I love European trains…

I’ve heard several times that only about 20% of Americans own passports. That’s such a shame. If they were over here they would be wondering how we ended up with such a lousy public transportation system when Europe got such a nice one. The trains are quiet, smooth, fast, affordable, and in our experiences on several trips so far, run on time.

We’re about to hop into one of those to head to Geneva.

In other news, over on ScobleShow, we have the CEO of Wellsphere talking about and demoing his new service, which is aimed at getting you motivated to doing some exercise. I sure know I need that.

Someone asked me the other day how companies get on ScobleShow. They simply ask via email at robertscoble@hotmail.com. I can’t get to everyone (I try to have three or more companies on a week, though). There is no charge. It helps if your company is doing something unique, particularly for the Web, although I like development tools too.

Each video has two segments, the first is an interview where I try to learn something about you and your company. The second is a demo where you talk right into the camera and give us all a short (hopefully about five minute) look at your product or service.

I’m still behind on email from the past month, though, but I put highest priority on ScobleShow stuff (I have about 70 still to go in just that folder).

It really helps if you’ll be in San Francisco at some point, or at a conference that I’ll be attending.

Thanks to everyone who’s been on my show so far. I’ve been learning a lot about the tech world and hope you all enjoy these videos too.

96 thoughts on “I love European trains…

  1. I would LOVE to know how many Europeans have been outside of Europe. You see, visiting and traveling in Europe which geographically is the SMALLEST continent is not much of a feat.

    And especially with the European Union and a single currency, it EASY to travel within EU nations. Europeans need to stop bragging about “traveling”

    How many Europeans have been to Asia, Africa, and South America… Hell, how many have been to Russia????? I would guess that outside of Europe, most visits are at the typical carribean resorts…
    I would love to know….

  2. I would LOVE to know how many Europeans have been outside of Europe. You see, visiting and traveling in Europe which geographically is the SMALLEST continent is not much of a feat.

    And especially with the European Union and a single currency, it EASY to travel within EU nations. Europeans need to stop bragging about “traveling”

    How many Europeans have been to Asia, Africa, and South America… Hell, how many have been to Russia????? I would guess that outside of Europe, most visits are at the typical carribean resorts…
    I would love to know….

  3. The European rail infrastructure is the best in the world ( even better than jepanese). The new generation of high-speed trains are ready to go commercialy:
    AGV (the new french TGV) will travel at up to 360 km/h (225 mph) and will take only 3 hours to travel 1000 km (600 miles.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7227807.stm

    The 3rd generation of ICE trains will travel at 330 km/h (210 mph). So you can’t compare the european rail infrast. with the Us rail infrastr.

  4. The European rail infrastructure is the best in the world ( even better than jepanese). The new generation of high-speed trains are ready to go commercialy:
    AGV (the new french TGV) will travel at up to 360 km/h (225 mph) and will take only 3 hours to travel 1000 km (600 miles.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7227807.stm

    The 3rd generation of ICE trains will travel at 330 km/h (210 mph). So you can’t compare the european rail infrast. with the Us rail infrastr.

  5. =v= Mussolini did not make the trains run on time; that was Fascisti propaganda. I know it makes for an ironic cliche and all (gosh!), but it’s simply not true. Nor is it even remotely relevant to discussions of modern train systems.

  6. =v= Mussolini did not make the trains run on time; that was Fascisti propaganda. I know it makes for an ironic cliche and all (gosh!), but it’s simply not true. Nor is it even remotely relevant to discussions of modern train systems.

  7. No one ever cares about the true comments I have re-iterated many times over on, “We as Americans are far from the best in this world” mentality crap. You people must wake up now! We’re in trouble.

  8. No one ever cares about the true comments I have re-iterated many times over on, “We as Americans are far from the best in this world” mentality crap. You people must wake up now! We’re in trouble.

