August 14, 2003

Cured of Eurostar

Patrick Crozier | Eurostar | Inter-modal Competition

All is not well with Stephen Pollard:

Benjamin Franklin defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results each time. Clearly, dear reader, I am insane.
But you knew that. But Pollard thinks he has identified the cause: frequent use of Eurostar:
For two years I have taken the Eurostar to Brussels and for two years I have had exactly the same experience: a service that does not even begin to do what it should, in almost every respect. And yet for those same two years I have carried on in exactly the same way, taking the same train out and the same train back, as if somehow things will improve.
There are the delays...:
The delays, however, are almost the least of it. (And, despite the myth, they rarely take place on the British side.) If the rest of the service was not reminiscent of the now defunct Belgian airline Sabena (which used to be thought an acronym for Such A Bloody Experience Never Again), it might be bearable. But the old British Rail on a bad day almost always did better than the Eurostar.
But Pollard has discovered an alternative. It's called a plane:
Joy! Quick check in, clean departure lounge, 50-minute flight, no hassle (cost: £60). I was in my Brussels flat less than three hours after shutting my London door. I have discovered the journey of the future. And it doesn't involve the Eurostar.
Which neatly encapsulates the reasons why Eurostar is in big trouble: the conqueror of the plane is about to become its victim.

All of this is pretty horrifying. Both Eurotunnel (the tunnel's owners) and Eurostar are in trouble. Could it be that the tunnel is going to go bust? I doubt it - there's too much prestige bound up in it. But it sure as hell tells us what happens when governments attempt to pick winners.

Trackbacks

Comments

I read this on his site the other day, I thought at the time that he might come to regret this. The airline will be swamped and he'll be unable to get a look in.

Oh, unless, that is, he has an arrangement with them for preferential treatment after giving them all this free publicity ;-).

Posted by mark holland on August 14, 2003

Ironic, in that Eurostar has been considered by some transport commentators as a 'grounded airline', in that it's not really intergrated in any way with the railway systems on either side of the channel.

Part of it is the demands by HM Customs and Immigration, who have given us the cumbersome check-in and immigration clearance procedures, that wipe out some of what should be rail's convenience over air.

They also scuppered the services to the regions; like the long-distance international servicesnon the continent, those trains would never have been economically viable unless they could carry domestic as well as international passengers. In order to carry out customs and immigration checks on board the trains (as is commonplace in Europe), they demanded an entire carraige to contain cells and interview rooms.

Posted by Tim Hall on August 14, 2003

But hang about aren't the existing Eurostars at least in part domestic: London to Ashford, Paris to Lille? Or is there some special arrangement?

Posted by Patrick Crozier on August 15, 2003

The trouble is that you may not ride on them for domestic journeys, in either France or Britain. You must board on one side of the Channel and get off on the other. Therefore they cannot carry passengers from London to Ashford, or Lille to Paris or Calais to Paris (or Lille or Calais to Brussels either for that matter). This (and a couple of other factors, one of which is the length of the trains) is a big reason why substantial numbers of services beyond Paris are not presently viable.

I will write a post on what I think is wrong with Eurostar, and put it up over the next couple of days.

Posted by Michael Jennings on August 15, 2003

GNER use Eurostar trains on their East Coast service. Initially they were in plain old Eurostar livery but shortly after they got painted up in GNER colours*.

Why they shouldn't fit onto the French system is a mystery to me. I eagerly await Michael's post to find out why.

*I know this because I work in the building sharing the photo with this GNER eurostar train here http://217.45.250.217/rail-net-archive/gner_eurostar-1/image012.jpg (from this site http://www.rail-net.co.uk/photo-archive/gner_eurostar-1/gner_eurostar-1.htm)

Posted by mark holland on August 15, 2003

The problem isn't the trains themselves (the sets used by GNER are those originally built for north-of-London services)

Six Eurostar sets and six trains of locomotive-hauled stock (for overnight services) were built for services beyond London. Because they weren't allowed to carry domestic passengers on the lengthy section of the run within Britain, the services would not have been economically viable.

Some of the Eurostar sets are now in service with GNER, as already mentioned. The locomotive-hauled coaches, including sleeping cars, were eventually sold at a knock-down price to Canada.

Posted by Tim Hall on August 15, 2003

The Eurostars used by GNER are some of the sets originally built for the North-of-London services.

There were six Eurostar sets and six sets of locomotive-hauled stock for services beyond London, intended to serve Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff and Plymouth. Because they weren't allowed to carry domestic passengers on the lengthy portion of the run within Britain, the services would never be economically viable.

GNER took some of the Eurostar sets, while the hauled stock got sold at a knock-down price to Canada. The locomotives that would have pulled them (not new build, but refurbished 1960s class 37s) were sold the the freight operator DRS.

Posted by Tim Hall on August 15, 2003

How were they supposed to get to Cardiff of Plymouth without any power? Would the GWR lines have been electrified had these trains been allowed? Seems a huge lot of money just for a few trains.

