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die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and South Yorkshire, part eight

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HS2 Ltd, revised proposal for the eastern leg, avoiding Meadowhall, July 2016In its ‘Sheffield and South Yorkshire Report 2016’ (published on 7 July 2016), HS2 Ltd proposed a partial realignment of the eastern leg of the Y network, taking it further east of the South Yorkshire built-up area. Instead of the county being served by captive trains calling at Meadowhall, ‘classic compatible’ trains would run from London Euston to Sheffield Midland, leaving the HS2 track on a spur south of Chesterfield. The revised package is called “M18 / Eastern Route incl. c-c spur via Chesterfield”, because its alignment would partly follow the M18 motorway.

In an interview with The Sheffield Star, the executive chairman of HS2 Ltd, David Higgins, said he “was persuaded to ‘reflect and re-look’ at the proposed line due to the passion of the debate” (about how South Yorkshire should be served). The newspaper has been running a campaign for a HS2 station to be ‘built in Sheffield city centre’, but HS2’s revised plan seems to entail only minor modifications to Midland station, not a rebuild.

With the revised package, saving money is clearly more important than Northern regional connectivity, – which seems to be someone else’s problem. According to the “Options Report v6“, M18 + c/c spur would be just £1 billion cheaper (in 2015 prices) than the Base (Consultation) Route, but would not “provide Sheffield to Leeds HS2 service”. The costs of a ‘northern junction to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail aspirations, providing approximately 30 minute Sheffield to Leeds journeys’, and electrification of the classic line north of Midland station, are not really discussed.

The report is very short on detail, and it is not clear what the overall Phase Two service pattern, or train fleet, would look like if the proposals were adopted. It does at least say that with the c/c spur, journey time from London Euston to Sheffield Midland would be 83 minutes, including a stop at Chesterfield. “Up to” two trains per hour could use the spur south of Chesterfield. And a journey from Leeds to Euston on the M18 alignment would take 80 minutes, compared to 81 minutes with the Consultation Route.

Obviously a £1 billion saving is not very much in the context of the overall cost of HS2, and the whole project makes less sense by the day. To improve HS2’s survival prospects, one might have expected the promoters to present a less daft proposal with bigger savings, such as truncating the high speed line at Toton. Demand for travel from York is not much different to demand at Leeds, so why exactly would there be a need for a 400-metre platform dead-end ‘captive’ station at Leeds?

As can be seen from the diagram below, the demand for rail travel to London from Yorkshire cities is extremely low, and there is no way of justifying spending tens of billions of pounds on trophy infrastructure.

HS2 Ltd, London to Yorkshire and north east cities, rail journeys, 2013 - 2014

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Written by beleben

July 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

2 Responses

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  1. Q: if HS2 had been required to have a North-first start, would it look like the HS2 on offer?

    Michael Wand

    July 7, 2016 at 12:27 pm

  2. It is so fine that those who engineer our demise “reflect and re-look at the proposed line due to the passion of the debate” – i.e. we said it was stupid, so now you agree, but you come up with a “solution” just as half-baked.
    If you will just wait until I find that cigarette packet, I’ll be able to show exactly how it should be.

    CLaudAdonut

    July 12, 2016 at 10:16 pm


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