die belebende Bedenkung

The mirage that is HS2

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Leicester’s city mayor Peter Soulsby has called on the government to get its priorities right and scrap plans for HS2 and continue with its planned investment in the Midland Mainline, the Leicester Mercury reported.

[Sidelining of £800m rail electrification labelled catastrophic by Leicestershire councils, Leicester Mercury, June 25, 2015]

[Peter Soulsby:] “It would reduce journey times, increase capacity and take polluting diesel trains out of the hearts of our cities. Paying for it would cost comparatively small change, and if the government can’t control the relatively small costs of electrification, how can we have any confidence it its ability to control the estimated £42 billion cost of HS2?”

Nick Rushton, Leader of Leicestershire County Council said: “The investment in the Midland Mainline would have a major, positive impact on Leicestershire, for a much lower cost. With HS2 it is all pain, for no gain. It’s a bloody stupid decision.”

East Midlands Trains diesel trainset at St Pancras (Beleben)With government policy focused on “protéger l’éléphant”, there would seem to be little chance of reviving the Midland electrification, unless Yorkshire and East Midlands councils came together to make a coherent case for stopping the diversion of resources from the classic network to HS2.

But there seems little chance of that happening; in South Yorkshire, councils remain preoccupied with bickering about where to locate the HS2 station, rather than the existing railway.

While modernisation of the Midland is a much better prospect than HS2, there is a need for analysis and re-scoping to make the investment work better. Connections into the West Coast Main Line at Watford and Northampton would vastly improve the network value of the Midland route, and bolster the case for investment.

Connections into the West Coast Main Line at Watford and Northampton would improve the network value of the Midland route

Written by beleben

June 26, 2015 at 11:07 am

Posted in HS2

2 Responses

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  1. It is not clear from your plan that part of the route follows a disused railway line through Park Street. I don’t know how much of a challenge it would be to try and reinstate that route but Google Maps appears to show that another option might be to go to the south of the M25 and then dive under the A5183 Radlett Road and the M25 in a short tunnel. Yes it would be more expensive but costs and impact would be absolutely trivial compared with even the least contentious parts of HS2. Either route would provide a link between WCML south and MML north but there should also be a link from WCML north to MML south.

    An link from Milton Keynes to Harlington, north of Luton, could provide such a route. It could act as a diversionary route for the south end of WCML providing resilience and facilitating works on it south of MK. It would also enable Thameslink trains to serve Milton Keynes. Commuter demand on WCML south of MK is one of the very few reasons put forward for HS2 that might have any credibility. There appear to be two options: 11 miles of new track between Fenny Stratford near MK to Toddington passing to the south of Woburn or an even shorter (8 miles) but less direct link from Aspley Guise to Harlington, mostly alongside the M1. It would certainly make sense to build such a link before starting any major works at Euston.

    Add another 14 miles or so of track and you could join the MML near Toddington to the ECML north of Stevenage. This would allow an onward connection via existing track to Cambridge via Hitchin. An East-West Link (Oxford to Cambridge) could therefore be achieved by constructing about 25 miles of new track. It seems to offer far more benefits compared to any much more expensive route via Bedford.

    Even more resilience required? Then add another 6 miles of track between Hatfield (ECML) to Harpenden (MML). Joining the main lines further out would reduce the number of journey via London terminals.


    June 26, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    • As your comment suggests, there is a range of viable options for better networking of the main lines north of London. One of the topics favoured by the HS2 lobby is the maintainability of the 133 km of West Coast between Euston and Rugby. The particular advantage of a Watford Junction – St Albans – Bedford – Northampton routeing option would lie in the ability to schedule safe and efficient possessions on the main line north of Watford. Apparently, the Watford link into St Albans City existed briefly during the last years of the 19th century.


      June 26, 2015 at 2:21 pm

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