I just have a few comments to make on the long haul train of emails while we are discussing rail issues (these arent about being strapped onto the roof of a TGV in North Dakota with a rifle for hunting buffalo.....)
1 - The approval rating of DB is actually really low compared to that of other European services. They do have lots of new rolling stock but there are other problems: Their IPO is delayed, DB Regio get contracts on regional services from DB Netz - rail undertakings and infrastructure are seperate - without going through a tender which the European Commission is taking them to court for, etc. They also pulled out - not sure they are back in - of discussions on high speed train standardisation with France and Italy - what a Europarlimentarian I know calls "Airbus on wheels"
2 - SBB and the many regional RUs in Switzerland do indeed get great ratings - part of it is since they are not EU so can do their own thing in some areas. They had to scale back their new program Bahn 2000 but now have a great system wherein many regional trains get to hubs right before the hour and leave right after - so you almost dont need a schedule anymore. The power supply system was modified to support the tremendous surges this induces. They also have a really great bike-train system with its own schedule (for tourism)- and the bike part is really similar to things like Bikestation on West Coast, but the train part is better. As in Germany , the carsharing stuff is integrated, but with higher use per capita.
3 - Relating to the baggage thing that was mentioned and the "airlineness" of the rail systems for some of the new high speed rail services to airports it is actually possible to check in your luggage at the train station as if it was the airport counter, and then pick up luggage on other side as usual. Also, the renovated main train station in Prague will have an airline style system to serve people - with one line and agents that can do many things. Czech Railways are also planning to sell about 40 percent of tickets in machines, and I hope soon on line... they should really implement a Smart Card system.....what I am getting at is that air travel has become the "modern standard" so some things have to emulate the airline thing... if I have lots of bags when I get to the station I would love to pay a small fee to have them put in a secure place during the trip - but this would slow things so much and need subsidies so it would not work. People carry too much baggage anyway!
4 - Doing my research for "On the Train to the Future!" <www.worldcarfree.net/onthetrain> I found this quite interesting guy who loves travelling by train and has tons of info about it , mainly focused on travel from London to Asia and everywhere in between. See www.seat61.com.
5 - Finally, for Trail Link 2005 - the Rails to Trails conference, this year in Minn.-St. Paul - I have proposed a presentation "Bike+Train: Better intermodality in Europe and the USA" . It includes a large section on creating links between the East Coast Greenway AND the main line on the east coast run by Amtrak and also the many commuter/regional and seasonal/historic lines. One good thing is that there is a good possibility that very soon there will be a Bikestation-like facility at Union Station in Washington DC - on the other hand right now the main north-south line has no capacity - a freight car - for bicycles. One interesting element that could be added is a version of the collaboration that Amtrak does with the National Park Service in the West. If anyone has any ideas on a good discussion group or un/official experts on east coast trains let me know.
6 - Finally, to bitch about Europe some more: A new modern DMU (Siemens Desiro) was just homologated for all of the Czech Republic BUT there are no plans for any service to actually run it.... many regional lines have been cut, especially in Slovakia and Poland... the Interoperability thing seems to be finally moving forward, I think in 5 years most locomotives will cross mulitiple borders with few problems.... related to that see the new Skoda (not the car company anymore) loco which will be ready in 2007 at <http://www.skoda.cz/produkty.asp?Q853A=C0J1P1T1K61ID5188
> The body design is by "Porsche" not the car company just a firm which licenses the name - but there was a cross promotion between Skoda and the CAR Porsche for a contest related to the design of the new Prague tram, also with Porsche design.
7 - To end on a good note the Czech Pendolino is finally taking passengers in the final stages of its homologation
8 - Finally, check out www.railvolution.net.............. truth in advertising,they are our media partner.
World Carfree Network
> Od: Jym Dyer <jym@...>
> Komu: email@example.com
> Datum: Fri, 07 Jan 2005 13:23:03 -0800
> Předmět: [carfree_cities] Amtrak ("Small Number of People")
> > True, but just how much of your billion-dollar subsidy are
> > you willing to spend to on transportation for a small number
> > of people?
> =v= This is a classic chicken-and-egg issue, one that should
> be familiar not just from rail but from any mass transit. If
> a service is underfunded it loses ridership, then the "small
> number of people" are invoked as a reason to keep or increase
> the underfunding.
> =v= As I said in my last message, rail could take on a gr7eater
> percentage of America's transportation if it were improve7 - d.
> This costs money. Look past private-sector-only ideology to
> see all the capital expenditure involved. Something that is
> now profitable probably hasn't always been. As with all ground
> transportation, public sector involvement is inherent in the
> process, right from the allocation of very long, very narrow
> sections of property ("private" or otherwise) for transport.
> =v= The ecological advantages alone are worth the capital
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