  9. No one every cares about the true comments I have re-iterated many times over on, “We as Americans are far from the best in this world” mentality crap. You people must wake up now! We’re in trouble!

  10. No one every cares about the true comments I have re-iterated many times over on, “We as Americans are far from the best in this world” mentality crap. You people must wake up now! We’re in trouble!

  11. Hi, I’d like to see hard numbers from the US Passport service as to how many Americans have Passports. I am not sure if military and other government workers would be included in this figure. Then we could deduct the number of infants and children, let’s say, under 10, and compare that number to a country of the same size, literacy rate, etc., to come to some sort of (I don’t know what kind of) conclusion about Americans leaving their continent.

    For members within the EU traveling around the EU only requires a state issued ID card.

    Surely we can’t compare Europeans (many different countries) with Americans (one big country) anyway, can we?

    Adrianne

    http://www.jobsinstockholm.com

  12. Hi, I’d like to see hard numbers from the US Passport service as to how many Americans have Passports. I am not sure if military and other government workers would be included in this figure. Then we could deduct the number of infants and children, let’s say, under 10, and compare that number to a country of the same size, literacy rate, etc., to come to some sort of (I don’t know what kind of) conclusion about Americans leaving their continent.

    For members within the EU traveling around the EU only requires a state issued ID card.

    Surely we can’t compare Europeans (many different countries) with Americans (one big country) anyway, can we?

    Adrianne

    http://www.jobsinstockholm.com

  13. Oh boy, Joe, you really don’t know anything about Europe, do you? I don’t know where all those socialist European countries are, but I’m certainly not living in that Europe, most are conservative or liberal.

    Our Economy and yours has been practicaly the same over the past 40 years on average and I pay less taxes then you think (I earn about $100.000 and pay about 25% taxes and for $100 a month I have complete medical coverage).

    Third, as said before, UK and the Netherlands have privatised there railway system, it has never been that bad (how many have died in the UK because of bad management?) and the dutch want to go back.

    Oh, I’m Dutch and WE invented capitalism, please don’t tell me we are a socialist country.

  14. Oh boy, Joe, you really don’t know anything about Europe, do you? I don’t know where all those socialist European countries are, but I’m certainly not living in that Europe, most are conservative or liberal.

    Our Economy and yours has been practicaly the same over the past 40 years on average and I pay less taxes then you think (I earn about $100.000 and pay about 25% taxes and for $100 a month I have complete medical coverage).

    Third, as said before, UK and the Netherlands have privatised there railway system, it has never been that bad (how many have died in the UK because of bad management?) and the dutch want to go back.

    Oh, I’m Dutch and WE invented capitalism, please don’t tell me we are a socialist country.

  15. I saw that one funny bloke named joe had some interesting theories about private companies/management being necessarily more efficicient than public ones.
    Well, he should have told that story to the english and dutch railway companies that went private a few years ago because obviously they were not aware of that. Indeed, while quality, reliability and safety decreased dramatically, the one thing that didn’t decrease was the price of the ticket.
    Hey joe, sorry to challenge your reality but at least you can have the satisfaction that I agree with you on one point: reality is usually not as simple as you would like to think it is.
    Which brings me to comment your last statement: while I can see it is very tempting to explain the riots in France as a result of the high unemployement rate, it is (of course?) not the case, the majority of the people rioting being under 16 (legal age to start working). But I might be wrong and it might indeed have been a case of preemptive rioting :-)

  16. I saw that one funny bloke named joe had some interesting theories about private companies/management being necessarily more efficicient than public ones.
    Well, he should have told that story to the english and dutch railway companies that went private a few years ago because obviously they were not aware of that. Indeed, while quality, reliability and safety decreased dramatically, the one thing that didn’t decrease was the price of the ticket.
    Hey joe, sorry to challenge your reality but at least you can have the satisfaction that I agree with you on one point: reality is usually not as simple as you would like to think it is.
    Which brings me to comment your last statement: while I can see it is very tempting to explain the riots in France as a result of the high unemployement rate, it is (of course?) not the case, the majority of the people rioting being under 16 (legal age to start working). But I might be wrong and it might indeed have been a case of preemptive rioting :-)

  17. @Will:
    What are all those little things surrounding Australia? Oh, yeah, foreign countries like New Zealand, New Guinea, Indonesia, etc. I’m assuming you need passports for many of those.

