die belebende Bedenkung

An unjust division

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SDG's map of rail journeys to London, produced in 2011

HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins believes the problems Network Rail has had with electrification are “utterly different” from what HS2 has to face, the Guardian reported.

[HS2 chief hits out at ‘unjust’ division of rail assets between north and south, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 16 July 2015]

“What we’re essentially building is a new highway. You know exactly what’s [there] and you’ve got 24-hour access. Upgrading these existing assets is nightmarishly difficult.

Mr Higgins also claimed that cascading rolling stock to Northern England was unfair.

[…DH:] “I look at [railway] expenditure per head, the pass-me-down process – the offcuts from rolling stock always end up in the north. Two hours from Birmingham to Leeds on a chugger, old crappy trains on poor railway lines. We would not accept that from London to Swindon, and we don’t: we insist on a huge amount of money going into commuter services.”

HS2 will attempt to address this divide, with a first leg that runs from London to Birmingham, then a second phase linking to Manchester and Leeds. […]

Three decades of major infrastructure projects lie ahead: “HS2, Crossrail 2, HS3, the substantial investment in ground support and transport for a third runway at Heathrow, the highways programme, the National Grid, nuclear power stations.” It sounds a tall order, but Higgins insisted: “It’s going to happen. It’s not a question of will we, won’t we.”

What about the money? “These are assets – not a cost to the nation.”

Mr Higgins’ claims are largely bunkum. Cascading of rolling stock (a well-established practice) may take place for a variety of reasons. It is not unknown for old trains to be moved to new locations in the south of England. However, railways in the South East tend to carry more passengers, so in many cases it makes sense to assign a higher priority to rolling stock renewal there.

The age disparity in rolling stock between northern and southern England tends to affect regional, rather than long-distance, travel. Currently, between London and Swindon, and Birmingham and Leeds, many of the fast trains are 1970s / 1980s (diesel) HSTs.

New-build high speed rail tends to be a competitor for resources against the existing railway. In France, over-investment in the TGV has been a major factor in the decline of the classic system. In Britain, the Electric Spine, Midland, South Wales Valleys and Transpennine North electrification schemes have all been “paused” to protect HS2.

Written by beleben

July 17, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in HS2

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  1. Has the cost of Phase 2 also crept up from £20.6b to £25.5b??

    Jackie Copcutt

    July 17, 2015 at 10:30 am

    • In 2013 the House of Commons Transport Select Committee stated that “DfT’s communications about HS2 [stage one and stage two] should emphasise that the estimated cost is £28 billion, not £50 billion“. Now, HS2’s chairman appears to be saying the cost of stage two alone might be £25.5 billion.


      July 18, 2015 at 8:18 am

  2. I do not understand this obsession with “journeys to London”. It is true a lot of journeys do go from regional centres to London …..but…… it is also true that many passengers travel between intermediate stops. Such is the reason for a having an operator called “Cross Country”.
    You can jiggle the figures and jiggle the drawings to your heart´s delight but that does not change the fact that the majority of passengers wish to travel between regional cities and towns in comfort and quickly.
    Forget about this obsession with H2´s second phase and get along with upgrading the MML, the Transpennine lines and others which will bring the greater satisfaction to the greater number.


    July 20, 2015 at 6:20 pm

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