The Anonymous Widower

World’s Largest Fleet Of Fuel Cell Trains’ Ordered

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

This is the first paragraph.

Following a European tender, the Fahma rolling stock subsidiary of Rhein-Main transport authority RMV has awarded Alstom a contract to supply and support a fleet of 27 fuel cell multiple-units.

These are a few points from the rest of the article.

  • The trains are Alstom Coradia iLint.
  • Range on hydrogen is up to 500 miles with a top speed of 87 mph.
  • Each train will have 160 seats.
  • The order is worth around €500million.
  • 25 years of maintenance is included.
  • Hydrogen will be supplied by Höchst KG.
  • The trains will be delivered in time for the December 2022 timetable change.

This is said about the refuelling.

The refuelling point will be located at the Höchst industrial park. ‘With its existing hydrogen infrastructure, Industriepark Höchst is an ideal filling station location for fuel cell vehicles’, said Dr Joachim Kreysing, Managing Director of Infraserv Höchst. ‘The operation of the hydrogen filling station for trains as a supplement to the tanking facilities for buses and trucks fits in perfectly with our concept’.

These routes will be converted from diesel to hydrogen.

  • RB11 Frankfurt-Höchst – Bad Soden, – 25 minutes
  • RB12 Frankfurt – Königstein, – 36 minutes
  • RB15 Frankfurt – Bad Homburg – Brandoberndorf – 83 minutes
  • RB16 Friedrichsdorf – Friedberg – 23 minutes

Services look to be half-hourly.

Only one is a longer route.

A Simple Plan

It is a fairly simple plan with probably a low risk.

This Google Map shows Industriepark Höchst.

Note the Frankfurt Höchst station and Infraserv Höchst.

It seems to be all very convenient.


May 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

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.


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




May 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 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/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

From Frankfurt To Darmstadt

It didn’t take me long to get fed up with exploring Frankfurt, with its unfathomable U-Bahn/S-Bahn system, lack of information and maps, endless stairs to the U-Bahn. I mentioned all this in the Tourist Office as I left and the lady said that they keep telling the authorities about the information and especially the dreadful map, but nothing happens. All they need to do is talk to Munich, where everything is so much better.

I was also finding it difficult to find a cafe where I might get something delicious and gluten-free for lunch.

So I implemented Plan B  and took a train to Darmstadt, which is just a few kilometres north of Frankfurt.

I started by catching the train in an S-Bahn platform underneath the Hauptbahnhof and within an hour I was in Darmstadt, where with help from a guy in the tram information, I got a go-anywhere ticket for the trams and started to explore.

February 17, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Frankfurt

In the morning, I explored Frankfurt.

It was still cold and the city doesn’t seem to wake up as early as London or Berlin.

February 17, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , | 1 Comment

Frankfurt At Night

I went and had a look at Frankfurt by night.

I ate supper at Fisch Franke and it was an excellent gluten-free fish and chips.

The only problem I had was that it was bitterly cold and getting back to my hotel I got lost and a ten minute walk took thirty minutes. Frankfurt is not too well served by maps.

February 16, 2015 Posted by | Food, World | , , | Leave a comment

My Eyrie In Frankfurt

I thought I’d stay somewhere more expensive in Frankfurt, so I booked a room in a tower hotel on the 29th floor.

Everything was fine, except for some of the views in the morning due to the weather and the fact that they didn’t provide any cups for tea,although they did provide tea, coffee, creamer and a kettle.

I certainly won’t be staying there again! The wi-fi was also too complicated and the security was more applicable to Fort Knox. It was also extremely difficult to find from the nearest stop on the Frankfurt U-Bahn, but I can’t blame that on the hotel.

February 16, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

From Kassel To Frankfurt

I could have taken a German ICE train from Kassel to Frankfurt, but I took a regional train, hoping to get some good views from the top deck.

Unfortunately, as the pictures show, the weather wasn’t that good. But you do see the countryside better from the high position and the comfort and ride is of the same standard as something like the ubiquitous Class 377 in the UK.

One reason I took this train, was that I’d been told by the lady in the Tourist Office in Kassel to buy a Hesse Ticket.

My Hesse Ticket

My Hesse Ticket

I thought it was a bit steep at €33 for twenty-four hours, but it did include the buses and trams in Frankfurt and the train between the two cities.

The price actually included up to five passengers. But there is no similar ticket for a person like me, who usually travels alone.

How visitor-friendly is that?

February 16, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

DAM – German Architectural Museum

The Deutsches Architektur Museum was recommended in my guide book.

It cost me nine euros to enter to see a presentation of photographs of the main modern buildings of Frankfurt with descriptions.

There is no directly similar museum in London, although Crossrail have recently put on some excellent free displays of both their archaeology and architecture.

I wouldn’t return to this museum, unless I was travelling with an architect, who thought it a must-see!

February 16, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

London To Kassel

When I left the UK, my aims were to travel to Kassel, Karlsruhe and Strasbourg and a few other cities, I’d not visited before as a tourist.

I was also intending to see and ride on some of the tram-trains that seem to be used in the area.

I started my journey on a 73 bus and finished it in a taxi. More on why I used a dreaded taxi later.

These pictures tell the story.

In some ways it was an easy but boring journey, which because of the extremely dull weather past Liege there wasn’t much to see.

Personally, I can’t wait for a direct London to Frankfurt train, which would make trips like this so much easier.

February 15, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment