Tag Archives: trains

the whistle stop train tour

Following the same route that Abraham Lincoln rode 150 years ago, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden made their way to the inauguration on a whistle stop train tour that wove its way from Philadelphia through Delaware and Maryland on its way to Washington.

“To the children who hear the whistle of the train and dream of a better life — that’s who we’re fighting for. That’s who needs change,” President Obama said at one stop along the way. “And those are the stories that we will gather with us to Washington.”

After several years in which trains have been neglected in favour of cars and planes, Obama’s choice of trains as a symbol of the new hope for USA is indeed a good news!

(source: The White House)

luxury trains come back to Italy

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(source image: flickr)

Luxury trains have come back to Italy. in 2005, SeaTrain has renewed some trains from italian companies FCU and Vesuviana and turned them into Roma Express and Napoli Express.

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(source image: flickr)

Rome Express runs from Civitavecchia Harbour to Rome S. Pietro Railway station, leaving passengers in the very heart of Rome, and avoiding them an unnecessary and potentially dangerous detour through Termini.

Napoli Express runs along Naples Metro lines 3 and 4, from Napoli Porta Nolana to Pompei, Ercolano and Sorrento. A shuttle bus is provided between Naples Harbour and Napoli Porta Nolana.

Unofficial map of Lausanne and Vaud nightbus: Somnambule

In Vaud, public transport is organized around several companies, each one with its own website, its own design, its own line numbering criteria. During the day, a centralized bus and train schedule and fare system allow users to organize their trips without many inconvenients, but during the night (between midnight and 4AM), things become more difficult: some companies ask for a night surcharge, some other turn their lines into an on-demand service, and all these changes turn a night trip through Vaud into a treasure hunt.

To compensate the lack of informations in nightbus services, CITraP-Vaud has recently launched Somnambule, a complete listing of all bus and trains which run in Vaud between midnight and 4AM. Choose the area in which you want to travel and you’ll have the complete list of all company which operate night bus/train services, all the needed tickets and surcharges and all the bus/trains timetables.

Paris RER E vs. Rome Metro B: same spaces, different comfort

Following a discussion about Rome Metro, I found a comapraison between Rome B line and Washington Metro. According to different surveys, Rome Metro is considered one of the most unwelcoming ones: in order to change its perception, lots of long and expensive plans are currently going to improve comfort (see here and here). Anyway, some cheaper and easier interventions could improve passengers’ comfort with less time and less money.

Let’s look for example at Paris RER E.

The current terminus, Haussmann-Saint Lazare:

The following station, Magenta:

And now, let’s look at Rome metro, Line B, Station “Termini”:

Paris RER and rome Metro’s architecture are basically the same: a big vaulted space, including both directions’s track and platform, and smaller vaulted spaces, hosting escalators. Anyway, small differences change dramatically the place’s perception:

  • Paris RER uses strong and warm lights, which are able to give a feeling of “home”, while Rome Metro uses standard neons, which give a general sense of coldness
  • Paris RER integrates station names into the station’s architecture, while Rome Metro uses standard signs in every stations
  • Paris RER integrates different materials in a global design, while in Rome Metro each intervention follows its own concept without integrating with the rest of the environment.

An intervention on Rome Metro could include:

  • A new lighting concept, which would emphatize the architectural structure of the station,
  • New floor and wall tiles,
  • A new lettering and signage concept.

(source of all images: wikipedia)

Transit Art: CEVA

Here in Switzerland, the ultimate decision on infrastructure and urban planning comes from people, so a good communication campaign is essential in order to promote a project. So, public administrations always put a big effort on promotion and communication, as in the case of CEVA, the new underground link between the Swiss and French railway networks in Geneva. In order to promote CEVA, the State of Geneva  has commissioned a series of video to student of Geneva Applied Art School. The results can be seen here.

(source: les urbanités)

Mobility Week – 18 to 28 september 2008

(video: transformers 01 by NOTsoNOISY)

From 18 to 28 september 2008, Lausanne will host the Mobility Week. Lausanne public transports’ network will turn itself in a big show:

- Metro Line 2 will be open from 18 to 21 September, from 15h30 to 20h00 on the first day, from 10h00 to 20h00 on the other days. All stations will be open, except Delices, Bessieres and Fourmi. More info here.

- Another “Metro”, normally closed, will be open on Saturday 20: the railway tunnel between Renens and Sallaz, normally used only by freight trains will be open to passenger trains. Departures from Renens at .00 from 9h00 to 16h00 and from Sallaz at .30 from 9h30 to 16h30. More info here.

- On september 20, 21, 22, 27 and 28, the new RER trains will run between Lausanne and Cully and between Lausanne and Vevey.

On september 20, 21, 27 and 28: Departures from Lausanne (track 5 or 6) to Cully at .26 and .56 from 10h26 to 18h26. Departures from Cully to Lausanne at .11 and .41 from 10h41 to 18h41.

On september 22: Departures from Lausanne (track 9) to Vevey at .56 from 9h56 to 15h56. Departures from Vevey to Lausanne at .33 from 10h33 to 16h33. More info here.

Other events are scheduled along these days. Conferences, guided tours seminars are available here, while concerts and parties will be available here.

