Mark Smith and Simon Calder are having a race today. Mark is taking the new Lumo train from London to Edinburgh, and Simon is racing him – on a flight. It’s a bit of fun, but with a serious purpose – as passengers often underestimate the time it takes them to get to/from the airport, they assume the plane is faster than a train that – while its total trip time might be longer – it nevertheless has a shorter total journey time as it goes from city centre to city centre.
So here’s an idea to replicate Mark vs. Simon in Germany – let’s call it #ZugGegenFlug – or train against plane.
While there is no new train operator in Germany, Deutsche Bahn is nevertheless stepping up its long distance ICE services this autumn to better compete with air connections. So how about a kind of race to test how well the train does?
It’d work on these routes:
Berlin – München (fastest train: 3:56 – train should win this one)
Berlin – Frankfurt (Main) (fastest train: 3:52 – train should win this one)
Berlin – Bonn (fastest train: 4:43 – this one will be tight)
Hamburg – München (fastest train: 5:37 – plane should win this one)
Hamburg – Frankfurt (Main) (fastest train: 3:21 – train should win this one)
(I am open to adding some more – perhaps also to/from Stuttgart, or perhaps also Düsseldorf – München too? Düsseldorf-München train is 4:12)
And if we wanted to expand it internationally we could also include
München – Zürich (fastest train: 3:32 – train should win this one)
München – Wien (fastest train: 4:07 – this one will be tight)
Frankfurt (Main) – Paris (fastest train: 3:42 – train should win this one)
Frankfurt (Main) – Bruxelles (fastest train: 3:07 – train should win this one easily, but might be unreliable!)
Frankfurt (Main) – Amsterdam (fastest train: 4:25 – this one will be tight)
Hamburg – København (fastest train: 4:37 – this one will be tight)
All the routes would be done on the same day, with a pair of travellers setting out in the morning – one with the train, the other with the plane – and to then meet up at their destination. In the afternoon the return trip would be reversed – the person who took the train in the morning would take the plane in the afternoon.
All participants would have mobile phones with GPS tracking (for when on the ground and in trains), and FlightRadar24 could be used to track the planes. Participants can walk or use public transport (bus, tram, metro or local trains) to and from the main stations. Each would document their experiences as they went along, and trips would then all be followed using the tag on Twitter.
We’d need some budget to be able to do this – even were the participants to be able to give up their time for free, we cannot expect them to foot the cost of the tickets. Could organisations like VCD or Allianz Pro Schiene perhaps step in to provide this budget? Or maybe a media group that would be interested in telling the story?
There could also be a ticketing aspect to the whole thing – to find out who paid what for the tickets if these were booked a number of weeks ahead.
Some reflection would be needed as to the starting and ending points – would the participants start from their homes in their respective cities, and then get to set destinations (like Marienplatz in München, Römer in Frankfurt, Brandenburger Tor in Berlin)? Or would it be fairer to make it city centre to city centre for each one? Likewise would the participants be responsible for choosing their routes, or would that be stipulated for them? Those points would need to be cleared up.
So what do you think? At the very least it would be an interesting experiment I think!