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Author Topic: Rail connection to Europe - a green gateway opportunity being missed?  (Read 1575 times)
grahame
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« on: August 10, 2021, 06:49:31 pm »

From the New European
Quote
In light of the climate emergency, rail connections between the UK (United Kingdom) and Europe could become our 'Green Gateway' to the rest of Europe, they should be pursued

I was very pleased to read Tom Chesshyre's feature in TNE 254. This provided a critical evaluation of the measures the EU» (European Union - about) is taking to encourage greater use of the European Rail Network as a low carbon alternative to air travel. It is now quite clear that we face a climate emergency, as evidenced by the sheer number of "record-breaking" fires & floods all over the world. As part of the EU New Green Deal there now seems to be a clear political and financial commitment to improve cross-border long-distance day and night time train services in Europe.

Due to Johnson's 'Hard Brexit' the UK is now effectively cut-off from these plans, and there is no political commitment from the UK Government to improve our rail links with Europe. The UK could, if it had wanted to, have supported The European Year of Rail, like Norway & others, even though they are not EU member states. This is rather ironic, with the UK chairing the crucial COP 26 meeting in November in Glasgow this year.

We are now faced with the sorry spectacle of Eurostar (with no UK Government financial support) running just a few Eurostar trains a day from London to only 5 European destinations, while the airlines (with UK Government support) are steadily increasing their services to destinations all over Europe.

In view of the climate emergency, there is absolutely no reason not to develop better rail links between the UK and Europe. Rail could become our 'Green Gateway' to the rest of Europe.
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Oxonhutch
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2021, 08:07:15 pm »

I am surprised the ERG hasn't called for the tunnel's closure.
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broadgage
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2021, 08:27:06 pm »

I largely agree with the report.
I have long felt that much greater use should be made of long distance rail instead of air travel.
Fast daytime trains to the nearer parts of Europe, and sleepers to the more distant.
IMHO (in my humble opinion), International travel needs more THROUGH trains, having to change trains is a powerful disincentive to use.
A through sleeper train from say Northern England to Italy could be attractive for holidays. A service involving two changes in London, and another change in Paris is most unattractive. Every change involves trouble in carrying luggage, risk of missed connections, or hours of waiting to allow a safety margin for connections.
And if it does all go orribly wrong, then a six hour delay on a reasonably comfortable train is FAR preferable to six hours queuing in the rain outside Saint Pancras.

In view of the climate emergency, I do not feel that any public money should be spent on airlines or airports, except on a very small scale in exceptional circumstances.
I would reluctantly accept subsidy for short flights to remote islands that are not otherwise accessible, electric aircraft should be considered for such flights.

But subsidy for holidays in Spain, no way. Stay in the UK (United Kingdom), or go by train, or pay the full NON subsidised price, including a tax on aviation fuel similar to that charged on road fuel.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2021, 02:59:11 am »

I am surprised the ERG hasn't called for the tunnel's closure.

European Research Group - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Research_Group

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Bob_Blakey
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2021, 09:38:56 am »

An obvious development given the level of environmental damage apparently wreaked by short(ish)-haul air travel but my first question would be 'how many spare paths are potentially available through the Channel Tunnel?'.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2021, 11:32:35 am »

My immediate reaction to Bob's post above - if there's insufficient, scrap Heathrow's third runway and build a second Channel Tunnel instead!
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broadgage
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2021, 12:13:21 pm »

My immediate reaction to Bob's post above - if there's insufficient, scrap Heathrow's third runway and build a second Channel Tunnel instead!

Or perhaps a bridge ? Not certain that another tunnel would be allowed since long tunnels are inherently vulnerable to fire. A bridge cant fill with smoke and evacuation by air or sea is possible in case of emergency.

A bridge supported on a number of artificial islands could have sufficient clearance to permit of ships passing.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2021, 01:13:23 pm »

An obvious development given the level of environmental damage apparently wreaked by short(ish)-haul air travel but my first question would be 'how many spare paths are potentially available through the Channel Tunnel?'.

Search headline:

Quote
How often do Eurotunnel trains run?

"As well as being the world's longest undersea railway tunnel, the Eurotunnel network is also setting records in terms of its operations. 350 trains run each day in average through the Tunnel, representing one train every 3 minutes at peak times."

Le Shuttle says "up to 4 trains per hour"
Eurotunnel freight for trucks "up to 7 departures per hour"
1.3 million tons of rail freight at (say) 150 tons per train is (just under) 1 train per hour
So that's 12 out of the 20 paths with trains at a 3 minute headway

Eurostar currently running 3 trains a DAY to Paris, and 1 train a day to Amsterdam

Rough guess, then, if all trains run to the same speed, of 7 paths an hour available at peak times - more when the shuttle operators (cars and trucks) are running below their "up to" level. Take 2 of those paths for re-instated core flow Eurostars - hourly to Paris and hourly to or via Brussels, and you still have five paths.   Call in 3 to allow for recovery from delays, etc, and that gives you scope for new services every 20 minutes whilst retaining a buffer of spares.  Say 40 service a day, perhaps split over 20 routes - lots of once-a-day stuff such as Holyhead, Birmingham, Reading to Koln, Berlin and Warsaw and one or two services every couple of hours such as Manchester to Malaga and Newcastle to Nice.
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broadgage
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2021, 04:02:42 pm »

For some routes, a very infrequent service would still be useful, even once a week from Northern England to European holiday resorts could be popular if run at sensible time for holidaymakers.

