European Sleepers - What routes would be feasible?

trivran

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There must be a way to tie in a high-speed sleeper train with the idea of the package holiday in Spain. Get on the train at St. Pancras, stress not about going to the airport at all, sleep it all off, wake up on the Costa del Sol, transfer to the resort.
 
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Bald Rick

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There must be a way to tie in a high-speed sleeper train with the idea of the package holiday in Spain. Get on the train at St. Pancras, stress not about going to the airport at all, sleep it all off, wake up on the Costa del Sol, transfer to the resort.
But, (for the umpteenth time) the high speed lines are all closed overnight. And for many people, the stress of getting to St Pancras for a 15h+ train journey in a tiny room, would be far, far greater than any airport stress. And there’s the small matter of losing an entire day to travel there and back in a tiny room when you could be by the pool.
 

HSTEd

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But, (for the umpteenth time) the high speed lines are all closed overnight. And for many people, the stress of getting to St Pancras for a 15h+ train journey in a tiny room, would be far, far greater than any airport stress. And there’s the small matter of losing an entire day to travel there and back in a tiny room when you could be by the pool.
Clearly what is needed is a Breitspurbahn.

Then the pool can be on the train.
 

RT4038

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Well of course they haven't done this successfully because they haven't actually launched yet - they're launching the route next year, with plans to use used stock for 3 years (at which point the new stock comes in if ordered). Bit silly to claim it's not worth it when used stock is precisely what they're using?


You've listed a bunch of hypotheticals, which haven't blocked usage of existing stock any time in the past (except for Mk3's and non-PRM stock in the UK). It's not likely to be an issue in the first place, and generally stock that is already running doesn't get blocked from continuing to run on the continent. If this were an issue, then various companies wouldn't actually be using used stock - but they are.
The title of the thread is 'What routes would be profitable' ? So, on the basis that a route would only be properly profitable if it can generate sufficient to pay for the ongoing provision of rolling stock, then there are probably none. The use of fully deprecated older rolling stock to start a new service is only anything other than a 'flash in the pan' if there is a chance of the service becoming properly profitable. Particularly as there is not really any source (in any number) of fully depreciated stock going forward, once the current stuff becomes uneconomic to maintain.
 

AlbertBeale

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The title of the thread is 'What routes would be profitable' ? So, on the basis that a route would only be properly profitable if it can generate sufficient to pay for the ongoing provision of rolling stock, then there are probably none. The use of fully deprecated older rolling stock to start a new service is only anything other than a 'flash in the pan' if there is a chance of the service becoming properly profitable. Particularly as there is not really any source (in any number) of fully depreciated stock going forward, once the current stuff becomes uneconomic to maintain.
A public service, and one which doesn't destroy the ecosystem, doesn't need to be "profitable" in the old-fashioned sense.
 

RT4038

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A public service, and one which doesn't destroy the ecosystem, doesn't need to be "profitable" in the old-fashioned sense.
I suggest you open a thread: 'European Sleepers - What routes should be operated as a subsidised public service' or some such, if you wish to discuss that.
 
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AlbertBeale

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I suggest you open a thread: 'European Sleepers - What routes should be operated as a subsidised public service' or some such, if you wish to discuss that.
I'm querying the old-fashioned (and in my view naively monetarist) definition of "profitable".
 

Peter Kelford

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A public service, and one which doesn't destroy the ecosystem, doesn't need to be "profitable" in the old-fashioned sense.
True. A modest loss or break-even would be sufficient.At the same time something that is fundamentally a black hole for public funds would never get operated so would not be considered.
 

RT4038

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True. A modest loss or break-even would be sufficient.At the same time something that is fundamentally a black hole for public funds would never get operated so would not be considered.
I am not sure that any Sleeper services could be operated with a 'modest loss or break even'. Is there anywhere in the world that has Sleeper services that do that? (apart from high end luxury trains, such as VSOE or Rocky Mountaineer, which are not really public transport). Of course, the same could be said about most day time trains too, but, per passenger, the subsidy for a sleeper train will be higher (in some cases such as the Caledonian Sleeper, spectacularly higher).

So, for what reason would there be to pay this additional subsidy for Sleeping Car passengers? Business and high end passengers are going to travel by air pretty much no matter what the price is. The genie of fast air travel is not going to be put back in the bottle - and neither should it be. Should it be more expensive? Probably, but that would not put many more of those passengers into Sleeping Cars. (I have heard of all the arguments about saving on hotel bills by travelling overnight etc. , but the railways have been pushing this ever since they had a total monopoly of this traffic, with virtually no success). I suspect that higher air fares for long journeys (+1000km) would result in fewer journeys being made, rather than a surge in anything but economy train travel.

