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Use ‘standard intercity rolling stock’ on HS2, says mayor Sadiq

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London mayor Sadiq Khan’s big idea for ‘reducing the costs of HS2’ – presented to the Oakervee ‘independent’ review – was to run lower speed ‘standard inter-city rolling stock’ on it (the Beleben blog can exclusively reveal).

Letter from Sadiq Khan to the 'independent Oakervee review of HS2'  03 Oct 2019, extract

“Run standard inter-city rolling stock”.

Um, anybody home?

In that case, why not just run the ‘standard inter-city rolling stock’ on a reactivated Great Central Main Line?

That would cost a tiny fraction of the cost of HS2, and support the provision of intermediate stations for people living along the route, such as at Calvert, Woodford, and Brackley.

Written by beleben

November 21, 2019 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Bizarre, HS2, London

Is Crossrail ‘complex’? It’s complicated

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Crossrail is not ‘complicated’, says Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild, but the complex nature of the project is ‘not lost‘ on him (according to ‘Rail’ magazine).

Crossrail is not complicated, says TfL's Mark Wild, but the complex nature of the project is not lost on him

But surely, if Mr Wild is saying ‘Crossrail is not complicated’, then the ‘complex nature of the project’ is ‘lost on him’?, meaning of 'complicated'

Borat, thumbs up

Written by beleben

August 20, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Bizarre, London, Railways

Completer says no

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'Accurate information about HS2 is bad, m'kay?'

Allan Cook, the chairman of HS2 Ltd, has written to Bernadette Kelly, permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, to warn that the HS2 rail project cannot be completed for the official £56bn budget, the Financial Times reported. (Whether the missive also included information on what bears do in the woods, was not immediately clear.)

[HS2 cost overrun stretches to £30bn, review shows, Gill Plimmer and Jim Pickard, FT, 19 Jul 2019][…]

[One] person close to the project said the costs had increased because of a “combination of poor ground conditions found during the surveying work, the costs of engineering a railway to a very high specification, and the further additional costs of it being designed to run at even higher speeds than other comparable rail projects”.

Long ago, the Beleben blog pointed out that if a new north – south line were needed (it isn’t, at the moment), the lowest-cost and lowest-risk option would be to reactivate the largely-intact Great Central alignment between Ashendon, Rugby, and (south of) Leicester.

Concept: Transfer Manchester -- London intercity trains from the West Coast route to a reactivated Great Central via a connection near Brinklow

[Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), 10 July 2019]

“I stand here to state confidently that the [HS2] budget is £55.7 billion and that the timetable is 2026 and 2033.”

HS2 technical director Andrew McNaughton said all cost estimates for HS2 were 'based on a worst credible case'  (Railnews, 30 October 2013)

HS2 technical director Andrew McNaughton said all cost estimates for HS2 were ‘based on a worst credible case’  (Railnews, 30 October 2013)


Written by beleben

July 20, 2019 at 8:58 am

Posted in Birmingham, HS2, London, Politics

People have only to look at Crossrail

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People have only to look at Crossrail to see that the government has a good recent track record in delivering major projects on time and on budget, transport secretary Chris Grayling declared, in the course of a ‘HS2 update‘ in the House of Commons chamber in July 2017.

Chris Grayling, 'People have only to look at Crossrail to see that the government has a good recent track record in delivering major projects on time and on budget'

The Guardian: 'Delayed Crossrail could cost nearly £3bn more than planned'

twitter, @TomBurridgebbc, 'Crossrail needs roughly an extra £1.5 billion and @TfLRail essentially admitting it won’t be ready before more than 1 yr late. This station in central London supposed to be open and operating this week. The delay to #Crossrail is an embarrassment for the Govt & the Mayor'

twitter, @simonharrisitv. 'Crossrail's unfinished Bond Street station'

twitter, @BBCTomEdwards, 'Documents released by Tfl of briefing on July 26th show Mayor told it was at “high risk” & options for partial / section opening “not feasible”.'


Written by beleben

December 11, 2018 at 10:50 am

Posted in London, Railways

Tom’s personal delight

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HS2 connectivity fails in Birmingham, the West Midlands, London, and the East Midlands

Improving Euston Road will form a “key part” of making the connection between High Speed 2 (HS2) and HS1 a success, Camden Council’s director of regeneration and planning David Joyce has said.

[Call for Euston Road to be ‘sorted out’ for HS2 to HS1 connection, Katherine Smale, NCE, 13 November 2018]

A 10 minute, 750m walking route is currently the favoured option to connect the two stations [Euston and St Pancras]. However, the main route of the two proposed walking routes would be along the major six lane road running through north London.
Joyce said the council was not in favour of some of the other schemes which had been presented. These include an elevated automated people mover (APM or monorail solution) priced at around £226M to build or a direct rail link between the two which was taken out of the hybrid bill at an early stage.
“We also weren’t in favour of putting in things like a monorail through Somers Town.”

HS2 commercial director Tom Venner said he was “personally delighted” that the two stations were not physically connected as he said making people walk between the two would “enliven” the area.

Referring to £248M sub-surface APM which was also proposed, he said there would be a “missed opportunity” if people remained underground between the two stations.

