Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"A Revolution In Travel Habits"

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

That's how the Guardian describes the dramatic success of Spanish high speed trains (h/t to lydik in the comments to the last post):

Spain's sleek new high-speed trains have stolen hundreds of thousands of passengers from airlines over the last year, slashing carbon emissions and marking a radical change in the way Spaniards travel.

Passenger numbers on fuel-guzzling domestic flights fell 20% in the year to November as commuters and tourists swapped cramped airline seats for the space and convenience of the train, according to figures released yesterday.

High-speed rail travel - boosted by the opening of a line that slashed the journey time from Madrid to Barcelona to 2 hours 35 minutes in February - grew 28% over the same period. About 400,000 travellers shunned airports and opted for the 220mph AVE trains.

Last year's drop in air travel, which was also helped by new high-speed lines from Madrid to Valladolid, Segovia and Malaga, marks the beginning of what experts say is a revolution in Spanish travel habits.

lydik is right, I have a huge soft spot for the AVE trains, which were my first HSR experience - and also because I love Iberia (my wife and I are going to Portugal later this spring). It's also because while many Americans have a stereotype that Europeans are all a bunch of train-riding sophisticates, in fact air and auto travel in Europe is still a major form of transportation.

That was particularly true of Spain - but no longer:

In a country where big cities are often more than 500km (300 miles) apart, air travel has ruled supreme for more than 10 years. A year ago aircraft carried 72% of the 4.8 million long-distance passengers who travelled by air or rail. The figure is now down to 60%.

"The numbers will be equal within two years," said Josep Valls, a professor at the ESADE business school in Barcelona.

This is worth noting since Spain and California are very comparable in terms of travel habits and population densities. As with Spain, California's big cities are often more than 300 miles apart (379 miles from downtown SF to downtown LA). Like California, Spain experienced a property-fueled economic boom during this decade. But unlike California, Spain has devoted a significant portion of the tax proceeds from that boom to building sustainable high speed rail, particularly under the PSOE government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Lines to Barcelona and Málaga have opened within the last year, along with a Madrid bypass enabling faster travel from Barcelona to destinations in Andalusia. Connections from Madrid to Valencia, Galicia, and the Basque Y are also under construction.

Spain has also had success at lowering carbon emissions via HSR:

The high-speed train network is also helping Spain control carbon emissions.Straight tracks and few stops mean AVE trains use 19% less energy than conventional trains. Alberto García, of the Spanish Railways Foundation, has calculated that a passenger on the Madrid-Barcelona line accounts for one-sixth of the carbon emissions of an aeroplane passenger.

All of this is something we can look forward to here in California - and further reason to ensure that the state gets its act together, passes a budget, and gets back to economic stimulus via infrastructure projects like HSR.

PS: On that note, the Obama Transition Team has a "Citizens Briefing Book" where users rate up projects and ideas they feel are most important. "Bullet Trains and Light Rail" are currently the #1 most popular idea. Login and be sure to vote for this to further communicate to the Obama Administration our conviction that HSR is a vital part of this nation's future.

30 comments:

BBinnsandiego said...

Oh how ready for this revolution am I!

I just made the trip from San Diego to the Bay Area by air. Thanks to weather in Austin Texas of all places my flight was delayed longer than any possible HSR trip would have taken! This is the third time in three months that my flight, advertised as one and a half hour, has taken me over three!!(I'm not even counting check-in)

When it come to CHSR-If you build it they will come!

Brandon in San Diego said...

It is really gratifying to see that on the Obama change site that HSR is getting A LOT of votes and is frequented in many idea submisions.

As far as I can tell, it is the number 1 vote-getter by far. And, it's cited so often that another poster suggested a separate category just for projects like HSR (versus falling under one of the pre-defined categories for energy or economy or foreign affiars. Honestly, at a minimum transportation should be its own category.)

NickR said...

Further news from The Guardian about The Eurostar:

...the number of travellers on the London to Paris and Brussels service rose by more than 10% last year, Richard Brown, the Eurostar chief executive, said he expected continued medium-term growth.

