Here comes the Javelin: High speed rail transit arrives in the U.K.

Written by admin on June 29, 2009 – 5:22 pm -

On June 29th, passengers in the UK will be able to ride their first high-speed train, which has been dubbed the Javelin. The fleet of 29 Japanese-built trains will travel at 140 miles per hour.

People are celebrating its launch since this new rail service will ferry passengers between London and southeast England at twice the speed of regular trains. This is part of a program to improve rail travel prior to 2012 Olympic Games that are going to be held in London.

The service will originate at the St. Pancras Station in London and will have three stops: Stratford (in east London), Ebbsfleet and Ashford in Kent. The Stratford station is near the site of the as-yet-unfinished Olympic stadium.

The International Eurostar train terminal is located in Ashford. In addition, Ashford is the area’s transit hub for tourist destinations such as Canterbury, Dover and Sandwich.

The company that has the rail contract has decided not to offer mobile refreshment carts. It fears passengers wouldn’t have enough time to purchase and eat their snacks before arriving at their destination.

The trains, plus the newly installed rail tracks, will cut the travel time between London and parts of the UK by more than half. Areas such as East Kent are experiencing a dramatic real estate booms because they’ll now be commuter accessible by people who work in central London.

Lord Adonis, the UK Transport Secretary, said that the launch of the Javelin represents a “seminal moment” for the UK, which now joins the ranks of countries that have high-speed trains, including France, Germany and Japan.

Adonis hopes the success of the new service will spur the development of a second high-speed line between London and the West Midlands and the north of England. All the high-speed trains, both current and future, are intended to facilitate transit and jump start economic development in the areas they serve.

Tourist officials hope that the faster trains will entice people to explore more parts of England than London and its outskirts.

France’s extensive TGV system has been a catalyst in the country’s development in addition to its economic growth. For example, many people have purchased primary residences in the Loire Valley, since it only take 58 minutes to commute between Tours and the Gare Montparnasse in the 14th arrondisement, a central connecting point for Paris’s metro system.

If you’re  planning to come to the UK for the Olympics, will you prolong your trip in order to visit parts of the country that were previously accessible only by slow train or by car? Not everyone likes driving “on the wrong side of the road.”

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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The State Department is warning about what?

Written by admin on January 2, 2009 – 12:25 pm -

Give me a break! Today, the US State Department issued a travel advisory warning Americans about potential crimes exploding in the UK. Tourists going to London could be victims of muggings, ATM scams and possible rapes by unlicensed cab drivers. Visitors should be on their guard.

The State Department’s UK advisory included, ”Despite the excellent overall safety record, British trains have poor track conditions, which have resulted in some train derailments and have caused some fatalities.”

Tourists can be easy victims of petty crimes if they’re not careful and have that vulnerable or lost look. And as economies are hurting, expect increased crime wherever.

New York City banks are being robbed with greater frequency. Does this require a travel advisory? As Willy Sutton allegedly responded when asked why he robbed banks, ”Because that’s where the money is.”

Perhaps it’s been a slow holiday season in the Nation’s Capital for those condemned to work. But wait a minute.

Here’s another alert: The State Department strongly recommends that American citizens “refrain from all travel to the Gaza strip and that people currently in Gaza depart immediately.” This recommendation has been in effect since the deadly roadside bombing of a U.S. Embassy convoy in Gaza in October 2003. It applies to all Americans, including journalists and aid workers. ”No official travel is permitted inside the Gaza Strip at this time.”

Now that makes more sense to me because of the on-going bombings in Israel.

There’s something called being prepared and being prepared. Always use big city smarts. However, some places are more volatile than others. Travelers should keep things in perspective. London isn’t high on my “do not go” list. Is it on yours?

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis

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