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30-08-2008, 16:22   #1
 
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CH: Moving freight traffic off the roads an onto rail

Switzerland is continually taking measures to force freight traffic to use the rail system rather than roads. The country has to carry large volumes of freight traffic transiting from one point in the EU and other (eg Germany+Benelux+Scandinavia <> Italy, France <> Italy, Austria <> France, etc). When the new 57 km x 2 Gotthard rail tunnel is complete, they will be in a position to force most of this onto the rail network on trains (up to 1.5 km long) capable of carrying 4,000 tonnes of freight at speeds of 120 to 150 km/h. This will take place silently, underground, powered mainly by electricity from hydroelectric sources. Rail freight in Switzerland is 4% cheaper than road freight*.

While these trains will take Ro-Ro freight (trucks driving on and off the train) I suspect that the Swiss initiative is going to make logistics companies and railway operators in the dysfunctional EU wake up to using rail on an end to end basis (eg origin in Germany to destination in Italy and v.v).

Tunnel brochure: http://www.alptransit.ch/pages/img/p..._rail_link.pdf

Construction website: http://www.alptransit.ch/pages/e/index.php

Budget: CHF 11.83 bn (EUR 7.3 bn) – the real cost is probably zero for Switzerland, it will be fully recovered from the EU consumer on freight charges, and Switzerland will be left with a zero cost tunnel that can provide high speed rail connections for passengers (250 km/h) between Northern and Southern Switzerland!

* http://www.inboundlogistics.com/arti...eature03.shtml

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31-08-2008, 22:57   #2
 
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That's good to hear. In countries like ours, blessed with flat terrain, in coming decades we can again use the canals for transporting freight.
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01-09-2008, 12:57   #3
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Isn't there some distance, under 200km I think, where rail freight isn't viable for general transport? And since most places on this Island are less then that away it doesn't make sense to force them off the road.

Canals would be good but again you need long distances to make them usefull.

It's OK for Swizterland to do this as it's all through freight, but you'd be more then doubling the amount of trucks on our roads if we had to do this. One truck to bring to rail head, we wish they'd have proper facilities at our ports to load directly onto carraiges, and then one to unload and bring to destination. While an artic could take several loads and drop off enroute.
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02-09-2008, 21:13   #4
 
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Isn't there some distance, under 200km I think, where rail freight isn't viable for general transport? And since most places on this Island are less then that away it doesn't make sense to force them off the road.

Canals would be good but again you need long distances to make them usefull.

It's OK for Swizterland to do this as it's all through freight, but you'd be more then doubling the amount of trucks on our roads if we had to do this. One truck to bring to rail head, we wish they'd have proper facilities at our ports to load directly onto carraiges, and then one to unload and bring to destination. While an artic could take several loads and drop off enroute.
So? Ireland is just as "connectable" to the European rail network as Switzerland. All you need is a state of the art port with a rail connection. (Off rail at French port, on boat, off boat at Irish port and on rail, and vice versa). Trucks have to get on and off boats too! With rail container handling it can be largely automated with RFID tags on the containers causing them to be automatically shunted around the place, like barcoded mail in a mechanised sorting office.

Four or five rail freight hubs near key locations in Ireland to bring it to interchange points where road vehicles bring it the "last mile" (or several km) to the final destination, in the case of delivery points off the rail network. Business parks with any heavy industrial stuff should be planned in conjunction with the rail network - both in terms of employee commuting and freight. Swissrail cargo carried 13,37 billion net tonne/km of freight last year. They have 323 delivery points on the rail network, and 89 private delivery points where the customer has their own "railway station" on site. Switzerland is a small country (41,290 km2 - v IRL 70,280). Rail removes 25,000 trucks from Swiss roads.

Every delivery can be tracked minute by minute online by the customer on the web. Ultimately Ireland is going to have to do it, because fuel will skyrocket in price as the global oil reserves are depleted.

Switzerland is already designed from the ground up as a country to operate without the car - in terms of planning, public transport, integration of rail and shopping, rail freight, renewable electricity etc.

