There is a very good sleeper train, the Caledonian Sleeper, between London and Edinburgh (and several other points in Scotland). That's a "good solution" for that route, and I'm more than a little surprised that the London-based Economist seems not to have heard of it.
A couple of interesting links:
In the DC area, there is a single provider of taxi service from Dulles Airport (IAD).
Any other taxi service trying to pick up fares from IAD are violating the contract between the Metro Washington Airport Authority and Dulles Taxi.
Why would I care if I've violated a contract between two other parties?
REMEMBER: A taxi medallion is a component of a government-enforced monopoly on regional transportation for hire.
One of the great achievements of Uber is highlighting the gap between what's possible when a company is able to compete freely in the marketplace that's been effectively ruined by government.
Before Uber, the taxi companies had ZERO incentive to improve their product. You had no choice when choosing a cab company. Now you do.
Man, how many of those £50 tickets are actually available? A train from Manchester to London, which is less than half the distance, costs twice as much on a lucky day (and 3x on the same day, if not more).
I got this result:
Dep 11:15 Manchester Piccadilly [MAN] Platform 7
Arr 13:20 London Euston [EUS] Platform 3
Duration: 2h 05m
Changes : 0
Yes, tickets for travel on Monday are over £80, but the poster was talking about buying advance tickets.
What service are you using? How far in advance are you looking? Buying on the day can and will be stupidly expensive.
Oh, and FWIW, split tickets can frequently do better. I've reduced my annual train fares bills from over 11k to under 6k, despite travelling 20% more.
Edit: Just ran a split-ticket search for Monday 14th and got this:
MAN CRE 10:04 11:01 £4.80 Advance
CRE EUS 11:02 13:50 £29.00 Off-Peak
That is nice for you, but neither of these numbers is something that National Rail can pride itself on. In Germany for instance, a "Bahncard 100" that lets you travel everywhere anytime without pre-booking costs about £3.5k - and in addition, you save the dozens or hundreds of hours spent "hacking" the fares to get screwed ever so slightly less...
It's not (or doesn't have to be) and I provided evidence. So you're replying to the wrong indignation.
E.g. 7am MAN-EUS on 23/08: £112
And having to mess around with split fares like I had to reach Singapore, is appalling (is that even the same train? Do I really have to change train to get from the 2nd largest city to the capital? Is this Peru...?).
MAN CRE 06:00 06:37 £13.60 Anytime
CRE EUS 06:52 09:37 £22.00 Advance
If you choose not to, and choose to just take the existing fares and services and pay the premium then that's your choice. By all means, feel free to do so and to be angry about the system.
And being angry about the system (or systems, to include things like the trains in Singapore) is quite reasonable. But it doesn't achieve much. Personally, I turn to the machine and create tools to shift the cost/convenience balance to be more in my favour.
I mean, one of these three is fine, but all three and it was worthless for its objective. It costs a hundred quid and this is what you get? I could take Virgin for half the price and be there in 5 hours and actually sleep in my own bed instead. It's what I'll do next time.
I suppose the one plus is you get to use the lounge at the station, which is about the one place that Waverly Station has plug points for a charger.
If you need to get to central London and don't fly to City Airport if it's an option, I'd suggest your routing may be sub-optimal. EDI--LCY is definitely workable as a day trip.
Fast forward 40 years and it’s not so easy to get the right of way to build straight track. Now 10 years in we’re hoping to invent an even faster method of transportation so we can take a longer route.
EX: Modoc County only has freaking 8k people and it's 4,000 square miles.
Also, no one said that it had to had to take an hour. If you go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco, it’s a pretty nice accomplishment in 3 hours.
Why not just get there 2 hours early, park, and sit for 2 hours. This would (1) reduce vehicle motion, so you can sleep better, and (2) allow people who aren't asleep anyway to get out early if they want. It may also save gas, although once buses are electric, this becomes less of a factor.
If the drivers are maximizing for time you're not going to sleep very well because they are driving like a maniac. Sudden halts, near misses, and sharp corners make for a particularly terrifying experience when you're attempting to sleep.
The fact that this endeavor is focusing on drivers that go slow is 100% a positive for me and I would now consider trying it.
This is an issue that really just exists with overnight buses, as trains don't make sudden stops and they are not competing with other trains for a lane.
