die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 is about speed, not capacity

with 3 comments

According an article by Karl West in the Sunday Times

Tim O’Toole, chief executive of First Group, the quoted bus and train operator, believes the government’s push for a second high-speed line is driven more by the need to add railway capacity than the desire to shave 35 minutes off the journey between London and Birmingham.


The HS2 Ltd economic case is absolutely not based on capacity. It’s based on speed.

Take out the environmentally unsustainable maximum speed, and the so-called HS2 benefit cost ratio (BCR) goes headlong down a mountain:

HS2 Ltd, High level assessment of the impact of journey times on the economic case

It’s fairly obvious that the economic assessment of HS2 was rigged to produce ‘evidence’ to support a 350 km/h railway with very few stops. However, if one accepts the HS2 Ltd analysis, some unfortunate (and no doubt unintended) conclusions follow:

  1. On the HS2 Ltd reasoning, most (if not all) of the high speed lines in France, Germany, and Spain would **not** have been built.
  2. The graph of speed and benefits is approximately linear, **suggesting that even faster speeds would produce a higher BCR**. Which would suggest building a 500 km/h maglev system, not HS2.

Obviously maglev is just as barmy as HS2, and the Transrapid variant has been rejected even in its country of origin. But the speed-based economic case used to prop up HS2 seems to point towards building maglev, rather than wheel on rail.

Written by beleben

October 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] tunnels for HS2E would cost billions, but even if they were ‘free’, the whole-line benefit-cost ratio would fall to 1.31 (with a 5 minutes longer journey) or 1.07 (with a 10 minutes longer journey), on HS2 Ltd […]

  2. […] capacity uplift, HS2 Ltd’s diagram of benefit-cost ratio against journey time for the London – Birmingham relation indicated a BCR falling below 1.0, if trains took 61 minutes or […]

  3. […] Part one | Part two […]

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