Skip to comments.High-speed rail: A £250m lesson for Britain's rail enthusiasts
Posted on 01/09/2012 3:21:10 AM PST by BfloGuy
As the Government prepares to give the go-ahead to its hugely controversial high-speed train project, its closest equivalent in Europe has had to be saved from bankruptcy with a £250 million government bailout.
The new Fyra high-speed service in the Netherlands opened just two years ago is close to financial collapse with passengers shunning its premium fares and trains running up to 85 per cent empty.
The line, between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda, cost taxpayers more than £7 billion to build but is losing £320,000 a day amid disastrous levels of patronage.
A Dutch passenger pressure group, Voor Beter OV (For Better Public Transport), is now taking the national rail operator to the Netherlands competition tribunal after it slowed down services on the regular network in an apparent attempt to drive passengers on to the high-speed line.
The high-speed line has been a very, very bad result for taxpayers and passengers, said Rikus Spithorst, VBOVs spokesman.
The taxpayer paid for it and the idea was that the money would come back from the train company. But that isnt going to happen.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Cameron is under pressure to abandon plans for an HSR line from London to Birmingham that will cost more per/mile than California's project and cut through some of rural England's most beautiful countryside.
Where’s WillieGreen when ya need him.
In Italy, a round trip ticket on the fast train from Milan to Rome is 190. An EasyJet round trip is about 150. One is government sponsored, guess which?
Top down market manipulation didn't work for the Soviet Union, and it won't work for European (or American) socialists either.
But we're not there.
Wheres WillieGreen when ya need him.
......those were the good old days.
When they were trying to push the Tampa to Orlando (Florida) train through they didn’t consider the economics.
Ticket prices were $20 per person one way for a 80 mile trip. If you ran the numbers they would need every person in the region to ride the train daily in order to pay the operating costs let alone the construction costs.
The new "Fyra" high-speed service in the Netherlands -- opened just two years ago -- is close to financial collapse with passengers shunning its premium fares and trains running up to 85 per cent empty. The line, between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda, cost taxpayers more than £7 billion to build but is losing £320,000 a day amid disastrous levels of patronage.Best approach is to stop subsidizing the other fares (the ones on the slower trains).
Roadroads should stick to what they do best — move freight at low cost. Freight RR companies are doing very well without government assistance.
Just like the monorail in Las Vegas. They need to cut fares, not keep them at ridiculously high levels.
Now we can't knock them down at all because NOBODY IS DEFENDING THEM. All we can do is go "Ha ha ha ha ha ha" and "Bwahahahahahaha".
I agree. I miss my weekly dose of High Speed Passenger Rail delusion from the Willie Green Happy Choo Choo Threads.
Railroads are major maintenance headaches. It occurs to me that if you want high-speed, use a Monorail or MagLev and use the existing railroad right-of-way. The problem with passenger rail is the size of the United States vs. the relative compactness of Western European population centers. So far as I can tell, high-speed rail is just another Leftist boondoggle.
There was a period after WWII when just about all that was running were the trains, and that even though they had high operating costs (due to repairing wartime damage, overuse, substantial deferred maintenance, and bad financial underpinnings).
That's a long time ago. More recently all the European countries have gotten to the point where they charge for the electricity or the oil as well as track and roadbed maintenance.
I think some of the short-line services (subways, metropolitical commuter cars) are subsidized to some extent, but with folks paying $12 a gallon for gas, even they are not starved for passengers.
http://www.raileurope.com/index.html will give you every price they've got in Europe for any rail service of any kind. Remember, the prices are in Euros, but you can ask for denominations in US Dollars.
'tain't cheap no mo!
The Greeks built the first railroad about 350 BC. They used it transport ships across an isthmus.
Bottom line...if enough demand exists for a product or service, private enterprise will provide it...and do so more efficiently than the bureaucrats ever could. The lesson is repeated around the world but the brilliant so-called leaders never learn it.