Brown said 9.1 million passengers used Eurostar last year, the first full year of operation of High Speed 1, the fast rail link between London's St Pancras station and the Channel tunnel at Folkestone...

The passenger increase came despite a serious fire on board a Eurotunnel freight shuttle train in the tunnel in September – an incident that badly disrupted services...

"An increase of nearly a million extra passengers using High Speed 1 during its first year of operations, even with the impact of the tunnel fire, demonstrates beyond doubt that people prefer high-speed rail to short-haul air. They are switching because rail journeys are faster, more punctual, more convenient and have less environmental impact," Brown told the BBC's Today programme.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jan/13/eurostar-passengers-record-rise

Rafael said...

It's not just high speed rail that ordinary citizens are giving the thumbs up to.

Vancouver, BC, has built itself the Canada Line, a light rail connection between downtown and the suburb of Richmond, with a spur to the airport. Construction involved extensive cut-and-cover in the downtown area, tunnel boring as well as a new bridge. Here's the official promo video. Total cost was C$1.9 billion for ~19km of dual standard gauge track. The project was completed on budget and ahead of schedule (BART to SJ, please take note).

A couple of weeks ago, Valley Metro began commercial service of the first light rail line in Phoenix.

Business leaders in Atlanta are complaining that poor public transit hurts economic growth.

Rapid rail and true HSR have much the same effect, just on larger geographical scales. Rail - especially electric rail - is in high demand, in spite of the collapse of the bubble in oil prices.

Rubber Toe said...

Robert,
I would make the following suggestion. You have a set of links from your main page that come under sub-categories like Environment, Climate, Debunking, etc. These link back to various well thought out previous posts concerning important topics. You might want to consider the following...

The comparison between Spain and California that you have often mentioned is quite important, as we believe that if HSR can succeed in Spain then it can also succeed here. While a single story showing very good adoption certainly illustrates the success, providing a larger set of hard numbers in a single page, ala Ross Perot style, would be even better.

Think of a month by month chart showing both airline travel between various city pairs, both before and after the HSR started serving the cities. You could then also show the month by month increase in HSR trips, including such things as cost for the average fare. It would also be good to show when additional feeder lines come on line, and what effect that has on the connecting major city pair ridership. This should all be updated over time as an ongoing project. Costs of the various lines should also be included.

This would provide some pretty convincing evidence of what the California HSR system could expect to see if it is built. Both in terms of cost to build, passenger seat costs, ridership, break even potential, and reduced airline traffic. These numbers could be compared to what the CAHSR business plan shows to get an idea whether the CAHSR data correlates with the Spanish experience. If they differ, it would provide for lively discussion concerning why they differ.

Of course, this would take some work to collect all the statistics, if they are even available. I know I have the LA light rail data, because that is readily available on the MTA web site. The Spanish HSR site may have this info, but I would imagine that the Spanish airlines would be less forthcoming on how many flights they are now flying and what their average fare is since that is likely closely held for competitive reasons. The Spanish government transportation department or airline regulatory agency might have such data though.

If anyone would be up for doing the footwork (webwork) then we could contribute the data to Robert for incorporation into this site. I have been pretty busy over the Holidays, but have some more time now and may take a stab at this in the coming weeks if no one else steps up to the plate.

The hard part is finding the data sources, assuming they exist. Once you get that done it's just a matter of logging in every month and collecting the required data.

RT

Robert Cruickshank said...

Rubber Toe, I think that would be a very good project. I don't have the time to do it myself, but perhaps we could distribute it amongst ourselves and I'd be happy to assemble it for a post.

We did discuss some statistical comparisons between Spain and California back in July in this post from Matt Melzer, formerly of the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

Anonymous said...

The article is very misleading. According to the EU's statistics agency, Eurostat, rail travel in Spain, as in Europe generally, has been LOSING market share to road and air travel. In 1990, Spain had no high-speed rail at all. By 2005, it had high-speed services between Madrid and Seville, Cordoba, Puertollano and Ciudad Real, and partial high-speed service to Malaga and Algeciras.

