Europe by Rail

Month ago we were invited to go to Lisbon to a wedding and my spouse was already planing a trip to the Champagne with her fellows of her band. So we decided to combine the trip to Lisbon with some additional holiday and go to Lisbon by train, but first I had to pick her up in Paris.

So today is the day. I am actually going to Paris for holidays. Because flying is so tedious, I decided to go by sleeper train. The train to Paris was leaving from Hamburg. So first, I had to use a connecting train.

When I arrived at the train station, the departure display showed a message about delays between Kiel and Hamburg, due to track maintenance, which would effect my train too.

To circumvent any difficulties, I tried to extract information on that potential delay from the information booth. The answer was not really satisfactory. To be precise, the answer and the question were only loosely related. The question was: How much delay do you anticipate for the IC train to Hamburg? And the answer was: There is no delay shown in the schedule. I knew that already, because the train was going to start in Kiel. So the system will only show a delay if it would be coming from somewhere else. If and only if the computer is a clever piece of machinery, it would show a delay, if the preceding run of that particular train was late in a way that it would affect its journey back, but that was of course not the case. So after some additional questioning about the potential delay I got a guessed number of approximately 10 minutes because of the track maintenance. My personal experience, trains from Kiel to Hamburg have a delay of 10 minutes all the time. Therefore, I assumes 20 minutes. Still enough to get the sleeper train, even if they play the “today on another platform game”. They didn’t! I was surprised. And we really were only 10 minutes late in Hamburg. The sleeper train was scheduled to leave Hamburg at 20:27, but finally it left 20:36 enough time to check into my cabin.

The cabin was quite nice for a train cabin. The only missing piece is a desk, but who needs a desk if you have a netbook. Now I am sitting on my bed writing these lines and I am looking forward to meet my spouse tomorrow. In Paris! Linguistically this is definitely the most romantic constellation possible.

Hamburg Main Station

Recently, I went by train to Hamburg, I do this quite often, but this time I am on holiday and so I had the time to take some notes on the inadequacy of its signs and other ways to communicate.

First, it is almost impossible to find the section labels. In Germany they are labeled with uppercase letters, like A, B, C, D, E and F. In Hamburg most of these signs are either not visible due to concrete columns or they are behind other signs or pieces of installation. It would be much easier to a) draw them on the ground and b) place the signs next to signs showing which train will stop next on the platform.

Second, you cannot see a clock from every position, which sucks. And the you cannot understand the announcements. In addition, when my train was announced on the electronic display for the platform, the destination shown was Zürich HB. I wanted to go to Paris! Not Zürich for god sake. The displayed train number was 479. My ticket showed the number 40479. As I am a most clever man, I already consulted the car position indicator and found out the my train has multiple numbers and the one on my ticket was the number of the train part going to Paris. Still, a lot of people got confused. Therefore, I propose to display all destinations on the sign including all numbers. I know that this is possible. They did something similar in Hanover. And as they use most likely the same technology in both train stations, this should be easy to fix.