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Author Topic: In praise of Spain's trains  (Read 189 times)

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Offline Buffin

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Online RailGooner

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 11:41:48 am »
Yes, virtually the whole of continental Europe has better passenger rail services than the UK. :sleep: I blame WW2:
1. Continental European railways were FUBARed by the RAF to a far greater extent than UK railways were by the Luftwaffe. This gave continental Europe a blank(er) canvas to start over.
2. Spain, Germany, France are considerably larger land masses than the UK, affording a better chance of straighter routes between major cities than is the case in the UK.
3. Continental European nations didn't divert thousands of men from the battlefields to the coal fields, and then immediately after WW2 decide it was politically expedient to keep them there. And the coal fields needed customers - so let's keep building steam locos.
4. Continental European nations post WW2 didn't have a bill from the USA for Lend-Lease trains (and tanks/ships/planes/etc.).
5. Continental European nations didn't have to pump as much money as the UK did in to Germany, in order to avoid a repeat of the crash that followed WW1 and help Germany get back on her feet so she could afford to pay reparations.

Just my reading of history. :read:
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Offline woodbury22uk

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 12:45:59 pm »
The Spectator article is only looking at the railways from the point of view of the user. In the UK the user pays a high proportion of the cost of the services, whereas in Spain the subsidy per passenger journey is over 3 times the amount in the UK.

The networks are broadly the same size but usage in the UK is almost 4 times the usage in Spain, so fewer and emptier trains in Spain with larger gaps between them. Spain is double the size of the UK in land area.

I do not like comparing safety performance because one incident can distort the figures overnight but historically Spain has a fatality figure per passenger kilometre 15 times higher than the UK.



Mike

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Offline Buffin

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 08:34:34 pm »
I do also wonder how much of the cost was met by the EU. But interesting to have a user's point of view.

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 11:02:39 pm »
I have to confess to having practically zero knowledge of the funding/ownership arrangements of Spanish railways, or indeed most Continental European railways. :dunce: But in my view, measuring fares/reliability/frequency/speed (i.e. the things that matter to the punter,) they have certainly had a much better return of investment over the past 20-30 years than the UK. :'(
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Offline woodbury22uk

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2017, 08:18:36 am »
I think that there is baffling paradox here. In spite of all the investment by the Spanish government railway ridership is one third of the level per capita when compared to the UK. One explanation might be that in Spain the investment in motorways has also been much greater than in the railways, although in Spain the driver pays to use many of them.
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Offline edwin_m

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2017, 08:43:47 am »
I suspect it's something to do with Spain being large and most of it quite empty, so that the major cities have historically been self-contained due to long distances and poor transport infrastructure to travel between them.  High speed rail and motorways have changed that in the last few decades, no doubt with the aim of encouraging growth by increasing the interaction between the cities, but if this happens it will take a long time. 

Offline Vanders

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 05:52:22 pm »
Passenger figures in the UK are also distorted by commuters in the London area: other European countries don't tend to concentrate their population in one area quite so much (France, with Paris, may be the one other city I can think of that is anything like London in scale) and where they do, they tend to have more effective light rail systems rather than relying on general heavy rail for commuters.

Offline edwin_m

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2017, 06:36:57 pm »
Madrid is apparently (Wikpedia) the third largest city in Europe after London and Berlin, with over 6 million in the metropolitan area, and has 182 miles of Metro (250 for London).  However the Metro ridership may not be included in the statistics quoted above, and although there are main line commuter services as well I suspect there is indeed less long-distance commuting than in London. 

Offline suNNyG

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Re: In praise of Spain's trains
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2017, 08:57:02 pm »
I can't comment on funding for Spanish railways. I can only comment as an expat resident here and a local rail user. RailGooner's comment on fares/reliability/frequency/speed is certainly my experience in using the network. Being of a "certain age" my wife and I qualify for a Tarjeta Dorada (Gold Card). It costs €6 a year and gives us between 25% and 40% off the already very reasonable fares. The local trains in our area (Murcia Region) are well used though nothing like the overcrowding that we see reported in the UK (here everyone gets a seat). It is normal to see cleaning staff working at our local station and on the train when it arrives at it's destination. It's also quite normal to have security staff riding for few stops on our local trains.  As far as cost per km (or mile) is concerned, a couple of years ago we travelled from Alicante to the East Midlands. The costs increased the closer we got to the UK.

 

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