Posted by mark holland on August 15, 2003

To answer Mark's question, they were going to be diesel-hauled west of London, with electric locomotives used through the tunnel. The Glasgow train would have been electrically-hauled throughout.

Several pairs of class 37 diesels were refurbished, with generating vans converted from redundant sleeping cars to power the train heating and air-conditioning. The 37s are now in the hands of DRS (part of British Nuclear Fuels), while the generator vans are gathering dust somewhere.

There are also seven class 92 dual-voltage electric locomotives, the type used for freight haulage through the tunnel. They were used by EWS for a period for freight haulage (EWS has it's own fleet of forty-odd of them), but are now up for sale.

Posted by Tim Hall on August 15, 2003

Permalink
 
 IN BRIEF

November 23, 2004

'Captain commuter' wins Sydney a free day on the trains ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Darling's saver ticket for slow-train Britain - he's going to do everything but close them ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
November 21, 2004

Tollroads Jamaican style - worth it if only for the pic of the toll plaza ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
November 20, 2004

Postive externalities come to DC - sort of ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Railways safer than ever - says Christian Wolmar ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Is graffiti art? - LFTTR think the question misses the point. FWIW I think many artists clearly have a lot of talent and it's a shame they don't have an appropriate, nay, legal outlet. ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Book review - Subterranean Railway by Christian Wolmar ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

One airline, 4 crashes, 8 dead: the real price of sugar snap peas in November ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
November 17, 2004

British Transport Films Collection DVD Volume One - Surely a must for any transport afficionado. It will be released just in time for Christmas. ...link
MH | Comments (0)
November 15, 2004

Crossrail website ...link
MH | Comments (0)
November 11, 2004

Brake fault forces Virgin to cut speed on flagship tilting trains - you know, just for once it sounds as if the HSE could be right ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
November 08, 2004

TV Alert "When trains crash", 1930 Channel 5 tonight. Talk about timing ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)
November 07, 2004

Ufton Nervet crash - 6 now confirmed dead ...link
PCCC | Comments (4)
November 06, 2004

One person dead as train derails ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
November 04, 2004

FirstGroup wants to add the tracks to its trains - that's brave ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
November 02, 2004

Car charge to rise to £6 ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 30, 2004

Psst wanna buy a railway station? ...link
MH | Comments (0)
October 26, 2004

'Kart Vader' - He tears around Quebec City at 100mph. In a go kart. At night. Wearing black. And he films it. Spotted by Jay Jardine. ...link
MH | Comments (0)
October 24, 2004

The downside of auto-mobile bans - drivers text instead ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Councils ban shrines to road crash victims - a story that neatly combines both transport and the issue of the day: mawkish sentimentality ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 20, 2004

The air hostess, the long hair and the sun roof - one of the more imaginative ways of staying awake at the wheel. ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Wheelchair-using MP travelled in 'cattle truck' - so, that's just the same as the rest of us then ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)

23 escape from burning train ...link
PCCC | Comments (3)

Wikipedia accuracy under fire - so, it's back on with the Glossary? ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 19, 2004

Rail chief quits after four months - walking away from £130,000. Golly ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 14, 2004

New comment on old posting - Tim Hall explains the story of the Highland Railway, its new locos and its soon-to-be-ex-Chief Mechanical engineer ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Out now: DVD version of leaves on the line ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 13, 2004

New link - Transport Watch UK. Lots of facts, lot of comparisons. Doesn't look good for rail ...link
PCCC | Comments (4)
October 11, 2004

Take the car and save the planet - walking kills, apparently ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Hybrids better than the real thing - golly ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Don't invest in mega-projects - says Peter Gordon ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 05, 2004

Prescott backs plan to reopen branch rail lines - well, he says he does ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)
October 04, 2004

New Glossary Entry - the Advanced Passenger Train ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 03, 2004

People are building their own speed cameras - One fellow is even selling fully functioning ones ...link
MH | Comments (0)

Pendolinos and Voyagers may prove to be one of privatisation's disasters - says Christian Wolmar ...link
PCCC | Comments (11)

Omedetō gozaimasu! - Tech Central Station on the 40th anniversary of the Shinkansen ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 02, 2004

Compulsory purchase to go - in US? Johnathan Pearce has some musings ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
October 01, 2004

Indian railway runs out of wheels - because it refuses to import ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

All for sprawl - Tyler Cowen links to a couple of articles including one from the NY Times magazine which is attracting a lot of attention ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)

Underground maps as art - according to Brian ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 30, 2004

Recent comment - Uncle Roger on the difficulty in working out accurate subsidy figures ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Europe by train - Tim Hall on Stephen Karlson's adventures ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Carpool lanes = communist gulags - Tim Hall is beginning to get it, possibly ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 29, 2004

P&O axes 1,200 jobs as ferry travel sails into past ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)
September 27, 2004

