Will HS2 ever happen?

Malcolm Redfellow

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In a country which cannot manage a reliable, fast (and preferably electrified) rail link between its three main cities, it might be perverse to look across the water and see the cash being spaffed up the wall over the HS2 link between London Euston to the Birmingham suburbs — and theoretically on to Manchester and Leeds.

There is currently a review, the Oakervee Report, of which we are not being allowed official view until after this Election. That Report, widely leaked, seems to suggest a total cost of £84-86 billion. Say it quickly, don't think, and it doesn't hurt so much. It is, however, going on twenty years of total Irish government expenditure — and by any rational comparisons, the Irish economy is the more firmly grounded.

Now here, out of the undergrowth comes the Lord Berkeley, vice-chair to Doug Oakervee on this review. He is refusing to countersign the report (see here). He is considering (on the second page of that comprehensive demolition job):
  • whether HS2 Ltd, HM Treasury and the Department for Transport, working together are really 'fit for purpose' to take such a project forward;
  • that Crossrail looks like coming in 'only' 25% over budget, but HS2 looks like being 221% over original budget;
  • the bottom line is likely to be — not that touted £84-86 billion, but a splendid £103 billion at current costs;
  • that the cost/benefit of HS2 is based on 14 trains an hour, no high-speed rail line in the world currently operates more than this number (except one in Japan which operates 15 at peak times... the draft Review bases its BCR [?] on an unachievable 18 trains per hour.
Significant or not, the 18th Baron Berkeley ( Anthony Gueterbock) is a Labour Lord.

I cannot help feeling this could be a small, but significant, moment in this most chaotic of General Elections.
 


petaljam

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Heard that this morning - I did wonder who the idiot at the Min of Transport was who didn't even wonder about the expected frequency of trains - do these people just rubberstamp unfeasible costings or do they do it knowingly
 

petaljam

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Build it and they will come .
Just building it isn't the real problem though. Will it ever pay enough to break even, never mind make a profit. As well as the other knock-on effects, which are not all predicted to be beneficial to the country as a whole.
 

integratetransport

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Hard to know honestly. HS2 of itself is a good idea, a brand new line with good capacity which in turn will free up a lot of capacity on the existing network which will allow for more freight and increased more local and regional services. The cost does seem very high though, all though a good bit of it is in tunnel and there is going to be a lot of demolition as well so people will rightly have to be compensated. But it does show how much everything railway related is in a mess over there.
 

petaljam

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The SNCF should serve as a warning to the hubris of ploughing ahead with a great but expensive idea. They very nearly went bust (despite massive government funding) over the TGV project, and while they seem to have come back from the brink, it's very noticeable that other intercity services apart from the TGV are now almost non existent. And many smaller towns are now only served intermittently or even by bus.

Delays are fairly common including (especially) on the TGV, and a lot of people prefer to use car sharing because the train is now so expensive for what has become a mediocre service.

Fast alright, when it's on time. But far less reliable than it used to be.
 

silverharp

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Its not really a needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few solution, more like trying to over engineer old tech with globs of taxpayer subsidies and debt, aren’t they trying to build one in California which appears to be a mess of a project?. Ideally you would have an efficient distributed network that would get people from any random built up area to any other random built up area. It seems like we are only a decade away from reliable autonomous driving systems , those productivity gains need to be tapped, then you can have smaller more frequent driverless trains or use the motorway system.
 

blinding

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‘ Its very hard to make predictions ; Especially about the Future . '

Stolen from probably , Stephen Fry’s QI , who of course were only quoting somebody else .

True Though .
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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Build it and they will come .
Should we do a survey of all those lines which were developed in the mid-19th century 'railway mania', only to fail, be bought up at discount by the big operators, only to be closed, and all finally exterminated a century later (not least across Ireland)? Or, more recently, Montreal Mirabel and Ciudad Real Central Airports?

There are alternatives to HS2: the Chiltern Line to Birmingham (which Margaret Thatcher wanted to turn into a bus 'express' line: coaches on tight lanes at closing speeds of 190 kph), or the former Midland Railway to Midlands cities and beyond. Electrification and upgrading could improve either or both.