Yet over that same period of time passenger-km of travel in Spain by road increased far more than travel by rail. Rail increased by less than 6 billion passenger-km. This compares to an increase of 20 bpkm of travel by bus, and an increase of 180 bpkm by car. Spain's motorway network more than doubled in size, while its rail network actually contracted. And in just the two years between 2003 and 2005, domestic air travel in Spain, measured in passengers, increased by 25%.

DoDo said...

Anonymous, you raise fair criticisms on Spanish transport policy over the last two decades, yet are misleading yourself. Car traffic is less relevant for long-distance transport, and you make much about data until 2005 while the article is about more recent trends.

The by far most frequented air corridor in Spain is Madrid-Barcelona, and the AVE trains started to seriously bite into its market share after the opening of the last section to Barcelona last February.

And that 20% drop for air traffic will only increase, given that HSR traffic on the three newly opened lines increased continuously within the year, too (train frequency was increased twice on M-B); that further HSR lines will open in the next few years (in particular towards the Southeast and the Basque Country, and within Andalusia); and that Madrid-Barcelona will be further sped up (RENFE has still not given up on ERTMS Level 2 and running the S-103 at 350 km/h, and Talgo has even higher ambitions with the Talgo AVRIL).

DoDo said...

I am collecting data for a Madrid-Barcelona line anniversary article in February; and growth was indeed impressive.

However, some critical nitpicking. You write "Spain has devoted a significant portion of the tax proceeds from that boom to building sustainable high speed rail, particularly under the PSOE government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero." I think development was more lopsided, and there was little change (and not necessarily improvements) from Aznar to Zapatero.

Aznar, unlike his neocon friends in the USA (and neolib friends in Europe) had no problems with Big Governments, and pushed all kinds of major construction projects -- waterways, ports, airports, highways, subways, and high-speed rail. From a sustainable development perspective, of course, the parallel improvement of fuel-guzzling transport modes, coupled with meagre development of suburban rail and the practical abandonment of rural local rail, was not at all good.

Still, it's the Aznar government that must be credited with the world's most ambitious high-speed development plan. A line to every regional capital, re-gauging the complete network to standard gauge, all this at breakneck speed and at low costs -- quite ambitious. (The construction of the lines Zapatero got to inaugurate started under Aznar.) He can be faulted, though, of going too fast: ignoring potential problems that then caused delays and cost overruns (especially betting on ERTMS Level 2, geologic problems near Tarragona). Also, for making plans that were too Madrid-centred.

As for the Zapatero government, it set itself on dealing with the problems left behind by Aznar (though making some of its own: the Barcelona tunnel collapse), moved to a more regional focus, and spent more on conventional line upgrades. However, otherwise, I am dismayed that a lot of words remained words.

High-speed line construction and especially contracting actually slowed down relative to Aznar's time. The promises to push railfreight don't seem to add up to much. Meanwhile, the promised regional focus emerged -- but more than for rail, for road, with lots of local avoiding routes and 'improvements' approved. Sadly, Zapatero seems to value giving pork to local PSOE potentates over the general transport policy he often talks about.

DoDo said...

Oh, and a really minor nitpick: the fastest Madrid-Barcelona times are still 2h38m, not 2h35m. (This may be cut to as low as 2h15m when ERTMS Level 2 will allow 350 km/h at last.)

Rafael said...

@ DoDo -

couple of additions:

a) the town of Valle del Abdelajis in Andalucia was deprived of its aquifer when contractors boring a tunnel through a nearby mountain hit a water column and allowed it to drain. The townspeople claim their water was lost because the contractor had failed to carry out adequate geological surveys prior to breaking ground and had therefore failed to select an appropriate tunnel route and/or tunneling techniques.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP08WcEc5CQ

CHSRA had better not repeat this mistake in the Tehachapis, in Soledad Canyon or especially, in Pacheco Pass.

b) the new rapid rail connector between Perpignan and Figueras on the Mediterranean side of the Pyrenees mountains will enable cross-border passenger and selected freight traffic between Madrid/Barcelona and Lyon/Paris.

http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/perpignan/

The connection between Hendaye and Irun on the Atlantic side is already in service but won't operate at rapid rail speeds until the Basque Y is completed.

