Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
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 ]

Display:

Occasional Series