31 Jul 2011

Opposition bandwagon rolling nicely

The opposition to HS2 is now gathering momentum, as articles such is this, one of no less than six on the subject, published the Daily and Sunday Telegraph in the past few days.

Part of the case is made by those speaking up in support for local transport. But argument for HS2 on the grounds that we need increased capacity is not still not being countered effectively.

The argument is simple. The cost of building, equipping and operating a high speed railway is proportional to at least the square of the running speeds. That is a consequence of the laws of physics, as applied in an engineering context.

At a conservative estimate the cost of a 200 mph railway be double that of a 100 mph one. Advocates of HS2 would have us believe that as we need extra capacity which can only be provided by building a new railway (true), it might as well be a high speed one as it will only cost a teeny-weeny bit more (false).

The optimum speed for inter-city trains in Britain is between 100 mph and 130 mph. Faster than that leads to diminishing returns.

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