CDG Express and alternatives: Vinci bowing out

Old Nov 9, 11, 11:27 am
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CDG Express and alternatives: Vinci bowing out

Vinci is withdrawing from the CDG Express project

Source: Ville rail transports (groupe La Vie du Rail) (in French, sorry)

(...) Depuis 2007, l’Etat était engagé dans des discussions interminables avec Vinci, seul candidat en lice après le retrait de quatre autres compétiteurs. Le dossier était considéré comme particulièrement complexe et inédit : la délégation de service public envisagée portait tout à la fois sur la construction, l’exploitation et la maintenance de cette ligne entre la gare de Paris-Est et l’aéroport de Roissy. Cela sans aucun subside public.

(...)

Reste que le gouvernement ne renonce pas au projet. A la fin du mois de novembre ou au début décembre, il devrait réunir autour d’une table ronde « toutes les parties prenantes » pour relancer CDG Express. SNCF, RFF, ADP seront ainsi invités. Un retour à la case départ pour ces trois établissements publics qui avaient créé un GIE (groupement d’intérêt public) dans les années 2000 pour lancer CDG Express ? Pas tout à fait, car d’autres acteurs devraient être invités à ce tour de table : compagnies aériennes, chambres de commerce et d’industrie, départements… Avec une différence de taille : cette fois-ci, l’Etat pourrait accepter de prendre une partie du risque.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 1:22 pm
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As all our money has gone to Greece and soon Italy, I can't see how there will be much big money for public projects. Perhaps Vinci saw that writing on the wall?
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Old Nov 9, 11, 2:47 pm
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
As all our money has gone to Greece and soon Italy, I can't see how there will be much big money for public projects. Perhaps Vinci saw that writing on the wall?
No, with the "Grand Paris", I think CDG express has no value. But as the "Grand Paris" rail project is an utopia that won't be delivered until 2030-2040, there is not much to expect to improve link between Paris and CDG.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 1:59 am
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
As all our money has gone to Greece and soon Italy, I can't see how there will be much big money for public projects. Perhaps Vinci saw that writing on the wall?
Typical of a "grandiose" project with little economic sense. And a "private" project operated by "public" SNCF is doomed. Luckily France is on its way to follow Italy and has no money to waste.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 4:13 am
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
Typical of a "grandiose" project with little economic sense. And a "private" project operated by "public" SNCF is doomed. Luckily France is on its way to follow Italy and has no money to waste.
Hmmm... why would you say that there is little economic sense? You are a smart man which is why I try to understand your point of view before discarding it.

So do you believe that the way it was designed (its limitation to Gare de l'Est? the way it was going to be financed? independent from other rail connections?) makes it economically unsensical? Or do you actually think that fast rail links between city centres and airports are non-sensical?

I don't know about for instance Heathrow Express and its business case, which is the most comparable case: big airport, big city, bad traffic on roads for big parts of the day, service limited to one mainline station in one part of the town, service in parallel to a dirt-cheap (or rather "cheap but dirty") option (RER in Paris, Tube in London). Has it paid off?

Personally I would be a potential user of a CDG Express at certain hours of the day if it is well done, i.e. if it is easily accessible from all terminals, if it is reliable, clean, air conditioned, and especially if it is really fast. Just like I use HEX. It would be a great alternative to sitting in the back of a taxi for an hour. But then "creber likes it" doesn't mean it's a great business plan

The other thing I just thought is how Paris is really the capital of making transportation more complicated (closing down la voie sur berges - can one be more idiotic?) and of missing opportunities to make it better. Over the years other cities have built fast train links, reliable and comfortable public transportation, intelligent road management and road pricing systems - all we have is a bike shed every 150 meters. I love them, but whoever believes that this is the answer to the menace of transportation collapse is delusional.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 4:26 am
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Originally Posted by creber View Post
I don't know about for instance Heathrow Express and its business case, which is the most comparable case: big airport, big city, bad traffic on roads for big parts of the day, service limited to one mainline station in one part of the town, service in parallel to a dirt-cheap (or rather "cheap but dirty") option (RER in Paris, Tube in London). Has it paid off?
Is the HEX the most comparable? Or the two express trains from Milano to MXP?

IMHO we should simply be comparing every major Euro city, not just modern train projects. AMS, FRA, ARN, etc. Is Paris competitive? The amount of income from tourism would say that yes, Paris is very competitive. But I think the business community would say otherwise. Ideally there would be express trains from CDG to La Defense, central Paris, and several of the business areas in the suburbs. You can take the TGV from CDG to Disneyland, so why not other key areas?
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Old Nov 10, 11, 7:17 am
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Originally Posted by creber View Post
Hmmm... why would you say that there is little economic sense? You are a smart man which is why I try to understand your point of view before discarding it.

So do you believe that the way it was designed (its limitation to Gare de l'Est? the way it was going to be financed? independent from other rail connections?) makes it economically unsensical? Or do you actually think that fast rail links between city centres and airports are non-sensical?

I don't know about for instance Heathrow Express and its business case, which is the most comparable case: big airport, big city, bad traffic on roads for big parts of the day, service limited to one mainline station in one part of the town, service in parallel to a dirt-cheap (or rather "cheap but dirty") option (RER in Paris, Tube in London). Has it paid off?

