The Anonymous Widower

Direct London-Bordeaux Service By 2022 – SNCF

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

Diego Diaz, who is International President of SNCF is quoted as saying this.

With the view to opening up to the international scene, SNCF Gares & Connexions and HS1 Ltd, the owner of St Pancras station, have decided to twin the two stations and the operating teams.

I hope I can be on the first service, when it happens.

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

London St Pancras Twins With Bordeaux Saint-Jean To Promote Direct Service

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Channel Tunnel rail link concessionaire HS1 Ltd announced a twinning agreement between its London St Pancras International station and SNCF’s Bordeaux Saint-Jean station on October 18, saying this would help to progress the development of proposals for a through passenger service between the cities.

I tend to think, that all twinning arrangements are mainly about giving directors, mayors and those at the top, junkets and expensive free dinners.

It is much more important that the links go much deeper and hat those lower down meet the important objectives.

In the case of this twinning, will it accelerate the start of a direct London and Bordeaux service, which could be much-needed or a waste of resources.

Let’s get on with trialling the service, rather than wasting time thinking about it and posing for photographs.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Amsterdam – London Through Train Agreement To Be Signed Shortly

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

The international agreement which would permit the operation of through passenger services between the Netherlands and the UK is expected to be signed in October, State Secretary for Justice & Security Ankie Broekers-Knol told the Dutch parliament’s lower house on September 25.

I can’t wait!

Hopefully, a similar agreement will be signed soon with the Germans to allow direct London and Frankfurt services via Cologne.

I can only see one problem!

What if Amsterdam, Germany, Bordeaux and all the other destinations that are being talked about are hugh successes?

Will St.Pancras cope?

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Eurostar To And From Amsterdam

On Tuesday I took Eurostar to Amsterdam.

The trip took three hours and forty-one minutes with stops at Brussels and Rotterdam.

The Brussels stop allows passengers to leave and join, but Rotterdam only allows passengers to leave.

As the number of passengers grow between London and Amsterdam, could there come a time, when some or all Amsterdam services don’t need to stop at Brussels.

If so, how much time would this save?

Current stops by Eurostar take the following times.

  • Ashford – 9 mins.
  • Calais – 3 mins
  • Ebbsfleet – 6 mins.
  • Lille – 14 minutes

These times have been calculated by looking at similar services that have different stopping patterns.

Note that, Calais and Ebbsfleet are faster as they are stops on the direct route.

So I suspect that if an Amsterdam service could go through Brussels without stopping, something between 9-12 minutes could be saved.

This could bring the journey time between London and Amsterdam closer to three and a half hours.

What would that time do for sales of tickets?

Eurostar Hold A Lot Of Cards

Eurostar are in a very good position on this route.

  • They could run a flagship express service twice a day for those in a hurry.
  • This could be backed up by slightly slower services calling at places from or to where passengers want to go. These would include Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Antwerp.
  • Immigration and security clearance is probably under thirty minutes at the start of the journey and perhaps ten at the end.
  • Immigration and security times will be reduced, as procedures get better.
  • St. Pancras, Rotterdam Centraal and Amsterdam Centraal are all very well-connected stations.
  • Extra services can be added as demand dictates.
  • Eurostar is more diabled-friendly and those in smaller scooters can drive in!
  • They could extend some Brussels services to Amsterdam.
  • I estimate that just under 4,000,000 people live within the North and South Circular Roads and have easy access by public transport to St. Pancras.

They can also create a very intelligent booking computer system, that optimises their services. Budget airlines have been doing this for years.

What About The Airlines?

Note the numbers of passengers who fly.

According to Skyscanner, there are upwards of two hundred flights a day between London and Amsterdam. An Airbus A320 holds 150 passengers, so if there are only a hundred per flight, that is 20,000 passengers per day.

Looking at the 6th of June, Eurostar are running nine trains between London and Brussels. As each new Class 374 train can hold 900 passengers, that is around 8,000 seats per day.

So the airlines have much more capacity than Eurostar and they can add and remove it, easier than Eurostar can?

The Comfort Factor

I haven’t travelled in steerage on the new trains, as I always pay about thirty-forty pounds extra for Premium Economy, so I get the following benefits.

  • A very pleasant gluten-free meal.
  • A much more spacious environment.
  • It’s also rare that I don’t get a window seat.

But if I did use steerage, it would be a more pleasant experience than flying on a budget airline.

I think it’s been about ten years since I flew to a city within a two-hour flight of London, where there was a rail alternative.

I also tend to come home by rail, where I often get a connection to Brussels or Paris to catch a late Eurostar to London.

Comparing London-Amsterdam With London-Edinburgh

Both routes take about four hours by train, with the Dutch route slightly quicker.