One won't get a 100% rail freight solution in any country. However it can be a big part of the solution if planned into the country's infrastructure - and a country without it will be at an increasing disadvantage as hydrocarbon prices move upwards. It is also a far safer way to move goods - and one shouldn't forget that trucks emit far more pollutants than just CO2!

.probe

Overview of CH-sbbcargo system: http://www.sbbcargo.com/en/index/sys_sitemap.htm
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02-09-2008, 21:58   #5
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As you point out, Switzerland was "designed" this way. They have a dense rail network. Ireland doesn't. That's something that Ireland could fix...with maybe 30 or 40 years of investment.

Interestingly, SBB cargo - whom you're singing the praises of - are currently running a loss, and the government are facing increasing pressure for their refusal to sell it to foreign concerns.
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03-09-2008, 12:58   #6
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Originally Posted by probe View Post
So? Ireland is just as "connectable" to the European rail network as Switzerland. All you need is a state of the art port with a rail connection. (Off rail at French port, on boat, off boat at Irish port and on rail, and vice versa). Trucks have to get on and off boats too! With rail container handling it can be largely automated with RFID tags on the containers causing them to be automatically shunted around the place, like barcoded mail in a mechanised sorting office.

Four or five rail freight hubs near key locations in Ireland to bring it to interchange points where road vehicles bring it the "last mile" (or several km) to the final destination, in the case of delivery points off the rail network. Business parks with any heavy industrial stuff should be planned in conjunction with the rail network - both in terms of employee commuting and freight. Swissrail cargo carried 13,37 billion net tonne/km of freight last year. They have 323 delivery points on the rail network, and 89 private delivery points where the customer has their own "railway station" on site. Switzerland is a small country (41,290 km2 - v IRL 70,280). Rail removes 25,000 trucks from Swiss roads.

Every delivery can be tracked minute by minute online by the customer on the web. Ultimately Ireland is going to have to do it, because fuel will skyrocket in price as the global oil reserves are depleted.

Switzerland is already designed from the ground up as a country to operate without the car - in terms of planning, public transport, integration of rail and shopping, rail freight, renewable electricity etc.

One won't get a 100% rail freight solution in any country. However it can be a big part of the solution if planned into the country's infrastructure - and a country without it will be at an increasing disadvantage as hydrocarbon prices move upwards. It is also a far safer way to move goods - and one shouldn't forget that trucks emit far more pollutants than just CO2!

.probe

Overview of CH-sbbcargo system: http://www.sbbcargo.com/en/index/sys_sitemap.htm
Thats the perfect world, where as we aren't living in one.
Thanks to our goverments inept planning there is no chance we can do this. Hell they even ignored their own gateway towns for large scale redeployment of civil servants. They are trying to move Dublin Port so it can improve but the NIMBY's won't let anything get built.

Also where are we supposed to get the billons of Euro to build all these? The Swiss are using the money they earn by forcing through trucks onto the trains to pay for this, we don't have any trucks travelling through us to somewhere else to pay.

The Swiss have been developed for years and we are only starting now. Again and I think I seen it on this fourm before that rail freight isn't viable for short distances. Most of our freight comes into Dublin and a lot of our industry is around Dublin, so for the majority of our frieght Dublin Port is the last few km.

Don't get me wrong I'd love if we could do this but not any time soon
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03-09-2008, 13:08   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by probe View Post
Switzerland is continually taking measures to force freight traffic to use the rail system rather than roads. The country has to carry large volumes of freight traffic transiting from one point in the EU and other (eg Germany+Benelux+Scandinavia <> Italy, France <> Italy, Austria <> France, etc). When the new 57 km x 2 Gotthard rail tunnel is complete, they will be in a position to force most of this onto the rail network on trains (up to 1.5 km long) capable of carrying 4,000 tonnes of freight at speeds of 120 to 150 km/h. This will take place silently, underground, powered mainly by electricity from hydroelectric sources. Rail freight in Switzerland is 4% cheaper than road freight*.

