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Grand Union versus Great Central

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According to HS2 Ltd, very high speed is essential for its economic case

HS2 should be renamed the Grand Union Railway as the controversial project is not actually about speed, transport minister in charge Andrew Jones MP has said.

[HS2 should be renamed the Grand Union Railway as the controversial project is ‘not actually about speed’, Kate McCann, Daily Telegraph, 15 Oct 2016]

“Yes the speed message will come across … but actually what it will do also is free up more capacity for more capacity and more freight.”
[…]
A Government report published [during the coalition government] stated: “Compared with today’s capacity, HS2 will ultimately triple the seats available.

“The initial Phase One service plan for HS2 in 2026 doubles seating capacity and more than doubles commuter and regional service seating capacity, where the crowding pressure is greatest.”

On the need for a fast line instead of a conventional one it added: “A new high speed line would cost 9% more than a conventional railway and, in certain respects, would have higher environmental costs, but the difference in price and the relatively higher environmental impact is more than outweighed by the economic benefits to be gained from radically reducing journey times and improving connectivity between our main cities.”

However,

  • HS2 Ltd’s high level assessment of journey times (above) shows that the HS2 economic case is actually about speed, not capacity;
  • company chairman David Higgins claimed that the “360 km/h” HS2 would cost 15%-per-kilometre more than the “300 km/h” HS1 (below). Clearly, HS2 could not possibly be ‘only 9% more expensive’ than a 200 km/h ‘conventional’ railway.

David Higgins, HS2 Plus, HS2 and HS1 costs (2014)

The cost differential between building HS2 Phase One, and reactivating the Great Central Railway (which is suitable for 200+ km/h) south of Leicester, would be enormous. The idea that reducing journey times between central Birmingham and central London by ~20 minutes is worth more than the £20 billion cost of HS2 phase one, is laughable.

According to Andrew McNaughton's presentation, WCML fast line train path utilisation would fall, not rise

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Written by beleben

October 16, 2016 at 10:00 am

Posted in HS2

One Response

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  1. Between London and Birmingham the GC/GW joint main line had running authorised for speeds in excess of 160Km/h in 1962, with jointed track, semaphore (oil-lit) signalling, and before the era of high speed multiple locking turn-outs. It had/has negotiated Parliamentary Powers and land for a 4 track, high speed railway, including high speed grade separated junctions and provision for operating through trains from the Channel Tunnel designed in – in 1906.

    The completely misinformed statements by Patrick McGloughlin, and Chris Grayling concerning justification for HS2, and many other claims made by those promoting HS2 and Greengauge, suggest either a paucity of knowledge or deliberate misinformation – examples include

    “No new main line for over 120 years” (barely 106 years since both the GC/GW and the GW West of England Direct Route opened – and with the restoration of the GC/GW and key deliveries (Selby Diversion, TV4, Restoration of a main line to replace the residual low-speed single track railway on GC/GW route, redoubling the Oxford-Worcester route, and Swindon-Gloucester)

    The ‘shrunk down’ WCML described by Grayling “just 2 tracks” for a route with 4 tracks between London and Rugby, 6 to Stetchford, 8 + from Stetchford/Nuneaton.

    Add in the option to also run Nuneaton-Wigston-Bedford-Bletchley – with the relatively quick restoration of 4 tracks Kettering-Bedford and South from Leicester ‘dynamic loops’ where former 4-track route can be restored, and a very flexible railway can be delivered.

    Both the Glasgow (402 miles) and Edinburgh (395 miles) – London routes have delivered sub-4 hour journeys, and even have timetabled services of 4h to 4h 08m. As a regular WCML user I’m also aware that trains can arrive at Euston up to 10 minutes early on top of a non-stop journey speed of 105 mph in the regular hourly timetable – this despite constraints of Crewe, Stafford, Weedon, and South of Watford, and serious constraints of Preston and Carlisle both of which can be by passed. For ECML by-passing Morpeth and York and Newcastle (possibly with a deep level Central station/P&R hub on Tyne Yard site), would make 3h 30m a deliverable time based on current timetabled speeds (112mph journey speeds London-York non stop)

    Overlaying the regular journey speeds for a 125mph GC/GW route the 112 miles London-Birmingham in 1 hour is a deliverable within 2-6 years running from Euston, Paddington or Marylebone, and through that offering the options to deliver major works by closing a route or station for a longer but intensive delivery (with appropriate concessions for 125mph running on GC/GW a demonstration run could be delivered almost immediately). Closing 2 of the 4 tracks of WCML with the facility to divert fast/through services off this route between Wembley and Bletchley/Coventry(and Nuneaton), would readily facilitate the delivery of the grade separated junctions at Ledburn and Hanslope, plus the option of also delivering this at Bourne End, and Bletchley.

    A 2-way grade-separated junction WCML-GC/GW at Wembley is a realistic option, offering 2 routes Euston-Birmingham and also direct trains WCML to Wembley Stadium and Marylebone. Connections can also be made at West Hampstead (existing NLL via former 4-track – through or under a car park to MML where former 6 tracks are reduced to 4) Both offer further resilience and flexibility connecting the Marylebone line to both North London and Midland, to reach St Pancras where there are already (single line) connections from both directly to HS1, with provision to double the Midland-HS1 connection. Freight also has more options to reach Stratford or Barking through the connections offered

    Dave H (@BCCletts)

    October 16, 2016 at 3:42 pm


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