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More advanced than what you see

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HS2 “will be more advanced than what you see across Europe and the Far East”, HS2 Ltd chief executive Simon Kirby told Construction News.

HS2 Ltd's Simon Kirby and Beth West

[Exclusive: Simon Kirby on safety, skills, cost savings and HS2’s future, JACK SIMPSON, CN, 21 APRIL 2016]

[…] Phase one of the high-speed line will stretch 225 km from London Euston to Birmingham [sic], with a further 318 km to be laid as part of phase two.

[…] Excluding rolling stock, the estimated cost of HS2 currently stands at £78.4m per kilometre.

This would make it the most expensive high-speed rail link in the world – three times the cost per kilometre of high-speed lines in Germany and 10 times higher than in France and Spain.

While Mr Kirby believes some of this can be attributed to the extra station work required on HS2 when compared with French or Spanish projects, he believes a large proportion is down to the UK’s approach to construction.

Is the kilometric cost of high speed lines in Germany three times that of Spain or France? Most of Germany’s high speed rail network is upgraded existing line (Ausbaustrecke), not new-build.

According to Die Welt (22 October 2002), the upgrade of the 284 km Hamburg to Berlin route for 230 km/h operation was costed at just 638.7 million euro (£500 million, at the current exchange rate). £500 million would not buy even 10 km of HS2 track.

If, in Britain, existing track were upgraded instead of building HS2, the savings would run into tens of billions of pounds, and the environmental impact and disruption would be minimal.

No high speed line anywhere in the world has the specification and complexity of HS2, so it would indeed have to be “more advanced than what you see across Europe and the Far East”. But in an April 2013 interview with E&T Magazine, HS2 chief engineer Andrew McNaughton said

[HS2: the need for speed
Sean Davies, E&T, 12 April 2013]

[A McN:] “The guardian principle is that I want the best three-year-old railway technology that I can buy in 2026. I don’t actually want to have invented anything.”

So, HS2 is supposed to be both built on off-the-shelf technology, and “more advanced than what you see across Europe and the Far East”. How would ‘three-year-old’ technology, bought in from overseas suppliers, be ‘exportable’ by HS2 Ltd? How could they own the intellectual property?

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Written by beleben

April 22, 2016 at 10:47 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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