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Date: 12/17/20 13:59
History question
Author: TAW

I have for many years been advocating that the US fully develop conventional passenger rail transportation before engaging in HSR or Ultra HSR or whatever the goal speed and glitzy name du jour is.

In a discussion with some infrastructure bank advocates, I told them my preference was not engage in wide spread construction of HSR in lieu of everything else, but rather to fullly develop conventional rail passenger service as has been done everywhere else that has HSR. One of the HSR advocates responded that Europe has such good rail service because they had a clean slate after WWII and developed a new, modern rail network (that was developed specifically for passenger trains). To my knowledge, railroads in Europe were generally rebuilt as they were before the war. At the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the TU Dresden railway school, the CEO of DB said that Germany was working at modernizing, with 150 mechanical interlockings remaining, and yet more electric (mechanical locking) interlockings. By then, the US had no local interlockings remaining; it was all electronic. I have never been to the new Berlin Hbf, just Zoo and Ostbahnhof, which appeared to be prewar, at least in track location and location. All of the stations I have used in Europe, except the Hbf in Braunschweig DE, appears to certainly predate WWII by a lot.

Maybe I have history wrong. Does anyone know of instances of WWII reconstruction that created new, modern rail routes instead of merely rebuilding in place?

Tnakns.

TAW



Date: 12/17/20 15:23
Re: History question
Author: Steinzeit2

With a few minor exceptions at the local level, you are correct -- the routes all basically stayed the same.  What did happen, and perhaps this is what the HSR person was thinking, was that most Western European countries [ the UK being the exception ]  either embarked on, or continued, a program to electrify all main lines, with a rolling program of infrastructure improvement to utilize the advantages of electrification.  But much of this had been started or envisioned before the war;  for example, the electrification of the former PLM was approved by the French military in the fall of 1939.

I believe the only really significant civil engineering to accelerate and improve passenger service happened between the wars in Italy:  the new Apennine tunnel and the Naples cutoff;  indeed, had Mussolini not entered the war, Rome would have a through station with direct access to the north, like Naples.

SZ



Date: 12/18/20 01:28
Re: History question
Author: DevalDragon

The first pieces of Germany's ICE route were constructed in the late 1980's and early 1990's. As you noted, the terminals are shared with existing trains and only parts of the intermediate routes are new construction. There are some completely new routes that were created with high speed rail - Stuttgart to Mannheim was a several hour affair before the new high speed line shorted it to a 39 minute ride. It also created new hubs and transfer points - Mannheim is very busy these days (well, not with Covid at the moment) with people transferring with 4 minute connections from the Hamburg to Munich ICE route to the Switzerland to Berlin route.

In the case of Berlin HBF they did build new underground platforms for the high speed trains and Stuttgart 21 will be a completely new underground station. Most of the main stations in Germany are much older.

Also keep in mind they didn't have trains capable of high speeds back in the 1940s.The oldest high speed trains in Europe, IIRC, is the French TGV, which started service in 1981.

But I digress - I'm don't know where this fallacy that Europe had a 'clean slate' for high speed rail because of WW II came from. Most of the "modern" rail routes were started well after World War II.



Date: 12/18/20 05:21
Re: History question
Author: colehour

Steinzeit2 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> I believe the only really significant civil
> engineering to accelerate and improve passenger
> service happened between the wars in Italy:  the
> new Apennine tunnel and the Naples cutoff; 
> indeed, had Mussolini not entered the war, Rome
> would have a through station with direct access to
> the north, like Naples.
>
Isn't Tiburtina a through station? Of course, it is hardly a central station. 



Date: 12/18/20 06:29
Re: History question
Author: Steinzeit2

colehour Wrote:
> Isn't Tiburtina a through station? Of course, it
> is hardly a central station. 

Yes, but only in the present century has it become a major station.  Previously the only long distance trains that stopped there were long distance trains from Milan to the south that passed through Rome at night, or in the late evening in the case of one Milan-Naples train -- trains that were not intended for travelers to / from Rome, and hence had no need to reverse there in the main station.  "Back in the day" Zürich Enge functioned the same way.

