The Anonymous Widower

The Fastest Ambulance In The World

This article on CityLab is entitled To Fight a Fast-Moving Pandemic, Get a Faster Hospital.

This is the introductory paragraph.

To move Covid-19 patients from the hardest-hit areas, authorities in France turned one of the nation’s famous TGV trains into a very fast ambulance.

It appears that French COVID-19 outbreaks are as patchy, as they are in the UK, where some towns and cities like Hull, Blackpool and Middlesbrough have only a few COVID-19 patients and major hospitals.

Evening up the numbers is probably a good idea.

Could we see a spare InterCity 125 train fitted out as an ambulance train to move patients around the country?

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

Thalys-Eurostar Merger Planned Under Green Speed Initiative

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

This is the first paragraph.

SNCF, SNCB and the Patina Rail investment vehicle announced on September 27 their intention to combine the Eurostar and Thalys high speed rail operations, reporting that outline proposals were being presented to their respective boards.

Eurostar runs or has ambition to run these services.

  • London and Paris Nord via Calais and Lille
  • London and Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy
  • London and Bordeaux via Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Tours
  • London and Amsterdam via Calais, Lille, Brussels, Antwerp, Ritterdam and Schipol Airport
  • London and Frankfurt via Calais, Lille, Brussels, Liege, Aachen and Cologne.
  • In Winter services run to skiing resorts.
  • In Summer services run to the sun.

Thalys runs these services.

  • Paris Nord and Amsterdam via Brussels, Antwerp, Ritterdam and Schipol Airport
  • Paris Nord and Cologne via Brussels, Liege and Aachen.
  • Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Amsterdam via Brussels, Antwerp, Ritterdam and Schipol Airport
  • In Winter services run to skiing resorts.
  • In Summer services run to the sun.

Eurostar and Thalys seem to have a good fit of routes.

  • Both have two Northern terminals; Amsterdam and Cologne or Frankfurt.
  • Both serve Schipol Airport
  • Both serve Brussels Midi, which is in the city centre.
  • Both serve Paris Nord, which is a large well-connected station just to the North of the city centre.
  • Both serve Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy, which is in Disneyland Paris, has a connect to Charles de Gaulle airport and is a major hub for French TGV services.
  • Both have winter and summer holiday services.

You could almost consider the combined networks to be the following.

  • A high-frequency Paris and Brussels service.
  • Northern branches to Amsterdam and Cologne or Frankfurt.
  • A branch to London via Lille, Calais and the Channel Tunnel.
  • A Southern branch to Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy for Disneyland Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport and onward travel to much of France.

It’s all very simple really and as they say Simple is Efficient.

A few thoughts.

London And Amsterdam Services

As an example, suppose you are going from London to Amsterdam at the present time..

  • There are three direct services taking around four hours.
  • There are four services with a change at Brusseks Midi to Thalys taking ten minutes short of five hours.

You could  catch a direct train, but sometimes, you might have to change at Brussels Midi.

There is no problem with immigration control, as that has been done in London.

Going from Amsterdam to London, services are as follows.

  • There seems to be eight daily services, taking ten minutes short of five hours.
  • They also seem to be very heavily booked.

There is no problem with immigration control, as that is done in a forty-five minute stopover in Brussels.

Experienced travellers, and some following a more relaxed schedule, might appreciate the stopover in Brussels, but most travellers would prefer a direct service through Brussels.

I suspect too that Eurostar or the future joint operator would prefer direct services.

  • It would increase capacity between Brussels and Amsterdam via Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schipol Airport.
  • It would increase domestic capacity.
  • The organisation of the trains and onboard staff would surely be easier.

The only problem, is doing the immigration control on the journey to London.

Solutions have been suggested, where Amsterdam and London services are two half trains; one for domestic passengers and one for those going to London, but I’m sure there is a solution out there.

London And Cologne Or Frankfurt Services

The same rules will apply.

Going out will be easy, but coming back will probably need a change of train at Brussels.

Was There A German Solution?

Some years ago, I remember reading that Deurche Bahn were intending to run services from Amsterdam and Cologne to London, where the two trains divided and combined at Brussels.

Using current Thalys and Eurostar times and assuming a fifteen minute stop at Brussels, would probably have meant these times.

