similar to that of wind, solar and fission power (and wind and solar have twenty, resp. ten years head start and counting).

There will be lots of electricity. All the electricity you care to pay for.

I can find more amusing ways to use steel and cement than building power plants to supply wasteful overuse of electricity. But maybe that's just me.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 02:40:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In rough order: Sweden exports loadbalancing services, it doesnt import it, and adding on load balancing isnt going to move the overall cost much, even with completely proven tech. Heck, worst comes to worst, you can loadbalance with resistor banks.

No solar because it is an overly expensive bondoggle that destroys highvalue land. It might be long term viable in places with deserts, but fuck wasting money on it that could be used building more wind and storage.

It might not be strictly nessesary, but once you start building granite piston storage facilities of the size that are nesessary, making them a lot larger than strictly needed doesnt actually make them a whole lot more expensive. So I figure that utilities will pay that premium to buy peace of mind against that time every five years when all of europe gets sat on by a cold high pressure system.  

Eh: Molten salt reactors continiously outprocess fission products. The fission fragment reactor produces power by ejecting said products from the reacting core at 3-5% of the speed of light and then decellerating them in magnetic coils (This produces power directly. No heat engine needed, so efficiencies of 80-90% are possible. It also means it produces nothing you can really call waste - just streams of presorted isotopes with short halflives. Those have value.) So if correctly designed they go into cold shutdown at the drop of a hat - the lwr really is very far from being an optimal reactor design.

Small scale fusion: .. deployment times? What are those? If one of these succed, they are not going to resemble iter. Or a conventional power plant. Factory mass production, and even the largest can be trivially retrofit onto the floorspaces in powerplants that used to hold furnaces. This is a game breaker - unemployed coalworkers, gas tycoons jumping from windows and windmill engineers reskilling for sailboat designing.

by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No solar because it is an overly expensive bondoggle that destroys highvalue land. It might be long term viable in places with deserts, but fuck wasting money on it that could be used building more wind and storage.

These are not mutually exclusive: Wind and solar don't crowd out each other, they crowd out coal.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They crowd out each others financing. Solar in europe currently costs an order of magnitude more than wind. Which means every euro spent on it would have done an order of magnitude more good spent on wind. These things matter if you are not just looking to make a nice pressrelease saying that you spent x billion on renewables last year, but are in fact interested in providing actual electricity.
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:50:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing wrong with financial constraints that can't be fixed with government spending.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Money is, among other things a measure of human effort expended. Therefore, when striving towards a goal that can be pursued in limitless paralel in the way power production can, directing any of it towards wastly less effective methods slows the process of achiving your goal down. Or put simply. Dont be an idiot. There is no upside to building a terawatt-per-year of solar and a terawatt-per-year of wind at a price of 11 trillion qialongs over just building 2 terawatts-per-year worth of wind for 2 trillion qualongs. Electricity is electricity, and either solution is going to need heavy storage anyway, so.
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 05:47:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
or, even better, in case that was not clear; Building 11 tera-watts-per-year of wind for 11 trillion qualongs
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 05:49:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aside from the inherent insanity of monocropping your electricity supply, industrial capacity is not entirely fungible. If the state of your industrial plant only permits you to build one TW of wind in 2012, then no amount of throwing money at the problem will make it build more after you max out that TW. If, simultaneously, you are able to deploy a quarter of a TW from solar, then doing both is going to help more than doing only the one that gives you the cheaper kWh.

Ramp-up times on the order of an infrastructure lifetime is a non-trivial transient.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 06:16:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
also, the context was the person upthread suggesting that highspeed trains would slow down for lack of electricity. In no universe does running a train service at its design speed qualift as a wasteful use of electricity.
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure how relevant the CNL figures are, as they have been taking over previously existing night trains.

But the main issue is the claim that night trains cannot compete on time and price with the airlines. This may be true for daytime trains, but as for night trains, as far as time goes, they easily compete with airlines, as even the slowest (such as Milan-Barcelona from roughly 8pm to 9am) takes up much less useful time than flying. And the price should be compared with plane+hotel which makes them more competitive (ironically, night trains from Zurich have been cut, rather than from Berlin with its ridiculously cheap hotels).

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 03:25:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does HSR need ETCS ? ETCS just bust in Germany, see
this FTD article which basically says that DB will stop deploying ETCS to save money.

