Limited railroad usage

Other Names:
Uncertain railroad future
Frozen railroad relations
Undeveloped railway links
It was reported in 1999, that when travelling by train in the European Union, people may find themselves waiting 20 minutes or more for the train to leave the station. This is because the station in question is close to a frontier between two European countries whose national railway networks use different technical standards. The fact is that such differences still exist within the EU, and cost a great deal of time and money. To begin with, there were several track gauges within not just the EU but Europe in general. While most countries used the same gauge, Spain and Portugal, on the one hand, and Finland and the entire Emerald Isle on the other, had their own systems. To complicate matters further, several different signalling and electrification systems were in use in the EU. Nor was the direction of running the same everywhere - it was left in most EU countries right in Germany, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands and Finland, and varies in Greece and Austria. Any number of incompatible pieces of equipment could be added to the list. The result was a halt of anywhere up to half an hour at border crossings to allow engines and drivers to be changed and checks to be carried out. High-speed trains did in fact make the journey without changing engines and without long delays; but there was a price to pay. The trains which ran between Paris and Amsterdam, on the one hand, and Paris and Cologne on the other, had to carry up to six kinds of signalling equipment, and cost 60% more than an equivalent train designed to operate within the territory of a single EU member state. Also, trains tended to be very slow on average. At the time of the research, goods train were running at an average speed of 20 km/hr, while the railways accounted for just 14% of freight transport in 1997, as compared to 30% in 1970.
Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
21.12.1999 – 00:00 CET
Web Page(s):