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Old 31st March 2017, 01:56   #16
WatcherZero
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Yes a huge amount of colliery capillaries have been lost and the track km is a lot less than it used to be in its heyday (about half?) but the survey was passenger route km, so freight only lines, passing loops and marshalling sidings wouldn't affect the figure and as I said is probably why England is quite flattered as we don't have much freight only lines anymore compared to other countries.

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Old 31st March 2017, 08:19   #17
MarcVD
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In Belgium the rail network at its peak was some 5500 km. Now 3600 of which 3200 see passenger traffic.

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Old 31st March 2017, 20:26   #18
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Back to the original topic: Now I remember what I had to learn in grammar school (60ies):
BElgium had the densest network then (as km of track per km2), Switzerland-as always-the highest use (in nr of trips/year) per inhabitant. But since then BE has closed quite a few minor lines and CH hardly any.
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Old 1st April 2017, 00:01   #19
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An interesting feature to me of this survey, is the Czech Republic’s coming in second place for number of kilometres of line per 1,000 square kilometres. One trait of Cold War-divided Europe was the tendency of Communist-bloc countries (both from policy, and from economic necessity) to use rail transport more, and road less, than their Western counterparts.
It's easier to shift a T-54 by rail...
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Old 1st April 2017, 08:14   #20
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East Germany also had active policy to keep freight in rails whereever possible. I assume it was cheaper than investing in decent roads.
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Old 1st April 2017, 09:40   #21
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And also much easier to control, of course. And could use electric energy, that ex-comecon countries produced more easily than oil-based products.

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Old 1st April 2017, 20:17   #22
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In Belgium the rail network at its peak was some 5500 km. Now 3600 of which 3200 see passenger traffic.
What I find mind-boggling about the Belgian rail-density scene "at peak", is that on top of the tight-packed standard-gauge network, there was another extremely extensive, country-wide narrow-gauge essentially "tramway" network, the Vicinaux / Buurtspoorwegen (overwhelmingly metre-gauge; at one time a bit of 1067mm gauge, "box-and-cox" with Dutch lines just across the border in the area concerned). (I don't claim to be numerate -- don't know whether the quoted 5500 / 3*** figures, take account of the one-time narrow-gauge tramway set-up.)

From what I understand, very little indeed remains today of the Vicinaux / Buurt... -- if I'm right: the busy coastal electric route Knokke -- Ostend -- De Panne; the short line at the Grottes de Han (a part in its own right, of that tourist attraction); and a couple of shortish preserved stretches.

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East Germany also had active policy to keep freight in rails whereever possible. I assume it was cheaper than investing in decent roads.
A bit of an exception as I perceive it, as regards East Germany’s once abundant narrow gauge; which DR decided was in the main, obsolete -- gradual phasing-out began in the mid-1960s. There was a lot of it, and the phasing-out was quite slow. Also -- if I’m right, in the 1980s DR decided to keep 6 - 8 then-surviving narrow-gauge lines / systems -- including retaining steam traction on them -- essentially as tourist / gricer bait (East Germany was the first European Communist country to get the message that railway enthusiasts were not Western spies, but a potential asset; and to welcome them). However, on these n/g lines (still running in the east of Germany under various managements, largely with steam, today) spared for -- bottom line -- “entertainment” purposes; trains continued to be scheduled at times making sense for “real” passengers; and freight traffic was retained, till reunification of Germany and in some cases, after. General picture got, is that there wasn’t much good to be said about the German Democratic Republic; but for sentimental railway enthusiasts such as me, “kudos where due,” re the above-recounted.

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And also much easier to control, of course. And could use electric energy, that ex-comecon countries produced more easily than oil-based products.
And they also had plenty of coal to fuel steam locos...
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Old 1st April 2017, 21:37   #23
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From what I understand, very little indeed remains today of the Vicinaux / Buurt... -- if I'm right: the busy coastal electric route Knokke -- Ostend -- De Panne; the short line at the Grottes de Han (a part in its own right, of that tourist attraction); and a couple of shortish preserved stretches.
And parts of the M1 and M2 of Charleroi Métro in Anderlues.
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Old 1st April 2017, 22:33   #24
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And parts of the M1 and M2 of Charleroi Métro in Anderlues.
Thanks -- I tend to forget that one !
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Old 1st April 2017, 22:59   #25
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And parts of the M1 and M2 of Charleroi Métro in Anderlues.
Specially the double tracks between Charleroi and Gosselies, and the single track between Fontaine and Anderlues, are pure SNCV heritage. That network was also about 5000 km long, so in total 10.000 km in Belgium. Sic transit gloria mundi...

