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Time to get political about trains?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Shocking statistic hidden in Fall-line skiing which I picked up yesterday - which I will fact-check tonight - said that Eurostar had a passenger volume of 11 million but a capacity of 40 million. What??!!?? Look, I know that trains to the Alps have to cross national boundaries if going to Switzerland and Austria, and that some of that unused volume will be at weird times of day and year, but WTF...for goodness sake can’t the train bureaucrats adopt the same rigorous financial modelling as airlines, and work on heavily discounted fares for vacant slots? This would mean we could travel to the Alps at unusual times - but you can sleep on trains at weird times of day and night - I know that I do since I travel for work on the train all the time - and I would be prepared to use those weird travel and arrival times.

This model of operating would be good for the train operators (and the cafes in stations, and the hotels around stations etc etc), good for us, and perhaps most important of all, good for the environment.

Why the hell don’t we get a lobby going - please let me know what you think and if there is enough sentiment out there I can start organising something - comms to the train wonks and the press......
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I think it's time to get political and start lobbying about the way the media reports statistics and the way social media lets statistics and facts get disseminated across the population. The average journalist couldn't accurately report a statistic even if their life depended on it.

First off... what is passenger capacity? the total number of available seats on the trains it runs? the total number of theoretical seats available if Eurostar ran a train in every single potentially available slot?

Does Easyjet, Ryanair etc. also run a plane in every single potentially available slot between 2 cities, totally maxed out?

If Eurostar are running trains at an *average* 25% full, then I would seriously expect that by now they would have chopped a lot of actual services from the schedule. Do they really runs some busy and lot almost empty? I'm going to guess that they probably don't.

Show me real numbers, from real sources, and then I can make an opinion. Office of Rail and Road is a source. A mag / newspaper / facebook feed / forum post is not a source.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I also assume the ‘green credentials’ of train travel assume full to capacity? Otherwise at 1/4 full there are 4 times more CO2 emissions.
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valais2 wrote:
but WTF...for goodness sake can’t the train bureaucrats adopt the same rigorous financial modelling as airlines, and work on heavily discounted fares for vacant slots?


If aviation fuel was taxed at the same rate as rail-travel then it might be a level playing field....

Arguably governments should make this move.
Flying would cost more - however encouraging people to the railways makes longer term sense.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
A quick google of that 40 million figure suggests that that is if they ran the maximum number of trains that the tunnel could handle, not the the number of seats currently moving through the tunnel. Presumably if there is demand they will keep increasing the number of trains running until the 40 million figure is reached. The times that I have used Eurostar it has felt almost full and I don't believe that the trains are running at an average of 25% capacity, the tunnel itself though is a different matter.
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I have quite often seen local trains running off peak running with just two or three passengers in them. TBF if trains were running at peak times only then there would be people who wanted to return at non peak times waiting for hours.

Why is this topic in The Piste section?
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achilles wrote:
I have quite often seen local trains running off peak running with just two or three passengers in them. TBF if trains were running at peak times only then there would be people who wanted to return at non peak times waiting for hours.

Why is this topic in The Piste section?


Local eurostar? Local trains and eurostar are different animals
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@mooney058, the thread title refers to Trains.
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The business model that Eurostar was commissioned under (just) pre-dated the rise of budget airlines. The case assumed Eurostar would be competing on London-Paris only with BA and Air France, who at the time were charging minimum £100 return. Under this assumption, it was written into the operating contract that Eurotunnel, who own the tunnel & track, levy each passenger that Eurostar carry £32 (return).

This has the effect of making it unviable for Eurostar to sell many tickets at rates that can really compete with budget airlines (say in the £50 return bracket) , and also - as empty seats do not attract the levy - provides a perverse incentive for Eurostar to run trains that are not at capacity, and which include (for example, in the old trains) whole carriages of empty Premier class seats.
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Quote:

Why is this topic in The Piste section?


+1 Puzzled
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Plus, Eurostar is a very London Centric thing. Anyone living outside the M25 is going to have to get to St Pancras via some other train service, or drive to the smoke, park up for a week somewhere and carry all their clobber on the Tube. Or drive to Ashford. For me it's 3 hours on the train to London (Waterloo), or a 2 hour drive. And then another hour on the tube.

Alternatively I can fly to Grenoble, Lyon or Geneva from Bristol, Exeter or Bournmouth - all of which are less than an hours drive, and as smaller airports parking/checkin/security is do-able (most days) in 20-30 minutes. A 90 minute flight and you can be out of the car park the other end before your Eurostar has even reached the chunnel. And on the way home if I get an early flight (pre 10am) I can be back in Yeovil in time for the Saturday afternoon game kick off.

