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Walking the plank

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Not long ago, the government paid engineering consultancies to redesign HS2 stations to provide dedicated facilities for European travel (for example, an additional platform was added to the Birmingham Curzon Street design).

But a key plank of the HS2 project — that passengers could board a train in Birmingham, Leeds or Manchester and travel straight through to the Continent — could be killed by HS2 chief David Higgins to save money, the Sunday Times claimed (paywall, 9 February 2014).

Proposed HS2 to HS1 link in Camden (HS2 Ltd)

Proposed HS2 to HS1 link in Camden (HS2 Ltd)

[‘High-speed link with 700yd walk’, Mark Hookham and Jack Grimston, Sunday Times, 9 February 2014]

In a new blow to the government’s £50bn HS2 scheme, passengers face having to disembark at Euston station in London before transferring to St Pancras to catch a connecting train to the continent.

The disruption caused by HS2 Ltd’s ridiculous single-track HS2-to-HS1 link would be immense, and the very low demand for rail travel between Northern cities and Europe means it would be cheaper to provide free porters, or limousines, between Euston and St Pancras. However, new high speed lines are supposed to be ‘interoperable’ with others in Europe, so the absence of a captive link to HS1 would mean that HS2 was not interoperable.

Running through services to Europe would be possible without a captive HS2-to-HS1 link, by using trains built to GB loading gauge (‘classic compatible’). In the 1990s, as part of government support for the Channel Tunnel, hundreds of millions of pounds were spent on Nightstar and Regional Eurostar trains to run between Europe and the British regions. The services never started, because it was realised they would make huge losses, and the Nightstar carriages were eventually sold to Canada for a fraction of their build cost, leaving British taxpayers out of pocket.

But the Nightstar losses are chicken feed, compared to the waste in the fundamentally flawed £50 billion HS2 project. There is unlikely ever to be any solution to

  • the unavailability of paths on the HS2 trunk between London and Bickenhill
  • the very low demand for rail travel between Northern GB cities and Europe.

Written by beleben

February 9, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London

Tagged with ,

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