One year to go !
by pi (etrib@opsec.eu) on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 04:05:17 PM EST
Uh. Not DB, but the German government. As the article says, that's practically the death knell for the Europe-wide rollout of ETCS.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 04:50:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That proves to me something I always claimed: ETCS is something that should never have been done.

Instead, we should have settled on LZB and TVM-430 and be done with that (obviously, settling on one system would be impossible - national prestige and all that).

Looking at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twqGb55DVyA and reading the Wikipedia entry, I find ridiculous that billions of Euros were spent on a new system that still doesn't approach that functionality.

High-speed trains on wireless data? No, thanks!

N.F.

by nfotis on Thu Jul 28th, 2011 at 06:53:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are speaking about ETCS Level 2. However, Germany's decision also kills Level 1 (which is a point-wise train control system with fixed transponders) and thus signalling system unification on freight routes, Germany being central to railfreight flows in the EU. The variability of conventional line train control systems is much greater than that on high-speed lines, and the interoperability of even four voltage system locos is nowadays limited by the number of locomotive-side train control equipment that can be installed simultaneously.

That said, ETCS Level 1 has some drawbacks, too. In the bare-bones version, trackside equipment are the "balises": magnets installed in the middle of the tracks at fixed points (at signals and level crossings). So the locomotive gets updated information about whether it can continue or should slow or should stop only when it passes a balise. This is similar to the old German Indusi/PZB system.

However, other systems (for example France's Crocodile or Hungary's EVM) use sections of the rail itself as track-side antenna, providing for a continuous information exchange: thus the locomotive 'sees' the next signal in advance, and can for example allow the driver to accelerate again if the signal goes from yellow to green.

ETCS L1 does have a solution to the problem: there is an optional equipment for continuous information transmission, called Euroloop. This is a coaxial cable that can be fitted to the rail, forming an antenna loop ahead of a balise and sending its signal in advance. (It look and is installed much like the German LZB, except for the regular swaps between the two cables which makes LZB a line-wise train control system.) This is sub-optimal, though: on one hand, compared to the rail-as-antenna solution, balises and Euroloop cables are extra equipment and cost; and on non-fenced-in conventional tracks, cable thiefs are a major problem.

(Apologies if you know all this already, but I went into detail thinking that other readers might be interested.)

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

by DoDo on Sat Aug 6th, 2011 at 05:15:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No problem, I still don't have a clear picture of ETCS versions myself
(compare the Wikipedia entries for LZB and ETCS, and you'll see that the latter is rather unclear)

here I repeat one message from a discussion in LinkedIn, with some additions:

After my reading on signaling systems in Europe a decade ago, I fail to see what improvements would ETCS bring over the already existing LZB (or TVM-430).

It would be much simpler to settle into a selection of either the German (LZB) or the French (TVM-430) system, and be done with it decades ago.

Instead, we saw yet another system that has some added negative aspects:

  • cost (debugging, installing/retrofitting in locomotives etc.) of a new system instead of using one already existing system

  • incompatibilities even between ETCS versions (when you ask a supplier "I want ETCS in my locomotive", he'll ask you "which version do you want?").
And your ETCS locomotive is not going to work over all Europe anyway, since each national network has its own ETCS version.

  • adding yet another system into already entrenched areas (LZB and TVM-land) was never going to work (why rip out an already installed system?), with suppliers asking a 6-digit figure for installing it.

  • AND you have to install LZB anyway, if you want to run in high speed (160+ km/h) routes in Germany anyway (Indusi/PZB is standard equipment in locomotives sold in Europe).
So, you pay two times for the signaling equipment of your locomotive.

Even today, there are new signaling systems created (SCMT in Italian network), despite the existence of ETCS.
Shouldn't this tell you something?

When I visited Innotrans in last September in Berlin, I saw a Siemens Vectron locomotive outfitted with 11(!) different signaling systems in one rack.
But all this added complexity comes at a great cost.
We could reduce that to 10 if we left out ETCS, and everything would work nicely.

And I really fail to see what improvement would ETCS bring over LZB/TVM-430.

Frequency?
There are TGV trains running at 3 minute headways in rush hour.