DoDo said...

Now if only SNCF would extend the LGV Mediterranée all the way to Perpignan, rather than just upgrade: we'd have the first true link-up between two European high-speed networks.

BTW, the travel to Austria I told about earlier is now behind me; I will have time to write a post (at European Tribune) on my railjet travel experience over the weekend.

DoDo said...

For measure, I tracked down 2008 Spanish airport statistics. Overall commercial traffic fell 3.1%, but that covers 0.4% increase in international traffic and a spectacular 7.8% drop in the (relevant for HSR) domestic one.

Predictably, new HSR terminals Barcelona (-8.2%) and Almería (-15.1%) are among the heavy losers, as are many of the cities served via the Madrid-Valladolid line (sadly these growth figures aren't separated for national/international).

The Madrid-Barcelona "air bridge", while still the EU's by far most frequented route, fell from 2007's 4.6 to 3.6 million passengers (-24.2%).

Anonymous said...

DoDo

I think you’re the one who’s misleading himself. The point is that the “recent trends” do not alter the fact that over the past 20 years, as Spain has introduced and expanded high-speed rail, rail travel in Spain has been LOSING market share to road and air travel. The same trend is evident throughout Europe, including in other countries that have invested heavily in HSR (France, Germany, Italy). Motorways are obviously relevant to long-distance travel, and as I said Spain’s motorway network has more than doubled in size since 1990 while its rail network has contracted. It is hardly surprising when air traffic declines somewhat immediately after a competing new high-speed rail service is started on the same route. But the overall trend is a shift away from rail travel and towards more air and road travel. Large-scale investment in HSR may in fact be accelerating this trend. HSR is so expensive that it deprives conventional rail of funds needed to maintain and upgrade conventional rail services that serve many more people and destinations.

Rubber Toe said...

The reason why having hard statistics is important, including their sources, is because of the posts you see here from the newly arrived Anonymous. He states that:

"over the past 20 years, as Spain has introduced and expanded high-speed rail, rail travel in Spain has been LOSING market share to road and air travel."

Please provide a link to the data that you use to make this claim. Thanks in advance.

I spent a couple hours yesterday trying to find monthly HSR data for Spain in both the RENFE website and in some online Spanish newspapers. This was a dead end, as almost all the sites were Spanish only and didn't provide any English versions. Surely such data exists.

Again, having a single location where all the Spanish HSR ridership, driving statistics, and airplane passenger numbers are collected will allow for a quick check on all the Anonymous assertions that... "the overall trend is a shift away from rail travel and towards more air and road travel"

I would think that if nothing else, the government or some academic researchers would put out a paper with all this data summarized.

RT

Anonymous said...

RT,

See the Eurostat report Panorama of Transport

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-DA-07-001/EN/KS-DA-07-001-EN.PDF

Rubber Toe said...

Ok,
I just spent some time looking over the document that Anonymous linked to. It's a very good collection of data BTW, just a bit dated as we will see.

I'll refute one of the statements that he made just to show how data can be either mis-interpreted or used to try and imply something that is not correct.

Here is the Anonymous quote again: "The point is that the “recent trends” do not alter the fact that over the past 20 years, as Spain has introduced and expanded high-speed rail, rail travel in Spain has been LOSING market share to road and air travel."

Here is why this information is incorrect, per the document that he referenced....

Go to Table 2.4 of the document, which is on page 20 of 186. Ignore the page numbers embedded in the document, I'm using the PDF page numbering which makes for easier navigating. They show the total km per country of HSR from 1990 to 2003. Note that it ends in 2003, with Spain showing only 377km, which is the first HSR segment between Madrid and Sevilla. Now go check page 118 to see the HSR market share. This table shows data for 5 years (1990, 1995, 2000,2004 and 2005). Note that 2005 is the last year.

In Spain in 1990, there were 15.5 billion passenger/kilometers traveled by rail. In 2004, there were 20.3 billion passenger/kilometers traveled by rail. But Anonymous is talking about market share, so we have to compare the rail numbers to the auto numbers, fine.

