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Seeing through the HS2 ruse

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According to HS2 Ltd spokesman Ben Ruse, “we must be clear that HS2 will yield hugely significant benefits while addressing the cripplingly strained transport network. Those that oppose HS2 are risking the very future of the country.”

The idea that people that oppose HS2 ‘are risking the very future of the country’ is nonsense. HS2 is a political project that benefits special interests, not the national interest. There is no transport need for HS2, and in cost benefit terms, far better investment options are available.

On other intercity routes, faster journeys and more seats are being provided by modernisation based around the existing infrastructure. On 18 July 2013 transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin confirmed a £1.2 billion order for 270 “state of the art” IEP intercity carriages for the East Coast Main Line, to be “manufactured in Britain” by Hitachi Rail Europe.

Even though the IEP design is not particularly ‘state of the art’, it provides a fairly large seating increase. Most of the capacity increase comes from not having engines above floor level (as in the Class 43 InterCity125) and using longer carriages (reducing the total vestibule area).

On journeys such as Edinburgh — London, the journey time improvement with IEP is lower than would have been the case with tilting trains. The press release gave figures for the predicted average reductions in ‘typical’ journey times (in minutes) on East Coast and Great Western delivered by a combination of “revised timetabling and increased performance” of the IEP (‘Class 800’) trains.

East Coast,
from / to Kings Cross
Year 2013 With IEP Saving
Peterborough 45 43 2
Doncaster 96 92 4
Leeds 132 126 6
York 113 104 9
Newcastle 172 155 17
Edinburgh 263 245 18
Great Western, from / to Paddington
Reading 25 23 2
Oxford 58 53 5
Worcester Shrub Hill 139 120 19
Cheltenham Spa 135 112 23
Bristol Parkway 81 71 10
Bath Spa 87 79 8
Bristol Temple Meads 105 83 22
Cardiff 121 104 17
Swansea 178 159 19

The IEP journey time reduction to Bristol (the busiest non-London destination on Great Western) of 22 minutes, is about the same as that from the destructive and very costly (£20 billion) HS2 from London to Birmingham. The Curzon Street HS2 station is at least ten minutes further away from Birmingham’s civic quarter (Victoria Square) than New Street station.

Even with the non-tilting IEPs, the London — Edinburgh train time is shown as reduced by 18 minutes, to 4 hours 5 minutes. The gains from further reducing the journey time by spending £50,000,000,000 on the Y network, cannot be justified, because of the low demand.

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Written by beleben

November 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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2 Responses

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  1. “The IEP journey time reduction to Bristol (the busiest non-London destination on Great Western) of 22 minutes, is about the same as that from the destructive and very costly (£20 billion) HS2 from London to Birmingham.”

    What possible relevance has that to HS2? The GWML upgrade will produce extra seats and shorter journey times through electrification and new, longer electric multiple units – the WCML benefitted from the former over half a century ago, and has had the latter for over a decade. Like the WCML, the Great Western will also have little spare capacity left once the upgrade is completed and will likely require another pair of tracks too in due course.

    “The gains from further reducing the journey time by spending £50,000,000,000 on the Y network, cannot be justified, because of the low demand.”

    You don’t need to worry then, as the benefits from reducing the journey time to Edinburgh are a but a fraction of the overall gain from HS2.

    Chris

    December 1, 2013 at 2:43 am

    • What possible relevance has that to HS2? The GWML upgrade will produce extra seats and shorter journey times through electrification and new, longer electric multiple units – the WCML benefitted from the former over half a century ago, and has had the latter for over a decade.

      The relevance is that on GW, capacity and speed improvements are being implemented without smashing up the countryside. There’s no reason not to pursue a similar strategy on the West Coast route.

      Like the WCML, the Great Western will also have little spare capacity left once the upgrade is completed and will likely require another pair of tracks too in due course.

      You’ve no evidence to support your assertion.

      beleben

      December 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm


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