Sunday, February 12, 2006


Getting there from here

To travel from Haguenau to Lille, one can drive. According to the itinerary engine at

One should then add parking fees for the time one stays in Lille, say three days (72 hours) at 1.20 EUR/hour-- 86.40 EUR. The total cash cost (not counting vehicle wear) thus approaches 120 EUR. Car parks cost nearly as much as a budget hotel room, yet the car doesn't get to use the bathroom, have clean sheets and TV to watch, nor even have a closed and locked door to guarantee it privacy.

An alternative is to take the train. For an adult without any special discounts:

While the total travel time is significantly greater by train, the time one isn't sitting comfortably reading or napping is much less than the time one would have spent in the driver's seat: less than two hours spent carrying luggage or waiting in an uncomfortable station. In other words, if one likes to sit and read and nap anyway, one only loses two hours travelling by rail, versus over five hours driving.

Were three people travelling rather than just one, six people-hours would be lost making connections, and the cash cost would be 228 EUR, well over the 127 EUR by car, making driving preferable on both criteria. With two travelers, connections cost four people-hours, and tickets cost 152 EUR; a person-hour is saved at a cash cost of 25 EUR.

This is a multi-objective or multi-criteria decision. For three travelers, driving dominates train on both criteria (time wasted and cash outlay), whereas for a single traveler train dominates rail (unless there are other criteria, such as total travel time, or avoiding spending time in chilly stations and carrying luggage).

At the ROADEF congress in Lille last week, nine papers considering aspects of such problems were presented.

Driving, there is the risk of an accident, and of vehicle break-down, not to mention slow and dangerous roads at this time of year (snow and ice). In the train, there is the risk of missing connections if one train is delayed. Last Sunday, the Strasbourg-Paris train was 45 minutes late due to a suicide attempt on its track near Chalons-en-Champagne. The total travel time increased by one hour, and one had no reserved seat on the Paris-Lille leg. End of ramble.


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