Friday, December 08, 2006


I am "mblogging" (blogging on the move) in the Eurostar back from Paris today. And I can't help that thinking that it's a very civilised way of travelling, yet light on "indirect costs".
  • The journey is 2h55 or something like this, my outbound train was on time and the return is predicted to arrive 15 mn late. If I was to fly they would not even apologise for 15 mn -actually, given the terrible weather today and yesterday (check those tornado images), I would expect flights to be rather 1h late.
  • Door to door, Richmond to Colombes, I guesstimated that taking the train makes my journey about 30 mn longer. That's if planes are on time. But I can work, sleep, eat or read for about 3 hours -uninterrupted. So it's much more productive than having to check-in, queue for security, having your deodorant taken away (they don't seem to make 100ml sprays), walk, lounge, lurk, walk, wait, second secutiry check, wait, walk, fly, walk, wait, show your passport, get your luggage back and then travel from CDG to Paris...
  • Costwise, it's probably similar if you book you air ticket in advance but for an extra TEN POUNDS you can travel Eurostar Business Premier. Which means you're comfortably installed in wide reclinable seats and today the menus was as follows: selection of French wines (inc. some Champagne), selection of a cold morteau sausage with potato salad or some hake and prawn pie, with a tartlet to finish. It's almost a shame my French colleagues kindly bought me lunch :-) Plus you have power for your laptop... BTW, the difference in price was easily recouped by not having to buy breakfast on the outbound and saving on taxi fares to/from the airport as you "land" in the middle of the town. Oh, and free magasines and airline-style departure lounges.
So, it's not a coincidence that the Eurostar took over 70% share on journeys between London and Paris. And I guess that's quite a few planes that won't be buzzing over Richmond and sending CO2, CO, NO2, etc, into the Ozone Layer. Shame those yellow trains are moving away from Waterloo.
Which brings me to my favourite topic: all that was possible thanks to public investment in transport infrastructure. From the French governement and as long as 25 years ago when they initiated the TGV. Oh, and that tunnel. Rod Eddington's report is thus very disappointing: why do we still have to fly to Edinburgh or even Manchester then?
This week's Economist lead was on gridlock campaing and the article was supporting road charging. Excuse me but pricing poor people out of the roads is not the solution. We should think about using transport real-estate more effectively (I am one in favour of bus lanes, non-share cycling paths) and easing journeys with "intermodal hubs" (like the Hammersmith bus-tube station, but much better designed please).


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