While these trains will take Ro-Ro freight (trucks driving on and off the train) I suspect that the Swiss initiative is going to make logistics companies and railway operators in the dysfunctional EU wake up to using rail on an end to end basis (eg origin in Germany to destination in Italy and v.v).

Tunnel brochure: http://www.alptransit.ch/pages/img/p..._rail_link.pdf

Construction website: http://www.alptransit.ch/pages/e/index.php

Budget: CHF 11.83 bn (EUR 7.3 bn) – the real cost is probably zero for Switzerland, it will be fully recovered from the EU consumer on freight charges, and Switzerland will be left with a zero cost tunnel that can provide high speed rail connections for passengers (250 km/h) between Northern and Southern Switzerland!

* http://www.inboundlogistics.com/arti...eature03.shtml

.probe
Ireland has been systematically taking freight off rail and onto roads for about ten years now.
Part of the problem is that so much of the rail network is closed, dormant or shared by long/short distance passenger traffic it has become difficult to justify. However you could argue this was deliberately run down as a low priority.

You have to remember that we are only now getting used to the idea that it is neither desireable nor feasible to share short distance and high speed long distance on a single line (i.e. the Belfast enterprise and Cork service sharing with DART and commuter services), never mind frieght.

A lot of the key businesses that did maintain the old freight service closed down, much of the problem was that IE never bothered developing additional business that would have kept these services profitable.

Last edited by shoegirl; 03-09-2008 at 13:11. Reason: more info
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03-09-2008, 16:26   #8
 
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Originally Posted by bonkey View Post
As you point out, Switzerland was "designed" this way. They have a dense rail network. Ireland doesn't. That's something that Ireland could fix...with maybe 30 or 40 years of investment.

Interestingly, SBB cargo - whom you're singing the praises of - are currently running a loss, and the government are facing increasing pressure for their refusal to sell it to foreign concerns.
So what - the overall SBB rail operation makes a profit! Road freight doesn't make a profit if you add in the total real cost of a national road network. Anyway whether or not it is "profitable" is irrelevant - because the profit is measured on the basis of assigned costs and revenues. There are other costs that are not financially assigned - the costs of pollution nuisance and ill health and accidents caused by trucks etc.

http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/konzern_unt...kennzahlen.htm

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03-09-2008, 16:49   #9
 
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Thats the perfect world, where as we aren't living in one.
Thanks to our goverments inept planning there is no chance we can do this. Hell they even ignored their own gateway towns for large scale redeployment of civil servants. They are trying to move Dublin Port so it can improve but the NIMBY's won't let anything get built.

Also where are we supposed to get the billons of Euro to build all these? The Swiss are using the money they earn by forcing through trucks onto the trains to pay for this, we don't have any trucks travelling through us to somewhere else to pay.

The Swiss have been developed for years and we are only starting now. Again and I think I seen it on this fourm before that rail freight isn't viable for short distances. Most of our freight comes into Dublin and a lot of our industry is around Dublin, so for the majority of our frieght Dublin Port is the last few km.

Don't get me wrong I'd love if we could do this but not any time soon
I don't think it is correct to say that "a lot of our industry is around Dublin". Dublin is basically a service area with importers' warehouses. Most of the heavier manufacturing is spread around the country. The existing Dublin port situation is unsustainable, and incapable of expansion.

Most of the exports are to the rest of Europe and come from multi-national companies. An increasing volume of this is not using air freight due to the cost.

A replacement port for Dublin is essential, and this must be on a heavy duty rail connection. You won't create a new rail freight infrastructure overnight. But as one is putting the infrastructural building blocks into place, they need to be working to an overall master plan which covers energy availability and cost trends over the next 50 years, growth in population (forecast to be 6.7 million in 50 years time) - where will these people live and work, etc?

Otherwise the country will just be sleep walking from one crisis to another during the 21st century.

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03-09-2008, 17:16   #10
 
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Ireland has been systematically taking freight off rail and onto roads for about ten years now.
Part of the problem is that so much of the rail network is closed, dormant or shared by long/short distance passenger traffic it has become difficult to justify. However you could argue this was deliberately run down as a low priority.