    The point was that up until the last couple of weeks Americans could visit their bordering nations WITHOUT A PASSPORT.

  18. @Will:
    What are all those little things surrounding Australia? Oh, yeah, foreign countries like New Zealand, New Guinea, Indonesia, etc. I’m assuming you need passports for many of those.

    The point was that up until the last couple of weeks Americans could visit their bordering nations WITHOUT A PASSPORT.

  19. My son went to a ski camp from Belgium to Switzerland with his class. The train arrived 5 hours late, and some of the carriages didn’t have heating.

    Anyway, I’m satisfied with the Belgian public transport.

  20. My son went to a ski camp from Belgium to Switzerland with his class. The train arrived 5 hours late, and some of the carriages didn’t have heating.

    Anyway, I’m satisfied with the Belgian public transport.

  21. I remember seeing on CNN a long tima ago a “factiod” that only something like 11% had passports. Mass transit in Asia in countries like Japan, Taiwan (which just started their bullet train service a month ago, and China (bullet train from Shanghai to Hangzhou and started to buld one from Shanghai Beijing) is pretty good too.

  22. I remember seeing on CNN a long tima ago a “factiod” that only something like 11% had passports. Mass transit in Asia in countries like Japan, Taiwan (which just started their bullet train service a month ago, and China (bullet train from Shanghai to Hangzhou and started to buld one from Shanghai Beijing) is pretty good too.

  23. “…where the unemployment rate has been hovering around 9 percent in recent years? Chronic high unemployment is one of the many factors that led to the widespread rioting in France about 18 months ago.”

    Well, the upside of that is they can get to the unemployment office fast and efficiently.

  24. “…where the unemployment rate has been hovering around 9 percent in recent years? Chronic high unemployment is one of the many factors that led to the widespread rioting in France about 18 months ago.”

    Well, the upside of that is they can get to the unemployment office fast and efficiently.

  25. @35.. Maybe US Citizens are less likely to have the desire to leave their country country than Aussies are? Not sure what it says when 40% of Aussies want to have the option of leaving their own country. ;-)

  26. @35.. Maybe US Citizens are less likely to have the desire to leave their country country than Aussies are? Not sure what it says when 40% of Aussies want to have the option of leaving their own country. ;-)

  27. I love the comments saying that the reason passport ownership is so low, is because of a lack of neighbouring countries.

    Australia has no borders with other countries. None at all.

    To get to another country from Australia, you have to fly (unless you’re really good at swimming, or want to spend weeks on a boat).

    Yet in 2005-2006, Over 1.2 Million passports were issued/re-issued for Australians (Ref: Australian Bureau of Statistics).
    Given Australian passports are valid for 10 years, just using rough numbers – it’s somewhere over 40% of Australians with passports (leaving off 10% for those who’ve had a passport replaced in that period, plus growth in population/etc).

    ‘Course, those are just rough back-of-the-envelope calculations, but you get the idea.

  28. I love the comments saying that the reason passport ownership is so low, is because of a lack of neighbouring countries.

    Australia has no borders with other countries. None at all.

    To get to another country from Australia, you have to fly (unless you’re really good at swimming, or want to spend weeks on a boat).

    Yet in 2005-2006, Over 1.2 Million passports were issued/re-issued for Australians (Ref: Australian Bureau of Statistics).
    Given Australian passports are valid for 10 years, just using rough numbers – it’s somewhere over 40% of Australians with passports (leaving off 10% for those who’ve had a passport replaced in that period, plus growth in population/etc).

