Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby trainviews » Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:40 pm

In terms of freight it doesn't really make sense to speak of Europe as a whole. Even though the EU is trying to push rail transport, amounts moved varies greatly from country to country, partly due to politics, but also due to geography and business structure.

On the trans-alpine routes rail has a very large modal share. This is partly politically forced as Switzerland and Austria don't want an endless line of trucks clogging the environmentally sensitive alpine valleys, but even without regulation, road infrastructure would not stand a chance to keep up. How large the share of domestic freight is, I don't know.

A country like Sweden has a rail modal share comparable to the US, and for the same reasons: Mining, long distances and low population denisity with population and production centres spread far apart.

In Germany the modal share is less than half of the US if I remember right, but what is missing is the coal and mining business. For intermodals the share is probably about the same and being the production powerhouse of Europe this amounts to quite a bit.

This is also what bodes for the large transit in the neighboring countries like the alpine states, in the Netherlands for the port in Rotterdam and to a lesser extent through Denmark to Sweden.

In several other countries like on the British Isles freight rail is all but dead. This is also true of anything but the transit traffic in a country like Denmark. The reason being a mix of business structure (heavy industry largely gone) and political neglect. Also sea transport is a larger competitor, especially for bulk products like grain, again due to geography.

Common to the European countries are however a lower standard for freight - no double stack clearances, train lengths limited by siding lengths, lower weight limits and freights having to run in tight slots between passenger trains. At least the EU is pushing common standards. But whether this has made freight "a joke" or killed it off altogether or it is thriving on US levels minus the coal mining is vastly different due to local conditions.
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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby DutchRailnut » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:06 pm

freight ?? Amtrak ??? compared to German and Dutch ??? say whoat ??
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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby CarterB » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:22 pm

Are we comparing Amtrak to European freight operations???? Or to the excellent ICE EC IC IRE RE and RB passenger trains?

I have been on many of the "lesser" train types in Germay (IRE, RE, RB) and even they are as good or better than Amtrak as far as speed, reliability, ontime performance, and yes, even comfort.
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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:15 pm

...and you can add frequency to that.
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Experiences of a native user in European railway system

Postby ALR997 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:07 pm

Hi everybody,

I saw this thread and was kind of interested, how you would rate our railway system(s) - technically it's a lot more systems which are not always directly compatible (as you may know).

First of all: I am German - so sorry if my writing is similar to the tryings of English on the DB-website.
I am more or less frequently travelling between the Ruhr Area and Brunswick where I am studying so I get a lot of good and bad experiences with DB. Further I already visited railway systems in Netherlands, Belgium, a little Luxemburg, a little less of France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic (just crossing and going to Prague), Slovakia, Northern Italy, Great Britain, a short ride on High Speed Line in Spain, Denmark, Sweden and just for the statistics: also Liechtenstein ;-)
I don't want to boast, just give a little reference where my experience is coming from.

Second is to give some response and comments to the original post from Tadman and your observations:
1. I don't want to be nasty, but I guess your railway system is not made for high speed in most cases. Looking pictures and videos I would assume your infrastructure is not the most modern one apart from your signalling systems. It is kind of our early higher-speed-transport: where the track is giving it, you ride as fast as possible (140 mph e.g.) and then you start building new lines when it comes to growing demand (as in California now).

2. You're right: first class often is a bad joke. You look on ICE-trains they try to let it seem high-quality-like by using leather-seats but it's not the same as in the old IC-coaches with armchairs to sink into ^^ On top you get no special service in first class in Germany: if you are lucky some guys from the restaurant are asking you to bring some food to your place, but you can wait more than an hour for it.
On the other hand: Thalys e.g. offers unlimited (soft) drinks and a little meal (breakfast or cold dinner) on your seat and a little more.

5. It's not freshly cooked but produced before and just heated on train. And it is quite expensive for the little benefit. But sometimes you get some great food, also on ICE. But if you want to enjoy best meals on train in Europe you need to go a little more east ;-)

6. They try to do their best and at least they have a 'translated' website. But this is not helping if someone is providing it who just learned it at school and forgot half of it. But the other point is kind of frustrating: payment. You can buy some tickets in some other countrys just with a homeland-creditcard or with a homeland-bank-account, so maybe you cannot purchase some ticket for a dutch train, because your account is german or vice versa.
But some websites work better than other (NShispeed or Voyages-SNCF I guess) and one good point on EU: forcing the railway companies to accept some foreign payments.

7. There are quite a lot of late trains - and as you may know: nobody complains better than a German. But actually it could be much worse, and that is true. But one fun-fact: you can watch here (https://www.bahn.de/p/view/service/ausk ... kehr.shtml) the punctuality rates of german national railway and technically it is not showing you the puctual trains but the trains which are less than six (red) or 16 (grey) minutes delayed, because in Germany a train is on time until it is delayed about more than 5:59 min.
Another point: short connections, you get for example in Mannheim, Dortmund or Cologne - you can change trains in five minutes or less if everything works. But lately DB discovers that many of these connections doesn't work out so far. My favourite was travelling from Essen to my university-town, usually with a ten-minute-change from an IC to a local train, an then last miles by bus. It nearly never worked so the DB had to organize a taxi directly to my front door because it was the last train at that day. So some delay is perfect for people who are lazy ;-)

So that's my comment on your first text.

