Tuesday, January 14, 2014

UK Highspeed Rail

I am a big fan of rail travel. If it was down to me I'd be expanding the rail network, so you would rightly expect me to be in favour of HS2. Well... yes and no. The plus points are simple enough: faster joutney times between major cities; extra seating capacity for those passengers who find themselves standing before and after work; and a freeing up of space on the current main lines for regional services and freight.

There are problems, however. Firstly, journey times aren't really that bad to and from London as it is, whereas if you want to travel from Newcastle to Liverpool, be prepared to write off a big chunk of your day. Secondly, HS2 will start at Euston not St Pancras, where the high speed link to Kent and the Channel Tunnel terminates. So, any through service from say Birmingham to Paris, wouldn't stop there. Very strange concept and perhaps more to do with protecting Eurostar's market share than constructing an integrated rail system. Compare that to Berlin's Hauptbahnhof.

Personally, I think we need to improve our connections across this country outside of London, the UK is not a big country, it really should not take more than 5 hours to get from Sunderland to Bristol - a distance by road of less than 300 miles. HS2 timings and some equivalent distances are given below.

HS2 route times (current and post-HS2, from hs2.org.uk)
Journey Distance (miles) Current time Post-HS2 time Changes
London-Birmingham 120 1:24 0:49 Direct
London-Manchester 200 2:08 1:08 Direct
London-Glasgow 400 4:08 3:38 Direct

Time ranges at morning peak for equivalent distances (from thetrainline.com)
Journey Distance (miles) Time Changes
Hull-Liverpool 130 3:10-3:35 1
Crewe-Ipswich 200 3:40-3:50 2
Sunderland-Plymouth 400 7:35-8:10 2-4

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