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Archive for the ‘High speed rail’ Category

Don’t touch that jar

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In a letter to New Civil Engineer magazine, former High Speed 2 technical director Andrew McNaughton has hit back at those calling for the speed of HS2 to be slashed, claiming that doing so would only have a “small effect” on cost, but would be a “major dis-benefit” to passengers.

[Ex-HS2 technical director ‘sets record straight’ on speed, Katherine Smale, NCE, 11 June, 2019]

Last February National Infrastructure Committee commissioner and economist Bridget Rosewell said “she had never understood why” the new high speed line was looking to run trains at 360km/h and the additional cost that incurred.

But in a letter to New Civil Engineer, McNaughton – who stepped down from the role last year after having held the post since the project’s inception – said that the current design speed had been meticulously calculated to provide the “best balance” between cost and passenger journey times.

Um, thanks for that bonkers ‘insight’, Prof. And very well done for making sure no-one is spending the ‘massive amount’ of ‘HS2 contingency’.

NCE, 'HS2 chief engineer rails against construction inefficiency' | 21 May, 2013 | By Alexandra Wynne


Written by beleben

June 12, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

More technical illiteracy from Midlands Connect

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In their response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs report ‘Rethinking HS2’, Midlands Connect claimed: “Speed is fundamental to increasing capacity. Slowing the new railway down will limit its capacity, ability to support faster and more efficient trains, and its attractiveness as an environmentally-friendly alternative to domestic air and car travel.”

Midlands Connect: 'Speed is fundamental to increasing capacity. Slowing the new railway down will limit its capacity, ability to support faster and more efficient trains, and its attractiveness as an environmentally-friendly alternative to domestic air and car travel. '

Obviously, Midlands Connect don’t understand the relationship between train speed, signalling, and capacity.

Bombardier, HS2 capacity evaluation, 2011, figure three

Yet they’re supposed to be in charge of developing the West Midlands rail network (!)

Written by beleben

May 16, 2019 at 4:04 pm

Doing any more

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'TfN has a Strategic plan?'Peter Hendy, Network Rail’s chairman and a board member of Transport for the North (TfN), credits TfN chair John Cridland as the “real hero” for turning ‘demands into a strategic plan’.

[The north is on track for a boom, says former London transport chief, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 8 May 2019]

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has said Crossrail 2 cannot move ahead before the one nailed-on infrastructure scheme for the next five years: the TransPennine upgrade, wholly northern, and, at nearly £3bn, the top project in Network Rail’s current funding round. Hendy denies it is a watered-down version of the promised rail work, despite the shelving of full electrification. The plans are as extensive as possible given the disruption further engineering work would spell for passengers, he says: “In five years, if we do any more we will destroy rail travel between Manchester and Leeds.”

“Do any more”, than what?

So far as can be ascertained, the ‘plan’ is to close the line east of Stalybridge for months on end, in order to, er, not gauge clear it, and not install electrification.

twitter, @tonyberkeley1, 'At an All party rail in the North meeting, Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, reminded the audience that the upgrade of the main transpennine route would involve complete closure for 39 weeks each year for 4 years. I wonder how many passengers have twigged this?'

Written by beleben

May 13, 2019 at 9:56 am

The state of things to come

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Kirkby station by Raymond Knapman, Creative Commons

twitter @WilliamBarter1, Northern rail investment like this, right now

Picture of Kirkby station by Raymond Knapman, Creative Commons, with impression of CAF diesel train instead of railbus

Borat, thumbs up

Written by beleben

May 8, 2019 at 10:53 am

What should happen to ‘HS2 college’?

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The failing National College for High Speed Rail is consulting on ditching its name, the Guardian reported on April 30.

[Engineering college for HS2 ditches ‘high speed’ from its name, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 30 Apr 2019]

When the government decided to fund an institution to lure engineering students to learn everything needed for HS2, it might have seemed a name with cachet. But 18 months since opening its doors and having struggled to attract entrants, the National College for High Speed Rail has decided to ditch the words “high-speed rail”.

