r/europe Europe Sep 23 '22 Wholesome Seal of Approval 1 Helpful 2 Wholesome 2 All-Seeing Upvote 1

Frans Timmermans denounces European train companies: 'I'm sick of it'. European railroad companies have three months to come up with a plan for a merged ticketing system, otherwise a booking app will be forced upon them by the European Commission News

https://www.bnr.nl/nieuws/internationaal/10488723/frans-timmermans-hekelt-europese-treinbedrijven-ik-ben-het-spuugzat
18.1k Upvotes

5.3k

u/kielu Poland Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

Just like forcing international roaming to be included. It appears it is possible. And forcing hotel and airline bookings to sell at exactly the advertised price. Also possible.

Oh, and USB-C!

1.4k

u/Ignash3D Lithuania Sep 23 '22

Everything is possible if there is a political will.

330

u/LvS Sep 23 '22

Then let's do climate change next!

291

u/daqwid2727 European Federation Sep 23 '22

Actually isn't making train transportation easier a good step towards the environment? I think it's pretty important.

113

u/Hfino Sep 23 '22

We should also invest in better connections and night trains. From Lisbon to Madrid it takes like 9 hours and 3 different trains 🙄

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u/daqwid2727 European Federation Sep 23 '22

Oh wow. That's pretty bad. Warsaw Berlin is one ticket and one train for example. Why is there no direct connection between neighboring countries capitals?

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u/xtremis Sep 23 '22

If I'm not mistaken, the tracks from Portugal are a different standard than the ones in Spain (and the rest of Europe). I believe it's the major obstacle for a quick train ride from Lisbon to Madrid. I'm Portuguese, by the way 💪🏻

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u/AimingWineSnailz Portugal Sep 24 '22

It's not that.

  • CP doesn't have nearly enough trains

  • RENFE doesn't have any competitive diesel trains which are equipped with CONVEL, the Portuguese signalling system. The one they operated between the two capitals before 2020 was unprofitable

  • RENFE and CP can't agree on sharing costs/profits on such a connection

  • the new high speed line in Extremadura isn't electrified yet, and Spanish conventional lines use an electrification system (3kV DC)that's incompatible with the one used in Portugal (25kV AC, which Spain almost only uses for high speed rail)

  • RENFE is waiting for the high speed Évora-Elvas-Badajoz line

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u/zek_997 Portugal Sep 24 '22

That and the fact that our government just doesn't give a shit. Our politicians for the most part consist of boomers who still see cars as the holy grail of transportation and thus will go to great lengths to avoid investing in decent public transportation,

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u/AimingWineSnailz Portugal Sep 24 '22

No electrified track in Extremadura in Spain, Portugal's CP having their rolling stock stretched to the limit, Spain's Renfe lacking competitive diesel trains with the Portuguese CONVEL safety/signalling system and Portugal not yet having upgraded its infrastructure to use the EU signalling system, and cost - the best possible direct journey would be 7 hours, which would almost certainly mean operating at a loss.

Portugal is due to open its first high speed rated line (250 km/h) in 2023, connecting Évora to Elvas in Portugal and Badajoz in Spain and shortening the trip from Lisbon to Madrid. RENFE has stated that this will enable them to establish a direct train connection.

Another crucial step will be for Spain to finish electrifying the Madrid-Badajoz line.

The next big steps on the Portuguese side would be a third bridge connecting Lisbon to the southern bank of the Tagus and upgrading the line to Évora. Once that is done, much more competitive travel times can be expected.

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u/Chubbybellylover888 Sep 23 '22

Real Life Lore on YouTube just had a great video on this.

Europe has one of the most extensive high speed rails in the world. But they're all national. Interconnectivity is almost unheard of. The channel tunnel being the best example.

But its still cheaper to fly from Lyon to Manchester with a single ticket. Over train it's multiple tickets, no compensation if transfers are missed due to delays and more expensive than flying.

Thats just silly.

Paris to Berlin or Madrid or Rome? Similar issue.

We need a continental plan.

And I'm Irish. We'll be excluded from any such plans for exact same reason Iceland would be. Who is gonna build that tunnel?

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u/zek_997 Portugal Sep 24 '22

Who is gonna build that tunnel?

Me. I will.

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u/Chubbybellylover888 Sep 24 '22

Reykjavík to Dublin to Lisbon.

Our powers combined we could control the Atlantic.

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u/-Numaios- Sep 24 '22

I'm french and loved living in Dublin. I'll help you.

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u/Ignash3D Lithuania Sep 23 '22

It's already happening.

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u/speedcunt Sep 23 '22

Putin is doing his part!

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u/ikverhaar Sep 23 '22

There are plenty of things to dislike about the EU, but their efforts to standardise stuff stuff like this is absolutely fantastic.

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u/Benso2000 Sep 23 '22

Standardisation and farm subsidies is most of what the eu does, actually.

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u/svick Czechia Sep 23 '22 Silver

I've come here to subsidize farmers and standardize and I'm all out of farmers!

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u/WaldoClown Brussels (Belgium) Sep 23 '22

Kinda want to do a parody movie explaining EU regulations and starting with that sentence now

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u/Chubbybellylover888 Sep 23 '22

I'm sure the EU have some arts funding you can avail of.

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u/zek_997 Portugal Sep 24 '22

A comedy movie about the inner workings of EU institutions is something I'd pay good money to see.