    ‘Course, those are just rough back-of-the-envelope calculations, but you get the idea.

  29. For Leo:

    For more breathtaking reading on how socialism and fascism are very similar (hence the connection between the two in my initial post)– “A governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.)” (American College Dictionary, New York: Random House, 1957) — feel free to read this intriguing article: http://www.lawrence.edu/sorg/objectivism/socfasc.html.

    And for those with any sense of history, the running joke of the World War II era was that the best thing about Musslini’s fascist Italy was that the trains ran on time. Mr. Scoble’s report on the high quality of European trains prompted me to think of this old maxim about Mussolini, which led to the socialism-fascism train of thought, if you’ll pardon the expression.

    And, as most people know, modern Europe is a loose amalgamation of socialist states with stagnating economies (save for Ireland and sometimes England). So sure, modern European trains run well, like in Mussolini’s Italy, but would you really want to be a young person living in a state, say France, where the unemployment rate has been hovering around 9 percent in recent years? Chronic high unemployment is one of the many factors that led to the widespread rioting in France about 18 months ago.

    So, forgive me for trying to inject some thoughtful commentary into your simple reality. Remember, as most thoughtful people know, most situations are more complicated than you might imagine . . . .

  30. For Leo:

    For more breathtaking reading on how socialism and fascism are very similar (hence the connection between the two in my initial post)– “A governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.)” (American College Dictionary, New York: Random House, 1957) — feel free to read this intriguing article: http://www.lawrence.edu/sorg/objectivism/socfasc.html.

    And for those with any sense of history, the running joke of the World War II era was that the best thing about Musslini’s fascist Italy was that the trains ran on time. Mr. Scoble’s report on the high quality of European trains prompted me to think of this old maxim about Mussolini, which led to the socialism-fascism train of thought, if you’ll pardon the expression.

    And, as most people know, modern Europe is a loose amalgamation of socialist states with stagnating economies (save for Ireland and sometimes England). So sure, modern European trains run well, like in Mussolini’s Italy, but would you really want to be a young person living in a state, say France, where the unemployment rate has been hovering around 9 percent in recent years? Chronic high unemployment is one of the many factors that led to the widespread rioting in France about 18 months ago.

    So, forgive me for trying to inject some thoughtful commentary into your simple reality. Remember, as most thoughtful people know, most situations are more complicated than you might imagine . . . .

  31. Not only are they fast and inexpensive, but they’re also profitable. I’m an American living in Sweden and I just saw a story the other day on how Sweden’s state-owned railway (SJ) turned a record profit last year and would be paying a record dividend to the state.

  32. Not only are they fast and inexpensive, but they’re also profitable. I’m an American living in Sweden and I just saw a story the other day on how Sweden’s state-owned railway (SJ) turned a record profit last year and would be paying a record dividend to the state.

  33. Leo,

    With all due respect to the “reality” you live in, you obviously don’t live in Massachusetts, and aren’t aware of our wonderful Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), otherwise known as the “T”.

    While your simplistic suggestion of pouring money into a transit system, on the surface, sounds great, how do you explain Greater Boston’s “Terrible T”, which is a slow, filthy public transit system? The Commonwealth of Massachusetts pours untold billions into the T — which is one of the state’s most bloated, worthless organizations — and yet the trains are slow, rather dirty, and riders frequently have to dodge all kinds of human excrement.

    Unfortunately, Leo, throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve it or improve it. Massachusetts’ corrupt, patronage-staffed T is proof of that. Devoted financial resources — AND good, private management — will deliver a quality result. And good management, at least in Massachusetts, is only found in the private sector.

    That’s reality.

  34. Leo,

    With all due respect to the “reality” you live in, you obviously don’t live in Massachusetts, and aren’t aware of our wonderful Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), otherwise known as the “T”.

