High-speed trains vs. airline service

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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High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby lpetrich » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:44 am

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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby kaitoku » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:02 am

Some airlines are working with HSR, for mutual benefit:
http://www.asiatraveltips.com/news11/22 ... Rail.shtml

Also Air France code-shares with SNCF. Lufthansa with DB:
http://www.lufthansa.com/us/en/AIRail-T ... our-flight

Everything is not black or white, either/or, in many countries it can be "both".
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby jb9152 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:14 am

kaitoku wrote:Some airlines are working with HSR, for mutual benefit:
http://www.asiatraveltips.com/news11/22 ... Rail.shtml

Also Air France code-shares with SNCF. Lufthansa with DB:
http://www.lufthansa.com/us/en/AIRail-T ... our-flight

Everything is not black or white, either/or, in many countries it can be "both".


That is the only business model, IMHO, that will work for HSR in the United States. HSR needs to connect urban centers and airports to one another in traditional short- to medium-hop air routes. HSR could work as a code share with airlines that also can connect you to downtowns.

Build it between nowhere and nowhere, and it's *bound* to fail.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby jbvb » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:14 am

I just returned from a trip where I used Air France's excellent TGV connections from Charles de Gaulle. The travel sites won't tell you it's a train, though; the clue you have to catch is codes like ZYR (Brussels Centraal) and notes to the effect of "not the regular airport". I didn't use Heathrow, in part because it's so tiresome to either change flights or get to St. Pancras for the Chunnel.

Here, we've barely gotten to the point where airport managers consider good local transit a priority. EWR, BWI and PVD sit on the corridor, but the Acelas blow right by. Not the case at Frankfurt Flughavn.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby cloudship » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:09 pm

The irony of the whole thing is that decent rail connections could very well be the answer to many airlines problems. The battle over service to small airports, for instance - if you could tie those to decent rail lines that then connected to airports, you would still provide service to those communities, airlines could even sell tickets, but they wouldn't need to even fly those routes! Or in cases where the main airport is far away from the city center - this would provide connections to not only the main city, but also smaller communities along the way. As soon as we can get over the idea that trains have to still be lumbering old things, and that you have to choose either air travel or trains, not both, then maybe we can get somewhere.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:43 pm

cloudship wrote:The irony of the whole thing is that decent rail connections could very well be the answer to many airlines problems. The battle over service to small airports, for instance - if you could tie those to decent rail lines that then connected to airports, you would still provide service to those communities, airlines could even sell tickets, but they wouldn't need to even fly those routes!


If a city is small enough or isolated enough to require subsidized "Essential Air Service," it's also too small and too isolated to support passenger rail.


cloudship wrote: Or in cases where the main airport is far away from the city center - this would provide connections to not only the main city, but also smaller communities along the way. As soon as we can get over the idea that trains have to still be lumbering old things, and that you have to choose either air travel or trains, not both, then maybe we can get somewhere.


This already the case for many secondary airports serviced by discount airlines in Europe. Your flight on Ryanair might just be followed by a ride on a commuter train before you reach the destination city. However, it's clear that this is a role for commuter rail, not HSR.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby jb9152 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:01 pm

goodnightjohnwayne wrote:This already the case for many secondary airports serviced by discount airlines in Europe. Your flight on Ryanair might just be followed by a ride on a commuter train before you reach the destination city. However, it's clear that this is a role for commuter rail, not HSR.


I don't think that's entirely right, although I see your point. The short- to medium-hop aviation market is where HSR could hit its sweet spot. It makes sense, as average trip lengths for air passengers increase (as they have over the last 5 to 10 years), to serve those trips with HSR in a "code share" arrangement. HSR trains should serve airports and CBDs for large cities. I can't see another market that truly makes sense.
Last edited by jb9152 on Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:52 pm

Incidentally, Amtrak already code-shares with Continental Airlines: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/co ... mtrak.aspx. I thought I remembered a similar arrangement at KMKE, but I don't think that's an official code-share. In either case, only the Wilmington/Philadelphia to Newark service is really high-speed, with Metro-North's relatively slow railroad from New Haven south.

And I bet very few of you have seen the airport codes for New Haven Station, CT (ZVE), Stamford Station, CT (ZTF), Philadelphia 30th Street Station, PA (ZFV), or Wilmington Station, DE (ZWI).
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby justalurker66 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:47 pm

I'd like to see trains connecting airports ... but much of the push for HSR seems to be connecting downtown to downtown and unless the airport is a stop on the way to downtown I don't see much cooperation between those pushing for city center connecting services and those considering rails to airport service.

I took a Midway to Orlando flight a few weeks back and looked at the alternatives for getting to the airport. NICTD would have been the best rail option although I would have still had to make a connection to CTA from downtown to get to the airport. There is also a shuttle bus from South Bend that goes right to the airport. Both options were eliminated by the timing of my return flight ... no trains home after 7:10pm weekdays (unless I drove to Michigan City) and no bus home after 9:15pm. So I drove over two hours to wait two hours (early check in rules) to fly for about two hours. It would have been nice to have been able to take a train.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby jb9152 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:58 pm

justalurker66 wrote:I'd like to see trains connecting airports ... but much of the push for HSR seems to be connecting downtown to downtown and unless the airport is a stop on the way to downtown I don't see much cooperation between those pushing for city center connecting services and those considering rails to airport service.


