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‘More seats and more space’

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In 2007, Greengauge 21 (Jim Steer) claimed a new high speed line between London and Manchester would cost £6.6 billion, or “£11 billion with a 66% optimism bias adjustment”. Built to a larger (European) loading gauge, the tracks would allow “the operation of full-size bi-level trains offering much needed flexibility to accommodate growth, achieving a 40% (capacity) uplift when train fleets are replaced, with no associated infrastructure costs”.

Priestman Goode double deck high speed train visualisation

Before announcing the government go-ahead for the HS2 rail project in 2012, Justine Greening reportedly said she liked the ‘idea of continental-style double-decker trains that immediately give you more seats and more space’.

In fact, although double deck trains are used in many countries, there is very little use on intercity or long distance services. They tend to provide a poorer passenger environment, and less space per person, than a conventional British single deck train. Bi-level trains were used on parts of Japan’s Shinkansen network, but now appear to be on the way out.

[Inside Japan Tours, 2014]

[…] Currently, the Joetsu Shinkansen Line, which connects the nation’s capital to cities in the Niigata Prefecture, is the only line that runs trains with two levels in their cars.

“Speed will become more important as the Hokuriku Shinkansen will start operating in 2015, followed by the Hokkaido Shinkansen in 2016,” said a JR East official. “I should say that double-decker trains, which prioritised mass transport over speed, have completed their role.”

The largest user of bi-level high speed trains is France’s national railway, SNCF. It might be worth comparing the capacity of its bi-level TGV carriages with the outline specification for HS2 Ltd’s trains.

Type Length Gauge Seats
TGV Euroduplex (SNCF version) 200 metres ‘Continental’ GC 509
HS2 Classic compatible 200 metres ‘UK’ “up to” 550
HS2 Captive 200 metres ‘Continental’ GC “up to” 550

Evidently, a bi-level GC gauge TGV would appear not to offer any worthwhile space or capacity benefits over a UK gauge train. The real benefit of a larger structure gauge for new-build lines would arise from copying North American dimensions, and allowing freight (double-stack container traffic).

In effect, all the GC gauge specification does for HS2 is increase its already-ridiculous inflexibility and costs.

Written by beleben

February 8, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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