You have to remember that we are only now getting used to the idea that it is neither desireable nor feasible to share short distance and high speed long distance on a single line (i.e. the Belfast enterprise and Cork service sharing with DART and commuter services), never mind frieght.

A lot of the key businesses that did maintain the old freight service closed down, much of the problem was that IE never bothered developing additional business that would have kept these services profitable.
There is no high speed passenger rail service in Ireland - no reason why freight can't move at the same speed as passenger services. While there is a problem sharing suburban rail with inter-city (passenger and freight) on the same pair of tracks, it can be alleviated by installing an additional track in these suburban zones. The Irish rail network is very under utilised at present. The closed / dormant segments of rail can be brought back into use over time as and when required.

Rail map of IRL 1906 http://der.probe.googlepages.com/ie_railmap_1906.jpg

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03-09-2008, 17:44   #11
 
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The good news in relation to ireland on this front is the re-opening of the western rail coridor. This is the railway from Limerick to Clairemorris. Due to the high volume of passengers services on the Hueston line Irish rail is opening up this freight and passengers service by 2014. In 1993 Irish rail carried 3.3 million tonnes of freight in ireland in 2007 the only carried 0.8 million tonnes of freight. Opening this railway maybe the start of lorries been taken off the road and transferred to rail. As you know Norfolf company use the Wesport rail line for transferring goods from Mayo to Dublin. I would like to see the government put pressure on the big oil companies and big retail companies to force them to start transporting goods by rail. Most train station have large yards that could be used to dispatch goods throughout the country. As a kid i can remember oil cement sugarbeet been transported by rail.
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03-09-2008, 22:16   #12
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So what - the overall SBB rail operation makes a profit!
Road freight doesn't make a profit if you add in the total real cost of a national road network.
Despite running a profit (some 100-million Francs and change, last year), SBB aren't actually generating enough profit in order to pay for their desired future plans.

The Swiss are currently in a situation where their passenger trains are overcrowded. They are using additional capacity to run a service which the overcrowded passengers are paying for through ticket prices. They need more money, and so want to raise prices on those passengers....in part to increase capacity of the loss-running side of the business.

That is not a sustainable model.


So despite the rosy picture you paint, the reality is that rail-freight in Switzerland is facing serious problems....and thats on a system which - as you point out - was literally designed for this capability.

What are the Irish supposed to do? Pump billions into building up a rail network to carry freight so they can follow the SBB example and steadily lose money from it? I'm sure you'll have politicians queueing up to buy into that.

And lets not forget...we'd need to factor in the cost of additional power-stations to generate the power to run a larger rail-service affordably, unless you're suggesting a massive increase in good-ol' electro-diesel engines.

Quote:
Anyway whether or not it is "profitable" is irrelevant
You're about to say that if we redefine profitability to a manner that suits you, then its all good, so you clearly see the need for profitability. Arguing that its irrelevant and that its profitable if you look at it in the right light doesn't make sense.

Quote:
- because the profit is measured on the basis of assigned costs and revenues.
There are other costs that are not financially assigned - the costs of pollution nuisance and ill health and accidents caused by trucks etc.
But, you see, the majority of this freight is simply passing through Switzerland. If you want to get rid of your ill health, you accidents, your congestion, and all the rest of it, you simply make it unattractive for them to come through Switzerland at all.

And why don't the Swiss do that? Because its not profitable to do so.

The reality is that even with the fantastic quality of the Swiss railway system and the lack of restrictions on shipping freight by rail as opposed to road (i.e. you can move it on Sundays, and don't have the ridiculous delays at the likes of the Gotthard tunnel) SBB still can't make it pay its own way.

So you basically seem to be saying that the Irish should pump money into something similar, so that they can then measure its success in terms of something other than the money they will lose as a result.

Last edited by bonkey; 03-09-2008 at 22:25.
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04-09-2008, 20:41   #13
 
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Comparing Swissrail and CIE’s Irish Rail prices

1cl adult Dublin-Cork (255 km) €86.50

1cl adult Zurich-Geneva (278 km) €82.23

In terms of quality of service, there is no comparison between a 1st class upper deck seat on a Zurich Geneva train (smooth and silent), and Irish Rail’s re-vitalised boneshaker service. Boneshaker because the railway tracks are in such a mess – despite all the “work” done on the line, which was a botched job for the most part.

