TGV is winning

Tuna Sep 21, 2012

  1. Tuna

    Tuna TrainBoard Member

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    Don't know how many of you train folks read Aviation Week & Space Technology but this week's magazine (9/3/12) has an article titled "Trains Reign Supreme" by Pierre Sparaco.

    The article points out that Air France is losing market share to Trains a Grande Vitesse (TGV) high speed trains between city pairs in France and around Europe. Seems that TGV is provides better service between cities with comfortable seats, lower noise levels and attractive fares. They also deliver passengers to the middle of the cities where they do not need to take cabs or other forms of transporation from the airport into town. TGV service started in 1981 and all the regional airliner markets have been suffering ever since with some local airlines folding or merging with bigger airlines in order to stay in business.

    I'd post a link to this article but AW&ST doesn't have it posted on their web site yet.

    Too bad the federal government controls passenger traffic in the US. AMTRAK will never fund this sort of high-speed operation here in the US.
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Amtrak doesn't fund anything in the US. Congress funds Amtrak, and it's a huge annual battle to even do that miniscule amount. If you want funding of anything HST, you need to nag on Congress for it.
     
  3. paperkite

    paperkite TrainBoard Member

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    And we know what happens when you nag congress ...... don't we ? yep, they fund a blue ribbon panel to study the thing, then they take it to the Ways and Means group to figure out how much money they can get. Form there it goes to the lawyers to see if it is legal and then it goes to reps of the states that it affects . From there it goes to another committe to decide if it is fair and balanced for all citizens to use and can afford it . Then if all is well with the White House , it gets funded and they decide that all tax payers should or should not pay for it . Once it is funded , they hire a bunch more bureaucrats to run it and .... wait for it to show up in your town ... except in election years for the Senate, House of Reps , President.
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    You forgot to mention the guaranteed mega billions and more such projects will run over budget.

    Unfortunately, for a nation which is essentially bankrupt, borrowed into debt which most are stunningly oblivious and such money is far beyond comprehension of we few who seem aware, funding these endeavors is just another step toward breaking the proverbial camel's back.

    But I digress and we really don't want to stray too far afield here...
     
  5. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    I would certainly ride the TGV over flying. I rode trains in France back in 1970 and again in 1980. Of course these were not high speed but still they were a pleasant experience.
     
  6. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Re-reading the OP's post, it appears he doesn't understand that all European and Asian passenger rail, including TGV, is subsidized by the respective governments. The sad fact is that the European and Asian governments never lied to their people by telling them that passenger rail would make a profit without subsidies, unlike the Canadian and American governments who said that VIA and AMTRAK could and would make a profit without subsidies. Public transportation has never, and will never make a profit. The only costs to airlines are plane operation and maintenance, and salaries, everything else is provided by the government...airports, terminals, traffic control, etc.
     
  7. RhB_HJ

    RhB_HJ TrainBoard Member

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    Wellll, one of my favourite mags is "Classic Trains" (not to be confused with Classic Toy Trains!) it's my four+ times a year reminder how the North Americans blew it big time when they fell for the spiel of "Big Oil" along with Detroit's hucksterisms. Whoosh went the passenger trains, straight down the can.
    I emigrated to Canada back in '69 (born and raised in Switzerland) and since I always worked in the industrial field (mostly hi-tec machine tool service) it didn't take long to figure out that there were two industrial sectors driving the whole schmear: armaments and autos. I also got a quick course in "how to find more suckers and influence people".

    Those three factors are IMO the main reasons why forty years later the balloon popped, before it was just losing a lot of air on several occasions.

    BUT back to that railroad problem, most (but not all) European railways were/are State owned. But it wasn't always thus, at the turn of the previous century a lot of them were privately owned and at one point or other got nationalized - for many different reasons. Yes, there are subsidies, the reasoning goes something like this: every car/person that uses public transit is one less car/person on the road shouting for yet more infra structure and creating more pollution.
    The competition between air and rail has been going on for a long time, the Swiss TEE" material was a typical example in the '60s. What really puts the icing on the cake is not just the extra transit time from downtown to the airports, it's the hassel that is now involved with flying, from absolutely ridiculous security to "surcharges" that are out of this world, to service that is steadily declining.

