Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

More volcano shenanigans

Posted in Customer service, Europe, Great Britain, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 18 April 2010

The difficulty over the cloud of ash that is spewing out of Eyjafjallajökull shows little sign of abating, with flights throughout Europe still grounded. This is affecting people to varying degrees of disruption, especially those that are stuck on islands. However, much of Europe is not an island, all connected by a rail network. As a consequence, neither Barcelona nor Lyon especially need to trek all the way to Inter and Bayern Munich respectively by road for their Champions League semi-finals.

Well done to Eurostar for stepping into the breach for international travellers to and from London to Europe, as apparently they have had 50,000 extra passengers over the four days of disruption thus far. They have put on extra trains, which is good. But, it’s noted that even then the number of trains has still not been enough for everyone that has been stranded. Of course this is true, as first of all going to Europe is not useful for everyone, and some people may well also be travelling too far for rail to be convenient. But, there are likely still thousands of people for whom using the Channel Tunnel would be a useful alternative to flying to get where they want to go. Obviously there are still restrictions in place as to the type of train that can use the tunnel, but SNCF have a total of 9 Class 373 units that could be used on extra services, and the capacity exists on the line to operate an extended emergency timetable. In addition, the various local TOCs that run to the ports along the south coast could run  better timing to meet ferry services, which is a further route across the Channel. Better use of the rail network is a means of avoiding such difficulty the next time Europe finds its air transport grounded.

“Gary Lineker makes Match of the Day with 24-hour trip”

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