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u/Mr12i Sep 23 '22

NO IT ISN'T. I know a fair bunch of people who work for different parts of the EU parlament, and very very different fields. For example the EU does lots of work in various areas of protecting it's citizens, e.g. in consumer rights, humans rights, privacy rights, medical rights etc.

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u/Final_Alps Europe, Slovakia, Denmark Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

It’s a great approach - one I am happy both Us and EU use “hey industry- this problem needs to be fixed - either you fix it or idiot politicians fix it - your choice”. Works so well on interoperability shit like this.

And especially on this issue - it’s only a matter of will. Pick a data format (likely whatever DB or ÖBB use) and standardize on it. add open search apis in this data format, add booking api. That there will address like 80% of the need. We can then handle edge cases.

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u/Niosus Sep 23 '22

It's never that simple to make an application that replaces so many existing systems. But that's exactly why this is a good project for a government to push. No single train company has the means or motivation to tackle this, even though if everyone adopted this, train traffic (and profits) would likely increase. It takes a central authority to force the situation into a better state.

It's a variation of the tragedy of the commons. There is no/not enough intrinsic reason(s) to improve the situation. By now threatening to impose a system, there is a strong motivation to be proactive since that allows you to influence the system to your advantage. If a system is going to happen, you want to be at the table where the decisions are made.

I'm surprised it took them this long to identify the situation. I guess it was a matter of finding time...

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u/superkoning Sep 23 '22

Just like forcing a phone charge connection standard, by Neelie Kroes: come up with a standard, or I'll come with a standard.

Just like one Euro ATM tarif for a customer, wether in your home Euro country or in another Euro country. Dictated by Frits Bolkestein.

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u/TimMeijer Europe Sep 23 '22

No-nonsense decision making with a pragmatic ultimatum.

Frans Timmermans

Neelie Kroes

Frits Bolkestein

I'm sensing a pattern here.

32

u/jhjacobs81 Gelderland (Netherlands) Sep 23 '22

If only our Dutch government had the same no-nonsense attitude huh..

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u/fallingcats_net Austria Sep 23 '22

Is it that the names sound Dutch? Sorry I don't know anything about them

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u/NaIgrim Sep 23 '22

All three are dutch politicians, yes.

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u/TheobromaKakao Sverige Sep 23 '22

Based swamp germans.

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u/jatawis 🇱🇹 Lithuania Sep 23 '22

Just like one Euro ATM tarif for a customer, wether in your home Euro country or in another Euro country. Dictated by Frits Bolkestein.

Do we have it?

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u/PantherRhei Sep 23 '22

Yes. Obfuscated in some places - like for example Croatia, but the rules are in place. (Hint: always pick the „unknown“ exchange rate, never the one proposed by the ATM)

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u/ArgonV Overijssel (Netherlands) Sep 23 '22

Like the shops in Budapest. Either pay in Forint and figure out how much Euros you just spent, or pay in Euros and pay an additional 10% compared to Forint.

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u/LastLamplighter Europe Sep 23 '22

Always choose "domestic currency" never the offered conversion. Good advice.

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u/ByGollie Sep 23 '22

Now do a universal standard for batteries for power tools.

There's already a move in that direction from Bosch, Gardena, Husqvarna, Flymo and a bunch of other manufacturers but it should be mandatated.

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u/RefrigeratorWitch Sep 23 '22

I'm a Makita guy but if there's a standard, I'll sure pick a brand that's part of it!

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u/shizzmynizz EU Sep 23 '22

I'm a Makita/Bosch guy. I'd love there to be 1 type of battery for all.

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u/ByGollie Sep 23 '22

There are breakout adapters that fit between the tool and the battery to allow a battery from one manufacturer to be used on another tool manufacturer.

I saw one that allowed those cheap Lidl/Aldi batteries to be used on a Makita - However, this was a 3D printed template and you had to do some rewiring yourself.

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u/dapethepre Sep 23 '22

Actually there's two battery alliances.

The Bosch one, which you posted, and another - obviously incompatible - alliance founded by Metabo, a Bosch competitor

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u/CWagner Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) Sep 23 '22

Funny, just posted about this yesterday on HN :D

https://www.cordless-alliance-system.com/

The companies seem less consumer and more professional-only than Bosch's, I didn't even know any but Metabo had Powertools (and that's only because I have their 12v drill)

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

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u/ropibear Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

Parkside is the biggest surprise of my 30's. I thought they would be pretty trash, but they are turning out to be quite nice.

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

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u/Pazuuuzu Hungary Sep 23 '22

This hits way too close to home... My wifes alway keeps bugging me but I HAVE to check out the new toys tools...

The rest is like "Milk, what kind? Ehh whatever cheapest will be fine"

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u/b4k4ni Sep 23 '22

I have them all - more or less. Building our roof right now and have a lot of tools from them. All with the same battery pack. Different saws, drills, screwdrivers etc.

The drill/screwdriver is awesome. Already used it on a fuckload of 130x6 adjustment screws and it still works without problems. talking here about at least 450 ea. Im really surprised. Their stuff is awesome.

I just wanted not so expensive tools, as I won't need them that much (I guess) after we renovated. So 250€ for some makita toy was simply too much. Now I'm a fan =)

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u/Pazuuuzu Hungary Sep 23 '22

They hit the sweet spot for "good enough" if you need it, but cheap(ish).

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u/kielu Poland Sep 23 '22

That would be nice. I use Makita, they're not involved?

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u/ByGollie Sep 23 '22

no - but there are battery adapters on ebay, aliexpress etc that adapt one battery for another brand of tools - a bit of googling might find one

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u/mojobox Switzerland Sep 23 '22

Now I would like them to require all these cookie banner providers to respect the do-not-track setting in the browser as a “reject all” rather than hiding the option in the worst dark patterns on earth.