I think you need to do both to have a compelling business case for HSR.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby jamesinclair » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:21 pm

goodnightjohnwayne wrote:If a city is small enough or isolated enough to require subsidized "Essential Air Service," it's also too small and too isolated to support passenger rail.
.


Nope. The main difference is that air flights are point-to-point ONLY. Rail provides connections. So while essential air provides one, and only one connection, rail provides a whole parade of them.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby justalurker66 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:03 pm

jamesinclair wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:If a city is small enough or isolated enough to require subsidized "Essential Air Service," it's also too small and too isolated to support passenger rail.
.


Nope. The main difference is that air flights are point-to-point ONLY. Rail provides connections. So while essential air provides one, and only one connection, rail provides a whole parade of them.


The best flights are non-stop - with second best being flights that stop then continue and below that flights where changing planes is required. Most regional airports are only the first hop - a connecting flight to a better airport - and that is the role an airport connecting train would perform.

The "Essential Air Service" cities may be a milepost on a high speed line. That city itself would NOT support the service ... the service would be supported by people passing through. People who would prefer that their HSR journey not be slowed by milk run stops. It seems everyone wants HSR to stop in their towns but no one wants the trains to just pass through.

Providing connections slows the route down. Toledo to Chicago via HSR sounds good ... and people would fly that connection to get to airports Toledo is not directly connected to. Toledo to Chicago with a stop in Fort Wayne and and Warsaw and Plymouth and Valparaiso and Gary? We're starting to get a milk run.

How you see these trains is a matter of perspective. You could view Toledo to Chicago as a five stop route with 21 connections built in to one train or six connecting point to point journeys. No one would take a five stop flight from Toledo to Chicago - but one stop or two stop flights are performing the same sort of "multiple connection" links that trains would provide.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:57 pm

jamesinclair wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:If a city is small enough or isolated enough to require subsidized "Essential Air Service," it's also too small and too isolated to support passenger rail.
.


Nope. The main difference is that air flights are point-to-point ONLY. Rail provides connections. So while essential air provides one, and only one connection, rail provides a whole parade of them.


It depends on which city pair you're talking about. Many passenger rail connections are impractical due to the time element, not to mention the need to go in the wrong direction before you go in the right one. Part of the problem is the skeletal passenger rail network, the miniscule number of daily frequencies, but there are routing issues go back to the steam era. In many cases, modern interstate highways have better and more direct routes between populations centers than the railroad ever had.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:58 pm

justalurker66 wrote:
jamesinclair wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:If a city is small enough or isolated enough to require subsidized "Essential Air Service," it's also too small and too isolated to support passenger rail.
.


Nope. The main difference is that air flights are point-to-point ONLY. Rail provides connections. So while essential air provides one, and only one connection, rail provides a whole parade of them.


The best flights are non-stop - with second best being flights that stop then continue and below that flights where changing planes is required. Most regional airports are only the first hop - a connecting flight to a better airport - and that is the role an airport connecting train would perform.

The "Essential Air Service" cities may be a milepost on a high speed line. That city itself would NOT support the service ... the service would be supported by people passing through. People who would prefer that their HSR journey not be slowed by milk run stops. It seems everyone wants HSR to stop in their towns but no one wants the trains to just pass through.

Providing connections slows the route down. Toledo to Chicago via HSR sounds good ... and people would fly that connection to get to airports Toledo is not directly connected to. Toledo to Chicago with a stop in Fort Wayne and and Warsaw and Plymouth and Valparaiso and Gary? We're starting to get a milk run.

How you see these trains is a matter of perspective. You could view Toledo to Chicago as a five stop route with 21 connections built in to one train or six connecting point to point journeys. No one would take a five stop flight from Toledo to Chicago - but one stop or two stop flights are performing the same sort of "multiple connection" links that trains would provide.


Forget about passenger rail to Toledo. Toledo represented a later stage of 3C, and that proposal is gone for good.
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Re: High-speed trains vs. airline service

Postby justalurker66 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:01 pm

goodnightjohnwayne wrote:Forget about passenger rail to Toledo. Toledo represented a later stage of 3C, and that proposal is gone for good.


Not true. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was in Indiana yesterday talking about the plan. The Chicago to Toledo link I mentioned was specifically discussed at the meeting.

Or as reported in the NWI Times
In fact, he said states like Indiana now have the chance to pick up those rejected funds for their own high-speed rail projects. But he also made it clear Indiana has to help itself with more vigorous support for the Midwest Regional Rail System, which would link nine states with a comprehensive high-speed rail system.

Three of its proposed routes would start in Chicago and come through Indiana on their way to Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The system also includes a planned station for those three routes near the Gary/Chicago International Airport.


Ohio may have stuck a fork in 3C ... but Chicago to Toledo wasn't part of that. The plans of the Midwest Regional Rail System are NOT "gone for good".
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