• France bans flights that trains would take under 2.5 hours to do

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by STrRedWolf
 
https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/04/fr ... 2-5-hours/
On Sunday, the French National Assembly voted to ban some short-haul flights in favor of train travel. If the measure is formally approved, it would mean the end to domestic flights on routes where the journey could also be completed by train in 2.5 hours or less.

It's the kind of news that will have some cheering in delight as one of the world's richest nations makes a strong statement about the need to cut carbon emissions. However, there will probably be less impact than you might first expect. For one thing, connecting flights won't be affected, so international travelers won't have to worry about having to navigate the train system from Charles De Gaulle International airport.

In fact, French lawmakers are only proposing to cancel five routes in total. Yes, just five: Paris Orly to Bordeaux, Paris Orly to Lyon, Paris Orly to Nantes, Paris Orly to Rennes, and Lyon to Marseille. And while France has a high-speed train network that we in America can only look at with envy, the French government is just as happy to provide state support for its airlines as trains—last week it announced it would invest $4.8 billion (€4 billion) in Air France to help that airline as it weathers the pandemic.
If applied in the US, that would ban NYC to Philadelphia or Baltimore flights, and maybe NYC to DC flights.
  by kitchin
 
Is this passing into law assured?

France really goes all out. A €100 surcharge would have been another way.

I was surprised to see you can now take the TGV from Paris to Zurich, on the far end of Switzerland, in four hours.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Grief; that 17yo Swedish kid has sure become the face of a movement in Europe - almost to the extent that George Floyd has become over here with Black Lives Matter.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:16 am Grief; that 17yo Swedish kid has sure become the face of a movement in Europe - almost to the extent that George Floyd has become over here with Black Lives Matter.
Um, what has this have to do with the ban?
  by Pensyfan19
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 6:56 am
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:16 am Grief; that 17yo Swedish kid has sure become the face of a movement in Europe - almost to the extent that George Floyd has become over here with Black Lives Matter.
Um, what has this have to do with the ban?
Greta Thunberg has long been an advocate of rail transport and low emission forms of transportation. She took a sailboat from Europe to the U.S. to prevent using a plane, since planes produce the most amount of carbon emissions when compared to other forms of transportation. Therefore, a ban on flights shorter than 2.5 hours is a great step towards a green future, and should be implemented in the U.S. to further promote rail transport, especially in the rail-friendly green-encouraged Biden administration.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:33 am Greta Thunberg has long been an advocate of rail transport and low emission forms of transportation. She took a sailboat from Europe to the U.S. to prevent using a plane, since planes produce the most amount of carbon emissions when compared to other forms of transportation. Therefore, a ban on flights shorter than 2.5 hours is a great step towards a green future, and should be implemented in the U.S. to further promote rail transport, especially in the rail-friendly green-encouraged Biden administration.
I didn't see her mentioned in the article, thus the confusion.

Still... it makes me wonder what pairings would qualify outside of DC/Baltimore to NYC/Philly/Harrisburg. I think Chicago to maybe Indianapolis? Others can research pairings.
  by eolesen
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:33 amplanes produce the most amount of carbon emissions when compared to other forms of transportation.
Conditionally false.

On trips over 600 miles, air travel becomes more efficient than cars.

I suspect on a weighted basis, Amtrak running at 30% load factors is actually worse than a jet at 80%. But no climate study ever seems to present that comparison using actual average load factors.....
  by MattW
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 11:51 am
Pensyfan19 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:33 am Greta Thunberg has long been an advocate of rail transport and low emission forms of transportation. She took a sailboat from Europe to the U.S. to prevent using a plane, since planes produce the most amount of carbon emissions when compared to other forms of transportation. Therefore, a ban on flights shorter than 2.5 hours is a great step towards a green future, and should be implemented in the U.S. to further promote rail transport, especially in the rail-friendly green-encouraged Biden administration.
I didn't see her mentioned in the article, thus the confusion.

Still... it makes me wonder what pairings would qualify outside of DC/Baltimore to NYC/Philly/Harrisburg. I think Chicago to maybe Indianapolis? Others can research pairings.
The problem with rail over here is going to be frequencies. France can do this because many of these cities probably have 2 or more trains per hour (through some combination of services I'm sure) between them. STrRedWolf is right, outside of the NEC, the Pacific Surfliner, and the Piedmont, nowhere has corridor frequencies sufficient to replace commercial aircraft. Now some of them do have good competitive time, but if there's only one train per day, then it isn't well used.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Chicago to Champaign would be close, and probably so would a few other big city to small city airport trips. The thing there is that the airports have such low frequencies that probably hardly anyone flies out of them unless they are connecting to another flight, and it's hard to picture forcing people to take the current train or bus from Champaign to Midway or O'Hare, a project of more than four hours involving several blocks of sidewalk btwn CUS and the subway or the el.. But
  by STrRedWolf
 
MattW wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:05 pm The problem with rail over here is going to be frequencies. France can do this because many of these cities probably have 2 or more trains per hour (through some combination of services I'm sure) between them. STrRedWolf is right, outside of the NEC, the Pacific Surfliner, and the Piedmont, nowhere has corridor frequencies sufficient to replace commercial aircraft. Now some of them do have good competitive time, but if there's only one train per day, then it isn't well used.
Looking over an old 2018 schedule... um... Piedmont/Carolinian combo between Raleigh and Charlotte is a little over 3 hours, and has 4 round trips.