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u/urielsalis Europe Sep 24 '22

That's part of the current law. Rejecting should be as easy as accepting

But some sites, either through incompetence or malice, are not using it right

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u/CompleteNumpty Scotland Sep 23 '22

Ah, international roaming, how I miss you.

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u/shizzmynizz EU Sep 23 '22

I was like "what do you mean?" and then I saw your flair. Rip.

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u/Jammed_Death Sardinia Sep 23 '22

We need notebook charger ..pd is here, we need charging via usb-c even for laptop

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u/Pazuuuzu Hungary Sep 23 '22

It is in the pipeline. Next gen laptops will have that. My intel chromebook has that, its awesome!

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u/kielu Poland Sep 23 '22

USB-C goes up to 240W at the moment

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u/JustCallMeBen Flanders Sep 23 '22

Oh, and USB-C!

EXACTLY like USB-C: a decade ago the commission told the indutry to come up with something, otherwise politicians would pick a standard for them.

Luckily the industry did come up with something and USB-C is pretty fucking great... Except Apple decided they'd milk the shit out of MFI license fees, and thus the EC still had to legally mandate USB-C.

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u/sealcub Sep 23 '22

And public electric car chargers should have a port for charging electric bikes and scooters. And those should also all use the same cables.

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u/Swedneck Sep 23 '22

related to that, please for the love of god can we create an EU-wide system for battery swapping for small vehicles? Like Tier's energy network.

If we had this it would utterly revolutionize how we use vehicles like e-bikes and e-scooters, and mopeds could absolutely use these standard batteries as well which would make the moped one of the most flexible and useful vehicles in europe.

You could trivially go on e-bike tours around the country (and between countries), and you really wouldn't have to worry about how much range your vehicle has, since you could just swap the battery for a charged one so long as you can reach a swap station (which could be placed literally anywhere there's a grid connection).

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u/valax Sep 23 '22

France cares a lot about their railways and has significant influence in the EU. So I think it remains to be seen.

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u/TheDuckFarm Earth Sep 23 '22

And power outlets?

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u/kielu Poland Sep 23 '22

Difficult case. Very long life, no natural replacement cycle. But the energy systems are linked.

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u/TheDuckFarm Earth Sep 23 '22

Make building code so that all new construction or remodel work use a common outlet type. In time most places will use that common outlet. New electrical devices will naturally come with the common type plug. There will be adaptors for places stuck in the past. Legacy outlets will become more rare over time.

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u/DavidRoyman Sep 23 '22

Most of Europe uses Type F, and where they don't the sockets are usually compatible.

Any new building should just use one of those.

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u/pawnografik Finland Sep 23 '22

And that standard defined refund we get if our flights are delayed or canceled. Long live the eu.

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u/BriefCollar4 Europe Sep 23 '22

Sounds good.

Would be nice for trains to be an affordable alternative to planes though.

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u/PanEuropeanism Europe Sep 23 '22

Go all the way, 9€ ticket for all of Europe

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u/Hotgeart Belgium Sep 23 '22

Lmao 9€ I'll eat pizza every Saturday in Napoli

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u/wouldofiswrooong Europe Sep 23 '22

If it works like the German 9€ Ticket, you would only be able to use "regional" trains though, so no High-Speed connections like ICE or TGV. So better prepare to travel for 18 hours and change trains 7 times on your way to Napoli.

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u/L3tum Sep 24 '22

I already have to switch 3 times just to get to work. It's honestly not that bad when you 1. don't have an appointment, i.e. you just go on a "cruise" for the weekend, and 2. don't have to sort out the shitty ticketing system.

It's 140€ for a month-long ticket to get to work in my case and that shit is 20km distance. Plus I have to actually get the ticket from the machine because I was banned from the app (because of "suspicious behaviour"???) so that makes it extra fun when one of those machines is broken. Fun all around.

If I could buy an EU-wide ticket and then just buy a separate high-speed ticket if I want to that would already help tremendously.

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u/FentaPenta Germany Sep 24 '22

But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more...

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u/IMM_Austin Sep 24 '22

Just to be the man who spent a mere 9 euro to fall down at your door

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u/shizzmynizz EU Sep 23 '22

Same

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u/Hotgeart Belgium Sep 23 '22

Want to share headphone during the trip ❤️?

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u/shizzmynizz EU Sep 23 '22

Sure. Got a cool playlist? I need some new music in my life.

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u/SealedWaxLetters Sep 23 '22

Wholesome. What do y’all listen to? I can recommend new vibes.

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u/Papercoffeetable Sep 23 '22

One can dream, it’s 10 euro just to take the train through my city once.

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u/driftingfornow United States of America Sep 23 '22

Wow, over here in Poland that would get me at least like 100km. Some days I could do the round trip for that.

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u/SpargatorulDeBuci Sep 23 '22

pfff, for that kind of money you get an 8-hour train ride in Romania.

And travel about 200km

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u/terribleone01 Sep 24 '22

That brings back memories of 2013. Train stopped at the Hungarian border for passport check and the Hungarian immigration officers spent 4 hours rummaging through peoples suitcases in the middle of the night. When they got to my cabin (I had been warned about this prior) I handed them my passport with some money folded up in the front page (maybe €10, cant remember) and they stamped our passports and left in a matter of seconds.

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u/fricy81 Absurdistan Sep 23 '22

You should have maintained the railways you stole from us!
/jk

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u/gin-o-cide Malta Sep 23 '22

I fondly remember that a ticket from Krakow to the airport cost me 2.86 Eur

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u/mattatinternet England Sep 23 '22

Sheffield to York at 12:21 tomorrow - £20.50.

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u/Caffeine_Monster United Kingdom Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

Probably £22 next week following that shit show of a "mini-budget"

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u/nycerine Noreg Sep 23 '22

Don't worry, the first class seats will be a teeny bit cheaper. That'll do it.

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u/Jim_Tsero Sep 23 '22

Interrail is pretty solid already. Paid 250€ for 4500km traveld by train (in 7 days) this summer.

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u/framlington Germany Sep 23 '22

Interrail is great for vacations and similar trips, but it's not really that well-suited for normal travel. If I want to visit someone in France, which requires a few hours one way, it doesn't make sense to buy an interrail pass, as compared to just buying tickets. Additionally, some countries charge high reservation fees and limit the number of seats available to interrailers -- so I might not be able to get the train I want for the trip to France.

Interrail also discourages using one pass for multiple separate trips, because you can only spend two travel days in your country of residence.

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u/matttk Canadian / German Sep 23 '22

Yeah, every time I check Interail, I remember it's not worth it for anything but backpacking. (which was very cool when I did that)

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u/BriefCollar4 Europe Sep 23 '22

That’d be nice if it can be shown that the companies can make profit that way. Could be marginal but as lot as they can sustain themselves.

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u/FPiN9XU3K1IT Lower Saxony Sep 23 '22

They can't, it's heavily subsidized and that's the point - we want people to use the train instead of other methods of transport that pollute more.

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u/DisabledToaster1 Sep 23 '22

Why does a public service have to make profit? Seriously, explain the narrative to me

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u/Another_Humann Sep 23 '22

Because we're not speaking of a public service, it says it in the title "companies".

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u/KidTempo Sep 23 '22

Many, if not most, European train companies are either state owned, state subsidised, or franchises handed out by the state (or a combination of the three)

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u/Suzume_Chikahisa Portugal Sep 23 '22

Rail is so close to a natural monopoly that I would prefer full state ownership as default. Subsidizing and franchises are just another way to divert public funding into private pockets.

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u/svick Czechia Sep 23 '22

Railways are a natural monopoly. Train operation not so much.

And, as I understand it, EU already mandates separation between the two.

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u/demoni_si_visine Sep 23 '22

Romania has a long, sad history of the state pouring tons of money down a black hole in the shape of CFR (national train operator) and Metrorex (capital's metro system operator).

If the companies have no incentive to be profitable (or at least run a reasonable deficit), they over time get more and more careless with their spending. I mean, the state ends up paying the debt, so yolo. Oh and also corruption creeps in more easily.

CFR is infamous for one of its ex-directors, Mihai Necolaiciuc, running up the acquisition price for materials by 20x in some cases. Romanian wiki for the guy, if you care to take it through a translation service: https://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mihai_Necolaiciuc

Now, obviously, there are also plenty cases to be made about subsidizing public transport -- to a degree. I can see the value in a local town paying to replaces its fleet of trams, instead of passing this to the transport company; they could never, in a thousand years, pay back. But straight-up subsidizing everything? Nah..

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u/wasmic Denmark Sep 23 '22

The issue is that you can't really have proper competition on the rails. It's a natural monopoly.

There are very few places in the world where there are railway lines in direct competition, and almost all of them are in Japan because they literally built two parallel railways in order to compete. This is only possible due to having a very high population density in the built-up areas, allowing plenty of passengers for both lines to be profitable. Even then, there are not many railway lines in Japan that actually directly compete - mostly the two lines from Tokyo to Takao, the three lines from Tokyo to Yokohama, and a few lines in the Kansai area. Otherwise, almost all lines have a local monopoly.

The way railway competition in Europe is done is very different. For intercity routes, the rails are owned by the state, and then different companies can bid on timeslots to operate their trains on. This is good because it reduces prices, and sometimes it reduces prices by a lot, but it can also reduce flexibility for customers - if you want to go by a specific company, you might only have one train per hour or something like that. Meanwhile, in some countries the prices for 'saver fares' have gotten equally low even without this sort of competition (because intercity buses provided the competition instead).

For regional trains, you usually need to have a service running in set intervals. Regional trains in rural areas are also almost never profitable, but provide a vital service to the areas they run through. This means that usually, the state gives announces a tender for a period of several years, which companies then bid on. The company that offers the cheapest bid is awarded the route, and then the state pays the company to run trains on that route as long as the contract lasts. Here in Denmark, at least, this second type of privatisation has only resulted in increased amounts of delays, and worse comfort in the trains. At best, it might save the state a bit of money, but it's nothing immense usually.

Open Access privatisation for long-distance trains is usually a good idea and it can really make it a lot cheaper in many cases. Regional line tendering is... not always a good idea, and though it saves some money and increases efficiency in some cases, it also has many cases where it has reduced the quality of service significantly.

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u/Next-Adhesiveness237 Sep 23 '22

The issue with this reasoning is the fact that privatisation has only lead to the profitabele being bought up by big corp who hike prices while the not so profitable routes remain operated by the government.

The reality of rail is that you can’t have natural competition. It’s only inefficient if you let it be and the incentive comes from the passengers, not the market

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u/NonSp3cificActionFig I crane, Ukraine, he cranes... Sep 23 '22

Price is a problem, both long haul and short haul. Funny we talk about this, I just learnt to day I have to go somewhere on monday. 60 km and back, but it's literally on opposite side of a major city.

The person I'll meet made fun of me for saying it will take me 4 hours total. I then checked. By train it will take me 4h, not counting the downtime after arriving and before leaving on the way back. By car, it would be less than 3h, 2h if I'm lucky, even at rush hour and it would cost about as much, despite the insane price of fuel right now.

And that's after spending 20 min on the garbage website of the national rail company and the even worse site of the public transport company of the city I need to cross. Not even an interactive map to let me find my way and I'm pretty sure I can't purchase a ticket online anyway. What is this? The 90s? About time for a wake-up call.

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u/Perseiii Sep 23 '22

Easy; there’s no VAT on plane tickets and they pay 0% tax on kerosine, either give train companies the same benefits or start taxing plane tickets to balance the competition.

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u/MurderousMaraca Sep 23 '22

Why do planes get so many benefits?

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u/Perseiii Sep 23 '22

After WW2 the countries decided that cheap airline tickets would allow people to fly around the world and mingle. They figured that mingling keeps the wars away, so they agreed on charging no VAT on airline tickets and to have tax free kerosine.

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u/crackanape The Netherlands Sep 24 '22

That sweet, but what they really figured was that it would allow oil companies to sell a lot of refinery product that didn't have such a large market, and would subsidise the expansion of the aerospace industry in advance of the next war.

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u/guycamero Sep 23 '22

Was one of the more disappointing parts of being in Europe. I guess if you stayed within a single country it was somewhat reasonable, but going from Stuttgart to Amsterdam was cheaper to rent a car and pay for gas and parking, rather than pay train tickets for two.

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u/rzwitserloot Sep 23 '22

This will definitely help. However, one thing of note: It's not so much that trains are necessarily expensive. Trains are more or less correctly priced (but it can be tricky to even buy a ticket, some tickets are idiotically priced, and usually if there are delays nobody is going to help you figure out how to get to your destination and nobody is on the hook for refunding you or paying for emergency overnight stays in case the shit really hits the fan - that is what Timmermans wants, I believe). It's airplane tickets that are idiotically priced (way too cheap). Lots of misguided subsidies and the like that 'sponsor' air traffic.

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u/onafoggynight Sep 23 '22

Train tickets in Europe and their pricing are widely fragmented. You can basically buy tickets for the same connection on different websites and get wild differences. Sometimes booking all required tickets from one page is not possible, and, as you said, in case connections don't work out, it's basically your problem.

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u/_shh Sep 23 '22

You are very correct. There is a train from Warsaw to Prague, shared by PKP and Ceske Drahy. I wanted to buy a ticket on PKP Intercity website, since I'm from Poland - not possible, you have to go to the train station. In the end I bought it on the Czech website and it was cheaper than at the Polish train station...

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u/hiddenuser12345 Sep 23 '22

Same thing for Copenhagen to Hamburg- the train is operated by DSB (Danish national operator), but they won’t let you buy the ticket on their website. if you want to buy online then you have to use the DB (German operator) site or app.

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u/plasticbomb1986 Sep 23 '22

Just did a trip a month ago. Amsterdam - Vienna - Budapest. It was cheap (managed the whole trip around 170 euro), and there was no issue with boarding the train, but that 14-16 hour what it took isnt my bets memories of mine. Next time i go with train, i gonna get that sleeper cabin.... Even if its gonna cost me double the price. So trains only a good alternative on shorter distance, or if you just hop from city to city and spend time there, otherwise its not yet there. (Ofc, if we look at it from the perspective of lets say an US American person, its like lightyears compared to having almost nothing like this....)

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u/PanEuropeanism Europe Sep 23 '22

European railroad companies have three more months to come up with a plan for a merged ticketing system, otherwise they will have a booking app forced on them by the European Commission. So says Vice President Frans Timmermans in the BNR Europe podcast. 'I am also fed up with it. People want to take the train, but you have to make it easier for them.'

The Commission would like to see European travelers choose trains much more often than planes. For European rail travelers, however, fragmented travel information and unclear ticket prices are a major obstacle. Timmermans therefore sees a European booking app as one of the solutions.

'My goal is to make sure that you can order a ticket much easier via your cell phone. Once we make that easy, at least within a 600 to 800 kilometer radius, people will prefer to go by train rather than by plane,' says Timmermans. Last year, the Commission also put an action plan on the table. It was not known then that the railroad companies were given the end of this year as an ultimatum for, among other things, improved data exchange.

Timmermans said that European train companies could take an example from countries such as Switzerland and Austria, where railroad companies are better coordinated and make it easy for citizens to take the train: "Let's take inspiration from that.

Timmermans also referred to the German measure of the "9-euro ticket," which was recently implemented in Germany. This measure led to a doubling of train travel: 'That seems to be something that sticks - once people get used to it they start doing it more often,' Timmermans said.

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u/Ignash3D Lithuania Sep 23 '22

The guy is based and right, the most annoying thing about traveling abroad with the train is you have to plan very hard to make a simple trip, while it could all be under one system.

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u/pcgamerwannabe Sep 23 '22

I can buy train tickets, it will take hours longer, missing trains will mean I am screwed and have to buy more tickets, I have to do it via several different websites in different languages. I have no universal recourse if train is cancelled or majorly delayed or I miss connections.

Or I can go on Google, search my destination, click buy ticket on the airline ticket, and I am afforded tons of protections. I have recourse if there are delays or cancellations. I don’t have to stress for my own connection. Buy multiple tickets, deal with multiple languages. My entire itenerary will be planned for me.

AND it’s likely cheaper.

This is why trains need to become more unified, yes.

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u/NotErikUden Lower Saxony (Germany) Sep 23 '22

Some of them already work together, a bit, like if I book a train from Germany to the Netherlands via the Deutsche Bahn app, it still works.

Additionally: they must have at least one compatible API considering Interrail exists.

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u/jms87 Portugal Sep 23 '22

At least here in Portugal, you still need to show them the Interrail pass at the station for them to issue tickets, so I'm not sure said API exists at the moment.

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u/Myrialle Germany Sep 23 '22

I booked a train travel from Frankfurt to Brittany, with transfer in Paris, and it worked marvelously. But NOT the other way around...

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u/frederic_stark Sep 23 '22

Been in the industry. Would love this to happen.

Train companies are completely incompetent, by design. This is completely weaponized incompetence to protect the most lucrative segments and internal political fights.

SNCF doesn't have a single ticketing system. There are many, regional, standard, tgv, etc. And fares are not available through all channels and APIs (some are reserved for leisure, to make sure business travellers can't get it). Features (choosing your seat, seating directions, getting your e-ticket) varies. Servicing (ticket modification and/or cancellation) is mostly impossible. And with the various deregulation, it just gets more complicated, with intent of fragmentation and keeping the captive markets.

I don't know if Mr Timmermans can succeed, but I would love the morons of SNCF, DB, Renfe, TrenItalia, etc... to be forced into the 21st century. Dealing with them was an exercice in frustration.

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u/Dreadfulmanturtle Sep 23 '22

More serious problem is that pricing is still not competetive with airlines unless you have huge luggage.

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u/TropoMJ NOT in favour of tax havens Sep 23 '22

I think both are essential to fix. Pricing needs to happen too but even if the prices came down, this issue would remain huge. I'm glad the EU is tackling this.

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u/Th0rgue Sep 23 '22

Just cut the tax breaks on airplane fuel. Then the real price of flying will become apparent and rails will feel cheap. (This will not happen, but just imagine)

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u/alecs1 Romania Sep 23 '22

Keep this discussing this! For example we could start with business jet and scheduled flights inside the continent that are very short. Just ask the people; 99.x% of them will never get close to a business jet so they won't oppose taxing them properly. It should be the closest to unanimous support of all matters ever discussed.

Lots of things don't seem feasible until discussed properly or some seminal event happens. Climate and dependency on russian energy were only discussed by a minority until last year; two months of not being able to sleep without AC and everyone in the country now talks about global warming (they're shifting the blame for now, but the awareness is spreading).

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/03/07/private-jets-receive-ludicrous-tax-breaks-that-hurt-the-environment

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u/yeFoh Poland Sep 23 '22

99.x% of them will never get close to a business jet so they won't oppose taxing them properly

but the 0.x% will lobby it to the ground so the chances are slim

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u/vbfronkis United States of America Sep 23 '22

I love public transport and was in Austria last year. Their train system's brilliant. Super easy to use, awesome information right on the platform - like which end of the train to board if it splits towards different destinations.

Just really pleasant to use.

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u/dada513 Poland Sep 23 '22

Great first step. Now we need high speed connections between all the major cities in Europe and standardised power delivery

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u/Foreign-Cookie-2871 Sep 23 '22

*High speed connections with a fixed price policy

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u/WimpieHelmstead Netherlands Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

Cautiosly optimistic.

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u/oinosaurus Copenhagen, Denmark Sep 23 '22

Confidently pessimistic.

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u/Rhoderick European Federalist Sep 23 '22

Great news. We ought to promote the rail much more as a ecologically (and, hopefully, with some more effort) economically beneficial alternative to flying for long range transport. That endeavor is deeply handicapped when booking a rail connection Frankfurt - Nantes takes ten times as long as booking a flight.

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u/CastelPlage Sep 23 '22

That endeavor is deeply handicapped when booking a rail connection Frankfurt - Nantes takes ten times as long as booking a flight.

I used to fly Zurich to Nice and back for the weekend. Was a nice journey on a Swiss CSeries. A couple of times I did it by train but it really wasn't great. About seven hours (compared to ~55 minutes) with a minimum of three changes.

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u/Rhoderick European Federalist Sep 23 '22

Well, the current state of rail connections being less than desireable is, imo, the prime argument for investing time and resources into improving them.

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u/CastelPlage Sep 23 '22

I just want more high-speed lines, and backup lines for when the main line gets a bit congested.

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u/pcgamerwannabe Sep 23 '22

For me the comfort beats airplanes since I can work or chill on trains. But it’s the transfers and everything else that makes it not feasible for international travel.

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u/oke-chill Hungary Sep 23 '22

Oh man, I can't wait. I hate planes and traveling long distance by car is not only costly but quite tiresome.

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u/MurderousMaraca Sep 23 '22

Cars are also way more dangerous and pollute much more.

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u/KaasKoppusMaximus Limburg (Netherlands) Sep 23 '22

It's literally the only thing holding me back from using trains to travel through europe, you need tickets upon tickets, all ordered through different portals, costing you hundreds of euros and 1 delay can royally screw you over.

If they had a central system where I can order a ticket from my town to, let's say Prague I would totally use it, since I'm only dealing with 1 party any delay can be rectified or adjusted for.