With the second phase of the HS2 network yet to be confirmed, and Conservative leadership hopefuls discussing axing the entire scheme, the college has launched a consultation over a new name: the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure.

Board minutes from December [2018] said several members saw the name as a “limiting factor” for the college, which was set up across two campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster with help from various national and regional government bodies, including the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd.

The college was reported in October to have signed up just 96 students for the year, although it aims to be taking on 1,200 a year by 2022.

NCHSR, consultation on proposed name change

Surely the best course of action would be to wind up NCHSR, and divide its assets between established further education colleges in the Birmingham and South Yorkshire areas.

Written by beleben

May 2, 2019 at 8:37 am

We puff you longtime

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Transport for the North chief John Cridland admitted that there was ‘no guarantee’ that investing billions in transport infrastructure would benefit the north of England. But that was three years ago, and since then, Transport for the North have done ‘significant work’ – including with Friends of the Earth – according to PR man Robin Miller-Stott.

twitter, @rmillerstott, TfN have done 'work'

What exactly was this ‘work’? And how could it possibly prove that TfN’s stupid wishlist would actually benefit the north?

Surely its massive road-building programme, and ‘Northern powerhouse rail’, make TfN the ‘Enemies of the Earth’.

In essence, Northern powerhouse rail is about

  • enabling long-distance commuting, (e.g. between Leeds and Newcastle,)
  • for very small numbers of people,
  • at enormous cost.

Although TfN are refusing to provide any details of their proposed new-build high speed lines from Liverpool to HS2, and from Manchester to Leeds, it’s hard to see how they could be anything other than an environmental horror show. The greenhouse gas emissions involved in building mile after mile of Pennine tunnels to pointlessly replicate the (lightly-used) Calder Valley line, must be enormous.

On 22 March, the ‘Campaign for Better Transport’ published a laughable puff piece by Bridget Fox, called ‘How will Transport for the North’s bold vision impact the environment?’. But nowhere in the article, was that question answered.

Campaign for Better Transport, TfN puff piece, 22 Mar 2019

Shades of the ‘Right Lines Charter’, all over again.

Why is the Campaign for Better Transport sucking up to Transport for the North?

Written by beleben

April 25, 2019 at 8:54 am

Profitability versus maximum utilisation

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Rail consultant and HS2 ‘afictionado’ William Barter wants anyone who thinks the West Coast Main Line is not ‘full in the peaks’ to download Network Rail’s working timetable, and tell him where they would path another train.


Um, why? Network Rail themselves accept the line is not technically ‘full’ in the peaks. Indeed, it cannot be ‘full’, because the 20-minute interval intercity service to Manchester and Birmingham is “incompatible with maximum utilisation”.

To achieve technically optimal capacity utilisation, the route timetable would need to be re-cast. Upon which, it would be possible to operate Birmingham and Manchester intercity trains four times an hour (every 15 minutes, as was originally proposed).

Thirty-three per cent more seats. Who would object to that?

Probably, first in the queue of objectors would be Richard Branson, closely followed by Brian Souter. Having to run a fourth Virgin train each hour from London to Birmingham, and to Manchester, would likely increase costs faster than revenues, and profitability would fall.

An even worse outcome for Messrs Branson and Souter would be another operator being handed these fourth slots, and competing against Virgin head-on. It may have escaped some people’s attention, but Virgin and Stagecoach are not a charity, and their objective is making money, not carting air.

Mr Barter is also concerned about the load factor for Euston commuter trains being ‘too high’ (he claims greater than 100%). Apparently, he remains unaware of the various ways of vastly increasing West Coast commuter capacity, such as using Thameslink-style trains.

Capacity comparison of Class 700 and Class 350/2 240 metre trains

How hard can it really be to design a Thameslink-style train, but without the torture chamber lighting and ironing board seats (etc)?

Written by beleben

April 18, 2019 at 9:53 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2