SZ

Edited to add:  To clarify my post above about the plans for Rome to have a new through station:  It would have been built where Termini is now.  The line then would have continued under the city, and then turned north;  see the exit of the suburban Viterbo line for the general idea -- I would think it might even have used that ROW.  In the city there would have been additional stations for suburban services, very much like the Naples Mergellina line, and used in the same way.
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/18/20 11:41 by Steinzeit2.



Date: 12/18/20 10:50
Re: History question
Author: TAW

Thanks folks. That helps a lot.

"I'm don't know where this fallacy that Europe had a 'clean slate' for high speed rail because of WW II came from. Most of the "modern" rail routes were started well after World War II."

It's just more of the same from folks grasping at straws for reasons why American is the way to go and what works in Europe can't work here. In the past three or so decades, I have been told by 'experts,'
  • That European stuff doesn't work (detailed schedules, timetabling, etc.)
  • There aren't any freight trains in Europe (so we need a separate national passenger train network)
  • There are a few freight trains in Europe, but they run only at night when passenger trains aren't running (so we need a separate national passenger train network)
  • High speed trains go at least 186 mph, most are at least 200 mph (73% are less than 186 mph 8% over 186 mph, 1% over 200 mph)
  • The whole world has nothing but HSR and we have to catch up (27 countries have HSR, 28% of the Chinese rail network is HSR-not all of it, 15% of the Japanese rail network is Shinkansen, not all of it, HSR passengers are 3% of the world's rail passengers.
This one about everyone else has wonder rail service and we don't because everyone else's railroad was rebuilt from scratch after WWII is just the latest.

Thanks for helping me debunk that latest crazy theory for why we can't and why we must have.

I'm sure there will be yet another coming along.

TAW



Date: 12/18/20 14:00
Re: History question
Author: Hartington

I live in the UK about 125 miles west of London (beyond Stonehenge). It's rural round here and my local town has a population of about 4,000, That's not a large population but we have 8 trains a day to London in one direction and the West Country in the other plus another 8 that run between Bristol and the South Coast. Are you really suggesting that somewhere bigger than my town like Willistion in ND can sustain that kind of service? Of course not

The kind of service you find in Europe will only work where population density and the distance and train speeds allow journey times of less than 2/3 hours. You also need frequency of service - one AM trains and one PM doesn't work.Then you have the question of hpw people get to and from the station. When I got off in Williston I didn't expect a local bus but I did hope there would be a taxi but no. (Luckily I had the phone number of a taxi and he arrived quickly).

There are places in the USA which might support European levels of service - the existing coridor services are a good starting point but nationwide? I'm very sceptical. Nevertheless I wish you luck.



Date: 12/18/20 14:35
Re: History question
Author: Lackawanna484

It's also useful to recall that pre-1939 or pre-TGV services in Europe were not donkey cart operations.

Per the Cooks Continental Timetable of March 1967, a person could travel from Paris to Havre in two hours and 21 minutes, with a stop at Rouen. In August, 1939, that trip took two hours, thirty three minutes.  Same as it does today.

1939 Cooks, page 242
1967 Cooks, page 114

 



Date: 12/18/20 14:35
Re: History question
Author: cricketer8for9

I think it's also worth checking what much of Europe did not do and American did do. The car became dominant in the USA quite quickly and that domination was quickly reinforced by building urban freeways and by a process of suburbanisation and exurbanisation from the 1960s onwards. Many European cities never quite went the whole hog with urban motorways, despite the dreams of planners and some politicians and have retained a population density which favours public transport, or walking or in some countries, cycling. 

Space, or lack of it matters, as does a sense that there are older cities which are worth preserving. My rule of thumb is that any part of a city which was developed from the 1960s onwards is rarely worth seeing as a tourist, because such places were developed when mobility was primarily by car. Mobility by foot, horse, tram, bus and train make cities more interesting - after all no one goes to a city to see the traffic jams: they go to see the bits without cars. 

The horse has long bolted in the USA, more's the pity. 