    While your simplistic suggestion of pouring money into a transit system, on the surface, sounds great, how do you explain Greater Boston’s “Terrible T”, which is a slow, filthy public transit system? The Commonwealth of Massachusetts pours untold billions into the T — which is one of the state’s most bloated, worthless organizations — and yet the trains are slow, rather dirty, and riders frequently have to dodge all kinds of human excrement.

    Unfortunately, Leo, throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve it or improve it. Massachusetts’ corrupt, patronage-staffed T is proof of that. Devoted financial resources — AND good, private management — will deliver a quality result. And good management, at least in Massachusetts, is only found in the private sector.

    That’s reality.

  35. The Swiss rail service borders on the miraculous. You can catch a train from over the border in Italy and it will run later and later relative to the timetable. Until you cross the border. Once you hit Switzerland, it’s suddenly running on time again. This has happened to me, twice. Not only can they make the trains run to schedule, they can reliably predict and compensate for delays or inbuilt optimism in their less fortunate neighbouring state…

  36. The Swiss rail service borders on the miraculous. You can catch a train from over the border in Italy and it will run later and later relative to the timetable. Until you cross the border. Once you hit Switzerland, it’s suddenly running on time again. This has happened to me, twice. Not only can they make the trains run to schedule, they can reliably predict and compensate for delays or inbuilt optimism in their less fortunate neighbouring state…

  37. First, Joe, it’s kind of breath-taking how you go from “socialist state” to “Mussolini’s Italy” all in the space of one paragraph.

    But on to reality…

    Basically you get what you paid for. If you’re willing to invest in trains then you’ll have wonderful trains. If you’re not willing to invest in trains and try instead to cut the system’s budget every year, you’ll have lousy trains.

    There’s nothing complicated about this.

  38. First, Joe, it’s kind of breath-taking how you go from “socialist state” to “Mussolini’s Italy” all in the space of one paragraph.

    But on to reality…

    Basically you get what you paid for. If you’re willing to invest in trains then you’ll have wonderful trains. If you’re not willing to invest in trains and try instead to cut the system’s budget every year, you’ll have lousy trains.

    There’s nothing complicated about this.

  39. Robert,

    Why don’t we make a trade with Europe? They can keep you and we will give them our thanks, we want nothing in return.

    Just kidding.

  40. Robert,

    Why don’t we make a trade with Europe? They can keep you and we will give them our thanks, we want nothing in return.

    Just kidding.

  41. If the US was a socialist state, like most European nations, our rail transport would be equally impressive. Free markets and spotty train service, or a stagnant economy and punctual trains? I’ll take my chances with the former, thank you. By the way, didn’t the trains always run on time in Mussolini’s Italy?

    If we really wanted punctual train service in the States, we should allow municipal transit to be managed by private corporations. While corporations are far from perfect, they’re a heckuva lot better than big government.

  42. If the US was a socialist state, like most European nations, our rail transport would be equally impressive. Free markets and spotty train service, or a stagnant economy and punctual trains? I’ll take my chances with the former, thank you. By the way, didn’t the trains always run on time in Mussolini’s Italy?

    If we really wanted punctual train service in the States, we should allow municipal transit to be managed by private corporations. While corporations are far from perfect, they’re a heckuva lot better than big government.

  43. One reason why our passenger railway system isn’t all that great is that our railway system is set up in favor of transportation of goods rather than passengers.

    This has helped our economy out by allowing for more efficient transport of goods than what can be done in Europe, where transport has to be done mainly by truck.

    Unfortunately, because of this and other things like the car culture here, road systems and relatively cheap cost of airline travel, Amtrak suffers.

  44. One reason why our passenger railway system isn’t all that great is that our railway system is set up in favor of transportation of goods rather than passengers.

    This has helped our economy out by allowing for more efficient transport of goods than what can be done in Europe, where transport has to be done mainly by truck.

    Unfortunately, because of this and other things like the car culture here, road systems and relatively cheap cost of airline travel, Amtrak suffers.

Comments are closed.