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Posts Tagged ‘Scotland

Extending HS2 to Scotland is “not feasible”

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A joint study by the British and Scottish governments is understood to conclude that extending HS2 to Scotland from northern England is “not feasible”, the Scotsman reported.

'Deal on track to bring fast rail link to Scotland', The Scotsman, 26 July 2015

‘Deal on track to bring fast rail link to Scotland’, The Scotsman, 26 July 2015

SNP press release 'UK Gov must back HS2 for Scotland', 13 Nov 2013

SNP press release ‘UK Gov must back HS2 for Scotland’, 13 Nov 2013

Written by beleben

July 26, 2015 at 10:31 am

Posted in HS2

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A degree of upgrade

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Virgin Trains has proposed a non-stop train from Scotland to London, “the first such service since the 1930s”, the Scotsman reported (29/05/2013). Trains would run on the West Coast line from Glasgow Central to London Euston in under four hours, reaching 135 mph [217 km/h] around Lockerbie.


[Chief operating officer Chris Gibb said] “Between Lancaster and Glasgow there has been a degree of upgrade, but huge potential.”

[…] Virgin is negotiating an extension of its franchise to 2017 after the UK Government last year abandoned the competition for the next franchise, admitting civil servants had botched the process.

The train operator was given an interim extension from last December to next year.

217 km/h is said to be the fastest speed that is compatible with the West Coast Main Line’s existing signalling. In the 1990s, Railtrack’s ‘PUG2’ upgrade was supposed to lead to 140 mph [225 km/h] trains, but it was cancelled in favour of a simpler modernisation with 200 km/h linespeeds.

It’s unclear what the costs of 217 km/h linespeed would be, or who would be prepared to pay them. But even with the low passenger volumes on the WCML in Scotland, the case must be much stronger than for a £50 billion high speed railway cutting the London — Glasgow journey by just 30 minutes.

Written by beleben

May 30, 2013 at 8:37 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with ,

Sturgeon on the ridiculous

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Scotland’s deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon has praised a ‘plan’ to build a high-speed Glasgow to Edinburgh railway by the year 2024, cutting travel time to 30 minutes, reported the Daily Record on 12 November. (The cities are only about 75 km apart.)

The plan is at its earliest stage, with no costs attached or route map drawn.

It is also not known whether the link would be to existing or new stations, a spokeswoman said.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“We will not wait for Westminster to bring high-speed rail to us. We have already made moves towards seeing a high-speed line in Scotland and the evidence is now in place that this is feasible long before the HS2 proposals.

“The Scottish Government will now enter into talks with our partners in both cities and the rail industry to see how we can work together to see this vision realised: a Glasgow-Edinburgh high-speed line which can connect to the network from England.”

As well as the M8 motorway, there are three separate railways between Edinburgh and Glasgow, with passenger trains leaving every few minutes throughout the day. And under the Scottish government’s EGIP rail programme

  • services were to have been extensively improved between Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other towns in the central belt
  • fast journeys between Glasgow and Edinburgh would be speeded up to ~37 minutes, compared with ~50 minutes in 2012.

But in a curiously titled 4 July 2012 press release, Transport Scotland revealed that EGIP was to be massively scaled back.

In cash terms, compared with new-build high-speed track, EGIP is a very small project. So if the Scottish government can’t even fund EGIP properly, how could they ever fund Edinburgh Glasgow High Speed?

Go-Hs2 coverage of Scottish high speed rail nonsense

Written by beleben

November 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

HS2 to Scotland

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The Scotsman reported that extension of the North West England (i.e. Manchester) leg of the HS2 railway to Glasgow and Edinburgh has been estimated to cost £15,200,000,000 (with Scotland responsible for about half). This would bring the cost of HS2 close to £50 billion altogether.

A new build high speed line running all the way from London to Scotland could produce time savings; from central London to central Edinburgh, the HS2 trip could take less than the air journey, even though its ‘in-the-aeroplane’ duration is perhaps less than 90 minutes. (By contrast, HS2 does not produce any notable improvement in door-to-door journey times between most cities within England, and for towns not directly served, journey times are fairly likely to increase.)

Are there any Caledonian elephants in the room? Just a few. Firstly, the number of people travelling between England and the central belt of Scotland isn’t particularly large. So there’s likely to be some very red numbers in a high speed rail economic analysis.

Secondly, there are already two railways from England to Glasgow, and one railway from England to Edinburgh, all underused. Rail traffic densities on the West Coast (WCML) and East Coast Main Lines (ECML) fall away north of Lancashire and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, so there’s not much of a capacity case for more cross-border track.

Thirdly, the existing rail services on both the WCML and ECML are reasonably fast now, and could be speeded up further. The timing improvements would depend on the particular infrastructure interventions.

Another way of improving Anglo-Scottish rail journeys is to increase their frequency, thereby reducing generalised journey times. This would seem to be possible on both the East and West Coast routes.

Written by beleben

September 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

A first look at HS2 resilience compatibility

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Apart from an article on the Stop HS2 website, the question of how High Speed 2 would perform in the face of events such as extreme weather, breakdown, or accident, hasn’t received much attention. So it might be worth looking at the resilience implications of a North – South transport strategy in which HS2 is the premier rail link. In this blogpost, the London to Birmingham/Staffordshire high speed line is referred to as ‘HS2WM’.

Taking all first-rank long distance rail traffic from the West Midlands, North West, and the western Central Belt of Scotland, HS2WM would have the following characteristics:

  • twin track railway Euston to Coleshill
  • twin tracked triangular junction  at Coleshill
  • twin track spur Coleshill to Birmingham Curzon Street
  • twin track line from Coleshill to a junction with the West Coast Main Line north of Lichfield
  • single track link to HS1 in North London
  • junction, north of Aylesbury, for the link to an infrastructure depot, and
  • a link to the carriage depot at Washwood Heath.

Trackage details such as crossovers and pointwork are largely unknown, but there would be additional tracks at the four stations (Euston, Old Oak Common, Bickenhill, and Curzon Street). It’s quite likely that the running lines would be equipped for bi-directional working, allowing continued two-way operation, albeit at reduced tempo, in the event of disruption of one track. Exactly how much operation could continue with one track temporarily out of action, would depend on a number of factors, e.g. how trains were flighted on that section.

Apart from a few captive trains for the Birmingham service, most of the HS2 rolling stock would be ‘classic-compatible’ trains (‘CCT’) for through services from London to the North West and Scotland, joining the existing WCML in Staffordshire. ‘Classic compatible’ is a somewhat misleading term, as these trains would differ from existing intercity stock in significant respects, such as power requirements and internal floor height. Their real compatibility would be restricted to lines modified to handle them, and in current HS2 Ltd planning, that is presented as the WCML between Staffordshire, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow.

If there were a two-line blocking incident on HS2WM line itself, preventing its use for a period, CCTs could be routed to use the southern WCML in its place, assuming:

(1) the southern WCML and stations (south of the Staffordshire junction with HS2WM) were modified to allow CCTs
(2) CCTs were able to reach the WCML, from their depot, and/or the other side of the blockage, wherever that happened to be
(3) signalling and communications systems permitted large scale repathing from HS2WM to other lines (in practice, the southern WCML).

None of (1)-(3) above are discussed in available HS2 documentation. By nature, HS2WM is intended as an intensively used railway with bespoke rolling stock and limited interoperability potential with other lines. This militates against easy robustification of its operations. The number and effects of potential service disruptions are not discussed or budgeted for in HS2 Ltd’s documentation.