  • London to Amsterdam – four hours and thirty minutes.
  • London to Cologne – four hours and twenty minutes.
  • London to Frankfurt- five hours and forty minutes.

Note.

  1. Amsterdam and Cologne services are fairly similar times, which must improve the utilisation of the trains.
  2. Like Amsterdam, the station in Cologne is in the heart of the historic city.
  3. You can get a train to virtually anywhere in Germany from Cologne. But note that Berlin will be a six-hour journey.

As the London to Amsterdam service has been successful, I’m sure London to Cologne would attract passengers.

Were the Germans going to organise Amsterdam and Cologne services, like this?

  • Each service could be a double-train, which could be joined and split quickly, as some operators do.
  • This train would meet all the Channel Tunnel regulations.
  • Going out from London, the double-train would arrive in Brussels and split with one train going to Amsterdam and the other to Cologne.
  • Going into London,, the two trains would join at Brussels and be just another Brussels to London service.

But as with the Amsterdam service, the major problem is immigration control.

There is also the problem of utilising the spare capacity North of Brussels for inbound services to London, which could increase the cash-flow generated by the services.

Or were the Germans thinking in a more innovative manner?

I do wonder if using double trains from Amsterdam and Cologne, with one train for London and the other for Paris or Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy could have been in the German’s minds.

With some creative joining amd splitting in a long platform at Brussels Midi, could it be made to work?

If Eurostar and Thalys were two parts of the same operator, I suspect that it is more likely that a service pattern will be found, that delivers the following.

  • More direct services between London and Amsterdam and Cologne.
  • Extra capacity between Amsterdam and Cologne and Paris and Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy.
  • More efficient utilisation of trains and oboard staff.

It would surely attract more passengers.

Brussels Midi

Brussels Midi station can be considered to be a prototype for the ideal station on both the main network and the London branch.

It will have to do the following.

  • Handle through services between Landon and Amsterdam and London and Cologne or Frankfurt.
  • Terminate some services between London and Brussels.
  • Allow local passengers to use through services to and from London to access other stations on the route.
  • Handle through services between Paris or Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Amsterdam and Paris or Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Cologne or Frankfurt.
  • Allow Passengers to and from London to use the other services.
  • Handle immigration for passengers to and from London.
  • Allow a passenger from London to connect to any onward services at the station.
  • Allow a passenger to London to arrive on any train and after checking through immigration catch the train to London.
  • The station has full UK Border Control.

It’s complicated, but I suspect that it’s more of an architectural and train design problem than anything else.

Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy

If Brussels Midi can be made to work efficiently, the same thing can be organised at Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy.

  • It is very close to Disneyland Paris.
  • It has good connection to Charles-de-Gaulle Airport
  • There are ten TGV services to other parts of France.
  • There are two Oiugo low cost high-speed services to other parts of France.
  • There are also some international services.
  • The station has full UK Border Control.

Could the plan be to develop this hub close to the airport, with train services to destinations in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom?

London To Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy

Eurostar already has direct services between London and Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy.

  • Some services going to destinations further South use this route.
  • London to Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy takes two hours forty-nine minutes.

Will the proposed London and Bordeaux service stop at Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy?

  • This would give Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy, will all its connections and attractions another service.
  • If the service stopped at Lille Europe, this would double the High Speed service between Lille and Bordeaux.

Could it be that the London and Bordeaux service will also improve internal French High Speed services?

If SNCF control Eurostar, Thalys and the French TGVs, this must give scope for the services to compliment each other and run economically.

The UK Immigration Control Problem

I can see UK Immigration Control being centred on the following stations.

  • Brussels Midi
  • Lille Europe
  • Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy
  • Paris Nord

These would work as they do now.

Outbound services are not a problem, as it is all handled in London. I have travelled from London to Amsterdam a couple of times and notice how seats vacated in Brussels are used by other passengers between Brussels and The Netherlands.

I believe that it would be possible to develop an efficient system to handle incoming passengers to the UK.

Consider the following.

  • Passengers to and from the UK could be asked for passport details when checking in on-line.
  • Passengers for the UK would use an automatic passport gate, as is common at airports and on Eurostar.
  • Passengers for the UK would sit in a separate part of the train, isolated from the domestic passengers, except in an emergency.
  • If a train stopped at say Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Lille Europe, UK Border Force could check passengers on the train between these two stations.