And finally, I'm 6'6 tall. I've used Eurostar once - a Stag do in Brussels. Leg room was diabolical. What's the point of 'Airline style seating' on a train? If I want airline style seating I'll go on an airline! Ok probably no worse than Monarch was (which was the worst flight I've ever had), or Ryanair/Easyjet are, but you're only on the plane for an hour and a half, versus all day/night for the Eurostar.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Judwin, airline seats on a train are fab. who wants to be crammed into a 4 seat configuration with everybody's legs and a table in the way...especially if you are 6'6. I hate it and I'm only 5'4
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Quote:

@Judwin, airline seats on a train are fab. who wants to be crammed into a 4 seat configuration with everybody's legs and a table in the way...especially if you are 6'6. I hate it and I'm only 5'4


See that's the problem with putting short ar5es in charge of such decisions (no offence to you in particular - most people are SA-es to me rolling eyes ) I used British rail lots and lots in the 80's and much prefer the Mark2/Mark3 rolling stock, which was 64 seats per carrage - 16 sets of 4 seats with a table in between - so 64 seats per carrage. I think modern rolling stock is 80+ seats per carrage, and most of the extra is achieved by cramming in more airline style seats.

The issue is that if you're tall your upper leg (hip to knee) is quite long, so your with the backs of your thighs on the seat your knees are very close/hit the back of the seat infront. And seats are generally very low to the floor too, so with your feet on the floor you can't get the back of your thighs on the seat so you end up with your knees up in the air too. And then *^£%&£ in-front of you reclines their seat. You end up bolt upright in the seat trying to contort your legs under the seat in front whilst the SA infront of you is basically lying down in their seat.

At least Ryanair and (most) Easyjet planes have has the seat recline removed/deleted. And you're only on them 90 minutes.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Judwin, It sounds like you travelled on Eurostar some time ago, which would be on the old trains. The new trains have a seat pitch in standard class of 82.5cm - this compares to 76.5cm in Ryanair.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Judwin, there's no pleasing either of us! the seats on our new trains are too high - I have short legs and my feet don't sit on the floor properly - very uncomfortable
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

@Judwin, It sounds like you travelled on Eurostar some time ago, which would be on the old trains. The new trains have a seat pitch in standard class of 82.5cm - this compares to 76.5cm in Ryanair.


Yes it was a long time ago probably late 90's, but IMV you're comparing apples and pears. Obviously the actual seat design is important, but I find 29/30" seat pitch is tolerable (for me) on a 90-120 minute flight. The monarch flight was 28" on a B757 and thereafter I actively avoided any package holiday with a MON flight number.

For 3+ hours I'd chose airlines with 34" seat pitch. I avoid BA for medium/long haul (typically 32" pitch), and for Australia I've normally gone SQ coz QF were dreadful too when I thought I'd give them a go. Eurostar to the alps counts as long haul for me, so I'd be looking for 34" (86cm) too.

But ultimately it comes back to time - Why would I spend 8-9 hours on a train when I can spend 90 minutes on a plane?
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Quote:

Why is this topic in The Piste section?

The translation of piste from French is "track" trains run on tracks. Very Happy
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

@Judwin, there's no pleasing either of us! the seats on our new trains are too high - I have short legs and my feet don't sit on the floor properly - very uncomfortable


True. And don't get me started on cash machines, or supermarkets putting everything I want on the bottom shelves. Very Happy Or toilet seats when I've got a bad back.

I've just measured my work chair (which I built myself from bits on eBay) - it's 26" from floor to top of the seat cushion, and I'm 26" from seat back to knee cap if sitting bolt upright (rather than my normal slouch).
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When I compared the costs of flying vs train the Tignes, train came out about £20 cheaper and an extra day on skis.

Train
Park at mums & she gives me a lift to Darlington station, single fare paid to Eurostar from DAR to BSM via Kings X/St Pancras then local bus to Tignes les brev

Fly
Drive 70+ miles to LBA or MAN, pay for parking, cost of flight, cost of ski carriage, cost of transfer from GVA, (usually more than the flight)