Higher speed?
RENFE still doesn't permit above 300 km/h runs on ETCS-2

Safety/Reliability?
After the disaster in China (where the signaling is supposedly based on a local version of ETCS-2), I have my doubts
(and the idea of using wireless for sending safety-critical data makes me VERY uncomfortable)

Lower costs?
Compared to already existing and in production systems, I fail to see it

Features?
Note that compared to the LZB video I showed, ETCS Level 2 cannot provide AFB (automatic train-pilot) from what I know, neither it is as flexible regarding braking distances
(I mention the latter one with reservations, since I haven't seen any ETCS/ERTMS documentation yet)

N.F.

by nfotis on Sun Aug 7th, 2011 at 10:27:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some notes in addition to what was covered in my previous comment:

what improvements would ETCS bring over the already existing LZB (or TVM-430).

ETCS L2 means less lineside equipment than LZB, and thus potentially lower material costs (especially in cable thief endangered areas). The real big benefit would be in moving block implementation (ETCS L3, which requires little extra equipment and more extra software), but with ETCS L2 still not mature, it is in the uncertain future.

incompatibilities even between ETCS versions (when you ask a supplier "I want ETCS in my locomotive", he'll ask you "which version do you want?")

ETCS was plagued by two kinds of incompatibilities. One was incompatibility between manufacturers: there were ETCS L2 problems (mainly in the BeNeLux) stemming from manufacturers implementing still evolving standards differently. The other was and is program and parameter setting differences: the effect of physical things like braking distances, failure mode permitted top speeds, allowed regenerative braking power, allowed adhesion can differ between railway networks (partly for climatic reasons) – these all affect the loco's control software itself, too –; and data format. For the locomotive owner, however, this is not an insurmountable problem but a question of the price of extra software and extra storage space.

AND you have to install LZB anyway, if you want to run in high speed (160+ km/h) routes in Germany anyway

This now goes both ways: you have to install ETCS L2 anyway if you want to run on Italian high-speed lines or via Berne and the Lötschberg Base Tunnel in Switzerland, and at least ETCS L1 if you want to run into Spain (once the Barcelona link is completed), and again ETCS L1 if you want to run a freight train on the Betuwe Line.

SCMT in Italian network

SCMT is quite similar to ETCS L1, the trackside part is compatible while the data format can be packaged, thus it was decided to migrate it to ETCS. An extra is compatibility with the older Italian systems.

After the disaster in China (where the signaling is supposedly based on a local version of ETCS-2)

That disaster throws up many questions, but none of the potential accident factors I read of go back to the original ETCS design. According to Railway Gazette, CTCS-2 is based on ETCS L1, and "radio dispatching" (if reports about its use are right) was not ETCS L2 application but a 'fallback' level also used on conventional railways (usually it also means that only one train can travel between two stations). If, instead, the ministry said the truth and the signalling had a software error resulting in a failure to set a signal red, that's probably not even a CTCS-2 error (though the control centre's failure to notice the false signal setting could be).

ETCS Level 2 cannot provide AFB (automatic train-pilot)

From what I read, AFB is rarely used under LZB as locomotive drivers still can execute a smoother (more energy efficient, more passenger comfort) velocity curve. Note that AFB is a separate, overlaid automatic train operation (ATO) system. In theory you can overlay an ATO with ETCS, too (see Czech trials).

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

by DoDo on Sun Aug 7th, 2011 at 01:39:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
AFB is a separate, overlaid automatic train operation (ATO) system. In theory you can overlay an ATO with ETCS, too

Forgot to note the drawback: of course, it remains yet to be developed. For that reason, for example, London's Crossrail will be equipped with standard metro CBTC with ATO overlay on the central tunnel section, while trains will also have ETCS L2 and British TPWS for the connecting sections.

As an overall comment, while I am also generally negative about ETRTMS and especially ETCS L2, now that the rollout progressed in some countries, it would be nice if at least all mainlines with significant through traffic on networks with magnet-based (intermittent) train control systems (like Germany) would be switched to ETCS L1.

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

by DoDo on Mon Aug 8th, 2011 at 01:38:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot to mention that SCMT was developed after ETCS, violating the supposed standardization and adding yet one more system to install into the fray (now, if you want to run locomotives into Italy, you have to install also SCMT - doesn't that defeat the whole idea of standardization?).

