die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 to Scotland

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The Scotsman reported that extension of the North West England (i.e. Manchester) leg of the HS2 railway to Glasgow and Edinburgh has been estimated to cost £15,200,000,000 (with Scotland responsible for about half). This would bring the cost of HS2 close to £50 billion altogether.

A new build high speed line running all the way from London to Scotland could produce time savings; from central London to central Edinburgh, the HS2 trip could take less than the air journey, even though its ‘in-the-aeroplane’ duration is perhaps less than 90 minutes. (By contrast, HS2 does not produce any notable improvement in door-to-door journey times between most cities within England, and for towns not directly served, journey times are fairly likely to increase.)

Are there any Caledonian elephants in the room? Just a few. Firstly, the number of people travelling between England and the central belt of Scotland isn’t particularly large. So there’s likely to be some very red numbers in a high speed rail economic analysis.

Secondly, there are already two railways from England to Glasgow, and one railway from England to Edinburgh, all underused. Rail traffic densities on the West Coast (WCML) and East Coast Main Lines (ECML) fall away north of Lancashire and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, so there’s not much of a capacity case for more cross-border track.

Thirdly, the existing rail services on both the WCML and ECML are reasonably fast now, and could be speeded up further. The timing improvements would depend on the particular infrastructure interventions.

Another way of improving Anglo-Scottish rail journeys is to increase their frequency, thereby reducing generalised journey times. This would seem to be possible on both the East and West Coast routes.

Written by beleben

September 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

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