The Cascades between Seattle and Portland would be another good pairing... but same problem with the timing and frequency.

The Capitol Corridor/Pacific Surfliner/San Joaquins is a bit better. If Amtrak had owned a South West Corridor here, the frequencies and timing would be better. Alas, no.

I hate chicken/egg problems...
  by wigwagfan
 
eolesen wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:16 pm I suspect on a weighted basis, Amtrak running at 30% load factors is actually worse than a jet at 80%. But no climate study ever seems to present that comparison using actual average load factors.....
It drives me insane how so many people will blanket that "trains are always more efficient than..." (name your mode of transport). No, trains can be more efficient, but under certain conditions.

For example, the Amtrak Cascades train between Portland and Seattle, in pre-COVID-19 times, routinely ran full or close to full, with nearly 300 passengers. Nice. But Portland to Eugene averaged around 90 boardings (not passengers on the train at once, but total boardings). You've got a 3,200 horsepower locomotive doing the work of two buses, but it's also hauling around a bunch of dead weight (the train itself).

Likewise, TriMet's WES Commuter Rail uses a DMU that has three engines - two 600 horsepower engines for propulsion, and one engine for onboard electrical needs, to do the work that two buses that are required to meet EPA Tier 4 regulations and are around 300 horsepower, does. Train gets 1 MPG; the buses get around 5. And that's not even factoring the absolutely pathetic ridership on the train, so that massively overweight train is spending most of that diesel just lugging itself down the track.

I'm all fine with restricting air travel between two reasonably close cities with a good, heavily used rail link, but in the United States those are simply hard to come by and are focused in a certain corner of the state that isn't the Pacific Northwest, or really anywhere west of Lake Michigan. Heck, 2.5 hours on the Cascades doesn't even get me to Seattle, it gets me to Tacoma, but I wouldn't bother flying to Tacoma since traffic on I-5 doesn't really become a problem until I get to Tacoma and by then I'm already on surface streets and smooth sailing.
  by wigwagfan
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:00 pm The Cascades between Seattle and Portland would be another good pairing... but same problem with the timing and frequency.
The Cascades is down to just one train a day Seattle-Portland. Last weekend it was a no-brainer - pay $150 for a round-trip for my daughter and I to go to Seattle (with a very early return on Sunday making that day virtually useless for me) or just drive.

Nobody dares think about flying from Portland to Seattle unless they're connecting onward (usually on an International flight). Last year JetSuiteX had announced starting up service but cancelled before a single flight took off, and now has no plans to restart.
  by electricron
 
There's that 3 hour rule I keep harping about popping up again. Cascades train services dropping to one train a day probably affects market share competition with airlines, but pre pandemic I expect the trains were winning Portland-Seattle with around 3 hours trip, but not Portland-Vancouver or Seattle-Eugene with greater than 5 hours trips.
I suppose we could look at some data from https://narprail.org/site/assets/files/3472/36.pdf
Trips by length, 2019
0- 99 miles 17.7%
100- 199 miles 72.9%
200- 299 miles 6.7%
300+ miles 2.7%
FYI, Portland, OR to Seattle, WA is 186 miles, Portland, OR -to Vancouver, BC is 346 miles, and Seattle, WA to Eugene, OR is 310 miles.
Per Amtrak's schedules, it takes 3.5 hours to travel between Seattle and Portland, averaging 53 mph.
Therefore, 310 miles / 53mph average = 5.8 hours, 346 miles / 53 mph = 6.5 hours.

The bread and butter finances and ridership for this train is the Seattle to Portland service.
Maybe wiser managers should drop the service extensions to Eugene and Vancouver BC?

Regardless, France runs many more and faster train services, so trains were already winning the market share between French cities the trains could reach in 2.5 hours anyways. I really do not see why the government needs to step in to enforce decisions on the airlines that the airlines should have already made.
  by eolesen
 
Meanwhile, it's 2021 and we still have this silly Essential Air Service program that subsidizes airline flights to "underserved" airports, many of which are within a two hour drive of another airport that has regular commercial service available.
  by electricron
 
True, many of these airports receiving subsidies are within 200 miles of a larger airport.
For those unfamiliar with the program, here is a wiki link
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_Air_Service
Essential Air Service (EAS) is a U.S. government program enacted to guarantee that small communities in the United States, which had been served by certificated airlines prior to deregulation in 1978, maintained commercial service.

It is the result of the political compromises made to enact the legislation to deregulate the commercial airlines. Without it, we would all still be paying higher airline fares to Pan Am, Eastern, or other regulation based airlines, and the low cost airlines like Southwest or Jet Blue would still be on the drawing boards.

Congress can kill the program at its' next renewal if it so wished, but this is another excellent example how politically difficult it is to kill an already existing program. Good luck with that.