Off the Rails

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From our Swindon correspondent:

via the Independent
 
Sweden could soon be within easy reach of London by overnight sleeper train under proposals drawn up by the country’s rail planners.

Passengers from the UK would be able to catch the Eurostar to Brussels and then change directly onto a sleeper train, waking up in the city of Malmö the next morning.

Didn’t we get rid of most of the overnights with flights? Who wants to sit on an overnight train for 15 hours from London including a change of trains, only to arrive in Malmo rather than Stockholm? When are you going to eat as part of this genius plan if you arrive in the morning and it’s 15 hours?
Wouldn’t you rather get a flight at 5pm, arrive into Stockholm at 8, check into a hotel and be fresh to start work the next day rather than crumpled up in a train carriage?
Just a few years ago sleeper trains were being cut by operators across Europe because of competition from low-cost airlines, but there has been renewed interest in the services with the rise of the “flygskam” or flight-shaming movement
So, it’s one of these upper normie things where everyone says “oh, I’d much prefer to take the train, if I could”. The truth of this movement is that it’s only had a 5% impact on airline bookings, and most of the effect of that is on domestic flights. And some of that’s been happening anyway elsewhere, probably from people working remotely more.
I suspect “eco” for most people is at the margins and convenient for people. Flight time from Stockholm to Gothenburg is an hour. Train is 4 hours, but when you add together all the check in times and transfers from cities, and depending on where you live, there may not be much in it for many people. They aren’t following St Greta and taking a boat across the Atlantic.

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Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Have to admit I initially read it as Swindon would soon be in easy reach of London by sleeper train!

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Not so long ago on the Friday afternoon exodus from Brussels my more PC interlocutors took the Eurostar to London, I meanwhile took the plane, much cheaper and 8 times quicker. There’s nought as queer as folk.

Addolff
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Addolff

Railways = 19th Century solution to a 21st Century problem. HS2 is the third biggest waste of taxpayer money in a generation. 2008 Climate Change act is No1, current lockdown policy is No.2, although YMMV.
Also, as someone else said “Railways, taking you from somewhere you aren’t to somewhere you don’t want to be”.

Bongo
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Bongo

An excellent argument for a CO2 tax. So the Feds say that without one we’ll be worse off in 2050 by about 3% of national income, and when you compute that through it means a CO2 tax to mitigate it of about 110/tonne in round numbers, which aviation does not incur apart from a little APD.
Let the market with the externality priced in decide which way ( or if at all ) you choose to travel between two places that you would like to be.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

There’s very much a sweet spot for high-speed trains, in terms of distance. Under 100 miles (e.g. London-Birmingham) and the time saved is trivial. Over 1,000 miles and it can’t compete with air (even for city-centre to city-centre travel).

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

Yup. It’s one of the reasons why “but France has them” doesn’t work here. France has a load of cities 300 miles from Paris.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

And equally the reason why they don’t make sense in the US (except in the NE corridor and conceivably LA-SFO, but that latter seems not to be a goer).

Spike
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Spike

No, it hasn’t worked for LA-SFO either; it’s much faster to fly, and better though not faster to drive, if you have cargo or want easy point-to-point transit. The current plan, which has given pause even to officials in Soviet California, is to improve one piece of the puzzle (the physical speed of the train), though it will remain a monopoly with a route dictated by politicians. The only hope of the bullet train rested on the nuisances imposed on air travel. (These will get worse, post-Coronavirus, but for rail travel as well.)

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

And also state intervention in domestic air travel and TGVs. For a long time, you had to go via Paris to fly anywhere. It’s better now, but still not great, and its all thanks to easyJet. And of course the TGVs are the same. Bordeaux to Avignon? Via Paris. You can barely go from Bordeaux to Toulouse by train in under 8 hours. And then there’s the Parisian holiday routes – La Rochelle so the they can holiday on Isle de Rey and get back to see their mistresses during the week. French transport links are great if you live… Read more »

Chester Draws
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Chester Draws

We did a rail tour of Europe recently.

Except France, where we had to hire a car — it simply was not possible to go sideways across the country at any decent speed or cost. We’d already been to Paris, so that was not on the itinerary.

FrankH
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FrankH

If enough people want it, they’ll use it and it’ll succeed. If not, they won’t and it will fail. I hesitate to try to teach Grandma about egg sucking but that’s how markets work. 😉

jgh
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jgh

There’s a powers-of-ten thing about transport, walk 1 mile, bus 10 miles, train 100 miles, air>1000 miles sort of thing. The only reason to take a train from Yorkshire to Galicia is that the train journey itself is what you’re consuming, not the actual getting-to-point-B.

I love travelling on the North Yorks Moors Railway, but usually drive or take the bus if I want to go to Pickering.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

You think train journeys in Europe are a “Market”?