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<   No. 1089   2006-01-19   >

Comic #1089

1 [caption]: Kiev Station, Moscow
1 Haken: {pointing a gun at Monty and company, on the train platform} So, Herr Doktor Jones, we meet again. Again.
2 Monty: Yes. And this time, the advantage is mine!
3 Haken: No, this time it is mine!
4 Monty: You claimed it was yours last time!
4 Haken: Ach!
4 Erwin: Can I have a go?

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Confusingly enough, the railway station in Moscow at which trains from the south arrive is called Kiev Station. I've bumped the plot along a little here, assuming Colonel Haken would be waiting for the first possible train on which anyone could arrive from Athens.

And since I know people will go looking for it, the last time Colonel Haken bumped into Monty and the gang was in #856.


2015-04-22 Rerun commentary: Several European cities have the curious feature that long distance trains depart from (and arrive at) different stations, in different parts of the city, depending on the direction the trains are going to (or coming from). Paris for example, has a mind-boggling seven long-distance rail terminuses: It kind of makes the petty one long-distance station in my city look dull by comparison.

EDIT: Reader Alec C. writes:

The reason for multiple railway stations is because the cities were there before the railways. The railways pushed in from the outskirts until they reached the parts where rich people lived. It was OK to eject poor people, but not rich people. So European cities have a ring of railway termini marking the area where rich people lived in about 1850. London has the same pattern, except that since there isn't much of England to the South and East, they are not long haul stations. I would guess that the area of Sydney (pop. 35000 in 1840) occupied by rich people in 1850 was quite small, and the city grew up with the railways already embedded.
EDIT: Now we've done it... Rudi N. writes in partial rebuttal:
My PhD was in early Victorian railway socio-economics, and while it is perfectly true that lines terminated as close to city centres as possible, it should be noted that this was less a case of "the rich" as a collective (naturally with exceptions) and more on individual landowners. Euston Station, for example, was permitted in its as-built position, but only initially by using a cableway rather than steam locomotives. This landowner control was equally the case along their length; some actively opposed while others built their own(!), but this diminished substantially with compulsory purchase powers towards the later Victorian period. Marylebone Station, as another example, is a lot closer to central London than its late construction date (1899) would elsewise suggest by comparison.

More pertinently, the statement that "since there isn't much of England to the South and East, they are not long haul stations" is grossly incorrect. While by modern standards they are not as substantial as, for example, London-Edinburgh - which I should note was made up of multiple different companies connecting their tracks together - the lines that were built in this region were of great importance. Presenting but brief case studies: Brunel's Great Western Railway (originally built to a different gauge; another factor in an independent station) not only remained the premier London-south west line, retaining its name even to this day, but was intended to link up to his ships so extending the railway to New York. The London & South Western Railway (not to mention the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, South Eastern Railway and South Eastern and Chatham Railway - all collectively becoming the major "Southern Railway" company) additionally connected London and Southampton (physically building the Edwardian docks), thereby providing another fundamental link (while the others connected to Dover, boat trains et al). With these continental and freight port connections, plainly they were longer-haul than they have been given credit for when considered in the era they were built.
EDIT: Matteo R. adds:
A notable exception to this is the city of Brussels, where in the mid-20th century a new railway backbone was built that connected the city's three main stations (north, centre and south). This implied razing a consistent portion of the city centre, with the corresponding loss of historical buildings. The memory of the project is still controversial today, as some consider it was a necessary evil to improve the city's infrastructure while others lament the wanton destruction of whole city blocks and their history. In many ways, it is reminiscent of Haussmann's renovation of Paris.

The wikipedia page in English is quite short on the subject, but it you can read French, the French language version is much more detailed.

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