These and other ideas can surely be developed.into a system that would satisfy the most xenophobic of polticians and their supporters.

Conclusion

This proposed merger could be good for High Speed rail in Europe and the UK.

The French government also hopes it could be good for France.

 

 

 

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 6 Comments

From Novara To Paris

These pictures give a glimpse of my journey from Novara to the Gare du Lyon in Paris.

These are a few observations.

The Route

The trip took twelve minutes short of seven hours.

But some of the scenery was excellent.

It should also be noted that there is only one train per day and I’m not sure it runs every day.

As the pictures show, the Milan train joined uip with another train en route and this meant an incredibly long walk at Gare du Lyon.

Choosing A Seat

I paid £54 on loco2.com for a Standard Class ticket.

I should have paid the extra nine pounds for a First Class ticket.

But make sure you have a window seat.

Milan To London In A Day

The arrival time of 13:19 in Paris, means it is possible to go from Milan to London within a day.

I estimate that a direct service between London and Milan going via Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport, Lyon and Turin would take about ten hours.

But then the French and the Italians are building a Turin-Lyon High Speed Railway, which could knock a couple of hours from the journey time.

As it passes Roissy, it would be an ideal route for masochists!

Conclusion

I’m glad to say, I’ve done this trip, but next time, I come back from Northern Italy, I’ll spend a night in Geneva, Lyon or Paris.

May 31, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Milan To Paris TGV Goes Through Novara Station

On time, the 06:31 TGV between Milan and Paris Gare Du Lyon passed through to pick up passengers.

It is a very long train on a long journey.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

From Barcelona To Paris

The TGV between Barcelona and Paris took six and a half hours.

Sadly, I didn’t see any flamingos this time, as I did in From Madrid To London in 2014.

This journey illustrates the good and the bad of double-deck trains.

You may get a good view, but getting in and out is a nightmare, as everybody travels with enormous bags and have to take them up and down the stairs.

June 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

London To Karlsruhe Via Paris

I took Eurostar and a TGV to Karlsruhe, using these trains.

  1. Eurostar – St. Pancras 08:19 – Paris Nord 11:47 – £115 from Eurostar
  2. TGV – Paris Est 13:55 – Karlsruhe 16:25 – £69.19 from Voyages SNCF

I took these pictures on the way.

Note.

  1. I bought both tickets on-line.
  2. Premium Economy in the new Eurostar trains is more cramped than the old ones.
  3. Eurostar’s Premium Economy gluten-free breakfast more than filled a hole.
  4. Paris Nord to Paris Est is just a Metro.
  5. I took a diversion via Republik, which was a good place to wait in the sun.
  6. I stayed in the Schlosshotel in Karlsruhe, which was one of several acceptable ones by the station.

I could probably have done the journey cheaper by flying, but it would have had more hassle.

April 30, 2017 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Building Railways In The UK Is Easy

I have just read this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled French Senate approves Lyon-Turin rail link.

That sounds easy until you read this from the Wikipedia entry.

Test drilling found some internally stressed coal-bearing schists that are poorly suited for a tunnel boring machine, and old-fashion Drilling and blasting will be used for the short corresponding sections.

It is not going to be a simple tunnelling job. It is more akin to some of the eighteenth and nineteenth century tunnels through the Pennines. Except that the tunnel will be 57 kilometres long and modern explosives are better.

It will carry a lot of freight, in addition to passengers from Paris and Lyon to Northern Italy.

But I doubt, I’ll ever be able to take a High Speed Train from London to Milan, as I’ll be long gone before everything is completed.

January 28, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 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

Through The Fog To Bordeaux

The train was a TGV Atlantique, which had started at Hendaye and after Bordeaux, it would be on its way to Paris. The visibility wasn’t good.

Through The Fog To Bordeaux

Through The Fog To Bordeaux

We also arrived in Bordeaux a few minutes late. But the train wasn’t at anyway near the speed it would attain on the high speed line; LGV Atlantique to Paris.

It was a typical boring and professional train ride, that is becoming common all over Europe.

December 12, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment