Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Rail Fail

Winter storms recently hit a number of cities in the northern hemisphere, bringing some colossal rail failures with them.

The Eurostar train which runs in a tunnel underneath the English Channel between London and Paris has been shutdown for the 3rd straight day due to snow, stranding 60,000 travelers. While trolley proponents blather on about underground trains being unaffected by snow, more than 2,000 people were trapped in the dark and cold tunnel -- some for more than 12 hours. How does an underground train get stopped by snow, you ask? Good question. Engineers say especially bad weather meant that snow was being sucked into the trains in a way "that has never happened before."

Almost all international train travel was halted to and from the Netherlands, where the meteorological service issued a storm warning. Trains were delayed in Poland because of frozen points and damaged rails.

And there was more bad news for people trying to use public transport in the South East of England.
  • All London buses have been withdrawn from service due "to adverse weather and dangerous driving conditions".
  • Many Tube lines are partially suspended and the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines entirely suspended.
  • South West Trains is running a reduced service on most routes and passengers are advised not to travel unless their journey is essential.
Not only are Portland (bow to the NorthWest when you say that) streetcars replaced by buses during extreme weather, but "domestic rail services across the UK were delayed and buses replaced trains in many areas."

This year's annual Snow Train, which shuttles skiers between Paris and the French Alps, has also been summarily cancelled. It has nothing to do with the weather, mind you. This rail failed for the usual reason: it's just too darned expensive.


  1. Cars and airplanes are also affected by winter weather:

  2. This just in:
    COAST delivers report that horses should be adopted instead of cars and rail due to their leg vs wheel superiority in snow.

  3. It all amounts to more evidence supporting the concept that cities should be built to be walkable. I agree.

  4. We have been over this, COAST. Yes. When snow falls, getting from point A to point B becomes more difficult for everybody, those riding rail transportation included. We know. Thank you.

    I'd love to have a legitimate discussion about the merits and drawbacks of a more robust transportation system serving the region. Or we can talk about the snow in Europe. Your call.

  5. Does COAST know the amount that Cincinnati and other northern cities spend on snow removal and road treatment each year? Has COAST quantified the amount it costs us in terms of lost time due to roads that are covered and the damage caused by the many automobile accidents that occur.

    Sure it's easy to point to a few sensational cases in which trains were affected by massive amounts of snowfall, but how about quantifying how much it costs us each time we get a little snow or rain on our roadways. Heck for that matter, each day our roadways jam and become massive parking lots.

    COAST has in the past also pointed the the tragic accident in Washington D.C. this past year as an example of why rail transit shouldn't be built, but once again, the amount of people that die in car accidents each year severely dwarfs that number, but I guess that isn't sensational enough for their interests.

  6. Woah, severe winter weather and snowfall affects transportation? Who would've thought!

    So what's COAST alternative? As usual, no plan, no solutions, nothing sensible from COAST.

    Actually surprise Mark Miller hasn't shown up with yet another fake name to try and hurl insults at the five previous commenters.

  7. Yeah I can't believe anyone would show up with a fake name. I'm sure glad Cincinnati doesn't have streetcars to tie up traffic during the snow.

    Beyond that, the streetcar would also be stuck if a car was trapped in the streetcar's path. Streetcars can't navigate around disruptions in its way, so if something else got stuck the streetcar would be too. $200 million for that?

  8. I like this blogs, is diferent. But, cars and airplanes are also affected by winter.

  9. So are we finally done with this myth? Can we all agree that rails are no better or worse in snow than any other form of transportation? Or should we continue on with all the other rail failures for the remainder of the winter.

  10. No, rail transit is certainly better in bad weather conditions compared to other forms of transportation. You are able to cite a few sensational examples where feet of snow disabled a rail transit system, but it only takes a dusting, some rain, or even the threat of bad weather to throw off our automobiles and buses.

  11. Coleman Kane = Mark Miller

  12. Coleman Kane = Coleman Kane


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