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die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and London Midland commuting, part two

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Part one

London Midland commuter train at Bletchley

On 4 February 2014 the Financial Times published a story setting out the government’s plans to relaunch the HS2 rail project (paywall).

[“HS2 relaunch to focus on benefits to commuters”, George Parker, Mark Odell and Andrew Bounds, FT, 4 Feb 2014]

The HS2 high speed rail project will be relaunched next month, with a public relations offensive highlighting benefits to commuters and the north of the UK.

There are also plans to cut the £50bn price tag by speeding up construction work.

Ministers have backed a new sales pitch for HS2, abandoning a previous emphasis on intercity speed and focusing instead on the role of the line in cutting overcrowding on commuter routes.

The recent rebranding of the project as the “north-south railway” will also be accompanied by a much sharper focus on the project as part of general rail improvements to connect northern cities.

Of course, HS2 would not connect any Northern cities to each other (unless Meadowhall counts as a city, in which case it would connect Leeds and ‘Sheffield’). And so far, there is no sign of ‘cutting the £50bn price tag’ by speeding up construction work (or by any other means).

But what of “the role of the line in cutting overcrowding on commuter routes”?

On the evidence available, the overall long term commuter benefits of HS2 would be negligible. And during the HS2 construction phase, there is a strong likelihood of negative impacts on commuting on the West Coast Main Line, because of the massive disruption from rebuilding Euston station.

The available evidence suggests that HS2 would not provide benefits for for most Euston commuters

Diagram 1. Commuters to London using the stations on the section of line shown in red would not benefit from HS2 ‘released capacity’

All the available evidence suggests that HS2 would not provide benefits for most Euston commuters. Only those travelling from Leighton Buzzard, and beyond, into London would be advantaged by HS2 released capacity.

Construction of a chord allowing Bletchley trains to reach St Pancras would provide similar commuter capacity, at a much lower cost than HS2

Diagram 2. Between Milton Keynes and London, commuter stations on the section of line coloured in green would be the only ones benefiting from HS2 released capacity. But construction of a chord (dotted line on diagram) allowing Bletchley trains to reach St Pancras would provide much the same commuter capacity, at a tiny fraction of the cost of HS2

A far cheaper way of achieving the same capacity for Milton Keynes commuters would be to connect the city to the Midland Main Line by means of a new chord (see Diagram 2 above).

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Written by beleben

January 15, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. After a life-time in the Construction Industry I am intrigued by the concept of cutting costs by working faster.

    Basically, there are five ways of “working faster”:
    1. Smart design – this can result in a shorter time on site, but is usually more expensive to design and construct
    2. Working from both ends – saves time but not money because the same number of hours are needed to do the same amount of work
    3. Working longer hours, may not save money because of the need to pay over-time; in the long term becomes counter-productive as the labour force gets tired.
    4. Working double shifts, may not save money because of the need for premium payments; can be unproductive if the shifts are not properly co-ordinated.
    5. Reduce the scope of the works and /or the specification – doing less is usually both cheaper and quicker.

    It is also the case that some things take as long as they take e.g. a TBM can only go so fast, concrete cures at a set rate, many tests ahave a specified duration. In addition, some activities can only be carried out at certain time of the year, e.g. excavation / consolidation of certain types of earth.

    strawbrick

    January 16, 2015 at 10:47 am

  2. […] Part one | Part two […]


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