(sources: ville de Lausanne, semaine de la mobilité, TL, CFF, 24heures, Label Suisse)

Protection against the railway noise: Lausanne Guesthouse

Another good exemple of protection of a building from noisy infrastructures  is given by the Lausanne Guesthouse, designed by Patrick Chiché.

In this building, all the services (stairways and bathrooms) are located along the reailway line, while living and sleeping rooms are all on the opposite side.

A resumé of the project is available here.

Welcome to Ligerz

(image: Association Seeland Biel/Bienne)

If you like trains, go to Ligerz. This little village on the Bielersee lies next to the only single-track stretch of the Jura Railway line: Everyday, 250 trains pass trhough this little village, and only 30 of them stop here.

L’Association Seeland Biel/Bienne is asking for a double-track tunnel at the place of the single-track line. Thiss will let direct trains to bypass the village, and will allow a 30 minutes headway between Neuchâtel et Biel, and between Geneva/Lausanne and Zurich/Basel.

What is not clear yet, is the destiny of the existing railway. will it be suppressed? Will it be dedicated to regional trains stopping in Ligerz? Regarding this question, I agree with Funimag and Stagniweb: If on one side, the upgrade of the Jura line is necessary, the existing line should be kept for regional trains. Different trains will need different lines.

Lausanne metro: new ticket office opens

The opening of Lausanne metro line 2 gets closer and closer, and the first buildings related to the new line are already opening. On August 4, the new ticket office (designed by Merlini & Ventura architects) opened in the station Flon, where a connection with the existing M1 and LEB lines will be provided.

The new ticket office, as seen from the roof of the existing M1 station. The square (place de l’Europe) in which the station is located is organized on two levels, and almost all the surrounding building include elevators or walkways in order to let people pass from one part of the square to another.

The Grand Pont, with Lausanne Cathedral in the background, as seen from the roof of the existing M1 station.


The new ticket office, from the Grand Pont.

And from the arches of the Grand Pont. The office’s roof is covered with grass.

The ticket office is aligned to the surrounding buildings: the LEB station and the Flon district.

The LEB station and the Flon district

The Flon District, continuing the previous alignment.

The entrance of the new ticket office and to M2 line.

the entrance of the M2 line.

The entrance of the LEB.

On the left, the entrance of the M2. Straight on, the entrance of the M1 (the station is being refurbished), on the right, the entrance of the LEB. the three lines also are connected by underground walkways.

Transit needs some creativity

Today, on All About Cities, I found an interesting post on improvements in public transports.

What if people with longer commutes could sit in a luxury coach, fully stocked with amenities, including:

  • Wireless internet (like the google bus in San Francisco)
  • A personal TV with a variety of programs (as on many airlines, especially in business or first class)
  • A comfortable tray table for your lap top, with a plug in
  • A cup holder for your morning latte
  • Free newspapers and magazines
  • Maybe even a bathroom

(…)

  • With mobile and internet technology, you could buy your ticket 10 minutes before heading out the door once you know you’ll be ready and confirm there is a seat for you.
    • Or you could advance book tickets, catching the 7 AM bus every day.
  • What if these luxury coaches departed from certain Starbucks (or equivalent) locations in the suburbs?
    • You could buy a latte and have a clean, safe place to wait. A bus company rep might even be in there with a mobile device to check you in.
    • As some suburban areas become higher density, this Starbucks might be at a Lifestyle Centre near peoples homes (walking distance or a park-and-ride situation).
  • What if some downtown workers who lived in suburbia could make extra money driving a nice coach into town. Presumably, there will be a need for some buses to drive in and stay until the end of the work day. An enterprising person could get his or her bus driver license and earn an extra $50 per day (and not have to pay their own commuting costs).
  • On shorter commutes perhaps different companies’ buses would be en route and you could check availability by mobile device and book a seat, catching it at a designated location. From the same mobile devices the driver would know whether to stop or not.
  • With competition among several commuting providers in a given metro area, service would be good. Creativity would be essential. Someone might offer regular customers Friday afternoon TGIF happy hour, for example.
  • One company might offer “business class” seating and “economy class” seating, similar to the airplanes.

Here in switzerland  CFF already provides most of these services on several lines (i.e. the Geneva-Lausanne intercity trains I often use), and I was discussing with people in All About Cities whether these amenities can be extended to buses.  I think buses are necessary, but cannot offer all the amenities of trains, mainly because of the different kind of comfort that the two systems offer.

(quote from Washington Post)

One erroneous statement is that bus rapid transit is just like light rail but on rubber tires. Light rail runs on domestic, low-cost electricity. Bus rapid transit runs on high-cost foreign oil. That is bad and costly.

Buses last only 15 years, while light rail cars last 40 years. In ice and snow, light rail has guidance and braking. Buses do not, unless the roadway is cleared and salted, polluting streams.

On open right-of-way, light rail absorbs water, but busways need extensive water runoff provisions to prevent damage. Light rail cars are larger than buses for comfort, efficiency and safety.

Bus size is limited by highway laws and clearances. The light rail ride is smoother and faster. Rails have no potholes, and electricity provides more power for acceleration.

If we want clean air, less foreign oil, lower long-term costs and more transit use, we must think about those differences.