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The Northern Wray

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A second megacity formed by linking Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, is achievable with the right investment in transport infrastructure (wrote University of Liverpool geographer Professor Ian Wray on The Conversation, 30 June 2014).

[Ian Wray]

Higher speed rail connections between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds (and perhaps Sheffield) could reduce the Liverpool – Leeds journey time to only 50 minutes, bringing together the cities’ labour markets, generating critical mass and driving the creation of agglomeration economies from bringing the cities closer together.

[…] Peter Hall, David Thrower and I set out detailed proposals for “High Speed North” in April 2014, building on the extremely modest Northern Hub investment and electrification between Liverpool and Leeds which is already committed or in progress.

These began with the introduction of the Pendolino “tilting trains”, required to cope with the steep gradients and sharp curves on the trans-Pennine route. It also included a reintroduction of four-tracking – a railway dual carriageway, with two tracks travelling in each direction – to provide greater capacity and allow fast trains to overtake slower services. The proposals also called for local trains in Manchester to be rerouted onto new sections of the Metrolink tram system.

For later stages of the project, we proposed a new 20-mile route from Warrington to Liverpool, which would become part of the High Speed North network and a vital high speed connection from HS2 to the centre of Liverpool, increasing capacity on an increasingly busy passenger and freight route. And finally, a new 13-mile [21 km] “base tunnel” under the Pennines from Manchester to Huddersfield – startling as it may sound, new rail tunnels are not uncommon in other countries such as Germany.

The evidence we have seen on comparable tunnels suggests a range of construction costs between £1.5 and £4 billion. London’s Crossrail, which is of similar length, has cost £16 billion.

The ‘problem’ with improving the existing Standedge railway is that it would further weaken the case for tunnelling a new build “HS3” under the Pennines. This is similar to the Glasgow / Edinburgh situation, where the full EGIP upgrade of classic lines wipes out any benefit from building a new high speed line between the two cities. However, building a new high speed line is Scottish government policy, so in 2012 EGIP was butchered to protect the political vision.

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Written by beleben

August 5, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

2 Responses

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  1. Much of what was dropped from EGIP was due to the two Anniesland paths not being able to be removed from Queen Street HL, thus preventing the E&G shuttle from going from 4 to 6tph and meaning that there would be little gain from investment in turnbacks and grade-separation. Similar problems will arise anywhere else that important regional/InterCity services have to share stations and track with local services; upgrading one might depend upon ruining another and no one wants to make any rail services that much worse, anywhere. This will become especially difficult once the extra capacity from these upgrades has been used up as to get another large capacity boost would require considerably more investment than the last – the law of diminishing returns in action. Over the long term it therefore makes perfect sense to consider investing in much larger projects with far greater returns. On the London Underground that means building Crossrail rather than spending many millions of pounds squeezing in only a few extra percent capacity on existing lines. It’s certainly unarguable that it is better to sensibly look ahead into the future to see what is needed for decades ahead rather than simply acting reactively to what is already happening, and thus making the wrong decisions for the long term interests of the economy, the taxpayer and the passenger.

    CautiousObserver

    August 8, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    • Much of what was dropped from EGIP was due to the two Anniesland paths not being able to be removed from Queen Street HL, thus preventing the E&G shuttle from going from 4 to 6tph and meaning that there would be little gain from investment in turnbacks and grade-separation.

      Pre-descope, EGIP had an assessed benefit cost-ratio of 1.3.

      The butchered EGIP has an assessed benefit-cost of 0.7.

      beleben

      August 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm


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