There are so many variables that it is impossible to make a one fits all generalisation.
Geographical location of home & chosen resort compared to stations & airports.
Number of travellers.
Personal preferences
Physical nature of the traveller.
I chose the train that time as I was travelling alone but the extra day on skis was not that enjoyable as I was tired after not getting to sleep on the train.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Fri 17-01-20 6:57; edited 1 time in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I'm using Eurostar more often this season, three or four trips. Travelling solo it's probably the cheapest option for me, door to door. I can get to St Pancras fairly easily in less than an hour, via Piccadilly Line on the Underground or SWTrains to Waterloo and then a few stops across town on the Underground. Straight through to Bourg St Maurice and from there a short walk to the Funicular (cost of travel included on my season pass), and seven minutes ride up to Arc 1600, and from there a free resort shuttle bus to Arc 1800. About 10.5 hours door to door, which is slower than flying (if I rent a car at the airport) but a little quicker than driving. Less travel stress for me than flying, but not as convenient as driving.
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rob@rar wrote:
I'm using Eurostar more often this season, three or four trips. Travelling solo it's probably the cheapest option for me, door to door. I can get to St Pancras fairly easily in less than an hour, via Piccadilly Line on the Underground or SWTrains to Waterloo and then a few stops across town on the Underground. Straight through to Bourg St Maurice and from there a short walk to the Funicular (cost of travel included on my season pass), and seven minutes ride up to Arc 1600, and from there a free resort shuttle bus to Arc 1800. About 10.5 hours door to door, which is slower than flying (if I rent a car at the airport) but a little quicker than driving. Less travel stress for me than flying, but not as convenient as driving.


sounds really good TBH - is that overnight?
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holidayloverxx wrote:
@Judwin, there's no pleasing either of us! the seats on our new trains are too high - I have short legs and my feet don't sit on the floor properly - very uncomfortable


Well to cater for both short and tall people I guess the seats could in theory be provided with height adjustment (like car driver seats) at some additional cost! Toofy Grin (although I expect the additional cost might be relatively minor as a fraction of the total cost of manufacturing a fitted out train compartment).
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
The only practical way for me to go skiing in the alps is to fly. Going by train is both too expensive and too time consuming.
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jedster wrote:
sounds really good TBH - is that overnight?
No, daytime service. My days of doing the night time ski train are well behind me!
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Trains are one of the biggest scams of all time.

Trillions of dollars lost over decades worldwide.

Eurostar has been running at ~50% capacity for passengers and ~10% for freight since the 1990s.
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Rabbie wrote:
The only practical way for me to go skiing in the alps is to fly. Going by train is both too expensive and too time consuming.


Indeed, it's just not viable from Scotland unfortunately.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Whitegold wrote:
...Eurostar has been running at ... ~10% [capacity] for freight since the 1990s.

Not bad at all, given that Eurostar doen't actively carry any freight! Very Happy
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Since last April, I live just a 10 min drive away from Newcastle airport, I can actually walk there in 1 hr! Not with ski gear though Shocked
Even if I have to fly via AMS, it's the best way for me now.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I have just taken a look at the terms and conditions for the standard tickets.

unlike the likes of eayjet and Ryanair, albiet with an administration fee for a name change, you are unable to swap your ticket with someone else, though you can change the time/date/route with the same fare structure (with a £30 admin fee).

so if your plans change after booking you are stuffed, hardly encouraging to book in advance!!!!!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I had my fingers burned with rail for a ski break recently. I booked to travel to Geneva and back. It was more expensive but I fancied a bit of a change and an adventure. Unfortunately, my outward leg on Eurostar was cancelled due to strike action. Rather than deal with uncertainties of changing my travel times (which was not really an option) and the ongoing concerns of whether my trains back would be running, I decided to abandon my rail plans and fly instead. Booked low cost flights no problem, at a considerably lower price than the original train costs.

And here's where the problems start...to keep my (already expensive) costs down for train travel down, some of my tickets were non-refundable tickets. I managed to obtain a refund for the Paris-Geneva leg as it was semi-flexible, and the cancelled outbound Eurostar, but the rest - no chance.

Some other observations:
1) My travel insurance didn't cover strike action.
2) Even though I booked my journey as one end - to -end transaction (through RailEurope), each leg is seen as an individual journey. So my ticket from my starting station to London was seen as a 'viable journey' because the TOC was running it. It wasn't a viable journey for me though, because it was to pick up a connection which no longer existed!
3) You could avoid all this hassle by booking flexible tickets for all stages of the journey, but watch the costs escalate...
4) Strike action aside, if you read the travel sections of insurance policies, they seem to be geared up for dealing with flight disruptions rather than other modes of transport.

If rail travel is to become an attractive alternative, some of this needs to be addressed I think.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I work closely alongside Eurostar and some trains will be busy and some trains will not. It's all about demand....

A quiet train at this time of year may well be busy at a different time of year.

If Eurostar change their timetable to reduce the number of services that they run then the slots that they use to go through the Channel Tunnel are lost to them. They may then be picked up by Eurotunnel or by a freight service. However, there are constant rumours about other train operators being able to run services through the Tunnel (Deutsche Bahn have done it as a test) but at present Eurostar have the monopoly. They probably want to retain as many slots as possible in case of future competition.

And Eurostar do not carry freight.
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