Another interesting point is that Amtrak has got a German version of it's website and it is outstandingly designed. You can always find some mistakes, even a native speaker isn't perfect but it's great to go to an American Website and get all the information you need in your native language.

Maybe it is obvious, I am new in this forum but I'd like to be an active writer here and help with some questions if I can, just as I hope you maybe can help me if I've got some, just as about the track maps. I wrote some pictured reports of my travels in Europe (and mostly I'm working on sorting pictures so it has taken yet two years to show some pictures of a 7-day-travel to Switzerland) and if you are interested I would take some time to do the same here, to show some of my favourite impressions riding through Europe by train (and sometimes bus).

I'd love some feedback to this topic :-)

So far, it's 11 pm here so time for bed. Greetings to all of you and maybe I try to comment some other of your textes in the next days. But til then I wish a good time. And sorry if I made some mistakes (no matter if regarding language or (unwritten) rules of dealing with each other in this forum).

Lucas
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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:48 pm

Mr. Lucas, welcome

The topic originator Mr. Dunville (Tadman), by grace of visiting Innsbruck, expanded the topic beyond DE and NE.

As one who has "been over" during the past three years (after swearing "never again" during 1990), I have gone to Salzburg 2014-16.

My passion in this life is classical music (OK; to some extent railroads) and since there are no intercontinental flights into Salzburg, I have flown into Munich (EDDM/MUC) with DB beyond.

I find your private sector Meridian "up to the task" for a 184km journey; even though First Class is simply a "waste". I've also used EuroCity (2nd Class) and found "quite adequate" for same.

While in Austria, I have had journeys from Salzburg to both St. Anton/Arlberg and Vienna. These were on OBB's RailJet (First Class). Even if I didn't, you can have a prepared on board meal that fellow Americans sitting near me said was "good".

I'm not sure why the OBB jumped into the Sleeping Car game to the extent they did, especially since DB, SBB, and SNCF have all bailed out. Of course all they did was pick up routes that were formerly City Night, TEN, whatever and livery up some cars with a NightJet brand. Likely they did so since Austria does not have High Speed Rail and they are kind of a "bridge" to European routes that could have Sleeping Car potential - well, at least to the backpack crowd which I assure you, does not include this 75 year old admittedly geezer.

-------------------------------------------------------

Herr Lucas, Wilkommen

Der Thema-Absender Mr. Dunville (Tadman), durch die Besetzung von Innsbruck, erweitert das Thema über DE und NE hinaus.

Als einer, der in den vergangenen drei Jahren "vorbei" war (nachdem er "nie wieder" im Jahr 1990 geflüchtet wurde) bin ich nach Salzburg gegangen 2014-16.

Meine Leidenschaft in diesem Leben ist die klassische Musik (OK, bis zu einem gewissen Grad Eisenbahnen) und da es keine Interkontinentalflüge nach Salzburg gibt, bin ich in München (EDDM / MUC) mit DB weitergeflogen.

Ich finde deinen privaten Sektor Meridian "bis zur Aufgabe" für eine Reise von 184km; Obwohl First Class einfach ein "Abfall" ist. Ich habe auch EuroCity (2. Klasse) verwendet und fand "ziemlich ausreichend" für das gleiche.

In Österreich habe ich schon von Salzburg nach St. Anton / Arlberg und Wien gefahren. Diese waren auf der OBB RailJet (First Class). Auch wenn ich es nicht getan habe, kannst du an Bord Mahlzeit vorbereitet haben, dass die Amerikaner, die in der Nähe von mir sitzen, "gut" waren.

Ich bin mir nicht sicher, warum die OBB in das Sleeping Car Spiel gesprungen ist, soweit sie es getan haben, zumal DB, SBB und SNCF alle ausgeholt haben. Natürlich war alles, was sie taten, abholen Routen, die früher City Night waren, TEN, was auch immer und Livree bis einige Autos mit einer NightJet Marke. Wahrscheinlich haben sie es getan, da Österreich keine High Speed ​​Rail hat und sie sind eine Art Brücke auf europäische Strecken, die Sleeping Car Potenzial haben könnte - zumindest, um die Rucksack-Menge, die ich Ihnen versichere, schließt das 75 Jahre nicht ein Alt zugegebenermaßen geezer
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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby Tadman » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:09 pm

I'm on my first non-subway since I returned to the states. Detroit to Chicago. Man, I feel like I'm in a boxcar... We have a "real" business class car (I.E. 2+1 seating rather than the 2+2 sold as biz) but we are doing perhaps 70 and the car feels like it's falling apart. Ever push a pickup truck to 100mph? Yeah, it's like that. I miss German track. The ICE was smoother at 180 mph.
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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:29 pm

And should your Café/Biz be "on the head" trust you are enjoying "listening to the music"???
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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby ALR997 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:25 pm

Hi Gilbert,

first of all thank you for translating your text into German. In one or two sections it helped to understand what you meant, but in general I guess it is enough to write it down in English. I'm just saying it because I assume, that the translation takes advantage of a notable number of minutes, so thank you, but if you answer again it is absolutely okay to leave an English text, I don't want to cause some circumstances :-)

Gilbert B Norman wrote:My passion in this life is classical music (OK; to some extent railroads) and since there are no intercontinental flights into Salzburg, I have flown into Munich (EDDM/MUC) with DB beyond.