    BTW for all those who are planning on a trip to Switzerland: fly into Geneva or Z├╝rich, the cross country and local trains run right through the airports. That's all you'll need, no muss, no fuss and you get to see a lot more than if you were driving on unfamiliar roads. I won't mention the Swiss drivers, suffice to say I haven't driven there since 1973!


    PS Back in the '70s when on business in Europe we always had the choice: rental car, air, rail ... for me it was a no-brainer!
     
  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well, not quite. It all began with mass production of automobiles, way back when by Henry Ford. Long, long before so-called "big oil", (thrashed to death buzz words), and Detroit influences came into play, this was pre-WWI! Following closely along came construction of road networks much improved from horse and wagon tracks of beforehand. And later accelerated to light speed by our government's post-WWII Interstate Freeway System construction. In other words, for the latter, our own government went into direct competition with rail for both passenger and freight, overtly facilitating the downturn we now know of history. Combine this with our own government continually subsidizing competing air and water venues, against the private sector, railroads were surrounded and had no chance. So-called "big oil" and Detroit were NOT the cause, they only took advantage of the door blown wide open by our very own government!
     
  9. RhB_HJ

    RhB_HJ TrainBoard Member

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    Well, with history I always take the long view, in this case my Big Oil dates back to John D. Rockefeller (pre-WW1) and the first mass-produced cars e.g, the GM "conglomerate" dates back to 1916. Those along with Ford I consider the root of much that followed.
    But naturally that's only my opinon and my peculiar view of history. ;) :)
     
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    And, also, when looking down at the name Rockefeller, do not fail to recall the influence of that family in building of US railroads. They were huge power players and major investors. Without them, their influence upon other investors with big dollars, without the money the Rockefeller family made in oil, (which did escalate after Henry Ford's leadership made cars available to the masses, starting 1910), US railroading would have never even slightly approached the zenith we saw.

    As for Detroit, back then our auto production was scattered all over the US, not concentrated as we later saw.

    I know about the GM aspect. But even though they existed well pre-WWI, even pre-1910, the time frame we are talking about was well before they ever had the type of market presence and power we'd associate with them as today. It was Ford who was the big gorilla then and for many years thereafter. But even that does not matter as autos in general had become available and affordable to the masses, that's the point. That is where the spiral up for cars really adavnced. Railroad passenger service was already doomed, yet that fact was quite unseen.
     
  11. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Ah, but how did it come to pass? Was this sort of political behavior influenced by a little brib--er, I mean, a few campaign contributions...

    I do realize that automobiles and airplanes did take their bites out of rail travel, just as both took their bite out of water travel--river travel in particular having suffered at the hands of the railroads already. Such is the natural order of things; blame progress. Even so, we have river travel by private enterprise to this day. And we could have had rail travel by private enterprise to this day, too--had it not been for the ICC. That would be the Interstate Commerce Commission, which Reagan thankfully put out of our misery some thirty years ago--and may it stay dead.

    I posted a treatise on that subject on this forum once upon a time, but someone got upset and started whining about how private enterprise mass transit could not survive without subsidy and how he hates sleeping on trains, and I got accused of talking politics. So, never mind I guess. If you're interested in my essay on the ICC, pm me and I'll send you a link.
     
  12. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    You got off the subject at hand and hard into promoting a political candidate. This isn't the place.
     
  14. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Hard?

    Well, I did mention one--once. Not the place; fair enough.
     
  15. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]

    I still say what private enterprise can do on water, it can do on land--local ordinances permitting.
     
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes, but the point missed is that mode is not fully private. The transport vehicles may be. The venue is not- As with air travel, it is government supervised and maintained, paid for in some form by taxpayers. If the shipper owned their own waterway, did all the dreging, setting bouys, controlling traffic, whatever maintaining as was needed, etc, etc, then it would be truly private.
     
