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A Look at HS2's Old Oak Common Station (ianvisits.co.uk)
77 points by fanf2 59 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments



I don't like the soundbite about it only shaving X minutes off the trip to Birmingham. That's practically the first stop. The thing goes all the way to Leeds. It's a disingenuous soundbite. I realise the authour here is using it as a construct to argue against but I head this soundbite a lot.


What people keep overlooking is that HS2 is not a replacement for the existing line, but will run along side it. It's a capacity doubler as much as anything else. Some people will get faster trips to Birmingham, but a lot more people will get to make that trip - and also to the commuter stops along the existing line, as all the direct-to-Birmingham people take HS2.


It also means that the smaller trips in the midlands and north don't need to get out of the way of a direct line from Manchester->London.


There is a lot of North north of Manchester and Leeds


As someone from the North who considers themself ‘British’ rather than Scottish or English, I've always viewed Yorkshire as the ‘midlands’ :)

Joking aside, if Britain is every to grow beyond being quite so London-centric, we do really have to focus on the belt from Manchester to Hull more, North East too.


The question is to what extent increasing capacity like this will actually be useful. Trains from regional cities to/from London at non-peak times usually don't run at capacity in my experience, so they shouldn't be affected. For peak times, I'm not sure there are many people who would travel at approximately the current prices (this may be changed by HS2 but not immediately). Therefore assuming an efficient market I would expect the main benefit of increasing supply to be a drop in price at peak times. But assuming anything about British public transport is efficient is a risky bet.


I’m not convinced that there would be any decrease in price - why would there be?

HS2 is probably going to be £300+ for a peak return from London to Leeds - yes, I pulled that from my backside, but given when it’s due to launch and the ever-ratcheting fares, I think it’s perfectly realistic.

As to supply and demand influencing pricing - yes and no. While there will be more capacity, existing operators and franchises may or may not take advantage of it, and even if they do, what possible motivation would they have for reducing their prices? They won’t be competing with HS2 on price - if anything, the inevitability high fares for HS2 will provide an anchor for a price increase on the old mainline. The only others trains running on the same route will be theirs, as that’s how the rail franchise system works, so their only competition will be themselves - i.e. none.


The West Coast Main Line is easily at capacity. There are upper limits (as dictated by the government) on maximum fares, but we can still expect fares to decrease at peak times if there is open space on trains. Likewise with off-peak; empty carriages don't pay the bills, and if they're running twice as many trains then either (a) twice as many people will travel, or (b) fares will decrease until they start filling up.

The problem at the moment in off-peak times is that they dare not reduce the price because there are trains that run during the day which fill up, and there's no good way of differentiating fares between the ones which do and the ones which don't.


> The problem at the moment in off-peak times is that they dare not reduce the price because there are trains that run during the day which fill up, and there's no good way of differentiating fares between the ones which do and the ones which don't.

Isn't there? Travelling from Leeds to London at 7-9am Monday costs several times as much as at 2pm Sunday, and I assume that's because the operators can differentiate which journeys are popular (and furthermore which ones carry large numbers of business people who can afford/expense higher fares).


Currently the process is that tickets are sold in tiers - the closer to sold out, the closer to maximum price. The only control over maximum price is whether it's peak or off peak hours. So there are actually two confounding factors


OK, so I'm not a regular traveller (perhaps twice a year) but every time I go North via train it's rammed.

imho, to prepare for the long-term we should be building infrastructure on the ground to reduce short haul flights.


Its a massive Saving in time


HSTs are cool, but I think it's a valid criticism - would it really make so much difference to run at 125mph and the journey take a little longer? And would the project be cheaper if it didn't need to be so super-straight in order to be able to achieve the high speeds?

If they were proposing express trains that would really gain the benefit of the line I could see the justification, but they're not are they?


Yes - the speed is required for capacity, to minimise journey times to Scotland and ensure competitiveness with air travel and other existing links. Even for closer destinations like Birmingham 35 minutes is a huge improvement on a ~1h20m journey.


> and ensure competitiveness with air travel

Good one. I can hop on a plane from London to Edinburgh tomorrow for £35 and be there in an hour and a half, call it 3 hours all in. By comparison I can hop on a train and it'll cost me £146 and take about 5 hours.