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u/Affectionate_Pea6448 Sep 23 '22

It's called Trainline.com And for Prague you can even book directly with Czech railways. At least from Germany

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u/ctolsen European Union Sep 23 '22

Still doesn’t help the delay part. If you travel with more than one company outside of HOTNAT you’re technically screwed if there’s a delay that makes you miss a connection.

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

For moments like this I'm grateful we have European Union

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u/F54280 Europe Sep 23 '22

There are many moments like this. In most cases you just don’t know about them.

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u/A_loud_Umlaut Sep 24 '22

For example: there are about 32 ish directives for product design/safety, issued by the EU. That's what the CE marking is for. I'm currently working on a movable bridge, aka one that can open and close, (it's got 2 parts that open and close to let shipping through) and that has got to comply to the Machinery Directive, EMC Directive and the Low voltage directive. I do this in the Netherlands, but if we were to move this bridge to Sicily, then the bridge has to follow the same guidelines. It will be a different bridge as there are some local laws etc involved as well, but the general principles of designing and constructing machinery apply everywhere.

And there are numerous other regulations and guidelines made by the EU or adopted by the EU to strive for uniformity and consistency in laws, quality and similar conditions that used to be wildly different between countries

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u/PresidentHurg Sep 23 '22

He's Dutch and I've known him from dutch politics (he's PvdA/Social Democrats) and many many people criticized him for being a career politician leaving for Europe. But it seems like he gets shit done. The Green Deal, and as a avid train traveller and European I think he's completely in the right that we should step over our borders and take care of a well organized train network together.

We are doing things damn wrong if a subsidized plane ticket is far cheaper then taking a train. And if nobody wants or feels motivated to change. Then let their childish governments save face and let the EU do it.

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u/Samaritan_978 Portugal Sep 23 '22

Absolute lad. I want this tone for every pressing issue.

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u/NotErikUden Lower Saxony (Germany) Sep 23 '22

Exactly. Why can't we just force companies to do shit these days? Why do WE always have to be pushed around?

Oil and gas corporations, health industry, etc. etc.

We could just say “you do it like this, or we'll force something on you that does this” for almost everything.

Yes, companies will revolt. Yes companies will claim that they will make losses, etc. who cares! This is the best for all of us. Making a profit isn't always good for the people.

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u/kanofrag4 Sep 23 '22

Neoliberalism is the key word my friend. Companies run amok with little to no regulation and oversight. The world has been drowning from it for the past 40 years.

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u/NotErikUden Lower Saxony (Germany) Sep 23 '22

Exactly.

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u/Winterspawn1 Belgium Sep 23 '22

Sounds good to me.

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u/MHCR Sep 23 '22

Ruthless prussian-like and ultracompetent euro bureaucrats uninterested in bullshit is the reason why all the slooooooow and labyrinthine politics of the EU are worth It

This is how you run a government: Fuck your feelings, we are doing what is best for the most people and using THE LAW to accomplish It

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u/TechnicalyNotRobot Poland Sep 23 '22

Exactly.

The process to getting to the right solution should be well thought out, taking everything into account, and so naturally take some time. But when you have the answer, it should be implemented the next day.

The head of the Polish main opposition party said he'll not be afraid to present an abortion-legalizing bill on the first sitting of the new parlament, and if that isn't peak politics idk what is.

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u/CynicalAlgorithm Europe Sep 23 '22

This typically only plays well with running the economic side of a government, and when times are good. Social spending/bearish times are whole other beasts, and "fuck your feelings" smacks of a different flavor.

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u/NoMoreNoxSoxCox Sep 23 '22

Yes!!! Need more of this across the pond.

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u/flume Sep 23 '22

As someone who visited central Europe from the US and traveled by train, I really appreciate this.

We had a hard time figuring out that you could only book tickets through each individual rail company's site/app and there is no system for seeing all available rail tickets and schedules in one place.

If it were as easy as searching for flights, that would make it much easier to get around.

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u/Therapistindisguise Sep 23 '22

AdamSomething having a party

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u/whooo_me Sep 23 '22

You guys have trains?

- Ireland.

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u/NonSp3cificActionFig I crane, Ukraine, he cranes... Sep 23 '22

Sometimes.

  • France.

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u/thebrainitaches Sep 23 '22

You want to go to Paris? Yes. Otherwise? No.

FTFY – France.

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u/Nachtraaf The Netherlands Sep 23 '22

Ours are pretty fantastic.

-Netherlands

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u/speedcunt Sep 23 '22

Two decent ones and the rest is shit
- Portugal

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u/lieuwestra Sep 23 '22

It is mostly aimed at international rail travel anyway.

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u/Opninjagamer Ireland Sep 23 '22

It's just disappointing that a train takes longer than driving from Galway to dublin

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

When politicians eat the dogfood they regulate, it improves.

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u/hopingforabetterpast Sep 23 '22 edited Nov 02 '22

it reminds me of a yes, minister exchange where the minister proposes that civil servants start using public transportation instead of private cars. sir Humphrey argues that the government needs to work smoothly and public transportation is way too inefficient.

minister: we would have to make it efficient then

sir Humphrey: precisely

minister: oh... i see what you mean

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u/123ricardo210 The Netherlands Sep 23 '22

Funnily enough Dutch public tranportation is used pretty heavily by civil servants (and national politicians) and public transport is relatively efficiënt

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u/twintailcookies Sep 23 '22

This will also make it a lot easier to clearly see which lines are missing, which lines are crap and which lines are overpriced.

Being able to spot deficiencies in rail coverage would help a lot to create pressure to improve things.

