One of the long-held principles for encouraging the use of public transport is to minimise the number of interchanges, but in Luxembourg they can afford to do things differently.
When the aim is to ferry people in a more planet-preserving fashion to the mega-offices of the European parliament – that in political eagerness and without a great deal of environmental foresight were placed on top of a plateau on the opposite side of a deep ravine – it seems no money, and no opportunity for interchange, is spared.
In a moment of comparative and unusual spontaneity – taking only six years from conception to operation – a new railway station of substantial proportions has been opened on the precipitous ravine slope of the Pfaaffenthal valley, a pair of funicular tracks have been sliced through what remains of the hill flank, and a new tram has been popped on top to speed the traveler to their glass walled edifice on the wide but aimless Avenue John Fitzgerald Kennedy. And while the opportunities to protect one of the more pleasant parts of the planet appear to have been largely overlooked, the many opportunities for interchange that the journey involves are actually quite enjoyable.
There is a moderately funfair feel to this journey that makes the experience rather entertaining – different ways to move from one place to another, a lot of light and cleanliness on the way, acres of well-crafted simplicity, and elevated views to die for. Yes, there is a lot of interchange in a very short journey but, after a hard day maintaining some of the less exotic aspects of Europe, the experience may come as a welcome distraction of movement and variety.
The question this poses is whether interchange is really such a restriction to use or whether, if the experience, ambience and quality of the journey were more highly prized by those who provide our infrastructure, some of the more complex elements of fully integrated systems could simply be avoided.