Date: 12/18/20 17:47
Re: History question
Author: Lackawanna484

Horse drawn vegetable carts, etc were present in New York City into the 1930s. I believe Mayor LaGuardia banished them, and the pushcarts, as a relic of the decrepit European past.

The Central Park horse carriages are a perpetual source of conflict.



Date: 12/19/20 06:28
Re: History question
Author: colehour

Hartington Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

>
> The kind of service you find in Europe will only
> work where population density and the distance and
> train speeds allow journey times of less than 2/3
> hours. You also need frequency of service - one AM
> trains and one PM doesn't work.Then you have the
> question of hpw people get to and from the
> station. 
>
> There are places in the USA which might support
> European levels of service - the existing coridor
> services are a good starting point but nationwide?
> I'm very sceptical. Nevertheless I wish you luck.

Italy, for example, is about the size (geographical) of Arizona, but has a population of 60 million. It also has a culture that is more public transportation oriented than we are in the USA. At least in larger cities, you can function quite well without needing a car. When you leave Rome's Termini station there are many buses available as well as taxis. You can also take the Metro from Termini.

I agree that focusing on corridor service should  be a priority here in the USA. Shorter trips by rail can be competitive with air travel. Spending nearly two days on a train from Chicago to the Bay Area does not appeal to most people when they can make the trip in 4-5 hours  by air. 

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/19/20 06:29 by colehour.



Date: 12/19/20 13:07
Re: History question
Author: TAW

colehour Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> I agree that focusing on corridor service should 
> be a priority here in the USA. Shorter trips by
> rail can be competitive with air travel. Spending
> nearly two days on a train from Chicago to the Bay
> Area does not appeal to most people when they can
> make the trip in 4-5 hours  by air. 
>

That is the standard excuse for getting rid of long distance trains. Trains stop at inconsequential villages in 'flyover country' where airplanes don't, or at least profitably.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean a single train moving from one end of the country to the other. The corridors can be connected with shorter distance long distance trains, maybe with a through sleeper instead of bailing off at a connecting point. For example, Chicago-Minneapolis and Seattle-Spokane regional service and Spokane-Minneapolis long distance trains or some such arrangement.

www.bahn.de/en gives an opportunity to see how such an arrangement works. You can book a trip all the way across Europe and the reservation site will put all the connections together. It will even line up a trip from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

However, even the connecting long distance segments need at least two round tips across the long distance segment to allow day trips.

TAW



Date: 12/19/20 13:11
Re: History question
Author: dancollins3

I Agree. Look at the California "Bullet Train". What a waste!



Date: 12/20/20 02:06
Re: History question
Author: Hartington

TAW Wrote:

> That is the standard excuse for getting rid of
> long distance trains. Trains stop at
> inconsequential villages in 'flyover country'
> where airplanes don't, or at least profitably.
>
> However, that doesn't necessarily mean a single
> train moving from one end of the country to the
> other. The corridors can be connected with shorter
> distance long distance trains, maybe with a
> through sleeper instead of bailing off at a
> connecting point. For example, Chicago-Minneapolis
> and Seattle-Spokane regional service and
> Spokane-Minneapolis long distance trains or some
> such arrangement.

I've wondered about such an arrangement. Travelling on the Builder I was struck by the fact that it serves not only the Chicago to Seattle/Portland market but lots of intermediate markets.

I've always thought that one of the issues with LDTs (both east and west) is the time at which they pass through some quite large cities. Do I really want to be wandering about a city I don't know at two in the morning? My initial thought was two trains a day so that one arrives at 2am and the other at 2pm but, of course it's  quite possible that boarding at 2pm will dump me in my destination at 2am.

The other thought I've had would be to use lightweight DMUs to run daylight trains. The idea there would be to run those trains on sections of an LDT with two thoughts in mind (1) people wanting to go between points that are served by the LDT at unfriendly times will then have the option of doing part of the journey, resting up in an hotel then completing next day and (2) maybe reducing some of the LDT stops so that the DMU collects people ahead of the LDT and then, when the LDT catches up, people can switch from the DMU to the LDT to continue further.