Abos are much better value in Switzerland because they work on an intelligently designed zone system, allowing the holder to travel on several modes of transport within broad zones rather than point to point. The Irish abo (aka quaintly referred to as a “season ticket”) is generally a point to point thing (ie you can’t roam around zones), usually 2cl only, and generally provides a low level of service. You arrive in Naas or Carlow every night, and have to get in a car, which typically costs money to park, to complete your journey. In CH you get off the train and get into a bus or tram which is synchronised with the arrival of the train, and the cost of the bus or tram is included in the zone based abo ticket system. (Abo is an abbreviation for abonnement – ie a subscription – example you pay €30/mth to your ISP in return for which you can use the internet as much as you like).

Look at the real time departure board for Zurich HB station (preferably during the daytime rather than 4AM) and compare the choice and density of service with that offered by Irish rail!

http://prosurf.sbb.ch/pros/inter/pro...UE&DIRECTION=2

(You can click on any train number to see it's current station position on the network).

This board does not list all the tram services that connect outside the front doors of the station every minute of the day..

A GA (annual subscription to 99%+ of public transport in Switzerland) allows unlimited use of services for a single annual fee of €1930 2cl adult. A viable replacement for the car. There is no equivalent in Ireland because there is no dense, seamless, end to end network to get you from point A to point B efficiently. Leaving most people in Ireland with no alternative but to buy a car.
Special abo prices for families etc.

http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/reisemarkt/...elpersonen.htm

Network map and system coverage information: http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/uebersichts...eneral-abo.pdf

You can combine shopping and commuting – without having to drive to a shopping mall or village with the RailCity concept at main rail stations.
www.railcity.ch

A list of shops by type (supermarkets, gadget shops, dry cleaners, dentists, banks etc) in Zurich HB station:
In French: http://www.railcity.ch/fr/index/inde...nchenliste.htm
In German: http://www.railcity.ch/index/index_z...nchenliste.htm
Integrating shopping and related services with public transport : http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/im-railcity-broschuere.pdf
Exhibitions and events taking place at this station to watch while waiting for your train: http://www.railcity.ch/fr/index/inde...ews_events.htm

It is no surprise that the trains are getting more crowded at peak time – as more and more people recognise the value of the system. But they are a zillion times less crowded than French trains (most of which are run to reservation only – ie you have to reserve a seat). You never have to reserve a seat on a domestic Swiss train. The lesson for Ireland from this trend is the need to engineer the system to grow in capacity with provision for duplex trains (double deck) – ie capable of 40,000 passengers per hour at peak times on a line providing suburban services.

Bonkey seems to resent paying the Swiss Travel System a few more CHFs to keep all this show on the road? A show which they run is a seamless, professional manner. Rail, trams, buses, boats, funicular rail, and other quirky services. As close as one can get to perfection on this planet.

Moving back to Ireland and freight, I am suggesting that due to the increasing price of oil (which is a certainty within the planning and build timeframe of a rail network modernisation programme), and the increasing population – there is no alternative over the next 20 to 40 years but intensive integrated electric rail for people and goods. Even assuming massive improvements in battery and hydrogen fuel cell technologies, streets clogged with electric cars are just as inefficient as streets clogged with gasoline or diesel alternatives. When they get around to upscaling batteries and fuel cells for trucks to be viable on electric trucks – aside from lower noise – they will be the same old trucks on the roads in terms of physical requirements, and accident rates.

Ireland has the most abundant renewable electric power resources in Europe – it is not the state that will have to roll them out to meet demand. The state just needs to put the framework in place and negotiate the interconnection arrangements with other countries.

Very little road freight moves in France or Spain on the motorways on Sundays. Italy also bans trucks on Sundays. Italy has an appalling rail freight system.