Generally, trains operate between London and Edinburgh half-hourly for much of the day, whereas Eurostar only runs twice a day.

Amsterdam/Rotterdam/Schipol Airport is surely a much bigger market in terms of possible passengers, than the Edinburgh catchment area.

I think we’ll see the astute Dutch, using Eurostar as a marketing tool to attract more passengers to the Netherlands and London’s next airport at Schipol.

Especially, as the British seem very happy with a four-hour train ride in comfort.

Eurostar Will Grow Between London And Amsterdam

For these and other rambling reasons, I think that Eurostar to Amsterdam will grow to be a successful route.

The one thing they must do, is to make it possible to come back to London, without having to clear immigration and security in Brussels.

But Eurostar know that!

Amsterdam Is Just The Hors D’Oeuvre!

Once Eurostar and the Dutch get the route between London and the Netherlands working smoothly, I don’t think it will be long before other routes are inaugurated.

Eurostar have said these could be.

  • Bordeaux
  • Cologne and Frankfurt
  • Geneva

The key will be getting the immigration and security smooth.

I think it will continue to improve, as it seems to do, every time I travel.

Remember, the Belgians, Dutch, French, Germans and Swiss will want it to be smooth, as they will want to market their delights to a whole new market, so suspect a lot of co-operation, despite the decision of Brexit.

But, I think that a limit on a journey time of four or five hours would cut out a lot of other destinations.

Although many of the destinations like Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris will be places to have an enjoyable day or two before taking another train ride further afield.

The 15:00 From Amsterdam Centraal To Berlin

This train that leaves Amsterdam Centraal just under two hours after the Eurostar arrives and can take you all the way to Berlin, arriving at 21:22.

But this train with a change at Osnabruck, gives you a stopping-off point to Bremen, Hamburg and the Northern part of Germany.

I first came across Osnabruck, when I was left there without a train by Deutsche Bahn, as I wrote about in From Hamburg To Osnabruck By Train.

But I found a delightful hotel on the station forecourt, called the Advena Hotel Hohenzollern.

Trip Advisor give it four out of five and currently say deals are available at under seventy pounds a night.

Osnabruck is not a tourist town, but it sits where the North-South and East-West rail routes cross.

Conclusion

As the network develops, I believe that a whole new form of tourism will take advantage.

 

 

 

May 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Direct Fast Train To Bordeaux Opens Up Grape Expectations

The title of this post is the same as that as an article on Page 11 of today’s Sunday Times.

Points from the article.

  • SNCF and Eurostar are talking seriously about the route.
  • The journey would be less than five hours.
  • The service would go through Lille.
  • Preferably, customs would be in Bordeaux.
  • Markets include lovers of fine wines, those with holiday homes in the Dordogne and the 1.4m passengers, who fly.
  • Servies could be launched by 2022.
  • Fares could be as low as £90 return.
  • Eurostar would probably run the service.

Points from the Internet and myself.

  • SNCF already run a direct service between Lille  and Bordeaux, that takes four hours thirty-two minutes with eleven stops.
  • It skirts to the East and South of Paris.
  • London to Lille can be achieved in one hour and twenty-two minutes.
  • All of the other possible intermediate stops like Charles de Gaulle Airport and Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy for Eurodisney are covered by other services
  • Under five hours is a necessity for sales and marketing purposes.

On the face of it, it would appear that under five hours is challenging, but what would happen to the times, if the journey was non-stop?

It must be under five hours!

I can’t wait for it to start.

Where Next?

Eurostar currently runs regularly to the following places.

  • Amsterdam
  • Avignon
  • Brussels
  • Lille
  • Lyon
  • Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy
  • Marseilles
  • Paris
  • Rotterdam

In addition, various ski resorts are served in winter.

Frontrunners for services must be Cologne, Frankfurt and Geneva, but then Eurostar will be tracking ticket sales to make sure they add the right destinations.

Cologne is my preference for another destination.

  • Cologne is an hour and fifty minutes from Brussels.
  • It is well-connected to the rest of Germany.
  • Frankfurt is only 62 minutes away on the Cologne-Frankfurt High Speed Line.
  • Eurostar’s Class 374 trains, would appear to have sufficient power for inclines of the Cologne-Frankfurt High Speed Line.

I estimate that the time from London to Cologne will be something like three hours and forty minutes.

But if the service were to be extended to Frankfurt along the Cologne-Frankfurt High Speed Line, London to Frankfurt should be under five hours.

More Details On 30th April 2018

There is an article on Global Rail News, which gives more details.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The owner and operator of the UK’s first high-speed line has revealed it is in advanced discussions with three international operators to launch a direct high-speed train from London to Bordeaux.

HS1 Ltd, Lisea, Eurotunnel and SNCF Réseau are working on agreed timetable slots and train routes and hope that a new international train operator will be able to get the route up and running “in a couple of years”.