Spain autos in 1990 had 174 billion passenger/kilometers and in 2004 Spain had 355 billion passenger/kilometers. Based on this you can see that while rail increased from 15.5 to 20.3, autos increased from 174 to 355. Obviously, autos gained market share, but that was from 1990 to 2004. So, Anonymous statement concerning market share "over the past 20 years" is incorrect, because the period from 2004 onward is not included in the data. He says that to imply that the recent HSR build out hasn't led to an increase in market share for HSR, but again, the data ends in 2004 which is prior to the HSR build out.

So, if one wants to use Spain as a guide as to whether a built out system could take market share from autos/planes, one has to look at the data from when the system started serving a larger area. The article that DoDo links to is much more recent and does indeed show that HSR is gaining market share and killing air travel in city pairs where they have newly arrived HSR service.

RT

Alex said...

I do love a good statistical b**ch slap in the face.

Anyways, I'm glad that there is a HSR model that relates to our proposed network closely. Being able to view hard statistics to back up plans and opinions is going to be very valuable to silence critics of the project. It is obvious that a well developed HSR network (as was being mentioned before, the Spain network was very well though, albeit rushed in some cases) can provide immense benefit to the country/state it serves. Although our HSR model won't be built out nearly as much as Spain's, I think we will adopt the system very well considering our lifestyles.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, RT, you're really straining to find nits to pick. My "over the past 20 years" was just a rough paraphrase of the time period 1990 to 2005, which I explicitly noted in my original post. In any case, it is completely irrelevant to the basic point. As you can see from the tables you cited, car travel increased massively more than rail travel. For every additional kilometer people in Spain travelled by rail in 2004 as compared to 1990, they travelled an additional THIRTY kilometers by car. Even growth in bus travel greatly outstripped growth in rail travel, by a factor of 3 to 1. And this occurred during the 15-year period when Spain built most of its HSR network. Whatever effect HSR may have had on travel patterns between particular city-pairs, overall there was a massive shift in transportation market share away from rail and towards cars and buses. The changes in the size of Spain's rail and motorway networks (rail declined while motorways more than doubled), and the large increase in the "motorization" rate (number of passenger cars per capita) are further evidence of this shift away from rail and in favor of roads, notwithstanding the Spanish government's huge spending on HSR.

Anonymous said...

It's a similar story for rail vs. air, by the way. Dodo says that Spanish domestic air travel declined in 2008. But it is unclear how much, if any, of that decline is attributable to competition from HSR rather than short-term economic conditions and airfare increases arising from the massive price spike in aviation fuel last year. Domestic air travel declined last year in the U.S. also, but that had nothing to do with HSR. Again, the long-term trend is a large-scale shift away from rail and towards more air travel. Air travel has exploded in Spain, as in most of Europe, over the past couple of decades. In Spain, the number of airline passesngers TRIPLED in the 11 years between 1996 and 2007, from about 57 million passengers in 1996 to about 163 million in 2007.

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page?_pageid=1996,39140985&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&screen=detailref&language=en&product=REF_TB_aviation&root=REF_TB_aviation/t_avia/ttr00012

Alexei said...

The changes in the size of Spain's rail and motorway networks (rail declined while motorways more than doubled), and the large increase in the "motorization" rate (number of passenger cars per capita) are further evidence of this shift away from rail and in favor of roads, notwithstanding the Spanish government's huge spending on HSR.

I don't follow how huge investment in HSR leads to a decline in the size of the rail network. It sounds like the rail network declined for those twenty years while huge investments were made in roads. No surprise car traffic increased more than rail. Now, the recent investment in expanding the rail network has led to an increase in usage (not shown in your stats because they pre-date it. Am I wrong?

Alexei said...

In other words, the authorities doubled the number of roads while reducing the number of rail lines, and you're complaining that rail traffic only went up 33%?

Rubber Toe said...

Anon: Gosh, RT, you're really straining to find nits to pick. My "over the past 20 years" was just a rough paraphrase of the time period 1990 to 2005, which I explicitly noted in my original post.