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Old 1st April 2017, 23:33   #26
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One trait of Cold War-divided Europe was the tendency of Communist-bloc countries (both from policy, and from economic necessity) to use rail transport more, and road less, than their Western counterparts. Though this has varied somewhat between different Eastern European countries; some of same kept in use to a late date, far more of their rail systems as at “peak”, than did the more rail-forsaking of their West European contemporaries.

The East European country which I know best, is Poland. When I first went there in 1980 it occasioned delight on my part, that the Polish State Railways’ then active passenger network was, at a guess, on approximately the same level re lines still in passenger use, as British Railways had been around 1955 – innumerable rural local lines still with passenger services, and a good number of lines above and beyond this, which had lost their passenger services but still carried freight. The same seemed – from the published timetable, and from a couple of first-hand visits which I made – to go for Poland’s neighbour Czechoslovakia.
A further aspect is that, the further east you go, the more extreme the winters are, and in earlier times the less practical the roads are for travel in winter, both the standard of former Socialist-era vehicles (both cars and buses) and of the road surface and winter maintenance.

One of the aspects of detail about the Nazis being "defeated by the winter" in the Soviet Union was, in the absence of rail facilities (both wrong gauge and scorched-earth by the Soviets) the road vehicles they used elsewhere across Europe became unusable. For the same reason tramways survived in urban areas to a much greater extent than in the west - they were the only reliable form of transport for many months.

Another incidental aspect of this is the very low number of motorcycles in Eastern Europe - they are just impractical for many months of the year.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 12:00   #27
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Specially the double tracks between Charleroi and Gosselies, and the single track between Fontaine and Anderlues, are pure SNCV heritage. That network was also about 5000 km long, so in total 10.000 km in Belgium. Sic transit gloria mundi...
Thanks for the distances. I'm recalling now, that-- "icing on the cake" as it were -- the Vicinaux / Buurtspoorwgen had a few standard-gauge sections too. One of these, between Poulseur and Sprimont, I believe continued in use for freight well into the 1960s; using to the end, steam tram locos with enclosed motion.


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A further aspect is that, the further east you go, the more extreme the winters are, and in earlier times the less practical the roads are for travel in winter, both the standard of former Socialist-era vehicles (both cars and buses) and of the road surface and winter maintenance.

One of the aspects of detail about the Nazis being "defeated by the winter" in the Soviet Union was, in the absence of rail facilities (both wrong gauge and scorched-earth by the Soviets) the road vehicles they used elsewhere across Europe became unusable.
Interesting -- the "further east you go, the harsher the winters" factor hadn't occurred to me in this connection.

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For the same reason tramways survived in urban areas to a much greater extent than in the west - they were the only reliable form of transport for many months.

Another incidental aspect of this is the very low number of motorcycles in Eastern Europe - they are just impractical for many months of the year.
North-south, rather than east-west, "axis": but have the above characteristics tended to apply to Scandinavia as well?
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Old 2nd April 2017, 19:13   #28
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I think population density is important here. Climate hasnt stopped eastern Europe from Beeching style cuts in the 1990s.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 19:51   #29
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The density of the Portuguese Railway Network is currently at 27m/km2

In its maximum extent it reached 39m/km2

Just for comparison, the National Motorway Network currently clocks at 37m/km2, mostly concentrated on the shoreline.

The figures above do not include Underground nor Tram networks.
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Old 8th April 2017, 22:27   #30
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this makes it sound surprising, but actually railways in France have been progressively closing for over 80 years. At its maximum extent, before the French version of the 'Beeching' there were about 60,000km of lines. This figure is now around 28,000km, but with many of those lines moribund or rarely used (eg for occasional seasonal cereal traffic)


.
In fact, the French "Beeching" occurred in 1938, immediately after nationalisation. A large number of passenger services were replaced by buses. There was also an extensive narrow-gauge network in France, most of which had disappeared by 1950.

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