Direct train to Europe

This is a good post to follow our Berlin adventures, and explains why we had to fly EasyJet rather than get a direct train London-Berlin.  In this article, the BBC looks at the new Eurostar service to Marseille and gives some thought to why we haven’t got direct trains elsewhere in Europe….

You can now board a train in London and a few hours later get off by the Mediterranean – the new direct service between St Pancras and Marseille is the furthest passengers have ever been able to go on a train from Britain without getting off. But why, more than 20 years after the Channel Tunnel opened, have direct services to the rest of Europe been so slow arriving?……

In a way the most straightforward problem to explain is the technology.  You can’t run any old train through the tunnel – currently only the Eurostar trains themselves comply with safety regulations.  In addition you need to have all the signalling systems on board for every country you pass through – and no two major countries use exactly the same system. Eurostars are already crammed with the equipment for the UK, for France and for Belgium and there’s physically no room for anything else….

One factor which may have changed since Eurostar began is how long passengers will sit on a train.  After 9/11 air travel started to become far more time-consuming….   People used to say no-one wanted to be on a train for more than three hours but I think four would now be more accurate.  That’s talking about business travel. If people are travelling for leisure – and if we can make their journey definitely part of the holiday – then probably six or seven hours is acceptable to the right destination……

The start of Eurostar pretty much coincided with the launch of budget airlines in Europe. That did for some of the more ambitious plans and competition with air is the second big consideration hindering expansion…..

The third big problem complicating expansion of services through the tunnel (is) Britain not being part of the EU Schengen treaty and retaining passport controls…

.But this is a very poor excuse…

“Sadly some very attractive destinations are in the wrong place. How wonderful if you could get from London to Barcelona in under four hours on a train. Unfortunately geography is in the way.”


About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in ESNG, Inspiration, Out and about, Prototype and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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