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This is not just about the Chunnel itself.

  1. The Chunnel, and the Shuttle services through it, are run by Eurotunnel. As indicated above, constraints DB faces from them are neither anti-competitive nor capacity-related, but safety-related, even if that's beyond Mr. Grube's expertise.
  2. High-speed trains between London and Bruxelles, resp. Paris, are run by an independent company, Eurostar. Eurostar is a joint venture of the French and Belgian state railways and the successors of onetime British Rail, hence, Eurostar's interest is SNCF's.
  3. To reach the Chunnel, DB's trains will have to use France's LGV Nord, that is where SNCF resp. infrastructure authority RFF can play nasty.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 29th, 2010 at 11:00:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So ultimately (legitimate but not insuperable safety considerations aside) this is an SNCF DB competitive issue, or is it not as simple as that?

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 30th, 2010 at 06:39:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is ultimately multiple issues which shouldn't all be washed together :-) The biggest match is SNCF vs. DB indeed, and Grube thinks every obstacle DB faces is an SNCF machination. But there is also an interoperability issue, part of which is that safety rule; and Belgium's SNCB has its stake in the competition thing alongside SNCF, too. (ICEs were long hindered from running to Brussels at full speed, too.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun May 30th, 2010 at 02:38:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the EU make any effort to mandate interoperable standards for all future development to ensure that interoperability issues are reduced in the future?  After all, we are supposed to be in a single market...

Does DB use similar leverage to limit access by SNCF access to - e.g. Moscow?  After all, access to the UK isn't the only game in town.

Do you have any comment on the claim that the Chunnel has brought few if any economic benefits to the regions on both sides of the Chunnel or the economy of the UK?

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 30th, 2010 at 03:33:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the state of the railways that far east is more effective at limiting access to Moscow than anything DB could do (it takes 6 hours for the 500km from Berlin to Warsaw, let alone Moscow). With the abolition of the night service, there isn't even any decent train connection from Munich to Prague any more....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun May 30th, 2010 at 03:42:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it takes 6 hours for the 500km from Berlin to Warsaw

Nitpick: just short of 570 km, and at least day trains are 20 minutes faster. Another 10 minutes will be cut in December, when PKP's new EU44 "Husarz" locomotives (Siemens ES64U4 = Taurus 3) will start to pull them on the whole stretch. Still, a high-speed line would make 2-2½ hours possible.

there isn't even any decent train connection from Munich to Prague any more

Are the ALEX trains that now run the (539 km) relation in six hours crap? (It's difficult to go faster though, with no electrification from Nuremberg.)

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

by DoDo on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 03:44:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's difficult to go faster though, with no electrification from Nuremberg

Correct, but at least with the night train that didn't matter as much.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 03:46:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the EU make any effort to mandate interoperable standards

Yes of course. That's a central element of its rail policy since 1996. It is also extremely difficult and costy to implement.

Does DB use similar leverage to limit access by SNCF

SNCF had no ambitions until recently to run competitive services across Germany, so it's difficult to tell. There is (theoretically) open competition on long-distance services in the EU since 1 January 2010, and SNCF announced plans to run trains from Strasbourg to Frankfurt and then branching to Hamburg and Berlin from the end of this year. However, realising that the approval of locomotives and coaches would take longer, they calculated that buying the timetable slots for 4 years but using it for only 2½ years won't bring profit, and dropped the plans.

Note that, on the basis of cooperation, there are TGVs running in Germany: SNCF's own run from Strasbourg to Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and Munich (and, when ICEs have problems, also on the other route via Saarbrücken to Frankfurt); and those of international consortium Thalys (in which both SNCF and DB have a stake) run from Brussels to Cologne.

the claim that the Chunnel has brought few if any economic benefits to the regions on both sides of the Chunnel

Other than that it's dated? It's true though that the failure to establish a cross-Channel regional service (proposed in recent years) limits any regional effect.

or the economy of the UK?

The Chunnel has been a financial disaster, no question about it. Only the recent debt restructuring brought it into the black. But I blame the messy private financing and the delay in the British connecting line, both crimes of Maggie Thatcher.

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

by DoDo on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 03:06:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks for your comprehensive reply.  As you can see I'm still learning the ABCs of the train industry.  It's never been particularly important or seen as strategic in Ireland and my experience of it elsewhere is limited.  

To the outsider it also appears as a very expensive and inflexible infrastructure with a lot of externalities which need to be factored in - although I have no idea of how roads compare in terms of costs per passenger and tonnes of goods carried.  

I am concerned at the carbon intensity of all of our current modes of public and cargo mass transport and would be interested in discovering how roads, rail, ships and air compare in this regard.  Most of the growth, in recent years, seems to have been in air transport (or is this an Irish phenomenon?) and I am concerned at the reasons for this and on how sustainable this will be in the long term and what the best alternatives are.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 05:15:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rail transport is less energy intensive than road transport. By between half and a full order of magnitude, depending on whether it is electrified or not, and depending on the capacity utilisation. I suspect, but don't know, that it is about as bad in terms of bisecting habitats.

But the real advantage to electric rail is that it permits of a comparatively straightforward conversion from fossil fuels to other forms of electrical generation.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 06:11:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect, but don't know, that it is about as bad in terms of bisecting habitats.

By the nature of traffic, i.e. longer pauses between trains, a normal rail line in the temperate climate zone is less bisecting habitats. High-speed lines with fences along the tracks are another thing, though the longer tunnel stretches than on highways mean reduced impact.

Interestingly, a problem reported from Sweden is that trains hit a lot of elks who insist to squat on the tracks, presumably because there are less mosquitoes in the sunshine.

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

by DoDo on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 10:31:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And they do have some problems on high-speed lines in Germany. I remember once an announcement that we would be delayed (somewhere in NRW) because of a "Leichenam" on the track. We, of course, assumed that the police would have to investigate, etc., and we would be stuck for hours. Then came an announcement that it was merely a "Wildschweinleiche" and we all breathed a sigh of relied.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 10:35:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NRW? Cologne-Frankfurt line? Or was it an ICE on a conventional line?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 03:43:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it (the corpse) was around Dortmund, but the train I was on was somewhere to the west. This was a while ago, and may even have predated the faster Cologne-Frankfurt line.

On the same line, somewhere between Bonn and Cologne I think, we once stopped for a while, and then proceeded slowly because of children playing by the tracks. The announcement?

Wir bitten um Ihr Verständnis, und hoffen dass wir keine erwischen.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 04:53:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ugh...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 04:56:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a general problems with elks (for americans, please note that this is European elk, or what you call moose) and traffic in Sweden.

I would say that the problem is less for rail then cars though, or at least much less human casualties are reported from rail accidents. I guess the engine manages such a collision without much trouble. In the case of cars, the car often hits the elk at the legs, tipping the body so it crashes through the windshield, killing both elk and humans (male elks can weigh up to 700 kg). There has been different attempts to solve this by steering the moose to safer passages. Synthesized wolf urine was used in one large scale experiment, I do not think it worked out though.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 11:13:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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