Hell, just last week I hopped on a ferry to France and back on a whim for less than it would have cost to go 20 miles by train.


In France the equivalent of London to Glasgow takes two hours by train. E.g Paris-Bordeaux Edit: and the fare is about €70 if you don’t book in advance. Pretty favourable compared to the current walk up fare to Glasgow.


Cost is a different issue - I'd be very surprised if the subsidy profile of planes vs. trains vs. motoring stays the same over the coming decade.

Unless you live airside at Heathrow and your destination is the Edinburgh duty free shop, I sincerely doubt your journey will take 1.5 hours total. More realistic timings allowing for 30mins travel either end and arriving an hour early for your flight bring it up to 3.5h - the fastest current London-Edinburgh expresses are just over 4 hours.

At those timings, high speed rail starts to look quite attractive, considering it's much easier to work and relax on a train and you don't have to waste time shuffling through the airport and waiting in queues.


I used to fly regularly from Manchester (Near Altrincham) to London (Near Hammersmith)

  t+0 leave office
  t+45 arrive Heathrow
  t+90 wheels up
  t+145 wheels down
  t+150 in taxi
  t+160 home
Compare to

  t+0 leave office
  t+45 arrive Euston
  t+60 train departs
  t+170 arrive Wilmslow
  t+175 in taxi
  t+195 home

On the way down it was even quicker by plane

  t+0 leave home
  t+7 arrive manchester
  t+10 arrive gate
  t+25 wheels up
  t+85 wheels down
  t+145 arrive office


If it took you 15 minutes from the plane hitting the ground in Manchester to get to your house, I think that says more that you live really near to (or next to? inside?) Manchester airport. And 10 minutes between leaving your front door to arriving at the gate!?

That's either a slight exaggeration or an impressive feat


Takes about 2-3 minutes to taxi to the gate at T3, I usually chose 1C so was first off the plane. Takes 60-90 seconds to get from the gate past baggage collection (obviously hand luggage only) depending on the exact gate.

Having ordered Uber during the taxi, it was already waiting for me, so in within 2 minutes of getting off the gate. 5-7 minute drive to home in Hale Barns.

Best I did was 93 seconds from leaving taxi to gate 141, rare to take longer then 5 minutes. Once the taxi didn't arrive and I had to hail one, got in 10 minutes before scheduled departure time and was sat on the plane (in 1C) before scheduled departure time.

BA have changed since then (there's now a business class section so you don't get to choose 1C), and Manchester Airport is very hostile to people arriving/departing via taxi so I suspect it would take 5 minutes longer now.


What sort of airport is this that you can be in the air 18 minutes after arriving at the airport? Is this some tiny little airfield somewhere running tiny cesnas or something?

At most major airports it takes 5-10 minutes just to get out of the duty free shop after security! Even in priority lanes I've never got through security at a big airport quicker than 5 minutes - there is always a line of people ahead.

I know some people who have the "special" invite-only etc airline status where someone physically whizzes you through everything in a few minutes and out into a waiting car to take you directly to the gate etc, but that is hardly representative of the sort of person who might benefit from taking HS2


Manchester airport t3, no duty free after security, priority security so no queues, 10 minute gate closing.


This nothing like a typical journey. I live in birmingham, it takes 15 to get on a train but 》1h to get to the airport gate


Will there be any true express trains though? Surely the stops along the way reduce the reduction in travel time significantly. If there are going to be non-stop trains from London to Scotland it's a different proposition.


Currently the trains out of euston to use HS2 are typically (there's occasional extra stops in the peak)

  1tph First Stop Warrington (2h20)
  1tph First Stop Crewe (1h40)
  1tph First Stop Stafford (1h20)
  1tph First Stop Stoke (1h30)
  2tph First Stop Rugby (1h)
  1tph First stop Coventry (1h10)
There's other trains that stop at Milton Keynes that will move too (Wales, Manchester), with far more additional trains stopping at MKC

Some make additional stops in the peak, but that won't happen with HS

Typical HS2 service will be

  Euston (for Crossrail2/Northern Line)
  OOC (for Crossrail/GWR/Heathrow) -- 5 miles
  Birmingham Interchange -- 100 miles
  Crewe -- 160 miles

Or

  Euston (for Crossrail2/Northern Line)
  OOC (for Crossrail/GWR/Heathrow) -- 5 miles
  Birmingham Interchange -- 100 miles
  Birmingham Central -- 150 miles

With some trains non stop from OOC to Manchester Airport (175m)


Birmingham Central isn't 50 miles from Birmingham Interchange. More like 10 miles?


