The motivation for the whole #CrossBorderRail project was to assess why there had been such meagre progress fixing the 15 missing links Michael Cramer had proposed in his 2015 report. Only 1 of the 15 from Cramer’s list – Selb-Plößberg (Germany) to Aš (Czechia) – has so far been fixed.

Now, rather amazingly, I can report that 3 of the 20 projects I proposed in my own Top 20 list in 2022 have been repaired. The most recent one – that I discovered today – is Marseille-Nice-Ventimiglia-Genova.

The timetable for this one used to be like this in 2023 (click to enlarge):

A passenger would miss the 10:36 train to Ventimiglia, but taking the 11:06 meant missing the 11:57 train in Ventimiglia by 4 minutes.

This is the 2024 version (click to enlarge):

Essentially only one thing has happened – the timetables for the Nice – Ventimiglia trains have been changed, meaning everything now joins up. Times for Marseille – Nice have changed a little (the trip has been shortened 5 minutes) and for Ventimiglia – Genova remain unchanged. Someone, somewhere, French side has done some thinking – either within SNCF or more likely within PACA – to solve the problem. It works similarly in the opposite direction as well.

This builds on the other two of the Top 20 projects that are also now solved – Seifhennersdorf-Varnsdorf re-opened in June 2023 (I was there for the opening party) and Marijampolė-Suwałki (a daily InterCity train was introduced in December 2022).

What role did my work have in solving these issues? Probably not very much, honestly, although taking New York Times to Seifhennersdorf probably did not hurt. And I raised the Ventimiglia issue with senior Italian rail executives in 2022. The recipe here I think is to look for the issues that are eminently solvable – as this example shows, changing the time of one train between Nice and Ventimiglia solves the problem. No extra trains or extra money needed. The projects I have in my Top 20 are simpler to fix than Cramer’s are.

And now it’s high time for me to write up a Top 20 of the places I visited in 2023 as well!


Image used in this post

Albert Koch
August 23, 2018
CC BY-ND 2.0

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