Ummm! Their “north” all looks a little southern to me!

TGV High-Speed Train |

And here we have the equivalent in France, from Brest in the extreme North West, crossing the border into Spain in the South West, to Perpignan and along to the Principality of Monaco. Over to Italy, to Milan, to Genève, Zurich, in Switzerland and to Luxembourg City, to Bruxelles and even Munich.

File:Italian high speed rail network-fr.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Then there is Italy, although some are still under construction, they seem to manage to have trains from the industrial north to the more rural south with existing high speed as far as Naples.

Main German High-Speed Rail Corridors (until 2009) | Download Scientific  Diagram

As you’d expect, in Germany very fast rail covers the country, North to South and East to West, with lines heading into Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, Denmark, etc.

Spain Rail Map and Guide | Mapping Europe

Spain too has a limited network (although considerably less limited than England) of fast trains from Madrid to the South and East and all the way up the East coast.



  1. I seem to remember that the purpose of HS2 was to counter the escalating house prices for workers in SE England by allowing people from the Midlands to commute to London.
    As always it is about Greater London and it’s needs being subsidised by tax payers elsewhere in the UK state.
    Trickle down economics.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Germany has lots of different types of train — I see them every day.

    ICE – long-distance InterCity Express, on the main lines. Usually one an hour.
    IC – regular InterCity trains, medium range
    InterRegio – regional expresses
    S-Bahn – local trains providing good, regular local services. Sometimes double-deckers
    Bummelzüge – the slow ones that stop everywhere

    That map of the Germain rail routes only shows the main lines. At top left, there is a local line that runs west from Oldenburg into the Netherlands. I traveled on it on a local train back in 1980, and was amazed that there were no border controls. Nobody checked my passport. Mind you, back in the day, changing currency — deutschmarks to guilders — was an issue. Though hardly an insurmountable one.

    And the Netherlands — there is a country that has mastered the art of rail travel!

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Had a trip to visit my nephew in Hanover.
          Buses, trams and trains are co-ordinated and have daily zone tickets thst cover all routes, clean, quick and modern.
          How to you double the capacity?, double deck coaches, like Amsterdam.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. At the risk of bringing down a ton of bricks on my head might I point out that the Scottish Government have been talking about a Scotland wide Transport Smart Card exactly on the model of the Netherlands system for years – although lately the talk has died down. They have had the powers for years but have done nothing – it appears they simply can’t be bothered. So much for Public Transport being a vital weapon in the fight against climate change!

            Sometimes the criticism should be a bit closer to home.


            1. Indeed… Or maybe there simply isn’t the money?

              But good lord, the Scottish government is very far from perfect.

              In many cases utter rubbish.

              But, at least they try.

              Meanwhile the Brits are busy stuffing money left right and centre into their mates Virgin Islands bank accounts whilst breaking every promise they ever made.

              I’m absolutely certain that if there was a whiff of that in Scotland, the BBC, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Telegraph and STV… would all have been on it like a ton of bricks.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. A large part of the problem is that the Scottish Government have got Network Rail to deal with, and Abellio trains: they can’t introduce a nationwide transport card if the railways won’t adopt it. I believe the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) seems to be doing a pretty good job of introducing it over its area.

              It doesn’t help that rail fares in general are such a dog’s breakfast – and, of course, far too high.

              Liked by 2 people

                1. ***RANT ALERT***

                  I think it was MacMillan who described the privatization of public goods as selling the family silver. While it’s true that nationalizing all means of production à la Sovietique translates in effect into State capitalism and is a bloody ineffective and economically perverse way of running things, there are some public goods that should never be in private hands.

                  I’ve never worked out to what extent the Tories actually believed what they said they did about private enterprise always being better at running things than public ownership, or whether they realized, cynically, that privatization was just another means of putting even more of the public’s wealth into their own and their friends’ pockets.

                  Similarly, it’s probably impossible to tell how many of them were true believers in the sadomonetarism of Milton Friedman and other members of the same right-wing school of economists which Margaret Thatcher publicly espoused. We shouldn’t forget that her economic and other ideology and dogma were, to at least some extent, inspired and influenced by those of her great pal Pinochet in Chile. Monetarism is dead, long live the neoliberal consensus! Huzzah!

                  Tories of that stripe – greed and self-interest unmitigated by any sense of fair play and social responsibility, backed up by simplistic, even bonkers, kitchen sink economic dogmas of one kind or another – generally regard human rights (for the rest of us) as inconveniences to be eliminated rather than the foundation of liberal democracy. In other words, they have little or nothing to distinguish them from fascists.

