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!
(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.
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.
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.