HS2 will 'save' all of 35 minutes from Euston to Birmingham Curzon Street. Euston, please note: any rapid connection to the West End and central London/Westminster would still be dependent on the mirage of Crossrail2. The procurement programme for the £435 million project at Curzon Street fell flat on its backside only a few months back.

As always, at this stage, we as assured the restart would not affect the timing of the appointment of a contractor and construction timetable. Tell that to anyone who trusted delivery dates for Crossrail1/'Elizabeth Line'. That supposedly would operate from last December: the present promise is sometime in 2021.

The best HS2 time saving is Euston to Manchester Airport — all of 1hr15 — presupposing anyone from London needed a provincial airport, and one with some very dilatory links to the city centre. Yeah; I like trains, at most speeds — just not convinced this is value-for-pots-of money.
 

integratetransport

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Its not really a needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few solution, more like trying to over engineer old tech with globs of taxpayer subsidies and debt, aren’t they trying to build one in California which appears to be a mess of a project?. Ideally you would have an efficient distributed network that would get people from any random built up area to any other random built up area. It seems like we are only a decade away from reliable autonomous driving systems , those productivity gains need to be tapped, then you can have smaller more frequent driverless trains or use the motorway system.
While rail is old technology, it is still high quality, reliable, and is the only form of transport which can carry huge amounts of people with limited spend. It is also the more likely form of transport to get people out of their cars.
Road transport on the other hand, even with autonomous cars and car sharing will always take up mountains of space and be extremely costly verses the benefit. Road transport is certainly needed and will always be, but something like rail will always be necessary as well to keep over all transport costs down for the tax payer and allow road capacity to go further, so that countries don't up with an amount of road infrastructure that they are unable to actually maintain due to cost.

Should we do a survey of all those lines which were developed in the mid-19th century 'railway mania', only to fail, be bought up at discount by the big operators, only to be closed, and all finally exterminated a century later (not least across Ireland)? Or, more recently, Montreal Mirabel and Ciudad Real Central Airports?

There are alternatives to HS2: the Chiltern Line to Birmingham (which Margaret Thatcher wanted to turn into a bus 'express' line: coaches on tight lanes at closing speeds of 190 kph), or the former Midland Railway to Midlands cities and beyond. Electrification and upgrading could improve either or both.

HS2 will 'save' all of 35 minutes from Euston to Birmingham Curzon Street. Euston, please note: any rapid connection to the West End and central London/Westminster would still be dependent on the mirage of Crossrail2. The procurement programme for the £435 million project at Curzon Street fell flat on its backside only a few months back.

As always, at this stage, we as assured the restart would not affect the timing of the appointment of a contractor and construction timetable. Tell that to anyone who trusted delivery dates for Crossrail1/'Elizabeth Line'. That supposedly would operate from last December: the present promise is sometime in 2021.

The best HS2 time saving is Euston to Manchester Airport — all of 1hr15 — presupposing anyone from London needed a provincial airport, and one with some very dilatory links to the city centre. Yeah; I like trains, at most speeds — just not convinced this is value-for-pots-of money.
Existing lines will of course need to be upgraded, but ultimately it will get to the stage where it will no longer be possible or cost effective to upgrade them any further, hence a new line of some sort will need to be built, and when that is happening, may as well make it high speed.
HS2 is about capacity rather then journey times, however the media and other interests focus on journey times for their own agenda against the line. The costs going up is absolutely an issue and that has to be dealt with, preferably without cutting aspects that are needed to make the line work effectively, and for which if cut will make the line less effective.
But the line does have to be built. It is absolutely vital that it is
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No
One of the saddest reports in British cultural history had to be the Beeching (?) Report which closed hundreds of branch lines around the UK. I love train travel. If I have to travel at all it would be by boat first, train second. It is nice to be able to get up and walk around, go get a coffee on an intercity service, the time can be quite pleasant in the landscape floating by in that dreamy way it does outside of a high speed train.

British Rail basically had to be dealt with, the old curly cheese sandwich, hot water with a tea-bag masquerading as refreshment and apparently boiled from the revolting toilets. Surly couldn't give a damn staff all in the union and running the railroad for themselves rather than the paying passengers. Okay. The privatisation helped sort that out.