Date: 12/20/20 02:29
Re: History question
Author: Hartington

Going back to the original question about history. After WW2 the railways across Europe were in a pretty bad way.

Much of Europe chose to rebuild better, electrify etc. But look at the UK. They chose to stay with steam, made a mess of modernisation in the late '50s and then wondered why the railway began to ossify.

Privatisation was seen by some as a way of simply allowing the railway to quietly wither. But, the railway had already begun a fight back and in the last 30 years passenger traffic has soared. There are many reasons why. One is that UK cities weren't built with cars in mind. If you live somewhere like London finding somewhere to park a car on the street (as many have to) can be a nightmare. Next is the fact that passing the driving exams has become more difficult (there are now three stages) and expensive. There was a time when everyone learned how to drive; not any more. . But the railways played their part. Instead of maybe one train a day on a meandering route from one end of the country to the other Virgin Cross Country adopted the idea of frequent services on largely fixed routes with frequent services with a hub at Birmingham New Street (not the most user friendly station but beggars can't be choosers). Other operators simply ran more trains.

The process continues to evolve. When GWR began to take delivery of the HST replacement trains they had a plan. Up until then the HSTs running to Cornwall from London had a rather unpredictable stopping pattern which affected journey times as they not only served Plymouth-London but various intermediate flows. What they've started to do is run a semi fast from London to Exeter serving the intermediate markets with the trains that run further west running non stop Reading (the first stop out of London and a major hub) to Plymouth.

The result in the UK has been that passenger traffic had (until the pandemic) continued to grow. That's not to say car traffic had gone down, it hadn't. but without the railway the country would probably have ground to a halt in places.



Date: 12/20/20 08:23
Re: History question
Author: Steinzeit2

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's also useful to recall that pre-1939 or
> pre-TGV services in Europe were not donkey cart
> operations.
>
> Per the Cooks Continental Timetable of March 1967,
> a person could travel from Paris to Havre in two
> hours and 21 minutes, with a stop at Rouen. In
> August, 1939, that trip took two hours, thirty
> three minutes.  Same as it does today.
>
> 1939 Cooks, page 242
> 1967 Cooks, page 114
>
>  
That's an interesting choice of routes and years.  I'm guessing you picked it because a 2.5 hour trip would be typical for a North American corridor.  Let's take a closer look:

1.  In 1939 French railways had been nationalized for a year -- but that line was already part of the Etat [ = state owned ] system, which under some vigorous new young leaders and armed with a tranche of depression-fighting francs, had been modernizing itself since 1935 or so, such as the double deck commuter stock and the Le Mans electrification.
    I don't have a '39 Cooks, but I imagine that 2:33 trip was with a diesel railcar, and limited to 1st and 2nd class [ Remember that prior to 1956, there were three classes;  in '56 1st and 2nd were merged to the new 1st, while 3rd, with the very large majority of passengers, became the new second.]

2.  Next, let's look at 1953, eight years after the end of the war.   The fastest train was a morning 7 am Rapide from Le Harve, with the 3 minute stop in Rouen, due in Paris at 9:24;  it only took 1st and 2nd passengers, and the latter had to pay a supplement charge.  In the reverse direction the morning 7 am departure was a railcar with 1/2 cl only;  it took a minute longer, but its corresponding working back in the evening, departing at 1740, was the 2:24 working.  The reverse equivalent of the up 7 am working did not leave Paris until 1955, and had additional stops.   If you wished to travel 3rd class, your trip would take about 2:58.

3.  1967, the other year you selected, was a year of transition:  The electrification of the line at 25 kV was in progress, so I imagine schedules were padded a bit, especially due to the construction required in the tunnels either side of Rouen RD and the Seine bridge there, all of which as I recall had a restrictive loading gauge even by French standards.  Most expresses would have had BB67000 diesel haulage, with perhaps extras being steam hauled.   The electrification was completed in 1968.

