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Old 12-29-2011, 02:54 PM
 
Location: London, UK
412 posts, read 898,339 times
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We hear a lot on hear about metro systems and which is longest/best, but which cities in the world have the most, or the best, full-size rail stations, which have the most lines running in and out, from where can one travel to the greatest number or variety of destinations by rail? Which systems are the most historic or most beautiful, the most interesting, or the fastest and most hi-tech?

The only city I can truly talk about in detail in my home town of London. London certainly has an extensive infrastructure, with around a dozen major terminals, and lines coming in from every direction. It is also one of the oldest railway cities, with some superb historic architecture in many of its stations. It has a high-speed rail link to Paris and Brussels. On the other hand, trains, apart from the ones going to the continent, are neither especially fast and modern nor in the least old and cool. While Britain has an extensive rail infrastructure, its island location means that the variety of destinations reachable without a change in Paris or Brusells is limited (although, direct services to Germany and the Netherlands are planned for the near future).

Mumbai is another city that comes to mind. I recently watched a documentary about the Mumbai railway, which serves a vast population and sees levels of crowding that would be impossible in Europe.

In my mind, the most romantic rail cities would probably be in central Europe - Budapest, for example, strikes me as a place from where one could set out across Eurasia, but it's also a stone's throw away from Germany and Italy.

What do you think?
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Old 12-29-2011, 03:08 PM
 
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I just finished watching a documentary on the metro system in Seoul South Korea. It may be the most modern and convenient in the world. That's how it's billed in this film anyway.
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Old 12-29-2011, 03:14 PM
 
Location: London, UK
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Originally Posted by Tom9 View Post
I just finished watching a documentary on the metro system in Seoul South Korea. It may be the most modern and convenient in the world. That's how it's billed in this film anyway.
So I've heard, but this thread is about full-size/'heavy' rail, not metro/light rail systems.

South Korea must currently be up there as a continental country with the least scope for international rail travel...
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Old 12-29-2011, 03:55 PM
 
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Been on Japan's Shinkansen, France TGV and US Amtrak - lovely views on some parts of the journey. Also took a train ride from Helsinki to St Petersburg.

Do you have more details or travel tales about Budapest - Germany - Italy by rail? No, I have no travel plan in that direction yet. It sounds interesting.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Hubard View Post
In my mind, the most romantic rail cities would probably be in central Europe - Budapest, for example, strikes me as a place from where one could set out across Eurasia, but it's also a stone's throw away from Germany and Italy.

What do you think?
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Old 12-29-2011, 04:15 PM
 
Location: London, UK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougie86 View Post
Been on Japan's Shinkansen, France TGV and US Amtrak - lovely views on some parts of the journey. Also took a train ride from Helsinki to St Petersburg.

Do you have more details or travel tales about Budapest - Germany - Italy by rail? No, I have no travel plan in that direction yet. It sounds interesting.
I have only traveled to Budapest once, briefly, in 2004. I arrived on a clunky old train - complete with smoking compartments - from Bratislava, and left a few days later on an even clunkier train for Brasov in Romania. I remember the station being rather grand, and having an good gelato stand. But that's about it.

Washington, DC, while not the centre of an extensive rail network, does have a wonderful old marble station (reminiscent of the one at Limoges in France), and was my point of departure earlier this year for the day-long journey to New Orleans (it also has the most expensive baggage check I've ever found, presided over by the least friendly attendant I've ever encountered). Taking a train between two completely different climate zones in highly memorable, even if it does only manage an average speed of ~35mph
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Old 12-29-2011, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Paris
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I like the train travel possibilities from here. We have the choice between four different high speed lines, providing direct fast train connexion to the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. Sadly it sometimes feels like the "regular" lines are forgotten with all this HSR hype.
Apparently there are also direct trains to Moscow 2 or 3 times per week. Good to know.
Almost all the international and nationwide traffic is handled by only six rail stations. The busiest is Gare du Nord (northern France, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Cologne). It has 44 platforms and is apparently the busiest in Europe by number of passengers. The second busiest is Saint-Lazare (northwestern France). Most of the traffic there is due to the suburban rail. I read that it's the third busiest in Europe by number of passengers.
The are three high speed rail stations in the suburbs for trains not going to Paris (the six big stations are all terminuses): CDG airport, Eurodisney and Massy.


I also think we have a decent suburban rail system (not sure if that is on topic), even if less dense than the one of London: map

The red line is the busiest, whith a bit more than 1 million passengers per day.

My uneducated guess is that Tokyo may have the best system in the world, both commuter rail and nationwide lines. In Europe, London has an impressive commuter rail network.
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:47 PM
 
Location: London, UK
412 posts, read 898,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rozenn View Post
I like the train travel possibilities from here. We have the choice between four different high speed lines, providing direct fast train connexion to the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. Sadly it sometimes feels like the "regular" lines are forgotten with all this HSR hype.
Apparently there are also direct trains to Moscow 2 or 3 times per week. Good to know.
Almost all the international and nationwide traffic is handled by only six rail stations. The busiest is Gare du Nord (northern France, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Cologne). It has 44 platforms and is apparently the busiest in Europe by number of passengers. The second busiest is Saint-Lazare (northwestern France). Most of the traffic there is due to the suburban rail. I read that it's the third busiest in Europe by number of passengers.
The are three high speed rail stations in the suburbs for trains not going to Paris (the six big stations are all terminuses): CDG airport, Eurodisney and Massy.


I also think we have a decent suburban rail system (not sure if that is on topic), even if less dense than the one of London: map

The red line is the busiest, whith a bit more than 1 million passengers per day.

My uneducated guess is that Tokyo may have the best system in the world, both commuter rail and nationwide lines. In Europe, London has an impressive commuter rail network.
Paris must surely have a claim as one of the great rail cities - an extensive infrastructure reaching out across many nations, including night trains that can take you to as diverse locations as Moscow and Barcelona, wonderful architecture that is treated with infinitely greater sensitivity than here in London (I love the clack-clack announcement boards that are still in use), and excellent (and growing) services all over France on trains that are both faster and more modern, but also somehow more solid and satisfying, than those in the UK.
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:52 PM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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St Pancras International springs to mind

But yeah, France does have a great rail network, its location is ideal in Europe between Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, Belgium etc. so it really benefits from having high speed rail in all directions.. sadly it wouldn't work in the UK since we're surrounded by water.
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:10 PM
 
Location: London, UK
412 posts, read 898,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dunno what to put here View Post
St Pancras International springs to mind

But yeah, France does have a great rail network, its location is ideal in Europe between Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, Belgium etc. so it really benefits from having high speed rail in all directions.. sadly it wouldn't work in the UK since we're surrounded by water.
St P is great, tho I can't help but feel its a shame for it to be so crammed with retail - I liked it when it was big and empty and austere.

There's no obvious reason why the UK shouldn't have direct links to a variety of European destinations - the main impediment in the past has been Eurostar's monoploly on use of the tunnel for passenger services, which is apparently going to change from 2014 with the introduction of Deutsche Bahn services to Germany and the Netherlands - so hopefully more destinations could follow. The fact that the UK isn't in the Shengen passport-free area is also an impediment...
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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Yup, there's many reasons why the UK doesn't have direct links to Europe.. to be honest I don't think most people say here in Leeds have any great desire to get to Paris or Brussles in less then an hour unless you're an international businessman/woman.
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