Doh, yes, sorry copy and paste.

I suspect Curzon Street to Interchange will be relatively slow (7 minutes for 10 miles), like OOC to Euston


Firstly, there isn't all that much of anything in Birmingham that makes this worthwhile. At best there might be some new business development in 10-20 years, but it's not at all obvious that Birmingham is somehow going to become London's second business centre because of HS2.

Most of the claims in this piece are simply nonsense. The Euston to Crewe train that's mentioned doesn't go anywhere near Birmingham, so it's not obvious that HS2 would make much of a difference to traffic on it.

And even if it did, it's merely one of a large number of routes heading out of London in all directions that are ridiculously overcrowded. At best, HS2 might reduce a small proportion of that overcrowding, but it's certainly not going to eliminate it.

The idea that HS2 can make Birmingham airport competitive with Heathrow for Londoners is clearly wrong. Birmingham doesn't have the flights, the destinations, or the capacity. London also has Heathrow Express for quick train journeys from Paddington to Heathrow - concourse to concourse. Even with a shorter journey time, HS2 can't match that.

And HS2 doesn't start to make sense until Phase 2 is built, linking Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds. You might see some benefits then - but the realistic total cost is likely to be the far side of £100bn. Which is madness.

It's actually five years of the total NASA budget, which is supposed to pay for development of the next Lunar program, as well as everything else NASA does.

It would be much better to spend a much smaller sum making the UK's broadband the best in Europe, set up a world-leading incubator fund for digital startups outside of London, with next-generation training and education, and try to persuade existing corporates to consider home working options. The return on that would be huge.

This is just a giant train set for rail nostalgists.


> there isn't all that much of anything in Birmingham that makes this worthwhile.

The UK has a weird chicken and egg thing going on. Everything is in London because everything is in London. HS2 is an attempt to break out of that. By developing better rail links across England we allow companies to start moving out of London.

> The idea that HS2 can make Birmingham airport competitive with Heathrow for Londoners is clearly wrong.

But that's not the aim. The aim is that we shouldn't have everyone in the country using Heathrow for all journeys. Currently we have about 80 million people going through Heathrow which is stupid if a chunk of them are only using it to get into the UK.

London doesn't just have Heathrow and Gatwick. London has six international airports.

Heathrow alone at 80m people currently carries the equivalent of Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow, and Bristol combined. We urgently need to fix this.


>Everything is in London because everything is in London. HS2 is an attempt to break out of that. By developing better rail links across England we allow companies to start moving out of London.

Despite the topic being divisive, this is an ill-informed comment and does not relect the real purpose of HS2 ─ which is to increase capacity and improve links in the North of England to stimulate local economy and reduce the burden on over crowded services.

I will leave you with a couple of articles, which do a good job at explaining some of the reasons behind the HS2 project; which also serves as a springboard for the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hs2-logistic...

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/08/just-when-y...


> The UK has a weird chicken and egg thing going on. Everything is in London because everything is in London. HS2 is an attempt to break out of that.

One of the criticisms of HS2 is that it will just facilitate centralisation in London, by helping people get there more quickly!


It means that a business that needs to occasionally meet people face to face in London can instead be based in Crewe, saving £10k a month in rent and saving in salaries.


Now what happens when the business needs to meet someone face to face in say Cambridge, home to a growing number of tech companies? Our current rail network is so London-centric that the fastest way to do that from Crewe is to go all the way south to central London, turn around, and head north again in almost the same direction you came from. One of the big advantages of being based in London is that you can get to nearly any major city in the country quickly and directly by rail, and HS2 just strengthens that advantage.


The expertise brown from HS2 needs to build Birmingham east to Cambridge/Norwich, and south west to Bristol/Cardiff, as well as Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds


Except that it's more likely to have people saying why do we need a crewe office at all when people can be at the main office in an hour anyway.

It will just drag even more resources to london


Why would I, a business owner, want to pay extortionate rents for floor space in London when I could instead have an office in Crewe for 1/10th the price and still reach my clients when I need to?