4.  In 1972 the fastest trains were three pairs of first class only Rapides, one each way morning, midday, and evening, five of which did the run in 1:45 [ the evening departure had an additional stop and took 4 minutes longer ], though with the Rouen stop pared to 1 minute.  These trains were named and required a supplement;  if you desired a meal en route, you specified that when making your seat reservation, and you "dined in place" in a centre-corridor car with tables.  I think they generally ran 5-6 vehicles;  as I recall since they required slightly higher geared locos for their speed, compared to the rest of the St Lazare fleet, a few BB16000's were out based from the Northern Region just for them.   If you wished to travel 2nd cl, your trip would take about 2:07 - 2:15, with more stops.

Note that in all cases above, SNCF gave the most consideration to the upper class(s) of passengers -- but that was about to change, and that change made the TGV politically possible.  But that's another story.

Best, SZ



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12/20/20 12:51 by Steinzeit2.



Date: 12/20/20 11:24
Re: History question
Author: DevalDragon

TAW Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> However, even the connecting long distance
> segments need at least two round tips across the
> long distance segment to allow day trips.
>

This brings up another common misconception is that there are no long distance train journeys in Europe.



Date: 12/22/20 05:01
Re: History question
Author: pennengineer

I'm coming somewhat late to the discussion, but as others have noted, the argument cited by the OP is completely false.

For what it's worth, the old rule of thumb that I was told when starting out in the rail industry in Germany says that about 40% of intercity passengers connect to or from a local or regional train. The regional and interregional networks complement and feed off each other. 

And as for TAW's comments about interlockings, we still have a number of mechanical and electromechanical systems out there. There has been a massive program of replacing these with fully electronic systems (elektronische Stellwerke, or ESTW), largely controlled from seven Operations Centers nationwide on all mainlines. And in the last couple of years a new program of rolling out new digital interlockings (digitale Stellwerke, or DSTW, which are networked/IP-based and allow a decoupling of phyical plant, IT, and operator locations) has commenced. But numerous mechanical interlockings still exist on branch lines.
 



Date: 12/22/20 13:53
Re: History question
Author: petmew

The Netherlands wasn't a clean slate either. There was a lot of damage to buildings and the infrastructure, but restoring it all in their original location made sure the basic functionality was back as soon as possible.
The city of Rotterdam had the 'opportunity' of doing some clean slate development, but even there the old railway lines were restored and only later partly redone, exit Rotterdam Maas station.
I couldn't find a better link, but here you can click on the decades and see the changes. Google translate can help, but the map is easy to read.

Only in the last decades some longer lines were built, but the site above is not current.
Through our new claimed land Flevoland we have a new line, Hanzelijn. Mostly passenger, some freight, technically 200 km/h, 140 km/h timetable speed for passenger trains. 
There's a new freight line from the Rotterdam harbor to the German border (Betuwe route); some say to help advance freight by rail, but I guess it was also built to make room on the old lines for more passenger trains. A small part (without the tunnels) sees occasionally rerouted non-stop ICE trains.
And off course we have our high speed line towards Belgium and France. 300 km/h, no freight.

Electric trains entered service before the war, last steam locomotive entered the national museum in the winter of 1958.


 



Date: 01/03/21 17:28
Re: History question
Author: Lackawanna484

There's an interesting law review article from Yale Law which looks at the differences in eminent domain between the US and  France. This issue evolved in France, as the TGV expanded, and broke new legal ground.  In most European countries, a railroad passenger line is seen as a positive public good.

In the early years, once a need was established, and a route outlined, the French technocrats would publish a finding that the new railroad route served the public good, and was consistent with republican (in the French sense) values. The conclusion would be discussed in the public square, and a decree issued. That was it. You would be compensated for your land, but the project would be constructed. That allowed relatively rapid build outs. The government determined the "greatest good for the greatest number of people", without necessarily involving a lot of people.

But, as the line to Marseille was envisioned, the bureaucrats plotted the best alignment through some of France's great wine estates.  That was a step too far, and the matter went into the courts about whose republican values would be served. Independent vingerons who had farmed the family land for generations?  The policy evolved, and the route moved to spare the vineyards.

https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5952&context=fss_papers



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