Written by beleben

November 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Posted in HS1, HS2, London

HS2 chaos is one broken cable away

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Hundreds of delegates struggled to get home from the Labour party conference in Liverpool as trains to London were disrupted for a period on 26 September.

A ‘broken signal cable’ at Wembley meant no trains could operate between Watford and London Euston, with the knock-on effects emanating up to the Midlands and the North West.

Of course, signal cables are not the only items of railway equipment that can get broken or damaged. Trains can fail, rails can crack, and overhead power lines can be put out of action by balloons, trampolines, birds, malfunctioning pantographs, etc.

The amount of disruption which then ensues depends on various factors, such as where the fault happens, how well-prepared the operator is, and how much traffic depends on the route being open. Even on lightly trafficked routes, the disruption can be massive, if the operator is not well-prepared. In 2014, more than 1,200 Eurostar passengers were stranded for hours overnight near Lille on trains following an overhead cable problem, and were only able to complete their journey when diesel locos turned up to tow the stricken trains to their destinations.

A single broken cable on HS2 could throw rail services to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield into chaos (map: wikipedia)

If you were designing a railway network for resilience, you probably wouldn’t want to use the same line to link a country’s capital to its second, third and fourth largest metropolitan areas, and load it with 18 trains an hour, running at 360 km/h. But the government’s proposed HS2 railway would (supposedly) do just that.

Channelling all premier intercity traffic to and from the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire onto a single pair of tracks between Water Orton and London would bring chaos one broken cable, or cracked rail, away.

In the event of such HS2 disruption, say 25 km out of London, the legacy West Coast Main Line would be of very limited help. The government’s intention is reconfigure the WMCL for more commuter services, and reduce the capacity at Euston from 18 to 13 platforms. The idea that the WCML could be instantly switched back into a full-service intercity railway when HS2 is disrupted, is a fantasy.

Implementing HS2 means reducing West Coast Main Line intercity capacity, and reducing classic platforms at Euston from 18 to 13

Written by beleben

September 28, 2018 at 11:04 am

Posted in HS2, London, Planning, Politics

Elmdon drivel is good to hear

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twitter, @_DSlade, HS2 would make Birmingham airport faster to reach from Euston than Heathrow

Does Wolverhampton councillor Roger Lawrence really believe that, from Euston, HS2 would make Birmingham airport quicker to reach than Heathrow?

The government’s plans for HS2 have never included a station at Birmingham airport. The nearest high speed station would be in Middle Bickenhill, 2 km away, so some form of onward transport would be necessary.

Since all HS2 trains out of Euston would stop at Old Oak, it would be way quicker to reach Heathrow. By getting off there, and switching to Crossrail.

With or without HS2, Birmingham airport is not going to be quicker to reach than Heathrow.

Written by beleben

September 25, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Posted in London, Politics, Railways

More #londoninfra please

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twitter @ANJones_Planner, '@JoJohnsonUK Transport Minister reviewing that #HS2 will connect the UK’s major city economies; to enable London’s growth to support all UK. So more #londoninfra schemes to be confirmed? To unlock accessibility, access to talent and future housing delivery? Time for #crossrail2'

To paraphrase, #HS2 is #Londoninfra, and people all over the UK need to cough up for Crossrail 2, which is needed asap, so that London can er, support, the rest of the UK outside London.

Written by beleben

September 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Posted in London, Politics

Not all the doors opened

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Transport for London has apologised for a ‘shocking‘ incident in which a Jubilee line tube train ran with doors open between Finchley Road and West Hampstead, but said ‘not all the doors opened’.

@roryfergusbrown, video of London tube train running with doors open

This incident received wide coverage in the British press, showing how what is considered ‘shocking’ can vary over a fairly short time and distance. Until quite recently, the TER (metrazur) services running between Ventimiglia and Marseille were provided by Inox push-pull sets whose sliding doors could be, and routinely were, pushed open by passengers inbetween stations, as a kind of ersatz air conditioning. Hundreds of trains ran up and down the Cote d’Azur every week, with their doors open.

Written by beleben

September 4, 2018 at 9:59 am

Posted in London

Crossrail 1 not on time or on budget

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Some proponents of HS2 used to argue it could be built on time and below budget because London’s Crossrail ‘is on time, and on budget’. But Crossrail is not on time or on budget.

Having used up all of its contingency funds, last month, its budget had to be increased from £14.8 bn to £15.4 bn. Today, Crossrail Limited has announced that the December 2018 opening date cannot be met, as more time is needed to complete “final infrastructure and extensive testing” to ensure a “safe and reliable railway”. The company’s new date for start of services is autumn 2019.


There is only around 22 km of new-build route in Crossrail 1, making it a small fraction of the size of HS2 phase 1.

twitter, @Andrew_Adonis: 'the chief executive of Crossrail, very highly paid, left a few months ago, along with the chair. So the biggest infrastructure project in Europe has been essentially leaderless'

'Railway Renaissance', book by Gareth David published 30 Sep 2017, why Crossrail is on time and on budget

Kensington Swan, Crossrail on time on budget, 7 Sep 2016

Evening Standard, Geoff Hoon says Crossrail will be on time on budget

NCE, Terry Morgan, Crossrail must be on time on budget

CSW, Crossrail, on time on budget, 08 Feb 2016

Written by beleben

August 31, 2018 at 9:53 am

Posted in London, Railways