I find your private sector Meridian "up to the task" for a 184km journey; even though First Class is simply a "waste". I've also used EuroCity (2nd Class) and found "quite adequate" for same.


For classical music Austria is the perfect destination so congratulations for your good taste ;-)
The FLIRT3-trains which you find on Meridian-services, as well as on a few other routes all over Germany, are more or less equal and in comparison to other EMUs they are (in my personal view) more comfortable as e.g. the first generation of FLIRT or the 425-series (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _601-2.jpg) where sometimes you get the feeling of sitting on a piece of wood.

But it is necessary to say that Meridian-services, according to the law (PBefG, §42a) are local services (in contrast to long-distance-services as ICE and IC). So the focus for the responsible organization (BEG) is more a train service for commuters and less for those who should travel in long-distance-trains. That might be the reason for quite uncomfortable seats, as well as a smaller seat pitch and no catering.


Gilbert B Norman wrote:I'm not sure why the OBB jumped into the Sleeping Car game to the extent they did, especially since DB, SBB, and SNCF have all bailed out. Of course all they did was pick up routes that were formerly City Night, TEN, whatever and livery up some cars with a NightJet brand. Likely they did so since Austria does not have High Speed Rail and they are kind of a "bridge" to European routes that could have Sleeping Car potential - well, at least to the backpack crowd which I assure you, does not include this 75 year old admittedly geezer.


The main problem is (no joke) that the trains are getting too fast. For a national carrier there are no perspectives to offer some overnight services on many main lines because the day services (ICE, TGV, RJ, THA, EST) are too fast. On the other hand, many transeuropean routes are nontheless too long and slow to be attractive as day services. A positive example is the PBKA-Eurostar-Network which now connects Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Aachen, Cologne, Lille, Paris and London and a few smaller cities. Between Amsterdam and Paris there is no more substantial need for a sleeper because your first Thalys arrives at 9.44, leaving Amsterdam at 6.17. Last train back 19.25 to 22.42, why going overnight with such a good service pattern?

I completely understand why people want overnight services, e.g. Paris - Berlin or Paris - Vienna were still good routes, but obviously anything obstructs those. In this special case maybe it's the SNCF which doesn't want to provide some night trains and further also doesn't want anyone else to do so. People shall use the TGV services, you see this also in inner-french railway politics where as many Intercité-routes as possible were, are and will be replaced by TGV. Mainline for IC in France I would say is Paris - Orléans - Clermont-Ferrand where no LGV is located but IC-voyages are equalized to TGV-conditions (e.g. with a compulsory seat reservation).

So we have fast domestic trains and bad international railway policy so that overnight trains are a shrinking market. The ÖBB had a working pattern and when DB has announced to shut down their night trains (for economic reasons) ÖBB maybe was convinced to increase the number of passengers. On the other hand: maybe the government tries to support their own company this way and the night trains were just the right medium at the right time.
But fact is: the ÖBB plans to buy new coaches and trains for their nightservice and you don't invest millions of € just for fun (unless you are the french government http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/sing ... ckage.html ;-) ).

My conclusion to the topic night trains is: the range of overnight travelling could grow by building more high-speed-lines and adequate stock but I don't see a long term perspective for sleeper trains on short distance (which often means domestic) routes in western and central Europe. That doesn't mean that there aren't some routes for night trains. DB is actually providing four couples of trains around Cologne (Basel - Hamburg, Dortmund - Munich, Cologne - Berlin, Hamburg - Frankfurt) as ICE and IC trains. These are not just interesting for some people who want to travel from north to south overnight but for long-distance-commuters e.g. going from Karlsruhe to Bremen in the early morning while day trains are too late on monday morning. And second for people who visited theatre, cinema or opera, e.g. in Frankfurt in the evening and leaving at 1am to Stuttgart instead of booking a hotel in Frankfurt.

Best regards from nightly Braunschweig,
Lucas
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Re: Comparing Amtrak to German and Dutch Rail

Postby David Benton » Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:47 pm

That is a good point, getting on a train that gets you home at 1,2,3 a.m , rather than spending the nite on the train.
Been a night owl, such trains would suit me. I often drive long distance at night, leaving 10 p.m or so , arriving 3 am or so . ( that's long distance here).
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