Who is Lisea?

Lisea is the joint venture, that built the LGV Sud Europe Atlantique to Bordeaux and now operate the line. This is all explained in this extract from the Wikipedia entry for the line.

The line was built by consortium LISEA consisting of Vinci Concessions (fr) (Vinci SA subsidiary) – 33.4%, Caisse des dépôts et consignations – 25.4%, Meridiam – 22.0% and Ardian – 19.2%. The consortium will operate and maintain the line until 2061, and will charge tolls to train companies. The consortium invested €3.8 billion, French government, local authorities and the European Union paid €3 billion and €1 billion was contributed by SNCF Réseau (fr) (subsidiary of SNCF. Another €1.2 billion was spent by SNCF Réseau on the construction of interconnecting lines, control centres, capacity enhancements at Bordeaux and remodelling the track layout at Gare Montparnasse.

It looks very much like a French PFI.

Who Are SNCF Réseau?

This definition of SNCF Réseau is from Wikipedia.

SNCF Réseau is the infrastructure division of SNCF, and carries out track and other infrastructure maintenance, design and construction. Subsidiaries in the group include Systra, Inexia and SNCF International.

I have read that SNCF Réseau can be thought of as a French Network Rail.

More On Where Next?

The Global Rail News article also says this.

HS1 is also in discussions with operators to launch routes to Frankfurt and Geneva and has appointed a new market development lead, Edmund Butcher, to develop these plans.

As I said earlier, London-Frankfurt times would appear to be under five hours.

I can’t find a definitive time between London and Geneva, but I suspect it’s under six hours.

Other places and times could be.

  • Barcelona – Under ten hours – But gorgeous views through the Camargue.
  • Nice – Under nine hours – I did it once, as I wrote in Cambridge to Nice by Train.

It should also be noted, that as the French and German high speed networks grow, there will be large numbers of places accessible within a day, with a single change at places like Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva, Lille, Lyon and Marseille.

I haven’t mentioned Paris, as changing at Paris often involved a trek across the city!

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

France Opens Two New High Speed Lines

This article on Global Rail News is entitled.SNCF launches two new high-speed lines.

This map shows the two lines to Rennes and Bordeaux.


I doubt well ever lauch two high speed lines in one weekend.

It would appear that the two journies are timed as follows.

  • Paris to Rennes takes about an hour and three-quarts and costs ariund £72.
  • Psris to Bordeaux is a few minutes over two hours and costs around £88.

Prices are for a fully flexible ticket.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Would I Go Back To Bordeaux?

Bordeaux impressed me.  In some ways it was like Paris without the tourists.

It had all the architecture, the shops, the restaurants and the magnificent river Garonne.

The people seemed to have a calmness and politeness that the Parisians lack.

If say, I was indulging in one of my passions and dressing a lady for say an important wedding, I think I might persuade her, to get on a plane to Bordeaux and then come back by TGV and Eurostar.  It’s probably a lot easier to come home on the train, than lug everything through the airports.

C would have loved Bordeaux, Just like she loved Paris, Hong Kong, Milan and Florence.

Every real lady deserves to be dressed to the nines, at least a few times in her life.  And that means from her toes to her hair and outwards from her skin to what everybody looks at.

But I did love those wireless trams!

If you ever wondered why we dress to the nines, look here!

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

First Class On A TGV

I hadn’t travelled in First on a TGV before, but on this trip I did.

I wasn’t impressed with the leg room, which seemed to be about the same on a Virgin Class 390.

Not Much Legroom

Not Much Legroom

I had thought it would be bigger as the TGV Atlantique has a much larger cross-section, than the British train.

The refreshments were disappointing too.

Disappointing Refreshments

Disappointing Refreshments

The picture shows, the smoothie and pretzels.

First Class certainly wasn’t worth the extra thirty euros or so.

Compare it with Second Class in the TGV Duplex I took from Geneva to Paris.

In Second Class On A TGV Duplex

In Second Class On A TGV Duplex

I took this picture from my seat on the lower deck. Is it a deck, saloon or floor?

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Leaving Bordeaux For Paris

Bordeaux St. Jean station was full of TGV Atlantique trainsets as I left for Paris.

It appeared that some trains were coupled together in pairs, to make massive people movers for the journey to and from Paris. Incidentally, each train can carry 485 psassengers.

I was not worried about the date of Friday the Thirteenth.  I’ve left jobs on this date twice and I’ve always gone on to better things.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Experiments With Selfies

I was trying to get a decent picture of myself.

Most seemed to be rubbish, so I only left myself with these. So if I kept these how bad were the others?

Note the Liverpool University Engineering Scarf, I often wear in cold weather.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment