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Costing the Whitacre Link

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The HS2 project has given rise to a number of outlandish schemes backed by their own special interest groups, such as ‘Euston Cross‘, ‘Crewe parkway‘, ‘Leigh interchange‘, ‘Birmingham cable car‘, and the ‘Whitacre Link‘. In their ‘Whitacre_Link v2‘ document, Alan Marshall and Michael Byng stated the estimated total cost of works for the Link was “£241,156,562.00 at the prices prevailing in the second quarter of 2013”.

However, they listed the ‘Physical and operational requirements for a reinstated Stonebridge Railway/Whitacre Link’ as follows.

The most significant engineering requirements (which are the subject of Michael Byng’s report […]) are likely to be:

■ grade-separated junctions at Hampton-in-Arden towards Middle Bickenhill and from Middle Bickenhill towards Birmingham International (where two additional platforms could be provided); also at Whitacre (from both Coleshill and Kingsbury towards Middle Bickenhill, and from Middle Bickenhill towards Nuneaton);

■ a bridge over the M6 and M6 Toll Link Motorways;

■ an appropriate station, comprising at least four platforms (six, if additional platforms at the present
International station are not provided), including turn-back capability, adjacent to the HS2 Interchange
station;

■ a passenger-handling facility for passengers using international train services via HS2/HS1/Eurotunnel, and airline passengers transferring to Birmingham Airport

■ a secure people-mover system (with associated luggage transfer system) to carry airline passengers from the Interchange station to secured areas of Birmingham Airport.

■ it is also assumed that 4-tracking would be undertaken towards Coventry.

The restored line and its junctions need to be designed to the highest standards, including modular signaling and provision for full 25kV ac electrification. A maximum line speed of 160km/h (100mph) for passenger trains and 120km/h (75mph) for freight trains is envisaged and design standards would be similar to those now being adopted for development of the East West Railway between Oxford and Bedford an example of low productivity consumption of rail capacity.

There is no indication of what service pattern would operate, and no way of knowing of how dependent the scheme is on other unfunded investments (such as Coventry four-tracking). In the view of the Beleben blog, the total costs would be far higher than £241 million, and the attraction of the scheme for Chinese investors is something of a mystery.

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Ben Ruse’s Chinese counterpart: railway ministry spokesman Wang Yongping

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Written by beleben

January 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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