Leave Yorkshire at say 20-00 on Friday evening and arrive next morning in Italy. Offer both package holidays and train fares only for those who wish to make their own hotel arrangements.

Given a decent sleeper train and a THROUGH service that could prove popular.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2021, 04:32:36 pm »

For some routes, a very infrequent service would still be useful, even once a week from Northern England to European holiday resorts could be popular if run at sensible time for holidaymakers.

Leave Yorkshire at say 20-00 on Friday evening and arrive next morning in Italy. Offer both package holidays and train fares only for those who wish to make their own hotel arrangements.

Given a decent sleeper train and a THROUGH service that could prove popular.

You would, though, be harking to an era where stock could do just one round trip a week.   More logical to do a Monday, Wednesday, Friday southbound and Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday northbound.   Where you say "though" - I suspect you would have no issue with though tickets from across the North East, picking up for the main train at connection points such as Newcastle, Darlington, York, Leeds and Donny.
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2021, 05:05:46 pm »

I don’t think leaving Yorkshire at 8pm by overnight train would get you even to Northern Italy by midday next day.  Maybe you might just reach Milan as the clock strikes noon, but Venice, Rome, Florence, Naples?  Where most tourists want to go?  Forget about it.

I’m all for expanding the overnight sleeper network, and it appears that momentum is very much in that direction, but journeys have to be between major cities and no more than 16 hours to have any chance of happening IMHO (in my humble opinion).
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eXPassenger
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2021, 05:45:14 pm »

I am afraid I do not see this happening for the following reasons:
  • UK (United Kingdom) Border control operates at a very small number of stations.  Major investment would be required to process travelers at stations and then keep them segregated while in the UK.  The originally planned regional Eurostar services never started.
  • Trains carry far more passengers than planes so a current 5 flights a day service with multiple departure times would become 1 train a day.  This was discussed elsewhere in great detail when the routing of HS2 (The next High Speed line(s)) to / via Heathrow was being discussed.  Many regional airports only have 1 or 2 flights a day to specific destinations.
  • There is no connection between HS2 and HS1 (High Speed line 1 - St Pancras to Channel Tunnel) so the UK leg of the journey would be on existing 125 MPH max lines.  Even if there was a connection the paths on HS2 have been fully allocated.
  • On current pricing structures the airline is significantly cheaper.

These issues (except point to point passenger volume) could be managed by government planning and significant taxation to raise the cost of short haul flying but I cannot see a UK government doing this in the next 10 years minimum.

I will now shelter from the bricks.
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broadgage
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2021, 07:31:04 pm »

For some routes, a very infrequent service would still be useful, even once a week from Northern England to European holiday resorts could be popular if run at sensible time for holidaymakers.

Leave Yorkshire at say 20-00 on Friday evening and arrive next morning in Italy. Offer both package holidays and train fares only for those who wish to make their own hotel arrangements.

Given a decent sleeper train and a THROUGH service that could prove popular.

You would, though, be harking to an era where stock could do just one round trip a week.   More logical to do a Monday, Wednesday, Friday southbound and Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday northbound.   Where you say "though" - I suspect you would have no issue with though tickets from across the North East, picking up for the main train at connection points such as Newcastle, Darlington, York, Leeds and Donny.

I was not proposing that the STOCK would make only one round trip a week, A weekly service one one route could see the stock used on other international routes on other days.
A through service from two or three major stations should be the aim, that not precluding connecting trains from other stations in the same general area.
Most passengers would much prefer a through service. Each connection increases the chances of c0ck ups.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2021, 10:59:14 pm »

London to Barcelona/Madrid, Liverpool/Manchester to Amsterdam, London to Marseille, Glasgow/Edinburgh/Newcastle to Paris.

They would be a few suggestions from me.

exPassengers rightly highlights some major obstacles though.  Especially border controls.  I’ll be surprised if anything happens within 10 years, other than possibly something from London.
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grahame
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2021, 08:04:04 am »

I was not proposing that the STOCK would make only one round trip a week, A weekly service one one route could see the stock used on other international routes on other days.

Fair comment - though huge care is needed in selecting the co-operative services running during the rest of the week.  Friday and Sunday afternoons / evenings are peak for most leisure and business long distance flows and running a leisure peak-only journey, with the stock doing something else the rest of the week, could doom that "rest-of-week" service to being a tough thing to market with it only running away from the time / day most people want it.

I recall that we did not encourage (luke warm response only) TransWilts improvements that would have given us middle-of-the-day trains while still having nothing at peak commuter times (train in use elsewhere)

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