tisdag 30 november 2010

Alternatives to HS2 - official

Last year, the Department for Transport commissioned consultants W S Atkins to consider alternatives to HS2. Referred to as the High Speed 2 Strategic Alternatives Study, it comprises four separate reports. It looks at a range of road and rail interventions between London and the West Midlands, which could effectively increase passenger capacity in line with forecast demand. The documents are available for downloading here.

The Rail Interventions Report concentrates on upgrades to the West Coast Main Line and the Chilterns route to Birmingham and in case of the latter, an interesting list of interventions are postulated. Amongst the options discussed is the possibility of running much longer trains on the WCML. But this is dismissed in the following sentence:

"However, operating a fleet of 400 metre would require platforms at every station served by WCML “fast” services to be lengthened. Selective Door Opening (“SDO”) is unlikely to prove acceptable or workable."

This curt dismissal of a major policy option is strange because what is called for is better SDO systm. Probably this would incorporate a detector system linked into the door opening mechanism. Such a device could be fitted to every door on the train, to ensure that the door could not be opened unless there was a platform alongside. Obviously it would take quite a lot of development work but calls for nothing that existing technology could not solve.

The report dealing with rail interventions mentions in passing that "HS2 Ltd have been tasked by DfT to test the cost and capacity of an entirely new conventional route between London – West Midlands ." I would like to get a look at that report.

3 kommentarer:

Anonymous sa...

This information is nothing new. Protester have been mooting rail package two for months now. I think by not accepting this proposals that government has learned from the farce that was the last £10 billion WCML upgrade. We could spend billions more tweaking the system but you can never get around the fact that the WCML was never designed to be part of a single long distance commuter route.

The WCML is built on Victorian alignments with many level junctions, is used by slow, semi fast rail service and freight services. To me £3 billion seems like an awful waster of money for tinkering. If you add up all the packages together it would come £20bn to get a result that wouldn't even come close to equalling HS2 for capacity of speed.

Anonymous sa...

Having read the report you mentioned the obvious old fashioned solution would be to add several new tracks to the west coast mainline, plus whatever improvements are needed to stations and rolling stock.

What annoys me is that the proposed route of HS2 misses several major conurbations ie Milton Keynes, Leicester, Northampton for want of being a new high speed line ... at least it will produce some work whilst being built, but in the long term (and I would like to underline this) if HS2 is built as planned (on the scenic detour through) the Chilterns it will simply add another financial burden on Network Rail (or successors), whilst the existing lines will still need to be maintained (to mainline standards).

As a fan of railways I appreciate the gov. spending some (of my tax) money on the railways, rather than another non-rail white elephant; I can live with that - I'm too old and cynical to expect any real economic sense from a government led project, but at least can be thankful that the waste is on something I'm vaguely interested in :)

Physiocrat sa...

@Yes to HS2

The WCML upgrade is being used to discredit the concept of upgrading. There is plenty of capacity between London and Birmingham if the Chiltern Line is upgraded. There is some spare capacity in the WCML, the problem is the trains are too short and part of that problem is Pendolinos which are too damned expensive to lengthen easily.

Beyond that there is the route selected for HS2 itself, which could simply be a reinstatement of the GC if it was a conventional railway. Then there is the Midland route which could be four-track all the way to Trent Junction, and the Peak Valley route could be reinstated.

More of a problem is terminal capacity in London, what which half of the Marylebone site having been sold off and St Pancras being lost to Eurostar. Expanding terminals in central London would be prohibitively expensive, but there is a nice chunk of underdeveloped land between West Hampstead and Finchley Road which would be worth looking at as a terminal, and there is also bags of space at Willesden Junction, which is accessible from many directions.

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