Hurtling towards a £7.6bn bill at full tilt - Alistair Osborne on the WCRM fiasco. Actually, I thought £7.6bn was on the low side ...link
PCCC | Comments (2)
September 26, 2004

A double-decked shame - RJ3 laments the passing of the Routemaster. It's those EU bastards, I tell you ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Tilting trains are rubbish - according to Ross Clark. Now he tells us ...link
PCCC | Comments (2)

Delays plummet by 28% - says Network Rail ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 25, 2004

New glossary item - the Health and Safety Executive - in which I demonstrate my almost complete ignorance of this institution ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Scant improvement in train times - according to latest figures ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 22, 2004

EU plan will hit safe women drivers - and it's all in the name of sex equality ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Unions gang up to demand railway renationalisation - they mean it isn't already? ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)
September 21, 2004

Top car makers support road-jam charging - Ford, GM, Honda, Daimler ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Journey times cut as 125mph tilting train sets record - after £8bn and the odd bankruptcy tilting trains that actually tilt are finally here ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 18, 2004

ABD calls for environmental audit of public transport - all those particulates ...link
PCCC | Comments (2)

Camera Partnerships must come clean on real causes of accidents - says ABD ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 16, 2004

The Green Quadratic - ASI paper on planning from 1988. Now available on-line ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 14, 2004

Up with conductors - they're really good, you know ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)

Speeding Britons fined in car race to Spain - "Among the cars were Ferraris, Porsches and Rolls-Royces." ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

MPs to lose free airport parking - oh, how my heart bleeds ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

The case against driving licences - Paul Clark in Lew Rockwell ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 10, 2004

Drivers trade privacy for insurance discounts ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 08, 2004

Free mints infuriate delayed commuters - some even threw them away, ingrates ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)

Privatize the roads! Liberate the streets! All we have to lose are our parking tickets! - Anthony Gregory in Lew Rockwell ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

M6 Toll hits 10m journey mark - er, about a month ago ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 07, 2004

California high-speed rail plan - all sorts of claims being made but Peter Gordon doesn't like the precedents ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 06, 2004

Swedish farmer fined 1,211 kronor for illegally parking a snowmobile in Warwick - Krister Nylander lives 205 north of Stockholm and has never been to Warwick. "They can wait till Hell freezes over and I can get to Britain on my snowmobile to pay the fine.” ...link
MH | Comments (0)
September 05, 2004

"Obsession is not too strong a word to describe how railway enthusiasts feel about railways" - Matthew Parris goes to Peru and meets some trainspotters ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 03, 2004

Hidden costs do not justify the level of tax on petrol in Britain - says Graham Seargeant ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Shovelling cash - utilities to pay for digging up roads ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Alistair Morton, builder of the Channel Tunnel, is dead ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Government 'willed' Railtrack to fail - says Corbett ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Cyclists saddled with seafront speed trap - in Bournemouth ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)

Historic Amsterdam tram photos Aaaah. Where's amg going to pitch up next? ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Why so little US electrification? - Tim Hall ponders the answer ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 02, 2004

London Underground Map - as it really is. ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Electric v steam - in 1923. But who won ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Freight or passenger in the US? - they're in conflict. Stephen Karlson considers the options ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
September 01, 2004

Fares and charge up in London - says Livingstone ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

'Fair fines' planned for speeding drivers ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Railtrack is cleared over Hatfield crash ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
August 31, 2004

Thousands 'ready to quit Aslef' - where would we be without brotherly love ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
August 30, 2004

Rural watchdog attacks road sign blight - See it's not just me who can't abide the avalanche of street furniture. ...link
MH | Comments (0)

What the traffic will bear - Bob Poole discusses the merits of tolling ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Prague trams - photos. Aaah ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
August 24, 2004

What if you can't drive? - Catallarchy's Sean Lynch considers the options ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

97% of accidents within speed limit - according to the ABD ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)
August 22, 2004

Prosecute motorway lane hogs - says RAC ...link
PCCC | Comments (3)
August 20, 2004

Radio tags for congestion charge? ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

World's longest road opens - in Russia ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Sprawl is cheap - says Iain Murray ...link
PCCC | Comments (1)
August 19, 2004

Strike threat to BA and Eurostar ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Toll roads are safer - at least according to my reading of this Marginal Revolution post ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Peking metro to hit 1000km mark - I'm not sure even London's is that long ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
August 15, 2004

Squander Two calmly talks about speed cameras ...link
MH | Comments (1)

Parking anarchy in St Albans - Police withdraw traffic wardens, Herts council won't have any until October, it's bedlam! ...link
MH | Comments (0)

The future of transport - as seen from the past ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Trains less efficient than cars - yes, I know, it's old news ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)

Ferry solution, please - Eamonn Butler wonders how you could introduce competition to a subsidised ferry service in the Western Isles ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)
August 14, 2004

Drink less, speed less, save on insurance - Marginal Revolution has the story ...link
PCCC | Comments (0)