But I do take the point, I'm not a big fan of the overbearing tracking that you read about, for instance, in the Amazon warehouses. Especially when you're asking for skilled performance but paying unskilled wages.
Perhaps it could just be asking a percentage of drivers to take extra training, but I do think it should happen to some degree.
When a difficult situation on the road arises, the drivers may be less likely to hit breaks, knowing they are being constantly watched.
A better option would be to allow passengers to rate the drivers easily, Uber style. Such system would count in more factors, and (I guess) would be less likely to optimise for just one factor.
Plus, as others mention, you'd wake everyone else up.
And in so doing wake everyone up.
To get there before lunch I would have to get up before five in the morning and I would arrive tired or I could leave home at 21:00 the night before catch the night train at 23:30 and arrive in Trondheim at 07:00 catch the train to Steinkjer and be there by 10:30 refreshed after a good night's sleep and a civilized breakfast.
While raw time-to-destination is important, people are also looking for emotional expenditure savings too.
I was under the impression their price would be a lot less than a flight. Their price roundtrip is $230. A roundtrip flight from SF to LA usually runs $160-$350 depending on how far in advance you book it. Taking the $350 ceiling - is a $120 savings enough to justify a ~6 hour difference?
It's still a great idea - but price it cheaper like < 100 RT.
I do this flight every other month or so and it's a breeze. You leave work a bit early on Friday, get to the airport in about an hour, board the plane, they serve you a drink, and the captain tells you to fasten your seatbelt because we're descending.
It's 1 hour to the airport, 45 minutes through security, 1 hour in the air, and another 45 min to my friend's house. So 3.5 hours, but round it up to 4 hours door to door. Sure, summer months have weather delays like low ceilings at SFO, but otherwise it's one of the smoother journeys one can have.
I guess if you party in SF on Friday, and sleep and sober up on a midnight bus, and go HAM all weekend in LA, then recharge on the return leg for Monday. However, I'm too old for that and would much rather sleep in a proper bed.
And like dopeboy pointed out, if this was $100 RT, it would appeal to price sensitive people. And regardless of how comfortable they make it, for many of us in the States, it's still an 8-hour bus ride.
I want to try this service, because if the sleep is really bad then I agree that it's no use. But if it's even close to comparable to taking a sleeper train, I'd much prefer it: I've always slept well on those, and I'd much sooner not have the 5am start.
However, I usually do 6-7am flights and get there before 9am, 10am to office after BART from SFO. Flights back go as late as 9pm.
In the end, southwest will set you back less than $120 if you book in advance.
I also much prefer my own bed, as opposed to hotels or buses, but that's a personal preference.
Sleeping through it seems like a waste.
Door to door, driving is the same as the airport, but having a car in LA is nice given the lack of public transit (Bay Area too).
Shouldn't something like this be possible in America, especially between far-away cities? Could at least be more profitable because you don't need to shunt around carriages every couple hours and if it gets kept between hubs there's no need for inter-route stops either.
I will say it is definitely a lower stress option. You can show up 30 minutes before your train is leaving and there's no security lines. Depending on the station, it could be just an empty train station in a rural town or a large station interconnected with other transport services (e.g. Boston, Chicago).
The population you are traveling with is much different compared not only to airlines but also coach on the train. Generally your sleeper carmates are retired folks who don't want to deal with the hassle of TSA, running between connections, arriving three hours early, and so on. I've met some extremely nice people with amazing stories (you are seated with strangers at meals, so this is almost forced on you). If you are not in a hurry and have a few extra bucks, it's worth it at least once to experience the journey, especially across the Upper Midwest or coasts.
I actually looked at Amtrak from San Fransisco to LA to see how it compares to Cabin. I'm not sure which pickup location is most common in SF or LA but I assumed the major (or what seemed to be) rail station for the start. You can get a bus for about $115 (max) that is just under a 6 hour ride. Or you can take a bus up to Oakland and then take the train down to LA. That cost ~$240 but includes a room on the train. The downside to that is it is a 12 hour train ride, so close to 13 hours to get from SF to LA.
If the US would invest in high speed rail I, personally, would be much more inclined to take passenger rail (especially when I have kids) but until then I'm stuck with shitty TSA lines and the stress of flying.
By car (and Google Maps measuring) that's about 3.000km total. Hamburg-Munich is about 1.500km total, so half the distance. But ÖBB Nightjet tickets start for ~160€ to 250€ roundtrip, about half the price and Amtrak is losing money?