In the video on Youtube I showed above, the driver was using exclusively AFB (you can see that as soon as the target speed changed, the brake/throttle was immediately changed).

A friend who works as a driver in DB Schenker told me that drivers in LZB territory depend much on AFB auto-pilot, especially on high-speed runs like the Taurus in the example, since it can be fast-reacting and smooth-braking at the same time (at least in theory)

N.F.

by nfotis on Tue Aug 9th, 2011 at 10:44:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SCMT was developed after ETCS

Do you know that for fact? I couldn't find when the development of SCMT started, only when deployment started (2003). However, that's close enough in time to ETCS (development start: 1996, first line tests: 1999, first commercial ETCS L1 line: 2001) to be parallel developments. At any rate, SCMT deployment started before the directives mandating ETCS on conventional lines (2004 onwards), and simultaneously with ETCS L2 deployment on new high-speed lines in Italy.

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

by DoDo on Wed Aug 17th, 2011 at 10:34:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't find when the development of SCMT started

According to RFI, in late 1999, with test sections equipped by 2001.

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

by DoDo on Wed Aug 17th, 2011 at 11:54:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the video on Youtube I showed above, the driver was using exclusively AFB

It was a single run for the loco.

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

by DoDo on Wed Aug 17th, 2011 at 12:04:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is nothing wrong with using wireless for signalling (plane and shuttles must use wireless!)  The problem is in designing for failure modes.  The same applies to signalling - as DoDo mentioned, cable thieves are a problem just as devastating to signal strength as a failed transmitter.  Indeed, with sensible hardening wireless is probably safer.
by njh on Tue Aug 16th, 2011 at 11:39:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having read of sudden train stoppages for that reason, I used to think that unsteady signal reception is a problem due to a fail-safe requirement of constant signal reception. However, in ETCS L2, the train only stops if the signal loss is at the end of a movement authority (in practice: at a block limit/signal), and there are software patches for both momentary and local wireless signal loss; and these seem to be working as the present ETCS L2 problems seem to be unrelated to signal reception (also see a commenter in one of my diaries who specialises in ETCS and denied that signal reception is the problem).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 17th, 2011 at 09:45:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A very impressive analysis of actual train speeds - presumably dependent on 100% punctuality for accuracy?

I appreciate ET is mainly dedicated to Train as opposed to air travel but I would be interested in the comparative cost benefits in terms of travel times, carbon footprint, actual fares, and investment costs.  How do airport costs/passenger numbers compare to train stations+track costs/passenger numbers compare on a pan  European basis?  Is there a "break-even point" - e.g. 500KM - beyond which air travel becomes the more efficient/cheaper option.  Overall, what is the carbon footprint comparison per passenger KM for train vs. Air travel at a pan EU level?  Is there a minimum traffic volume figure below which the occasional plane beats building a line for very few trains? Does air travel offer greater flexibility in terms of seasonal patterns or variable and unpredictable growth patterns - e.g. if Hungary suddenly becomes a very popular tourist/business traveller destination - can that demand be best met by increased air or train capacity?

I appreciate we are comparing apples and oranges here, but a rational EU transportation policy has to make decisions as top where most investment should go.  Is China stealing a march on the EU with its HSR development, or would the EU, is it had the same investment funds available, be better off going for a different rail/road/air mix of transport infrastructure?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 12:04:51 PM EST
I think it is pretty straight forward.

Rail has its main emissions during the construction phase of the rail, flight during start and landing of each plane. So I think the cutoffs are not based on distance but rather on number of passengers on the line.

Searched back in previous discussions and found this to support my view:

OECD/ITF: JTRC Discussion Papers

Environmental aspects of inter-city passenger transport
Per KAGESON, Nature Associates, Stockholm, Sweden
Discussion Paper No 2009-28, December 2009

Page 25 in the pdf:

The conclusion of this paper is that investment in high speed rail is under most circumstances likely to reduce greenhouse gases from traffic compared to a situation when the line was not
built. The reduction, though, is small and it may take decades for it to compensate for the emissions caused by construction. However, where capacity restraints and large transport volumes justify investment in high speed rail this will not cause overall emissions to rise.