So you are left with people travelling on holiday, or making one-off journeys for employment, study etc. Why can they not use day time trains and stay overnight en-route in the case of a long journey? Sure an overnight train may be more convenient for them, but is that a good enough reason to use extra public funds to subsidise? Perhaps there needs to be a social change that people will take fewer holidays, but for longer periods at a time, so the speed of the journey to & from is less critical, or alternatively the (more expensive) air fare is paid less often.

Much as I love travelling in them, sleeping cars are an anachronism, much like freight on canals or Ocean Liners.
 

Bald Rick

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A public service, and one which doesn't destroy the ecosystem, doesn't need to be "profitable" in the old-fashioned sense.
No, but if the money spent subsidising it could be far more effectively spent on other initiatives that help prevent damage to the eco system, then surely that would be a better use of public funds?

If, say, the hundreds of pounds of subsidy for each passenger on such a sleeper would need to save a relatively small amount of Carbon was used, instead, to fund decarbonisation of the road system, or power generation, (for example) it would be far, far more effective in decarbonising per £ spent.
 

MarcVD

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I am not sure that any Sleeper services could be operated with a 'modest loss or break even'. Is there anywhere in the world that has Sleeper services that do that?
The 3 night trains that still exist in France all run with a public subsidy.
 

JonasB

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I am not sure that any Sleeper services could be operated with a 'modest loss or break even'. Is there anywhere in the world that has Sleeper services that do that?
SJ's Stockholm-Malmö sleeper train are profitable and run without any subsidies.
 

JonasB

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There will be subsidy, it just might not be obvious.
What kind of subsidies? All subsidised routes in Sweden are tendered in one way or another by either Trafikverket or a regional public transport authority. The Malmö sleeper trains are not and SJ, as a for profit company, would not run them if they made a loss.
 

RT4038

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What kind of subsidies? All subsidised routes in Sweden are tendered in one way or another by either Trafikverket or a regional public transport authority. The Malmö sleeper trains are not and SJ, as a for profit company, would not run them if they made a loss.
At a guess, SJ wish to retain dominance on the important Stockholm-Malmo route and so cross-subsidise the Sleeper Train from profits made on the day time services?
 

RT4038

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And if so, so what? It is still not a publicly subsidized service then.
If SJ wish to do that, and can afford to do so, it is up to them. However, I would suggest that the financial conditions allowing this only occur in a very small number of cases across Europe.
 

Bald Rick

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What kind of subsidies? All subsidised routes in Sweden are tendered in one way or another by either Trafikverket or a regional public transport authority. The Malmö sleeper trains are not and SJ, as a for profit company, would not run them if they made a loss.
What do they pay for infrastructure?
 

jamesontheroad

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Has the title of this thread been changed since the original post?

"What routes would be be profitable" versus "what routes would be feasible" is quite an important distinction when discussing passenger rail. <:D
 

30907

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Has the title of this thread been changed since the original post?

"What routes would be be profitable" versus "what routes would be feasible" is quite an important distinction when discussing passenger rail. <:D
No, it hasn't changed - but RT4038 for some reason misquoted it in #65 and the discussion took a different direction.
 

Peter Kelford

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Has the title of this thread been changed since the original post?

"What routes would be be profitable" versus "what routes would be feasible" is quite an important distinction when discussing passenger rail. <:D
No, it hasn't changed - but RT4038 for some reason misquoted it in #65 and the discussion took a different direction.
Yes it has. This is to apply a scope not of pure and immediate profitability but a more general scope of a route that would be a rational choice.
 

BayPaul

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Yes it has. This is to apply a scope not of pure and immediate profitability but a more general scope of a route that would be a rational choice.
This seems like a much more sensible topic for a discussion. Few expect that every train must be profitable, but many sleepers run at a spectacular loss. A discussion on those in the middle, that could run at a moderate financial loss that could provide an overall benefit to society sounds very sensible.

Of course, in the UK it is clear that no sleepers can have a chance at having a merely moderate loss, but perhaps on the continent there are more opportunities!
 

AlbertBeale

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This seems like a much more sensible topic for a discussion. Few expect that every train must be profitable, but many sleepers run at a spectacular loss. A discussion on those in the middle, that could run at a moderate financial loss that could provide an overall benefit to society sounds very sensible.

Of course, in the UK it is clear that no sleepers can have a chance at having a merely moderate loss, but perhaps on the continent there are more opportunities!
The economics of UK sleepers might change when there are almost no internal flights.
 

30907

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Yes it has. This is to apply a scope not of pure and immediate profitability but a more general scope of a route that would be a rational choice.
My apologies - for some reason my device still reads "feasible" not "profitable" in the title. I like your new suggestion.
 

Bald Rick

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The economics of UK sleepers might change when there are almost no internal flights.
They won’t. Leaving aside that there will, of course, continue to be internal flights, people who are used to paying £40 for a flight are not going to suddenly be happy to pay £200 for a sleeper. They’ll use a day train.
 

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