French rail operator experiments with temperature terminals at Paris train station | AFP

France’s state-owned rail operator SNCF is experimenting with a system to measure the temperature of passengers before they board high-speed trains. The first tests are being carried out at Gare de Lyon in Paris with five “Health Terminals” installed on the platform, available for tests on a voluntary basis.

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French TGV train derails on Strasbourg-Paris line, emergency services at the site | AFP

A high-speed TGV train locomotive derailed early this morning while travelling from the eastern French city of Strasbourg to Paris, injuring the driver, national rail operator SNCF said. Images of rescue workers at the site of the accident near Vendenheim, around 15 kilometres (9 miles) north of Strasbourg. IMAGES

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French rail strikes take toll on Paris’s Gare du Nord station | AFP

Stranded passengers wait for trains at Gare du Nord station in Paris, where SNCF traffic remains disrupted on the 25th day of a strike against pension reform, with an average of six out of ten high speed TGV trains running. IMAGES

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23rd day of transport strike in France, images from Gare Montparnasse station | AFP

SNCF and RATP traffic remains severely disrupted on the 23rd day of a strike against the French government’s pension reform, with an average of six out of ten TGV (high speed trains) running, despite a significant improvement on the RER A and RER B network. Images from Gare Montparnasse station. IMAGES

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French strikers organise Christmas picnic in front of train station | AFP

Dozens of union-affiliated strikers organise a Christmas picnic outside the SNCF train station at Aubrais, near Orléans, on the 19th consecutive day of a nationwide strike that has crippled public transport throughout France. IMAGES

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Paris: Europe’s busiest train station still paralysed by strikes | AFP

Once again, only a handful of trains run at the Paris gare du Nord, Europe’s busiest train station, on the tenth day of public transport strikes over pension reforms. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has urged rail operator SNCF to inform travellers about its holiday schedules. IMAGES

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Amid strike, French government meets with public transport officials at Matignon | AFP

The minister for Ecological Transition, Elisabeth Borne, and Secretary of State for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebarri, arrive in Matignon, followed closely by SNCF President Jean-Pierre Farandou and RATP CEO Catherine Guillouard. The SNCF and RATP, which respectively manage the French national rail network and public transport in Paris’s Ile de France region, do not expect to give any good news to travellers concerning potential improvements for travel on Monday. France’s transport system has been crippled by the strike for two days. IMAGES

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SNCF revives the myth of the Orient-Express

Luxury rail carriages that once belonged to the “Compagnie internationale des Wagons-Lits,” which operated the legendary Orient Express, are now on display at Gare de l’Est in Paris as part of an initiative called “Long live the train.” France’s national rail company SNCF found the abandoned wagons – including a lounge car never before displayed in public -on a siding on the border between Poland and Belarus. The SNCF then repatriated them to France and meticulously restored them, a process which took several years.

Why Amtrak Is So Expensive | So Expensive

Amtrak has been operating since 1971. With high ticket costs, Amtrak has become a less viable mode of transportation. It has had a long history of financial instability since its formation. 

Following is a transcript of the video:

Narrator: Amtrak is the only passenger railroad service that operates throughout the continental US. With about 500 destinations, the service has been operating since 1971. But with high ticket costs, Amtrak is becoming a less viable mode of transportation. In fact, it’s often more expensive to take an Amtrak train from New York City to Boston than to fly. Why does the US, a country that created billionaire railroad tycoons, have such an expensive and inefficient train system?

Amtrak has had a long history of financial instability since its formation. Passenger trains used to be owned by private companies that operated freight trains. At the start of the 20th century, nearly 42 million passengers traveled by rail as their primary mode of transportation. However, by the 1940s, railroads began to become less popular as buses, planes, and cars grew in popularity. And by the 1960s, many railways, such as Penn Central and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, all discontinued most of their trains.

Passenger trains were no longer profitable, especially when the US Post Office began shipping mail by truck and air. In an attempt to rescue the service, then-president Nixon signed a law in 1970 that ensured government funding. This act created the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, which eventually became Amtrak. Of the 26 railroads offering passenger service, six declined to join Amtrak.

Although the railroad service continued, its problems with ridership and financial instability remained. Amtrak competed with other railway companies for train stations and tracks. On its first day of service, passenger trains had to be rerouted from seven train terminals in Chicago into just one. Amtrak also had to pay and maintain multiple train stations in one city due to the lack of track connections.

Throughout the early 2000s, the US government attempted to make Amtrak financially self-sufficient by trying to increase ridership and implement the Acela Express, which runs at a maximum speed of 150 mph. But their plans failed, as Amtrak still had a large sum of debt from years of underfunding. To this day, trains still have a low profit margin and rely heavily on subsidies to operate.

According to the company’s 2017 fiscal year report, Amtrak had a total revenue of $3.3 billion. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to make Amtrak profitable. It still had a total operating loss of $194 million. Many of the lines don’t make any money or are operated at a loss. To accommodate the money-losing routes, Amtrak uses profits from its popular lines, such as the Northeast Corridor. Since this is one of the most popular routes, Amtrak can charge higher prices and send those profits to other, less profitable lines.

Additionally, the USA is a very big country. It’s the fourth-largest country, with about 3.8 million square miles of land. In comparison to Japan, which is smaller than the state of California, the US requires a lot more rail to cover its land. Amtrak trains run on 21,400 miles of track, and only owns about 630 miles of it.

For example, between New Rochelle and New Haven on the Boston-New York route, the tracks are owned and operated by Metro-North Railroad. This means Amtrak needs to pay Metro-North Railroad to run their trains over these tracks, which adds extra costs to passengers’ tickets.

According to Amtrak’s company profile, it operated approximately 300 trains a day in 2017. In comparison, SNCF, the French National Railway Company, operated 14,000 trains daily. That’s 47 times more trains, serving a nation that has one-quarter of the population of the United States. France is also even smaller than the size of Texas.

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Why Amtrak Is So Expensive | So Expensive

Unions launch a consultation of French rail workers on reform

French rail workers sought to up the ante in weeks of strikes Monday, slashing the number of trains running as the government insists it will not back down in the standoff. Unions launched a consultation of the SNCF’s 147,000 staff on whether or not they back the government’s plans. IMAGES of the vote and of a general assembly