In cases where anticipated journey volumes are low it is not only difficult to justify the investment in economical terms, but it may also be hard to defend the project from an environmental point of view as it will take too long for traffic to offset the emissions caused by building the line. Under such circumstances it may be better to upgrade an existing line to accommodate for somewhat higher speeds as this would minimize emissions from construction and cut emissions from train traffic compared to high speed rail.

Note though, that it mainly compares HSR and ordinary rail.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 03:20:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this.  But would I be right in thinking that the environmental advantage of HSR over air transport is marginal except at high volumes of traffic on a route?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 03:28:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not know what the cutoff is, but yes something along those lines.

And now I see that the pdf is gone from the link. I copied the quote from the comment I wrote when I read the paper.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 03:40:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More than just the enviormental benefit, one of the main points of HSR.. and regular rail, for that matter, is that it is a mode of transport not dependant on oil, but instead largely electricity. Yes, for construction too. - arcfurnace steel is a fairly economically viable proposition. This reduces the amount of very expensive synthetic fuels we are going to need in the long term. This also implies that once the problem of producing abundant low-carbon electricity is solved, rail construction itself gets much less polluting, because the carbon footprint of the steel drops.

There are also cement chemistries that are outright carbon negative as they absorb more carbon during hardening than it takes to produce them, so the carbon foot print of rail is not unavoidable. The physical  footprint however, is really quite difficult to avoid or reduce except by going entirely below ground or with elevated tracks.

by Thomas on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 04:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 04:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Airports have a huge footprint too.
by njh on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 10:42:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I commented when askod posted this earlier that I don't think any simple claims can be made. We are talking about factors here that each have ranges in orders of magnitude:

  • High-speed line electricity supply: it obviously makes a difference whether it comes from coal-fired power plants or hydro, for example.
  • High-speed line construction emissions: with the same materials technology (because most CO2 emissions are from manufacturing steel and cement), it basically depends on the volume of superstructures, and there is a great difference between a line consisting of level track on flat stable ground in a sparsely populated area and a line consisting almost only of viaducts over soft soil and villages.
  • Traffic level: there are high-speed lines carrying 1-2 million passengers a year, and ones carrying 138 million passengers a year (two orders of magnitude!).
  • High-speed line renewal: how long do the different parts of the infrastructure last? (The construction-related CO2 emissions will have to de divided by the total number of passengers over that period.) This is not straightforward. We are speaking of components with a life on the range of decades, and it can both happen that something lasts multiple times longer than originally planned (due to too conservative expectations or advances in maintenance), or that something lasts a fraction of that time (due to bad quality control, unexpected events or corrosive processes, or an upgrade that became a demand or necessity earlier than a regular renewal).
  • Distance: this is a strong factor for air transport CO2 emissions.
  • Airport size and location: air transport related emissions also include some significant construction emissions (runway, terminals, connecting highways and rapid rail) and emissions from airport access transport (which can be anything from a lot of private car driving to a short tram ride).

On the long run, I do think that construction-related CO2 emissions can be reduced significantly. There is research both on the steel and cement front.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 04:39:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't look good if you have to build extensive tunnels or viaducts and pour millions of cubic meters of concrete (with all their attendant CO2 costs). If you strictly want to go for the environmental benefits then you'll want to build higher-speed conventional rail (200-230?). Unless you have a country that's completely flat and empty. The air traffic CO2 problem will resolve itself by curtailment.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 04:39:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you'll want to build higher-speed conventional rail (200-230?)

Well unless it is along an existing line and you'll have lots of trackside buildings to demolish/rebuild and lots of noise walls to construct in villages crossed.

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

by DoDo on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 04:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A report worth reading: High-Speed Rail in the U.S. - Potential and Impact on CO2 Emissions
From these variants we have created a "Worst HSR savings case". With the high CO2 intensity of electricity production, high HSR electricity intensity, and low occupancy, CO2 intensity of HSR travel is over 50 gCO2/pass-km, while in the reverse case it is only 7.5 gCO2/pass-km, vs 38 gCO2/pass-km in the projections. The worst case cuts CO2 savings by 20% in the Baseline case and 37% in the Global case, while the "best" HSR leads to about 30% more savings in either case. [...]