Ireland imports most of the goods it consumes, and exports most of what is produces. Its freight infrastructure has to be integrated with the rest of Europe. Rail vehicles have been going on and off ships for decades in Scandinavia, continuing their journey at either side of the boat connection. The rest of Europe is going to be faced with the same oil price increases - but at least the electric rail infrastructure is in place on the continent - unlike Ireland which has the lowest electrification of any country in Europe, aside from Iceland and Andorra. Neither of which have a rail service - though Iceland is planning a rail link from the capital to the airport. And no doubt it will be electric.

I heard today that someone has got 120,000 verified signatures to call a federal referendum to ban SUVs in Switzerland (they only need 100,000 to get the show on the road). Real democracy in action. However I think they might be better voting to increase the VAT on SUVs from the current 7.6% to say 50%, and leave SUV users with a choice. While car taxes in Switzerland are among the lowest in the world, people use them less because public transport is so good.

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08-09-2008, 21:48   #14
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Bonkey seems to resent paying the Swiss Travel System a few more CHFs to keep all this show on the road?
No, probe. Bonkey is pointing out that you held up a loss-making business as a model for the Irish to aspire to as the future of our freight.

I pointed out that this loss-making enterprise is only possible because its propped up by a profit-making enterprise which is itself about to run short of cash because of plans to meet increasing demand. They can prop up a loss-making service, or they can put the money back into serving the part fo the business which generated the profit. And seeing as you mentioned the SUV issue...don't forget that all it would take is the same level of interest from disgruntled passengers to bring a referendum to try and force the state-owned company to put the money where they wanted it.

Only this week, it was announced that SBB's haulage business would begin looking for foreign partners, to find a model which will allow it to continue. The people running it clearly don't see it as the paragon of virtue that you want to sell it as. They see the problems I see, that are well covered over here.

I don't see how your exhortation of SBBs passenger service is relevant to any of that. You didn't start this thread saying how copying SBBs passenger service would solve Ireland's transport problem. No, you argued that copying the loss-running part of the service is what we should invest massive sums of money in.

Last edited by bonkey; 08-09-2008 at 21:51.
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08-09-2008, 22:20   #15
 
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No, probe. Bonkey is pointing out that you held up a loss-making business as a model for the Irish to aspire to as the future of our freight.

I pointed out that this loss-making enterprise is only possible because its propped up by a profit-making enterprise which is itself about to run short of cash because of plans to meet increasing demand. They can prop up a loss-making service, or they can put the money back into serving the part fo the business which generated the profit. And seeing as you mentioned the SUV issue...don't forget that all it would take is the same level of interest from disgruntled passengers to bring a referendum to try and force the state-owned company to put the money where they wanted it.

Only this week, it was announced that SBB's haulage business would begin looking for foreign partners, to find a model which will allow it to continue. The people running it clearly don't see it as the paragon of virtue that you want to sell it as. They see the problems I see, that are well covered over here.

I don't see how your exhortation of SBBs passenger service is relevant to any of that. You didn't start this thread saying how copying SBBs passenger service would solve Ireland's transport problem. No, you argued that copying the loss-running part of the service is what we should invest massive sums of money in.
Yeah sure.... SBB railfreight is a real basket case - their latest results show losses down to about EUR 5 million. This sum would probably buy enough e-voting machines for Cork!

They are obviously looking for partnerships with other freight operators to push more freight traffic over their network. Surely no different to the other Swiss policies of forcing intra-European road freight off the Swiss roads and on to rail? If Danzas operations in Germany (or another big logistics operator) sent more traffic via the SBB network, and gave SBB a chunk of cash to buy into the partnership, I have no doubt the Swiss would be very pleased. Less trucks on the road, and cash to invest on the rail network. Yes please! It might also quieten the Swiss truckers who are shouting for less of SBB freight to be in government ownership.

I can't see any conflict between this and more use of rail freight in Ireland. In fact, it would be preferable if the Irish rail freight system was opened up to the private sector who could set up highly mechanised regional rail freight hubs and run services over the Irish Rail track network. They would do a far better job than the appalling state monopoly in place at present.

.probe

http://www.railwaygazette.com/news_v...t_partner.html
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