Molasses-speed rail


Its a matter of perspective. I think that German Railways are fabulous, but then I compare the network to Britain’s, plus the main route I took went via the high speed link that connect Frankfurt and Koln allowing speeds of around 300 km/h. Everything went relatively wrong before and after that point, but still the journey from Munich to Amsterdam avoided the long haul route along the picturesque Rhine valley. But all this relative pain disappeared when I thought what Britain offered. I was taken aback when Germans complained so much about their rail system. My response was always that I would be glad if the UK had the same system – so would most commuters.

But as I said, its all a matter of perspective. “Der Spiegel” has an article that compares the amazing French system to the German system, titling the article “Molasses-speed rail” noting that the German (and French) trains only manage to reach Paris is such a reduced time because of the French system. The reasons seem to be geographical rather than will. However, London has a stretch of water separating it from Paris, they just dug a tunnel and got on with it. Even London now has a high-speed line connecting it to tunnel and France beyond.

5 thoughts on “Molasses-speed rail

  1. I don’t buy it that British Rail is supposed to be worse than DB.
    I rarely travel by train. But when I do I’m completely pissed by DB. It’s bloody expensive and trains are disgraceful slow.
    While British rail companies offer quick and good inter-city connection for little money.
    British Rail beats the car, DB don’t

  2. Interesting point. While I lived in Germany for many years the Brits I met always wished to have the DB system – probably from the point of view of InterCity. The pricing is probably the same in relative terms, and certainly given the choice driving in Germany can be preferable. Don’t know where you live, but give BritRail a go for a few years especially on commuter routes. Then again I thought Dutch Railways was fabulous when I lived there and the Dutch people I knew preferred to drive instead of taking the train for pretty much the same reason you state (expensive, slow, etc). I wonder if any country likes their rail system.

  3. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. I’m well aware that British rail isn’t perfect. Intercity connections in Britain, however, are admirable. They are fast and frequent even without multi-billion Euro high-speed lines. It helps that there are just a few big cities in Britain within relatively short distance instead of dozens of mid-size cities spread randomly over a country like Germany.

    The only downside of the British rail network may be the lack of cross-city rail lines in London. Thameslink alone doesn’t seem to be enough for a city of that size. Berlin and Paris have more to offer in this matter.

  4. Is Crossrail a solution? How about the concept of ‘s-bahn’ in the UK, some cities seem to have something similar, but essentially a rapid transit system across cities with fewer stops but still within the urban environment.

  5. Crossrail could be a solution. I just don’t get why the line that is proposed to use this tunnel has only two branches on each end of the tunnel section.

    An S-Bahn for British cities would surely be an improvement. What British cities have now seem to be rather poor. Services on rail lines that must have been built and operated by competing companies. S-Bahn, however, is a concept of an integrated network. To turn the existing rail lines into S-Bahn lines requires a lot of investment apart from cross-city tunnels. I spotted a lot of places where stations need to be added. Mainly at intersections of different rail lines.

    An S-Bahn has actually a similar stop frequency in built-up areas as a metro (800 .. 1200 m). Rail services in Germany that leave out stops run on mainline tracks. The Regional-Express lines through Berlin offer such a service.

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