French Railways

21 November 2010
A few rather ancient transport links
Brian Micklethwait

Some while back I started accumulating links to interesting transport things, concerning events during the recent spell of Transport Blog outage, by googling “transport” and ignoring everything boring, which is a hell of a lot.  (Mostly politicians moaning about how they aren’t being allowed or should be allowed to waste public money on transport crap of various sorts.)

But then I got ill and forgot about this.  Today, just to clear my decks, I give you this file of links.  There aren’t actually that many, but for what they are worth, click and enjoy:

Inside the world’s biggest private jet.

Is Google the most significant transport enterprise of twenty first century?

Passengers break out of train.

Germany gets across the channel.  It’s taken seventy years for the big arrows at the beginning of Dad’s Army to get here, but now they are about to.

The mobile web is bigger than transport.

Video of train spotter failing to spot the train.  It’s behind you.

Buy more salt.  I.e. for the roads this winter.

And finally, what with Michael’s recent writings here on the subject, a couple of motorcycle links: Motorcycles - miracle or menace?, and The tireless motorcycle museum curator.  Tireless.  Get it?  Oh never mind.

See also this excellent Vietnam motorbike picture.

Patrick: please feel free to re-edit the categorisations below.

LATER:  I also agree with the commenter who reckons that this bit of road building video is BRILJANT!!!

15 November 2007
It’s all in the timing
Brian Micklethwait

Today, Eurostar cut its timings to and from London by twenty minutes, or whatever it is, and on the very same day, French railway workers go on strike.  Coincidence?  The usual next sentence is: “I don’t think so”, but the truth is that I have no idea.  However, if the striking railwaymen were trying to cause the maximum pain, today was surely the day to choose.  Suddenly those French railways don’t look so smooth and efficient, and the Brits are the ones sniggering and feeling superior.

By the way, the picture here, makes the St Pancras extension look rather better than my first impressions.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of transport related blogging at my place.  See also: this about another viaduct, and this about the A380.

04 October 2007
Transport Bloggers talk about transport
Patrick Crozier

Last night a few of the Transport Blog crew met up in Central London.  Surprisingly enough the subject of transport did in fact crop up now and again.

One discussion we had was over the Boeing 787.  It seems that one of the big advantages of its lightweight construction is that it allows higher cabin pressures.  For some reason, it’s to do with white blood cells apparently, this means that passengers won’t be so tired when they reach their destinations.  It’s amazing how advances in technology can have strange knock-on effects.  I wonder if the Airbus 380 will be similarly blessed.  I suspect not.

Another discussion was over train gauges.  They differ between Spain and France, so how, we wondered did Rob manage to board a train that managed to take him all the way from Paris to Barcelona?  And how did they manage to make the change of gauge without him noticing?  This is how.

20 June 2007
Julian Taylor admires France's TGV system. I quite agree with him. Just like it's Japanese counterpart, it is wonderful. Until, that is, you start looking at the bills - I seem to remember an estimate of £30bn from a few years ago.

There is another problem specific to the French system. The pursuit of high-speed services has apparently distorted the French railway leaving the rest of the network starved of funds struggling along with infrequent and irregular services.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (5)French RailwaysHigh Speed Rail
04 April 2007
TGV breaks rail speed record
Patrick Crozier


Which is a lot less than the fastest car (763mph).

But a lot more than the fastest production car (253mph).

Which in turn much faster than the fastest production train (186mph).

But is almost the same speed as the fastest Maglev (360mph).  Whoops.

And, in the final analysis, doesn’t really amount to a row of beans. To have trains running at that sort of speed in service would almost certainly require a lot of new track, although given that TGV’s already have in-cab signalling, they might be OK in that department.

And I haven’t even mentioned the cost.  High-speed rail schemes are without exception a financial disaster.

We are better off without them.

12 October 2006
Train crash in France kills five. A passenger train hit a goods train.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)French Railways