How is that even possible?
> How is that even possible?
Amtrak runs routes across a very large area, they run more infrequently than European schedules, and their capital equipment is aging. Combine these with the factors the Economist article brought up that user totalZero wrote about, and you end up with a very messy, expensive, customer-inconvenient situation.
The American freight rail system is the envy of the world, but it comes at the cost of the passenger rail system, which doesn't access to nearly the same scale of subsidies that road and air transport networks enjoy in the US.
If you are traveling by yourself, can book well in advance, don't require access to a shower facility, have lots of flexibility with your timetable, and have your own means of an Internet connection, then Amtrak is a great, low-stress, inexpensive, energy-efficient travel option for this inter-city range to longer ranges.
Among some use cases where Amtrak doesn't fit as well are:
* If you worry about securing valuables while sleeping (cable lock alarms work as long as you fit the valuables into overhead space, of which there is always plenty, but if you have more than that to worry about, then ship ahead if you can).
* If you have a restrictive diet that Amtrak doesn't cater to (bring your own works well, freeze ahead of time and that will get you through a continuous 3-day itinerary).
* Traveling with children (the rooms with beds are more expensive than equivalent airfare for everyone in many cases).
* Must have continuous cell-based Internet access (big swathes of land in Western US have simply zero cell signal coverage, and a speeding steel tube isn't the best platform to pick up signals even in the best cell coverage areas, an observation car if you have one is the best, I'm trying a satellite phone next time I ride Amtrak into the Western US).
Europe is just much denser than US Midwest, so both passenger and freight traffic is more intense for a unit of track length, thus more economical.
Also, Amtrak doesn't maintain the track that is up to the track owner to do the maintenance. Amtrak does pay money to each track owner to use their tracks but it isn't an access fee and it is incremental.
Hamburg-Munich alone the track fees end up with 5k €, plus electricity usage, usage of shunting vehicles, usage of train stations, trash/sewage disposal... it adds up.
This is a few years old but summarizes Amtrak profit (or lack thereof) by route: http://reasonrail.blogspot.com/2014/11/amtrak-routes-by-2014...
I generally really like nighttrains but there are not enough routes i need to take.
These guys tried to answer that question. Still, it seems to me that even they didn't touch on any good answers.
Flying is always going to be more compelling for functional travel like this.
Honestly, I would consider this with a self-driving bus when the time comes. For now, I know human nature too well to assume that all drivers had a nice rest and can easily stay up 3rd shift fully alert.
Also, buses have a large mass so collisions aren't that bad. That's why school buses don't need seat belts.
I fall asleep in vehicles as a passenger sometimes, but have that peace of mind of being in a safety belt and with some air bags around me.
On a plane, an accident is unlikely to occur... same with a train.
I don't think I'd want to fully trust my life to a bus driver (and all of the third parties out on the road that could trigger an incident on the road) without some means to mitigate that risk.
But nothing on their site or literature seems to provide information on personal safety were an incident to occur.
It seems bizarre to me that people would get into a vehicle for a long overnight drive, and not demand a minimum degree of safety.
For a bus, maybe this would be something like airline style seats that fully recline and offer comfortable belts and a single airbag.
This is all probably good for the US, but would be a non-starter in Europe.
Seat belt installation has been mandatory for a number of years via EU legislation (though each country had their own timetable I believe all do now require new vehicles to be fitted with seat belts).
Seat belt use is mandatory on coaches (all passenger carrying vehicles), and no exception would allow for permanently lying down... the only coach exception is if temporarily out of seat.
Air bags are not mandatory other than in the cabin.
Required fitting directive (member states applied it in 2006): http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM:...
Mandatory use: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/topics/vehicles/s...
Cabin's site shows you the one-way price both times even when booking a round-trip. It's not until you click through that you see it's $115 each way.
The other issue is that airports tend to be just big and sprawling locations well outside of city cores. So you have to build in lots of buffer for things like parking. Or, if they're near cities, parking's expensive and often scarce.
Finally (which COULD be dealt with to some degree) load factors and cancellation policies are such that you really don't want to miss most flights in a way that isn't typically as big a problem with trains.
I'd be happier for a bus to take the more direct route and then let me disembark as I choose when I wake up or park up somewhere quiet for a couple of hours.
"All aboard the All-Night Express! It's not exactly sleeper service, you know? <wink>"