Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Death of the European Night Trains: The Death of a Legacy

Night Train
When Hercule Poirot derived that twelve people – a self proclaimed jury had brought a murderer to justice by murdering him, overnight the love and intrigue surrounding the Orient Express grew by leaps and bounds, so when the train finally stopped being functional, the culture that it represented suffered a serious setback!

So when suddenly by 2014, the night trains in Europe were disappearing, the world sat up and took notice. A piece of history, a substantial piece of European legacy was quickly fading away and there was nothing that could be done! You could no longer board a borealis sleeper and sleep your way through the night and wake up to misty windows and a sunshine filled compartment the next morning.

But while that might be sought after still, it can hardly be denied that the night trains ferried only approximately 1.3 million voyagers. Compared to the statistics of the daytime travellers, it eventually propels it into being a particularly niche business.

And while people do in fact still adore the night trains, and the thinly veiled chances it turning to a Doylesque or Christie like intrigue, it is no secret that the service was rapidly losing money, more money than it was actually making which translated into understandable terms talks of losing millions of Euros. Even though liberalisation happened in the railways some thirty years ago, the night trains were perceived to be helpful in cross subsidising operations bringing in more profits.

However, that did not quite work out as planned. And since these night trains were also quite vulnerable to engineering possessions, it made even more difficult to continue co-operations between the various managers of infrastructure. Couple all this and with ridiculously cheap flight tickets and you have in front of you the very palpable demise of a piece of historical legacy!

Trains have played a very important role in cinematic aesthetics and still are the bearers of a romantic charm that is sweet as well as intricately somewhat primitive. There are still hopeless romantics who positively feel they will meet their soulmate on board a train as Jessie and Celine did in Before Sunrise, but that might just be a thing of the past now.

Or is it completely? 

The OBB-Austrian Railways has already provided some consolations to all the Sheldon Cooper like train enthusiasts by announcing that they would refurbish the city night line fleet and re-launch the six hitherto defunct routes. These routes would include Munich and Venice and Hamburg and Zurich. Now these new night trains have been designed to cater to the overtly enthusiastic traveller with the newly designed beds, redesigned and more hygienic bathrooms and state of the art technology.

So the next time you are in Europe, hoping to hop from one place to another, instead of sitting with no leg space in an inexpensive flight, why not spend it looking out of a glass window at the fleeting dark silhouettes outside while sipping a glass of red wine?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Maps Reveal You to Travel by Train from European Cities in a Day

The travel route in Europe is extremely well planned and implemented, and a genuine alternative to traveling in planes are trains. Europe has a well connected, high speed network of trains which has been interestingly revealed by fascinating maps by a US based train enthusiast. This US train enthusiast is Peter Kerpedjiev, who did significant research and collected data from Swiss Transport Authority. The research and work of this Harvard Medical fellow amazed the world with the fascinating results. The research conducted by him also proved that Western countries have a better planned and implemented network, and the Eastern countries have to do a lot of catching up.

Peter used statistics from Swiss Public Transport system 

The maps produced by the US train enthusiast revealed that it’s Berlin, Madrid, Paris and London offers the best train connection. Similarly, it also showed that train networks in Sofia, Riga and Podgorica offers fewer trains. In fact, the rail network from Paris is incredibly well planned and travelers can reach Ireland, Southern Italy and Scotland within 24 hours.

The Harvard Medical School fellow, Peter extracted information and statistics from Swiss Public Transport System. In an interview, Peter explained that he wanted to know the destinations which were easily accessible by train. The results amazed Peter, and he was stunned by the incredible rail connectivity available all over Europe. In another interview he also stated that approximately half of France was accessible within four hours by a single train from Paris. He was stunned by this incredible infrastructure which was built and id being maintained.

Road maps and travel maps 

He considered himself lucky, that he was able to access timetables of various Pan European journeys, that too from a single server. This also shows the coordination between the various railway systems. Kerpedjiev, created these beautiful isochorme maps to illustrate the incredible railway network connecting different points around Europe.

These maps also illustrate road maps to showcase the time taken to travel to different points in car. He also created maps showcasing the public rail networks to state the time taken for walking to platforms and stations. With the assistance of Swiss Public Transport API he was able to showcase the travel times for various cities.

In an interview Peter stated that he got his motivation and inspiration from an isochrome travel map of Vienna dating 1881. He was impressed by this map, and wanted to update the concept. After he decided to plot travel maps by train, he realized that contour lines would be ideal for presenting the information. He considers Europe to be the best in terms of the numerous travel options it offers and the train connectivity system which he considers implausible.

 He stated that in Europe the best connection are offered by trains from Berlin, Paris, Madrid and London. Trains are the most important travelling means in Europe, while some trains travel around leisurely by night or day, there are other high speed train traveling across continent. With the help of the schedules used in these beautiful maps travelers could also easily plan journey in and across Europe.

Monday, November 14, 2016

First trip to Europe? What to expect


Europe is a country of miraculous sights and stupendous splendours. And your first trip to the continent is always filled with apprehension and anticipation and a definite desire to see it all. But if you wish to see it all at once, chances are you would not be able to see anything at all. Hence you would find most travel gurus advising you to take it slow and soak it all in. It is an extensive continent and probably the most instagrammable on the planet. So if this is your first time travelling to your Europe, here are some key things that you ought to expect:

  1.  No matter how hard you try, you would not be able to see everything at all. So it is definitely better to take it slow. Unless you do that, chances are you would spend more time in trains or buses than actual destinations. If you are in Paris, and you think you have to visit everywhere, chances are you would end up missing one or two key things in a significant place that you could have otherwise enjoyed. 
  2.  Language is not really a bar in the European nations as many people get away with speaking English, as most people understand this language, well enough to not create a problem for tourists. 
  3.  Europe is generally considered to be quite safe, but if your father is not Liam Neeson then you might want to steer clear of anything remotely dangerous just in case. Many hotels ask for passports as it is a European union regulation to scan and understand your complete database for their safeguard. However, make sure to keep your passport handy at all other times. 
  4.  If you are planning your first trip to Europe, check calendar dates thoroughly. If you can squeeze in festivals amidst your travels, then it would only enhance the beauty of your tour. So check for festivals like Oktoberfest or la tomatina or Glastonbury, and breathe in the flavours of Europe like a local. 
  5.  One key thing to remember before heading off to Europe is it is a place, which has everything. So you do not need to pack in your entire house when you go travelling. So it is always agreeable to pack light and pack smart. If you think you are going to be doing a fair bit of shopping then you might as well pack a lightweight duffle bag to hold everything in. 
  6.  No matter where you go to eat, Europe always demands service taxes. So tipping does become a bit of a tricky affair. Many locals leave a bit of coins on the table, but whether you are obliged to tip heavily, there is no surety. 
  7.  It is highly feasible for first time travellers to pay in local currency. If you are keen on taking money out of ATM, then be prepared to pay all kinds of fees, because most foreign ATMs charge a variety of fees. So make sure to have sufficient information from your own bank before travelling.