The Civil War saw a dramatic explosion of railroad building. Completion of the first continental railroad in 1869 enabled producers to move products and people quickly and economically from East to West and North to South in America.
However, the golden age of passenger rail travel was the 1920-1950 period. Passenger rail was all but finished by the Interstate Highway System and the post-WW2 expansion of air travel.
Railroads do have a purpose as economic freight transports. As people movers, they suck — unless your distances are relatively short. Railroads are capital intensive businesses and they are burdened by both unions AND lots of government regulations that add unjustified costs. Capital intensiveness, union workers, minuscule ridership, and arcane regulations all argue against high speed rail success.
High Speed Rail is not a bad idea in principle, but in practice, the numbers don’t add up. I live about 180 miles from Washington DC. It cost me $30, $5 in parking, and $10 for the Metro in gas to take my family there for the day. Taking Amtrak, which is already subsidised, would cost about $70+ per person plus the Metro passes. A no-brainer, but if the rail option was there for about $10 per person instead of $70, we can talk.
I didn’t know that about the Greeks. How were they powered, oxen?
Willy is working on the Obozo Reelection campaign and doesn’t have time for his Choo Choos anymore.
Pray for America
It does take a lot of the fun out of it.
I still like to post about trains, though, because I really love them. I took Eurostar from London to Paris about a decade ago and it was a spectacular ride. And to be dropped off right in cental Paris was incredibly convenient for a tourist.
But my British friends would just put their cars on a ferry and drive to France. The liberals have discovered, much to their chagrin, that the Europeans -- as soon as they grew wealthy enough -- began to prefer cars just as much as we ignorant Americans.
I'd love to see some private passenger railroad development, but capital is scarce and there are much more profitable uses for it.
Regarding how they moved, that'd be by oxen AND slaves AND poor guys needing a drachma or two.
The Chinese may well have beaten the Greeks to the punch with some of the ways they devised to move freight around rapids on the Grand Canal. This project was hundreds of years old when the Greeks built their first railroad but it wasn't until the 6th Century AD that someone thought to build locks that would let the water lower and raise the cargo ships. That idea swept the ancient world with the speed of a galloping Mongolian horse in the 12th century sounding out the end of the Dark Ages and the return of international commerce and life's luxuries.
IOW, the subsidy is in the form of taxes on fuel.
For state owned rail avoidance of tax on fuel or energy would simply be a pass through on the governmental budget if government also owned the fuel or the power plants or dams.
Last evening I was digging through some Baptist/Christian Church hymns and ran into some Russian church groups singing them. That always leads to Transiberian Express Music, then to the Transiberian Railroad.
Something I'd never noticed before is that the line from Moscow to Irkutsk, on the Moscow Peking line, is ELECTRIFIED! I opened up a number of different videos on that line and could not find any oil fired engines anywhere. Either the Russians have electrified the system or there are no videos of the non-electrified portions.
Socialist theories of ownership and utility of production probably get in the way of any rational understanding of what goes on with a publicly owned rail system, particularly if it's handling both profitable goods and unprofitable people.
Suffice it to say, at the end of WWII, railroads were being put back into shape quickly ~ streets and major thoroughfare roads weren't.
Folks thought transport and travel were sufficiently important to fix the rails.
In the case of the USSR (particularly right after WWII) rail is a convenient way to keep strict gubmint control over people’s movements in a police state. Must have made the whole works feel like Sim City to Stalin, who is known for cutting off food and fuel to regions he wanted to starve out — a quick and easy solution to a nationwide food shortage is to make sure everyone else eats, and choosing a random group to condemn as counterrevolutionary.
Roads, per se, have that characteristic.
-——particularly right after WWII——
As recent as 1990 or so there were not roads adequate to support a tourism industry. Those wishing to visit places out of Moscow or Petrograd either went on the river or on the train.
Those who chose the river cruise were at times faced with poor food because the place they stopped had not yet received the food drop meant to have been delivered in advance by rail.
I’m guessing air planes have contributed but I have no evidence of a road network worth a damn to this day.