die belebende Bedenkung

Twentieth century infrastructure limitations

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Was the road overbridge at the western end of Coventry’s railway station — an obstacle to extending the platforms — there in 1860? In many places in Britain, the difficulty in “upgrading Victorian rail infrastructure” is actually a difficulty created by post-Victorian planning decisions. When Coventry station was rebuilt in the 1960s, the opportunity to include provision for increased capacity was missed.

When Birmingham’s Snow Hill station was rebuilt and reopened in the 1980s, much of the old footprint was lost in the new design. The capability of the 1987 Snow Hill is impaired, because of its diminished surface area (and the lack of rail access to Wolverhampton and the north of England). Its capacity limitations are largely a product of decisions taken in the period 1960 — 1990, rather than the Victorian era.

In London, the capacity shortcomings of St Pancras station are largely a result of flawed thinking in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, just four platforms are available to accommodate long distance traffic from the Midlands and north. What are the ramifications for the government’s plan to modernise and electrify the Midland Main Line?

Flawed decision-making can also be seen in the regeneration of railway lands to the north of Kings Cross. The redevelopment could have included provision for a new high capacity station for East Coast Main Line traffic.

Kings Cross railway lands

Another missed opportunity: Kings Cross railway lands


Written by beleben

October 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Posted in HS2

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. This all sounds typical of the Whitehall system, where the work to be done is defined in writing and signed off by whoever approves (or is authorised to approve) it. The work boundaries are often tightly defined, too: so unless specified or authorised up-front, a team adding-in scope for future upgrades or straying outside the funded boundaries (LoD’s are similar) risks the work being held ultra vires and surcharged.

    The National Infrastructure Commission should add perspective to all this, if allowed. Bit late for HS2, though.

    Michael Wand

    October 16, 2015 at 12:41 pm

  2. With reference to the low number of platforms provided for domestic services at St Pancras by HS1, I worked on one of the proposals for HS1. (As an aside, the consortium, led by Costain and Hochtief, a German company, was called “Green Arrow”, which happened to also be the name of a V2 class loco …).

    As far as I recall, the number of platforms for main line and suburban services and their location was very much left to the bidders, with the result that we had some domestic platforms on York Road, “alongside” the Eurostar platforms. The only fixed elements were the Thameslink station box and the placing of the Eurostar platforms in the existing train shed.


    October 16, 2015 at 3:53 pm

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