                  The Scottish electorate, needless to say though I’m going to do it anyway, never voted for any of that. Truly, under Westminster misrule we have the serious misfortune of being subjected to policies and practices that our people decisively reject but are obligated to abide by and put up with regardless. Many, if not most, of us pooh-pooh the idea that Scotland is effectively an English colony or under a form of colonial rule, but I say that it is in reality if not in law.

                  That is a situation which is not tenable over the longer term, but under a rogue regime in a failing democracy, it’s going to be even more difficult to extricate ourselves, because our opponents do not feel bound by the tenets of liberal democracy, and many evidently do not believe in democracy at all if it means not getting their own way. Another way of putting it is that they’re all in favour of the tyranny of the majority, so long as they’re the majority – which they will use all means, both fair and foul, to ensure.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. It was indeed arch Tory, Harold Macmillan (the Earl of Stockton) who said that, whilst shaking his relatively-recently aristocratic head and looking down upon Mrs Thatcher with something approaching disdain. He probably thought her rather common. Her vowels were definitely manufactured.

                    I’ve never quite been able to fathom why things are better-run in the private sector.

                    It is quite possible to put the same sort of pressure on staff to achieve more and more by inflicting “targets” on them and paying them in accordance with their achievement thereof.

                    Thus it seems that the only real reason for privatising utilities, turning them into money making machines, is that, as you say, the government members hope to make a killing on it somehow for their own personal gain.

                    In the matter of absolute necessities, like water, electricity, gas (particularly in a relatively cool climate and in a country where legal minimum incomes barely cover the cost of staying alive) it seems to me to be wrong that the profit motive is the only one that counts. Service to the population? Ah, yeah OK…I was joking.

                    I’m not sure if the prime ministers who oversaw the privatising of so much of the “family silver” were aware that once this stuff was sold off, and shares available, anyone, absolutely ANYONE, could buy them.

                    Maybe Mrs Thatcher genuinely thought that little lower middle class families from suburbia, would enjoy being part owners of Hissing Sid’s Gas company. If so, how little she understood these people.

                    My lower middle class suburban uncle bought shares in Gas and Electricity, saw the prices of the shares rise dramatically and sold the lot, pocketing a fat profit which he spent on foreign travel

                    As we saw on a video on here recently, once Tris’s uncle (and many others) had sold shares they were bought up by large companies, quite often owned elsewhere.

                    And as we have said before, ironically, often owned by governments elsewhere.

                    So a large supplier of electricity in the Uk is EDF or more correctly, Electricité de France, which is majority-owned by the French government.

                    So much for taking back control there, then.

                    Virtually the whole network of rail companies is owned abroad, some of it, if I remember rightly, by China.

                    I’m not against people making profits… indeed I like a bit of a profit myself, as does Munguin. But the promise was that the quality of service would improve when they were private companies… because private companies do things better.

                    So… let’s compare Great British Railways and Société National de Chemins de Fer in France, which, unless I mistake myself (as they would say) is 100% owned by the French government.

                    Ooops… I mean the two companies aren’t on the same planet.

                    I wish I could say that in Scotland we’d never voted for any of these things, but we did vote for the Blair government which carried on the business of Thatcher and Major with a few choice privatisation, despite a pledge not to do so.



            3. It’s a pity that the nationwide transport card hasn’t been implemented yet. Maybe having Network Rail run from London and ScotRail from Amsterdam has been a bit if a hindrance.

              Liked by 2 people

                    1. Thanks for that, Tris!

                      I read the Wikipedia and noticed, among other things, that Scotland will be (or remain) a region. We should look forward to Westminster using the Internal Market legislation to make sure they and their pals get as much cash out of the (re)franchising operation as they can – as I noticed also that franchising is going to be placed under the control of Great British Railways, i.e., unless the information in the article is incomplete, taken out of the hands of the Scottish Government’s Transport Secretary.

                      Reinforcing that conclusion was the lack of any mention of handing over control of our bit of the Great British rail network to make it answerable to the Scottish Government rather than Westminster. I rather hope it will be, but I wouldn’t bet on it. What a pity we can’t be like Northern Ireland, where the railways are, in the parlance, vertically integrated.

                      The third thing that particularly attracted my attention was the following sentence: “Two weeks before the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail was unveiled, the Department for Transport gave notice of a £6.5 million contract for Deloitte up to February 2023 as its ‘strategic change delivery partner: rail reform programme’.”

                      We can hope that Shapps’ only contribution to the exercise was the addition of his name, but at least They are not awarding the contracts with no oversight at all, just oversight by a company presumably stuffed, like every other company in the City of London, with Tory ex-pols, donors and placemen coming in and out through the revolving door direct to the House of Lords. Then there’s the Russian Mafiosi / oligarchs / kleptocrats and similar untouchable criminals and mobsters, and the Heads of State and Government responsible for gross abuses of human rights – sorry, I meant to say all the most highly desirable investors who support the Tory Party – looking to launder money from illicit trade in arms, drugs and influence.