Only problem now is you have a plethora of rail businesses with distinctly toe-curling branding all around the country, massively interested in ticket receipts and not interested at all in attending the meeting about an expensive overhaul of the rails and electrics that really are loomingly important.

I wouldn't fear nationalisation of the railway services once again. I like that about Corbyn's manifesto. Employment is now a much less aggressive problem in railway transport, although we do need to see improvements in the UK to punctuality, standards and modernisation which really is a given on the continent.
 

silverharp

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While rail is old technology, it is still high quality, reliable, and is the only form of transport which can carry huge amounts of people with limited spend. It is also the more likely form of transport to get people out of their cars.
Road transport on the other hand, even with autonomous cars and car sharing will always take up mountains of space and be extremely costly verses the benefit. Road transport is certainly needed and will always be, but something like rail will always be necessary as well to keep over all transport costs down for the tax payer and allow road capacity to go further, so that countries don't up with an amount of road infrastructure that they are unable to actually maintain due to cost.
you could have autonomous public transport in all modes, where public transport falls down is frequency especially in an irish case. Dublin to Cork or Galway would be much better if the train frequency was every 5 or 10 minutes not once every 1 to 2 hours. Absolute speed especially in smaller island is secondary. Might be different somewhere like Germany where driving from Hamburg to Munich would be a chore but then thats not a commuting trip for someone
 

integratetransport

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One of the saddest reports in British cultural history had to be the Beeching (?) Report which closed hundreds of branch lines around the UK. I love train travel. If I have to travel at all it would be by boat first, train second. It is nice to be able to get up and walk around, go get a coffee on an intercity service, the time can be quite pleasant in the landscape floating by in that dreamy way it does outside of a high speed train.


British Rail basically had to be dealt with, the old curly cheese sandwich, hot water with a tea-bag masquerading as refreshment and apparently boiled from the revolting toilets. Surly couldn't give a damn staff all in the union and running the railroad for themselves rather than the paying passengers. Okay. The privatisation helped sort that out.


Only problem now is you have a plethora of rail businesses with distinctly toe-curling branding all around the country, massively interested in ticket receipts and not interested at all in attending the meeting about an expensive overhaul of the rails and electrics that really are loomingly important.


I wouldn't fear nationalisation of the railway services once again. I like that about Corbyn's manifesto. Employment is now a much less aggressive problem in railway transport, although we do need to see improvements in the UK to punctuality, standards and modernisation which really is a given on the continent.
In fairness to british rail, while they got a lot wrong, they got plenty right as well. Mind you what they got right would not always have been visible to the public, but they benefit from it today still. Funnily enough british rail were actually on the cusp of becoming a good operator near the end, if they had the mountains of government funding the private operators have now who knows how much they would have got done. They were apparently the most subsidy efficient operator in europe by the end.
Privatization was just a vanity project by the government at the time, apparently even thatcher was against rail privatization, they wanted to get out of paying for it and ended up paying more in the end.
In relation to the Beeching report, there were some lines that had long passed their usefulness to be fair. There had been line closures of course long before hand. However there were certainly issues with it including closure being generally a first resort rather then the absolute last. Lines had lots of staff and lots of redundant infrastructure that would have brought their costs down quite a bit had they been rationalised. Quite a number of lines which should have remained open closed. However british rail of their own accord closed lines that weren't reccomended for closure in the first place, in some cases because infrastructure needed repare and they were so underfunded that they couldn't repare it.
It all goes back to the modernisation report. British rail were forced to buy their stock from uk manufacturers who didn't have great experience with building diesels for example. Some got it right and others didn't. To get rid of steam they ended up having to buy large quantities of diesels rather then maybe a couple from each manufacturer to test out for a lot longer. Then there was the common carrier obligation which meant they had to take any freight traffic offered to them, for which they had to build a lot of large yards and buy stock to make the whole lot work including smaller stock for trip working from the small yards. Lots of it became redundant quite quickly when the obligation was abolished but of course the waste was used against british rail dispite the fact the government could and should have abolished the obligation.
 


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