RT: Nits to pick? Please... The original post concerned the recent (i.e. last year) tremendous increase in market share by Spain's HSR versus airplane flight, where the air traffic dropped by 20%, while the HSR traffic increased by 28%. You attempted to discredit the original posts data by inaccurately stating a time period of "over the last 20 years", while stopping in 2004 before the HSR build out.

Anon: In any case, it is completely irrelevant to the basic point. As you can see from the tables you cited, car travel increased massively more than rail travel.

RT: Wrong again. The basic point is that the "most recent" data shows HSR taking share from airlines. A basic point you continue to ignore. You might as well have thrown up a data set ending in 1923 to argue that horse drawn carriages have been "recently" increasing market share over motor vehicles. Again, the original post is showing what has happened since Madrid-Barcelona HSR opened versus air traffic in that city pair. Your statistical data set doesn't include that period, so using your data as a means to refute the original post is simply ignoring the current reality.

From the original article, Madrid-Barcelona last year was 72% air, this year it is down to 60% because of the HSR, the author speculates that it will be 50% in another 2 years. Who is gaining market share?

Anon: Even growth in bus travel greatly outstripped growth in rail travel, by a factor of 3 to 1. And this occurred during the 15-year period when Spain built most of its HSR network.

RT: Better go back and check that data again Anon. At the end of 2003, Spain had 377km of HSR tracks, just the Madrid-Sevilla route. This is not the 15 year period when Spain built most of its HSR network. Spain built most of it's HSR network after 2003. Madrid-Valladolio started in 12-07 and the 659km Madrid-Barcelona started running in 02-08.

Anon: Whatever effect HSR may have had on travel patterns between particular city-pairs, overall there was a massive shift in transportation market share away from rail and towards cars and buses.

RT: I guess repeating the same inaccurate information is supposed to make someone start believing it? The massive shift you are talking about is before the 2 new HSR lines started running. To imply that roads are stealing traffic from the new HSR lines is an outright lie. There wasn't even a "massive shift away" from rain in the period you are talking about. Page 186 shows rail kilometers traveled in 1990 to be 15.5b/pkm while 2004 had 20.3b/pkm. No one is arguing that car travel didn't increase more than that, but your use of the phrase "massive shift away" is again an attempt to lead people to believe that there was a decrease in rail traffic, when it actually increased. And again, this is all prior to the 2 new HSR lines opening in 2007 and 2008.

Since you are so fond of statistics, as a weekend exercise, why don't you do a little investigation and come back and tell us about market share of cars, airlines, and autos in Spain since the new HSR lines started up in 2007 and 2008. After all, the idea is to see what happens AFTER said HSR lines are running to see if people will switch from cars and planes. The article referenced in the original blog post did just such research. Trying to confuse the issue by trotting out old data isn't doing anyone any good, unless you are just trolling.

Anon: The changes in the size of Spain's rail and motorway networks (rail declined while motorways more than doubled), and the large increase in the "motorization" rate (number of passenger cars per capita) are further evidence of this shift away from rail and in favor of roads, notwithstanding the Spanish government's huge spending on HSR.

RT: Like I pointed out, what is it now 5(?) times... The HSR network became operational beyond the original Madrid-Sevilla line only after 2007 when the Valladolid and 2008 when the Barcelona lines started running.

You can't run trains until the tracks are laid Anon. So therefore you should start looking at the data after said tracks are carrying trains. Any questions?

RT

Anonymous said...

RT,

You don’t seem to be reading very carefully. Spain has been “building out” its HSR network since 1992, not 2004. And as I have shown, between at least 1990 and 2005, rail travel in Spain has been losing market share to road travel. Whatever effect HSR may have had on the modal split between rail, air and road in particular markets, it has not stopped the long-term national trend of a shift away from rail travel and towards road and air travel. The growth in passenger-km of travel by road has MASSIVELY exceeded the growth in p-km of travel by rail. The rail network has shrunk, while the motorway network has more than doubled in size. The number of passenger cars per capita has increased substantially. And as I have said, the same basic pattern is evident throughout Europe. Even in France, which has invested more in HSR than any other country, the growth in road travel has greatly exceeded the growth in rail travel. Transportation is overwhelmingly dominated by cars, and that dominance is growing.