                      If I were British, I’d probably be extremely embarrassed. As it is, the Met aren’t going to be looking into any of them any time soon – cash for honours is the least of it, and they won’t even do that even when anyone who’s paying attention can see right away that there’s an obvious prima facie corruption case to be made.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. LOL. Yep. Utter set up.

                      Northern Ireland had got it all…even before Brexit made them much more appealing than GB.

                      Their trains are, if I remember rightly, considerably better than ours, mostly being Republic ones.

                      I see that Jolyon Maugham is working with Pete Wishart to get something done about Dame Dick’s (I know that sounds rude, but it’s the incompetent old bat’s name!) and her refusal to even consider that the Tories, who one day if she plays her cards right will make her Lady Dick (even worse I know) have acted criminally by filling the house of the living dead with a pile of really generous donors at £3m a shout. спасибо большое Борис

                      On the subject of sleaze I see that Michelle Moan is in some sort of bother to do with sourcing stuff from her mates for the pandemic and Patel has called the Home office staff useless… and they have called her a moron.

                      Global Britain, huh?… The world must look that us with such envy.


          2. Europeans seem to have this strange notion that people don’t like to hang about draughty stations and bus shelters waiting for trains and busses that may or may not come… Odd people, huh?


        2. Amazing trains there. I’ve probably told this story before here… but what the heck.

          I was in Geneva for a few days visiting a friend and I had to catch a train at 7 pm for Paris.

          But we got stuck in the taxi in a traffic jam on the way to the station. We were seriously worried that I would miss the train. I said to my friend that we could only hope that the train would be late…

          The taxi driver nearly crashed the car at the thought… and my mate had to explain to him that I was British.

          Liked by 3 people

            1. That’ll be a level above the rails… over which they glide.

              285 kms an hour… They almost arrive before they leave.

              I remember when the Brits bragged about their train that could do 100 mph (161 kph).

              Of course it turned out that they could only do that for about 10 miles of the journey between London and Edinburgh, because of the poor state of the line, the signals and the actual trains all of which were falling to bits..

              Chinese ones go even faster. 300 kph

              Imagine going to Lhasa on that!!!

              Liked by 3 people

            2. Not only punctual in Japan, but they stop exactly at the designated place on the platform.

              Germany has a good network, but they get lots of delays and cancellations. But they are not expensive and they have the genius idea that on some services up to 5 people can travel for one fare ( like your car would afford you ).

              I took the AVE in Spain from Madrid to Seville first class a few years back. What a joyful experience. Passenger lounges like the airport before you depart. Roomy seats. Lunch and a free piss up included, and 299 km/hour for big stretches. Worth every penny.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. It seems that almost everywhere rail journeys are comfortable and fun.

                Except here.

                Which wouldn’t be so bad if the railways were either efficient, or cheap, or didn’t require HUGE funding.

                But they do.


      1. I was always amazed sitting in a train in the Netherlands and watching the clock on the platform. The train departed bang on the scheduled time.

        On the 2 occasions I booked a ticket straight through from Edinburgh to Paris and Brussels, the train was delayed reaching London and it was a cliffhanger whether I would make the connection. And the reserved seat was double booked EVERY time.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The last time I went to Paris on the train, I booked an earlier train for the Britain part, having had years of experience of nail biting journeys, worrying about arriving in time for connections. It is probably the only time that I’ve made a long distance journey in the UK without a serious delay.

          On the way back I got off Eurostar and off to Euston bang on time… then we were delayed on the London Edinburgh journey for 2 hours or thereby.

          Like you I’ve actually watched station clocks where the hand jerks to the minute of due departure and the train starts to move.

          It’s a fascinating sight for a Brit.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. A couple of years ago after travelling around France and Italy by comfortable, inexpensive trains, we decided to travel from Avignon to Galway by train and ferry. The double-deck low-cost TGV left on time and arrived in Paris on time less than 3 hours later. Crossed Paris for the (state-owned) Eurostar which left and arrived in London bang on time. Then the fun started next day. No Virgin train to Chester showed on the departure boards till about 3 minutes before departure. But we left late anyway, so no need to have panicked. Our booked seats were in a coach that was out of commission because the heating was on full blast and couldn’t be switched down or off. So everyone and their luggage piled in to the remaining coaches where we were told to travel with our cases on our knees to keep the corridor clear for the refreshments trolley which had missed the train. We reached Chester for the Arriva train to Holyhead which was announced for platform 8. About a minute before departure we were concerned there were very few people there so went for a look. We found the 2 coach train for Holyhead at the other side of the station where staff were trying to cope with around 300 or 400 people, around 20 of whom were in wheelchairs. We cornered a staff member who asked us what did we expect?! After threatening to sue Arriva because we had through RailSail tickets he told about 12 of us who had been haranguing him to wait in a corner. He eventually reappeared and hustled us to the station door where a line of taxis brought us to Holyhead, each one costing the train company just under £200.
            Welcome to privatised Britain.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I dare say, Iain, that there are people from other countries reading this who think… yeah, he’s exaggerating that…

              … But I know that you are not.