For those concerned about CO2 emissions, an outcome where both HSR and other modes have low intensities while shifting to HSR is the highest is the best (this is the case we illustrated in detail in Table 10). What saves the most CO2 overall in the US, however, may not reflect the maximum savings that can be tied to HSR, because the CO2 intensities of the modes shifting to HSR will also have fallen. Projections of CO2 from HSR that assume a low- CO2 profile of HSR because of technological progress in trainsets and electric power production should consider that for consistency similar progress would occur to reduce emissions from light duty vehicles and air travel.

I don't think there will be great emission reductions in air travel but that's a whole different area.

I remember there was a report specifically about the CO2/energy efficiency of California HSR that Clem Tiller or someone else corrected on a blog. Caltrain-hsr?, cahsrblog? - shit, I don't remember and I can't find the post anymore. Can anybody help me?

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 10:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would not bet on there being no improvements in the efficiency of air travel. Changing to turboprops would be a big improvement. And today's cylindrical fuselages are optimized for production cost, not fuel efficiency. Here's how they should be shaped...

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19860014381_1986014381.pdf

by asdf on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 11:53:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't forget to account for a general change in the value of travel as the cost of energy changes. 100 years ago it was really, really expensive to travel long distances. Recently it's been really cheap. There's probably a happy median in there somewhere, but in that case, the value of the time taken to travel at some speed will have to be accounted for.

HSR is competing with today's air travel in cost and speed. But if the cost of air travel jumps up due to the lack of electric airplanes, then maybe the trains don't need to go quite as fast to attract passengers. I think there is a degree of national technological pride involved in today's HSR projects, and that while there may be some of them in the long run, for trunk connections, "fast" conventional trains will be the majority system.

Or, most likely, electric cars.

by asdf on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 11:46:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Minor villages but DB has to stop there anyway.

One solution is to forget to stop there. Apparently, ICE drivers have done this several times recently with Wolfsburg.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 12:06:59 PM EST
Maybe someone is trying to send a message...

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 04:32:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. I tend to view forgotten stops as a sign of ever declining management attention to oversight (and ever declining numbers of high management using the own company's means of traffic). I can't remember a single missed stop on a train I rode until an occasion two years ago. Then it was on a limited stop commuter train, on a line where there are also "zoned" commuter trains that don't stop at all until the first major town; so I assumed the driver was momentarily confused about what type of train he was driving (he stopped a kilometre later for passengers to get off in the bushes). But this year, it happened three more times, twice at the same station and once on another commuter line...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Aug 6th, 2011 at 06:14:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is a great diary and a terrific step towards understanding the relative systems. But as Dodo and others point out, it is really hard to compare the various transport systems. For example, what about the new airports built within the last decades that are 25-50 km outside of the city center? For the new suburbs developed nearby, they're great, but for the old suburbs on the other side of the city, they're horrible.

Horrible from the viewpoint of time and also of energy and CO2. The time calculation can't assume that you start by standing at the station platform, you have to start from home--where-ever that might be. Then you have to somehow take into account routine delays on rail systems and compare them to less frequent, but more lengthy delays in air travel. A hailstorm in Denver last week caused aircraft damage forcing 1000 people to stay overnight in the airport, for example.

And then there is the assumption that you "need" the "high speed" part of the solution. Air travel is inherently fast--unless we return to dirigibles and DC-3s. Rail travel can be fast, if you spend the money on the right of way and the equipment and the maintenance and the operating energy.

In my view, the best indication of how transportation will be can be gained by looking at the situation in places where the relative cost of fuel is high. Places like India, for example. India has thousands of trains--isn't it the biggest employer on earth, or second only to the UK medical system or the US army or something? Those trains don't go fast, and they don't have sleeper cars (well, maybe they do), and they have plenty of passengers who rely on them for slow, moderately reliable transportation. Which is what it boils down to if you really get to the point of high energy cost...

by asdf on Thu Jul 21st, 2011 at 12:08:53 AM EST
But it is also useful to construct infrastructure which shifts traffic from jet and internal combustion engines to electric trains gradually and before energy becomes too expensive. Because while running slow trains on high speed tracks is an inefficient use of the capital invested in those high speed tracks, I am willing to bet that it is preferable to having to crash build a whole new infrastructure when liquid fuel starts becoming prohibitively expensive.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jul 21st, 2011 at 11:03:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My understanding is that the Chinese rail system has 3 million employees.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 07:38:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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