  17. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Very good point. Even ocean liners dock at publicly funded ports, and utilize subsidized services in terms of navigation and other aspects of the trip.

    Rail travel was always subsidized by freight traffic, and written off to advertising. Now, this is specifically not a taxpayer subsidy. One thing AMTRAK hasn't seemed to understand since John Erlichman dreamed it up (before he made a career out of covering up Watergate) is that a private entity won't be happy letting you use their tracks if they don't even get any advertising value out of the deal.

    I would so love to see the process that created Amtrak reversed. The railroads gave the entity the rolling stock it started that 'service' with; Anthrax (sp?) could give the railroads the rolling stock to reprivatize it.
     
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I don't see any comparable situation in North America. If this operation pays it's way, it is due to completely different travel circumstances than anything which can be found within the lower 48 USA.
     
  19. paperkite

    paperkite TrainBoard Member

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    You know , it is funny how our leaders have tried to find a better way to mass transit than the auto. When GI's came back from WWII , both theaters , they wanted more than just what they had before the war , and by God, Henery Ford, and big business was going to give it to them and they did. The demise of the RR passenger service was handed its walking papers and anyone that does not see that is not looking. Americans suddenly discovered that they could have anything that Madison Ave could give them and pay for it later. The auto was the first and home owenrship was second . the auto gave them the freedom to go where they wanted to, when they wanted to and big oil was gonna be there to fuel their cars that were made as cheaply as possible by the big three or four . Aviation got a huge lift and we're off to the races in a car we drove to the airport.. Hertz was waiting for us when we got off the plane and the plastic revolution was on and the Fed and big banking moved in for the kill ... The nation of America got absorbed with it self and be darned to anyone that got in the way or swiped our oil, and the Fed and big banking continued to move in for an even greater piece of your pie. Wages went up for some as a gimme from our congress men , but the rich got richer and the poor got out of the way. Congress tried to find ways to take from the have's and give to the have nots. Poor people do not ride on trains , they take the bus if they do not own a car and if you dont think so ya need to visit Los Angles some time , no, New York City had/has a space problem and the subway allowed them to have the land on the surface to make even more money and hide the poorer masses under ground while the affluent rode in taxi's in the light of day. Big oil loves mass transit now as they sell us fuel to run it and our cars . The oil companies are at max usage of the existing refineries and refuse to build more. Silly to build a refinery that runs at 50% capacity instead of 100% . For years they only wanted to run a 100% cap so they can make 100% NOI. They love it , cause they know we will cry and wail for them to have the crude to make our fuel so we can go to the store, or game or go to lake with our boat or go on a driving vacation ....no matter what comes . And river travel ? one is pretty much stuck on the few navigatable water ways in the US , some parts of the year as they flood some parts of the year .. so that's mostly out except for some excursion runs or casino boats and .. yep ya gotta drive or fly to get there. For passinger trains to make a significant come back , the car gotta go ... the air plane gotta go , and the bus style mass transit has to replace them. Or get a horse and buggy ? and, I do not see that happening ever. With diesel at 4.20 a gallon ? It cost more than gas and if you think big oil did not see that comming... that's why our cars run on natural gas silly me .

    Phew, where'd that come from ?
     
  20. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Well, the travel circumstances in Australia do differ. That is true. That said, we love trains at least as much, and have more population to support it. Thus success stories like the Cumbres and Toltec and the Grand Canyon Railway.

    I'm less pessimistic. But I guess we'll never be allowed to find out.

    In any case, a TGV style high speed operation is somewhat less likely to even be attempted by private enterprise. But it could at least approach the break even point on certain very select routes in this country. Places where the population can support it, and can clog up the existing highways and airports too. New York to LA? I don't know if that could ever pay for itself. But the track Amtrak actually owns between New York and Washington is a different animal.
     

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