24 Jun 2014

HS3 - the high speed madness gets worse

Reports are that Chancellor George Osborne is pushing a proposal for a high speed line, "HS3", between Manchester and Leeds. This is conclusive proof that the man is clueless. This is a typical politician's response.

There is no advantage in running faster than 100 mph between destinations less than 50 miles apart. There are no further useful time savings to be made. Frequent trains and good local connections are needed. That means a programme of platform-lengthening, junction improvements, and possibly, new routes, but high speed does not come into this. Loading-gauge enhancements to take double-deck trains would be nice to have but the trouble is that the routes on which they could operate would be badly restricted.

Equally important in this context is the need to improve local connections through the development of bus and light rail services, as well as park-and-ride facilities.

1 comment:

  1. The high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds will never be high a true speed, aka 220mph. You need new high-speed track for that and the line needs to be as straight as possible, which cannot be the case crossing the Pennines with major money being spent having the line in tunnel most of the way. The best they can get is 130-140mph even with boring the odd tunnel here and there to straighten up the curved line running up and down through the Pennine hills. That means they will use existing track most of the way and existing rail stock - probably tilting Pendolino trains. The currently twisting line puts 100mph trains averaging 50mph.

    The current Manchester to Leeds line is underpowered diesel trains. Electrifying the existing line would increase the journey time from 50 minutes to 30 minutes alone, new tunnels removing bottlenecks will improve it a little further, tilting trains further again.

    The existing near dead-straight and level Liverpool to Manchester line is being electrified right now being operational at the end of the year. Electrify the existing Liverpool to Leeds line, Manchester is between, and this is just the normal under planning trans-Pennine route. A "hub" at Manchester is being created to enable Liverpool trains to run right through at near full line speed. A few of Osborn's tunnels would help.

    This Osborne announcement is not high-speed rail at all, it cannot be using existing track, and is clearly a political ploy to gain points in an election year from the north of England. It is clearly electioneering.

    I hope no HS2 track gets above the proposed Crewe hub and the fast trans-Pennine line is completed ASAP. This is the best outcome for the north of England as it will be linked up easily and fast. It will help Liverpool, the big loser in high-speed rail, as it stands. The Liverpool and Manchester time to London would be the same, instead of Manchester being 40 minutes faster. Even KPMG predicted Liverpool economically would lose out. To economically curtail a region is totally wrong.