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High-speed rail: A 250m lesson for Britain's rail enthusiasts
The Telegraph ^ | 1/7/2012 | Andrew Gilligan

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, VBOV’s spokesman.

“The taxpayer paid for it and the idea was that the money would come back from the train company. But that isn’t going to happen.”

(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: europeanunion; netherlands; unitedkingdom; wgids
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Even the Europeans are beginning to debate the wisdom of high-speed rail projects that lose money, don't produce the jobs promised, and tend to concentrate development in the central hubs rather than distribute it to the rural areas.

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.

1 posted on 01/09/2012 3:21:14 AM PST by BfloGuy
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To: BfloGuy

Where’s WillieGreen when ya need him.


2 posted on 01/09/2012 3:34:57 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: BfloGuy

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?


3 posted on 01/09/2012 3:39:28 AM PST by Explorer89 (And now, let the wild rumpus start!!)
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To: BfloGuy
Bureaucrats think they know better than individual citizens what is best. Do bureaucrats even consider consumer demand when they come up with these grandiose projects? No. More likely they simply want to channel government largess to some special interest. Profit or even breaking even probably never enters their minds. It can't possibly be a main concern. Why should it when they can simply issue more bonds?

Top down market manipulation didn't work for the Soviet Union, and it won't work for European (or American) socialists either.

4 posted on 01/09/2012 3:41:24 AM PST by CitizenUSA (What's special about bad? Bad is easy. Anyone can do it. Try good instead!)
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To: BfloGuy
In the movie "Atlas Shrugged Pt. 1", railroads make a comeback when gasoline reaches $37 a gallon.

But we're not there.

5 posted on 01/09/2012 3:42:35 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: driftdiver

Where’s WillieGreen when ya need him.

......those were the good old days.


6 posted on 01/09/2012 3:47:40 AM PST by Recon Dad (Gas & Petroleum Junkie)
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To: CitizenUSA

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.


7 posted on 01/09/2012 4:07:14 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks BfloGuy.


8 posted on 01/09/2012 4:10:36 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Merry Christmas, Happy New Year! May 2013 be even Happier!)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks BfloGuy.
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).


9 posted on 01/09/2012 4:13:56 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Merry Christmas, Happy New Year! May 2013 be even Happier!)
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To: BfloGuy

Roadroads should stick to what they do best — move freight at low cost. Freight RR companies are doing very well without government assistance.


10 posted on 01/09/2012 4:32:54 AM PST by Londo Molari
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To: BfloGuy

Just like the monorail in Las Vegas. They need to cut fares, not keep them at ridiculously high levels.


11 posted on 01/09/2012 4:36:02 AM PST by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
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To: driftdiver; BfloGuy
Willie served a purpose. He fed us these softballs so we could knock them down.

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".

12 posted on 01/09/2012 4:52:58 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: driftdiver
Where’s WillieGreen when ya need him.

I agree. I miss my weekly dose of High Speed Passenger Rail delusion from the Willie Green Happy Choo Choo Threads.

13 posted on 01/09/2012 4:54:59 AM PST by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: Mr Ramsbotham
The ONLY Monorail I enjoyed....


14 posted on 01/09/2012 5:00:12 AM PST by newfreep (I am a "terrorist". I am Sarah Palin!)
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To: Mr Ramsbotham
Forgive me if I'm out of touch in this high-speed rail stuff, but WHY are we still talking 19th century technology to move people quickly from Point A to B to C?

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.

15 posted on 01/09/2012 5:03:42 AM PST by MasterGunner01 (11)
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To: SunkenCiv
The fares on "the other trains" aren't all that subsidized.

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!

16 posted on 01/09/2012 5:07:46 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: MasterGunner01

The Greeks built the first railroad about 350 BC. They used it transport ships across an isthmus.


17 posted on 01/09/2012 5:08:39 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: BfloGuy

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.


18 posted on 01/09/2012 5:08:45 AM PST by Mich Patriot (I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself. Ronald Reagan)
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To: muawiyah
Granted the Greeks moved ships with a primitive version of railroads in 150 BC, but railroading in America really didn't catch on until the first U.S. steam engine “Tom Thumb” rolled in 1836.

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.

19 posted on 01/09/2012 5:47:09 AM PST by MasterGunner01 (11)
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To: Explorer89

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.


20 posted on 01/09/2012 5:49:08 AM PST by wolfman23601
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