Personally I would be a potential user of a CDG Express at certain hours of the day if it is well done, i.e. if it is easily accessible from all terminals, if it is reliable, clean, air conditioned, and especially if it is really fast. Just like I use HEX. It would be a great alternative to sitting in the back of a taxi for an hour. But then "creber likes it" doesn't mean it's a great business plan

The other thing I just thought is how Paris is really the capital of making transportation more complicated (closing down la voie sur berges - can one be more idiotic?) and of missing opportunities to make it better. Over the years other cities have built fast train links, reliable and comfortable public transportation, intelligent road management and road pricing systems - all we have is a bike shed every 150 meters. I love them, but whoever believes that this is the answer to the menace of transportation collapse is delusional.
Sorry, just had an outstanding Australian Shiraz with Peking duck for dinner, so a bit emotional.
I think that you listed many of the reasons why the current project was economically nonsensical. But I do believe that express trains between airport and the center of the city make a lot of sense for congested big cities like Paris. But the project must meet many criteria that were never met as you outlined. I do not see how SNCF could provide the quality and reliability that is required for business pax (and others); Gare de l'Est is a poor choice for many reasons; and these big committees with public agencies (ADP, SNCF, RFF) and some private developers/investors bordered farcical (according to numerous sources). I could go on and on. But the financing crisis hit the last nail in the coffin.

Another example of successful links besides HEX is Hong Kong Airport Express. It has two stops in the two main central areas of Hong Kong SAR (Kowloon and Central) and well connected with MTR (the local RATP). The two stations are brand new and easily accessed by taxis or buses, besides the local métro. Everything is reliable, fast and efficient (including check-in for all airlines).

No wish/time to elaborate why some projects work well (even if painfully) and others are doomed from the start.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 11:00 am
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Hong Kong Express

Frankly I can't think of a single flaw in the Hong Kong airport express system. It is magnificent. It is inexpensive, fast, clean, reliable, one always gets a seat and only makes two stops between the airport and Hong Kong island.

Further, there are check in counters at the express stations, making the outbound trip even easier. Finally, the taxi system at the stations is a wonder to behold: the station accommodates a plentiful number of taxis, loading from two sides in diagonal lanes. There never is a wait for a taxi and never congestion for cabs leaving. The best organized system that I have ever seen.

In short is it is everything that RER B is not.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 11:05 am
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To me the main difference between the Heathrow Express (which I never use) and the Paris project is the competition available. HEX is competing with the Piccadilly line which has my personal preference but still means 45-55 minutes to central London against 15 for the HEX. Of course, with Crossrail there will be much better competition to fight (which this time could work for me). By contrast, the RER competition in Paris is pretty good. Yes ok, it's 'dirty' as you say but I can't imagine people paying a big premium for cleanliness. When you get the fast RER, it takes 25-35 minutes to some key interchange stations: Gare du Nord, Chatelet Les Halles and St Michel Notre Dame, all of which are better connected than Gare de l'Est, but mostly the time to get there is pretty short overhaul. I can't imagine many people paying a big premium to cut 5 or 7 minutes off journey time unless they specifically need to go to Gare de l'Est. In short, IMHO, any venture which condition of competitiveness would require you to make existing current services worse than they are (i.e removing the fast version of the RER B service) can't be a good venture.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 11:25 am
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Originally Posted by sfoeuroflyer View Post
Frankly I can't think of a single flaw in the Hong Kong airport express system. It is magnificent. It is inexpensive, fast, clean, reliable, one always gets a seat and only makes two stops between the airport and Hong Kong island.
Yes, it's great. But if I recall correctly, it was built with a lot of public objection to the cost and land grab. China also objected to the $20 Billion price tag (for the entire airport project including rail and road access).
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Old Nov 10, 11, 11:32 am
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I would tend to agree with orbitmic. You need a sufficiently big differential with the other options for a premium rail service to be attractive and justify its cost. That equation is more difficult to solve in Paris than in London.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 12:00 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
I would tend to agree with orbitmic. You need a sufficiently big differential with the other options for a premium rail service to be attractive and justify its cost. That equation is more difficult to solve in Paris than in London.
+2
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Old Nov 10, 11, 1:13 pm
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
Yes, it's great. But if I recall correctly, it was built with a lot of public objection to the cost and land grab. China also objected to the $20 Billion price tag (for the entire airport project including rail and road access).
Also when it was originally completed it did not go all the way in to Central but stopped in Kowloon and not a convenient area either.

Plus the MTR express was part of the reason there was agreement to close Kai Tek and move to Chep Lap Kok anyway.

As for HEX v Tube the better comparison is between HEX and Heathrow Connect and the proposed CDG Express v RER. Personally I don't see why a high speed connection is critical if RER is updated. And if they are going to go for a high speed connection they should think of new technology rather then taking up congested high speed lines north of Paris.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 3:40 pm
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Just make it work

There are many not-so-great ways to go to CDG: RER, bus, taxi, TGV from province (even the TGV is not great because of the lack of frequency and difficult connections). The express link to Gare de l'Est also seems... not great. Who will it serve? People around Gare de l'Est generally cannot afford it, people in the center and West will generally be better off using other transportation modes.

Bad proposition.

A good proposition is to link La Defense, Etoile, Invalides, Opera and Gare du Nord to CDG 1, 2 and 3 with no connections. And ideally this service should have its own private underground track. Of course this project would fetch maybe 10 billion euros and thus would not be a great proposition... or maybe think twice...
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Old Nov 10, 11, 4:04 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
I would tend to agree with orbitmic. You need a sufficiently big differential with the other options for a premium rail service to be attractive and justify its cost. That equation is more difficult to solve in Paris than in London.
+ 2 +1 = +3

What about something like a Maglev ?
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