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When parroting nonsense is easy but fact checking is hard

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Why is so much of the railway coverage in the UK media misleading and inaccurate? To some extent, it must be down to correspondents not having the time or background knowledge required to cut through and furnish readers with cogent and reliable information.

Consider, for example, The Times article ‘Tickets, please, for the hybrid tech express‘ (Graeme Paton, Saturday July 24 2021) whose main story is about Chiltern Railways’ hype to “significantly cut” carbon emissions and air pollution by installing battery packs on its diesel trains, ensuring ‘that the “last mile” of the journey into each station runs solely on battery power’.

twitter, @GarethDennis, 'Good cutaway by 
@BenCooke135 in this Times piece... Compare Germany's sustainable transport ambitions to the UK's, and it becomes pretty clear how little interest our government has in actually tackling climate change.'

But where are the figures demonstrating this allegedly “significant” cut in emissions? And why is the main picture of Kings Cross, rather than of a station on Chiltern Railways?

Unfortunately, for the sub-article ‘It’s time Britain got on board with Germany’s rail revolution’ (Ben Cooke), The Times decided to treat Gareth Dennis as a reliable source.

twitter, @GarethDennis, 'Of course, you need enhanced regional and national links to enable suburban transport networks to exist in the first place... Again something we in the UK are desperately dragging our feet on. Good to see another journo who
S-Bahn Berlin GmbH traces 'birth' of the Berlin S-Bahn to the year 1924, although the name was apparently not used until 1930

In the sub-article, it is claimed that the S-Bahn networks in German metropolitan areas are “made possible by Germany’s intercity lines, which are dedicated to high-speed trains. In contrast, many slow, local trains in the UK share lines with faster trains, limiting capacity without a fast train crashing into a slow one.”


[Ben Cooke, parroting Gareth Dennis:] The main advantage of HS2 is not that it would speed up the journey from Birmingham to London but that it would free up space for local mass transit.

Needless to say, the S-Bahn networks in German metropolitan areas were not “made possible” by Germany’s intercity lines, nor are most of those lines “dedicated to high-speed trains”. Most high speed train travel in Germany happens on upgraded, legacy, mixed-traffic lines, and most of the S-Bahn systems were in existence years before work on the ‘InterCity Express network’ had even been thought of, or started.

And exactly where would the London to Birmingham HS2, “free up space for local mass transit”? Out of Euston, there already is a sort of S-Bahn (the ‘dc lines’), and another separate pair of outer suburban commuter tracks, running alongside those used by intercity trains.

On the two-track section between Coventry and Birmingham, HS2 is planned to make little or no difference to the mix of stopping and semi-fast trains, and the idea that it would somehow enable provision of ‘high frequency mass transit’ is laughable. With the possible exception of the Longbridge to Four Oaks section of the so-called ‘Cross city line’, the local train service in the West Midlands is low-capacity ‘mickey mouse transit’.

Written by beleben

July 26, 2021 at 2:01 pm

A warning from Germany

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In February 2013, the Beleben blog noted that HS2 has “every chance of becoming Britain’s Stuttgart 21, but on a much bigger scale“.

IRJ, Stuttgart 21 facing three year delay and EUR 1bn cost overrun

Written by beleben

December 1, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Germany, HS2, Politics

Künftig langsamere Züge

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'Deutsche Bahn bringt den Super-ICE an den Start', Die Welt: 18 Feb 2014On 18 February 2014 Die Welt reported on the introduction of the new generation of Velaro ICE high speed trains in Germany (Baureihe 407, maximum speed 320 km/h).

The story mentioned that the next generation of long-distance trains after the BR 407 — the ICx — would be designed only for maximum speeds of 230 to 250 km/h. For Germany’s economic geography, what mattered was high average speed, not high maximum speed, explained Deutsche Bahn chief executive Ruediger Grube.

[Deutsche Bahn bringt den Super-ICE an den Start, Nikolaus Doll, Die Welt, 18 Feb 2014]

[…] Deutschland hat im Vergleich zu Frankreich oder China relativ viele Haltepunkte auf den Fernstecken, die eng beieinander liegen. “Einen ICE 3 auf einer normalen Fernstrecke voll zu beschleunigen, lohnt sich hierzulande oft gar nicht, weil man kurz darauf schon wieder abbremsen muss”, sagt ein DB-Lokführer.

Despite the relatively small distances between Lancashire, the Midlands, and London, Britain’s HS2 railway project has been foolishly designed for speeds of 400 km/h. If built, the cost and disruption would be enormous.

Existing disused routes — the Great Central Railway and the New North Main Line — could be reactivated to provide a fast route between London and the Midlands, at a small fraction of the cost of HS2. The GC route could also function as a genuine “North – South” connector, rather than a “North to London” one.

Written by beleben

April 9, 2015 at 10:10 am

Posted in Germany, Politics

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