And by the way, I see no data from you or anyone else supporting the claim that the long-term national trend in Spain was stopped or reversed by the opening of new HSR services since 2005. All we seem to have is an unsubstantiated claim from a newspaper article.

Anonymous said...

RT writes:

"HSR network became operational beyond the original Madrid-Sevilla line only after 2007"

This is also just factually incorrect. The original service between Madrid and Seville began operation in 1992. High-speed trains on this route served the cities of Madrid, Seville, Cordoba, Puertollano, and Ciudad Real. It also provided partial high-speed service to Malaga and Algeciras, Cadiz and Huelva. These services were also upgraded during the 1990s with new trains to increase speed. In 2003, high-speed service began to Zaragoza and Lleida, and partial high-speed service to Barcelona. The majority of Spain's current HSR services were in operation before 2005. And yet, as I keep telling you, rail travel LOST market share in Spain to road travel over that same period.

Anonymous said...

RT writes,

“Page 186 shows rail kilometers traveled in 1990 to be 15.5b/pkm while 2004 had 20.3b/pkm. No one is arguing that car travel didn't increase more than that, but your use of the phrase "massive shift away" is again an attempt to lead people to believe that there was a decrease in rail traffic, when it actually increased.”

You really do need to read more carefully, RT. Nowhere did I say or imply that the total volume of rail travel in Spain has decreased. In my very first post, I EXPLICITLY STATED that rail travel increased by 6 billion passenger-km between 1990 and 2005. The total volume of travel in general tends to increase with population growth and rising living standards. The massive shift I referred to is a massive shift in MARKET SHARE away from rail and toward alternative modes of transportation. The total volume of travel is increasing, but RAIL IS A SMALLER AND SMALLER SHARE of that total volume of travel, despite Spain’s massive public spending on HSR. And the same trend is evident throughout Europe.

Alon Levy said...

Anon, the largest market in Spain would naturally be Madrid-Barcelona, so it makes sense that if rail only provided partial high-speed travel between these two cities, it wouldn't have a high share.

Also, it's hard to overestimate just how much even Europe spends on road infrastructure. Just a few years ago France built the Millau Viaduct, which has 300 meter tall towers. And, as both you and RT note, the Spanish road network has grown dramatically in the last 20 years. This isn't a case of the government investing only in rail while the people vote otherwise with their feet; it's a case of the government investing a lot in infrastructure of all types.

Anonymous said...

It seems odd to compare the behaviour of drivers over the whole of spain to the number of passengers on a specific route. You might as well claim that the channel tunnel has had no effect on the number of airplanes from NYC to Hong Kong. For your stats to be in the least bit relevant you need to measure the mode share on a specific route. The last I heard, the share of a single route in spain where HSR became available was 60% plane, 30% car 10% other before the opening of the HSR, and 60% train, 30% plane 10% other afterwards. Clearly this is notable. Similar stats are seen in Taiwan and S. Korea. People clearly prefer comfort over marginal improvements in time for the majority of trips. This is also why people are willing to sit in cars stationary on a freeway in LA to riding a bike, despite the longer travel times.

Shane said...

Train travel in Madrid is the best. It has the best railway service found in Europe. It is a railway hub as they say. It is always chosen as the starting point for its railways station goes through Portugal, France, Switzerland and Italy. This fascinating city of Spain is appointed as the country’s richest gastronomic city not only in Madrid itself but all over the country. Another thing about the city, I was really impressed with the Madrid accommodation that they have. Madrid hotels offer the best ambiance and services. All the necessary facilities that you need are packed in here. This year probably this summer, I am planning to go back in Madrid for my summer holiday excursion.

Alexei said...

The above comment is spam. The links are supposed to make Google and other search engines rate the linked sites more highly, especially with the terms used. Note the weird phrasing, and the two links both going to one place.