              Like you, I’ve travelled around Europe on trains and not one had a cancellation or late train (although I’m sure it happens)… and I’ve travelled around the Uk and only once as far as I can remember have I had a carefree journey.

              I absolutely DREAD the thought of having to go anywhere on the train.

              Added to being the worst, dirties and least reliable trains in Europe, these are, by miles, the most expensive.


              1. When I was a student, and before Germany had the ICE trains, I made the journey from Kiel in the far north of Germany to Rosenheim near the Austrian border to visit friends. The train left on time, the connection left Hamburg on time as did my last connection in Munich which arrived bang on time 11 hours and 20 odd minutes later. It never occurred to me that there would be a problem. Yet even a simple journey like Kingussie to Inverness can often be subject to delay, cancellation, lack of seats or no catering. We put up with it because we are conditioned to believe we don’t deserve world class infrastructure and services.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I’ve yet to hear a good story about our trains.

                  I was choking myself laughing when they renamed RailTrack to “Great British Railways”.

                  Of course, it’s an accurate name in that the lines in NI are separate and work in conjunction with those lines in Eire, but the idea that there is something great about the trains on the mainland is really quite weird.

                  Grate, maybe?


    1. A train leaves Koln for Mainz at 0915 and 34 passengers alight at Koblenz and 16 passengers get on. When does the train arrive in Mainz. On Time

      Liked by 1 person

    1. that a friend of mine who is heavily into railway memorabilia discovered that some trains between Leeds and Manchester make the journey only 10 minutes faster than in the days when young men from the industrial north were marching off to fight in the first world war. Another notorious route is Leeds to Sheffield, which can take well over an hour to cover just 35 miles.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not surprised.

        About 10 years ago I had to go to Bradford for a concert.

        The train from Dundee to Edinburgh (having arrived from Aberdeen late) got me there just in time to get the connection to Leeds. That train was held up for nearly 2 hours. I eventually got there and the train to Bradford took so long I was pretty sure I’d miss the concert.

        On the way back the next day, the train from Bradford to York took so long, I had only 2 minutes to get my connection for Dundee.

        Weekend of train misery.


  3. There is also a fast rail route to the north west of Spain. Haven’t been on it but it appears to be considerably faster from Madrid to Zamora and points beyond than the days of my trudge to Leon etc 10+ years ago.
    I’m sure “red wall” Tory MP’s will have fun selling the UK “equivalent” to their constituents.


    1. Yes. I think that map may be a little out of date.

      But even their non- highspeed routes are better than the rubbish we have.

      It’s hard to imagine that they recently recently thought it a clever idea to change the name of Railtrack to “Great British Rail”.



  4. O/T:

    In comparison to last Thursday, the number of new cases reported today is:

    Up 11% in England
    Down 3% in Scotland
    Up 21% in Wales
    Up 15% in Northern Ireland

    Up 10% UK wide


  5. I’ve travelled by train to and within Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Spain & Switzerland without experiencing major delays or cancellations. On the occasion when my TGV from Lyon to Paris was, almost unbelievably, delayed by an hour, because of a major regional power cut, SNCF staff went through the train and spoke with every passenger arranging vouchers for onward travel and even taxis for those with urgent needs. By contrast, I seldom board a British train without wondering if I’ll get to my destination late (or at all, sometimes). And our motive power and rolling stock (laughing stock?) are a joke compared to continental standards.
    Of course, privatisation has given the traveller choice – we can now choose which carrier will let us down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL True. And that’s one of these great British freedoms we have.

      Also you have to take out a bank loan to pay for the bad service.

      On one occasion I was stuck for an hour outside Edinburgh. Eventually I went to get a coffee (dreadful muck but it passed the time) . The lad said… you’ve been stuck here over an hour so you are eligible for a free coffee, but don’t tell any one.

      Obviously I felt obliged to …um advertise it to the whole train!


    1. Ha ha ha. which, I think, is owned by the Dutch Government.

      If I remember rightly, the last time the franchises went out to tender, the SotGov wanted to bid, but the Brits told us we couldn’t.

      So the best offer was from a company owned by the Dutch government.

      The Dutch government could own our trains, but our government couldn’t.



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