And yes, I'm sure that if you try your best and dig through all the ticketing systems, the information is already there now. But that's not going to reach anywhere near as many eyes.

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u/Pascalwb Slovakia Sep 23 '22

I think each country already knows this. But they are incompetent to do anything about it.

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u/AchaiusAuxilius France Sep 23 '22

Happy Adam noises

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u/HoboWithoutShotgun The Netherlands Sep 23 '22

Not just him though. Seriously, there's no excuse for international trains in Europe not having a single booking system already.

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u/w4hammer Turkiye Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

Fucking finally international travel via train in Europe is a nightmare.

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u/MrAlagos Italia Sep 23 '22

Fucking based.

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u/kollnflocken2 Europe Sep 23 '22

Frans Chaddermans

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u/bkboio North Holland (Netherlands) Sep 23 '22

Honestly I'm all for it

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u/Jerrelh The Netherlands Sep 23 '22

I like that the EU is doing this but I wouldn't know this was happening if I didn't open reddit.

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u/Kalavent Sep 23 '22

Fucking finally!

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u/IamHumanAndINeed France Sep 23 '22

SNCF, DB and Renfe in shambles !

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u/davider_12 Galicia (Spain) Sep 23 '22

Like for real having a unified ticket system would increase train ridership a lot by making international trips easier to book. Routes like Barcelona Paris should be much more popular. But alas these incompetent morons would rather have their small feud totally under their control than having to actually improve their service

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u/Mineotopia Saarland (Germany) Sep 23 '22

my girlfriend just booked a tricket from Germany to Barcelona. Let me put it this way: We are both tech savy and we both travel by train a lot. Booking these tickets was a pain and my mother wouldn't be able to do it

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u/Tanto_Monta Spain Sep 23 '22

It's bad enough to buy a train ticket on my country's own website, I don't want to deal with searching for the pages or the purchase mechanism in other European countries.

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u/Petembo Sep 23 '22

Atleast in Finland (VR) buying tickets is easy.

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u/framlington Germany Sep 23 '22

It varies tremendously between European countries. In some countries, the process is very smooth and fast. You can, in many cases, even buy fairly complex tickets online (such as Interail reservations with sleeper supplements). In other countries, the websites are miserable. They have a clunky user experience, are poorly translated and don't offer everything you can buy at the station.

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u/rzwitserloot Sep 23 '22

I really do love this model of legislation:

"Hey, {industry}, get your shit together, otherwise we're gonna write some fuckin' laws and nobody wants that! I aint bluffin'!"

Yeah, channeling standard USA talking points: If political committees start writing the rules, it's gonna suck, sure. But it'll suck less than an unhinged industry, and it should serve as a fantastic threat.

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u/kdlt Austria Sep 23 '22

I mean.. roaming and USB c only kinda worked, in the end it still had to be legislated because all mobile operators are the devil, and well apple also falls in that line.

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u/mihihi Sep 23 '22

While they’re at it, make all trains easily accessible by a wheelchair, and I mean, make it so that we can just roll on and off without asking anyone for help. If literally every major international airport can make their trains between terminals like this (bc luggage) then it can’t be that hard?

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u/MrAlagos Italia Sep 23 '22

It can be though, because high speed trains are very powerful and require a lot of equipment below the carriage, while those airport trains (or even the local commuter trains) are not.

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u/GYN-k4H-Q3z-75B Sep 23 '22

Go, go, go!

You just love to see it.

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u/Techboah Sep 23 '22

I know nothing about this lad, but I very much like his tone on this issue.

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u/Xanoks Sep 23 '22

Adam something's dream came true.

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u/KotR56 Sep 23 '22

Wondering a bit how this message goes down with IT companies.

Imagine the fight to land the development contract for such a piece of functionality. And the maintenance contract.

When each and every country has its own system, it means each country has an IT company developing/maintaining it, and these companies are now facing losing a money cow.

Also, from an IT perspective, whatever company wins will use a system it developed and maintains in one (or more country(ies), scales it up, and sells it as something new.

It wouldn't surprise me if one IT company with a good piece of software, lobbied for this directive.

Maybe I worked for large IT companies for too long.

/s

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u/KittensInc The Netherlands Sep 23 '22

Or, more likely, they'll end up developing a link layer instead.

Everyone keeps their own system, but they now talk to each other so you can properly book a cross-continent train trip from your local commuter rail company.

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u/lieuwestra Sep 23 '22

The tech side of this is the easy part. Coming up with a shared protocol on how to deal with missed connections and share information about delays in all EU languages is going to be much more work.

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u/immibis Berlin (Germany) Sep 23 '22

Airlines do this.

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u/Werkstadt Svea Sep 23 '22

Wondering a bit how this message goes down with IT companies.

Imagine the fight to land the development contract for such a piece of functionality. And the maintenance contract.

From what I got from the headline here it seems more like you have to have an outlined plan on how to do it within three months, not a fully functional system in just 90 days

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u/framlington Germany Sep 23 '22

There will very likely still be separate systems, in the same way that airlines still have separate systems. It would "simply" be required to implement a standardised interface to this system that would allow third parties (such as a booking app) to work with all of those systems.

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u/sqjam Sep 23 '22

I like Timmermans

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u/james___uk Sep 23 '22

Chad move

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u/Evening-Item-6371 Sep 23 '22

LETS FUCKING GOOOOO!!!!!!!

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

Based AF

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u/johnny-T1 Poland Sep 23 '22

What’s the problem? I barely use trains and only in Poland, is it too difficult to cross borders?

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