Firstly, there isn't all that much of anything in Birmingham that makes this worthwhile.

If you let that be a guide then you wouldn't invest in anything outside of London.


Economically Birmingham is growing faster than anywhere else in the UK except London - https://www.ft.com/content/f53b6ab0-b905-11e9-8a88-aa6628ac8... (subs required)

H2 increases capacity for commuter lines out of London, and one of the reasons it's so f'ing expensive is people in Tory Shires demanding the line is placed in a tunnel


It's a shame tunnels are so expensive! I dream of a day when motorways are buried out of sight.


> would it really make so much difference to run at 125mph and the journey take a little longer?

It's halving the time from Crewe to London from 100m to 50m, so that's a big plus. Every train going to Manchester, Liverpool, North Wales, North West England and Scotland will be an hour quicker - that's a 2 hour saving on a day trip.

> And would the project be cheaper if it didn't need to be so super-straight in order to be able to achieve the high speeds

No, the extra cost for high speed is negligable in the open country. If it's not straight it's using more land.


I've always wondered if the government could defray the cost of HS2 by buying some blocks of cheap farmland in the middle of nowhere, adding a HS2 station so the land was 20 minutes from central London, then selling the land to property developers. Obviously you could only add one or two towns, to avoid creating slow stopping services.

Seems to me that could increase the housing supply and offset the costs of HS2 at the same time - and most governments have had plans for new towns, new garden cities and suchlike.


Crossrail was funded by me and other tax payers. It's cost about £20b.

House prices near crossrail have risen an extra £133k each (above similar houses in similar places that don't get crossrail).

That's somewhere in the region of £100b.

Crossrail is a massive transfer of wealth from working people to wealthy land owners. It should have been funded entirely by a windfall levy on the increase land value near the stations.


> "Crossrail was funded by me and other tax payers."

A significant portion (over 30% of the original £17.8b budget) of Crossrail's funding has actually come from land owners and businesses, in the form of:

- Business rate supplements

- Property developer contributions

- Community infrastructure levy

- Sale of surplus property along the route

- Contributions from other non-taxpayer funded entities like Heathrow and the City of London corporation

Much of the rest of the funding is from TfL and loans backed by the DfT, which should eventually be payed back from ticket revenue.


30% is not nearly enough. It's still a free lunch for property/landowners.


If only the UK had a real property tax.


> Crossrail is a massive transfer of wealth from working people to wealthy land owners.

Not that I particularly disagree with you, but I have two friends I'd consider 'working people' rather than 'land owners' who potentially benefit from increases in the value of their homes nearby the Crossrail improvements.


> buying some blocks of cheap farmland in the middle of nowhere, adding a HS2 station so the land was 20 minutes from central London, then selling the land to property developers. Obviously you could only add one or two towns, to avoid creating slow stopping services

I don't think any such land ('cheap', 'middle of nowhere', '20 mins from central London') exists in the UK.


What I mean is they could buy land somewhere like the outskirts of Quainton [1] at the current "much more than 20 minutes from Euston" land price, then add a HS2 station that turns it into "20 minutes from Euston" land.

Or if Quainton is too expensive/green-belt-y, do the same at Wormleighton or Newton Purnell or somewhere else along the line.

[1] https://goo.gl/maps/idx4iCxQjVjEU5WCA



None of that land is remotely cheap, in the middle of nowhere, nor probably twenty minutes away even for a fast train.


20 minutes from Old Oak Common / Crossrail, based on HS1 timings from Ebbsfleet (140mph), you'd be able to get out to around Quainton in 20 minutes.


Probably because “20 minutes from central London” is too short even for high-speed trains to reach any cheap farmland.

That’s like... Croydon distance from London Bridge?


So this thread got me thinking about the practicalities.. the HS1 speed to Ebbsfleet (25 miles out of London and outside the M25) is 18 minutes which includes a stop at Stratford.

HS2 is designed to run a little faster and if you nixed the stop I think 30-35 miles could realistically be 20 minutes out of London on HS2. That sticks you right in the middle of the Chilterns if you follow HS2's rough direction.. probably not ideal for a town.

Add another 5 minutes, though, and there's a lot of open land just south-east of Oxford and just off of the M40 too..


So you're correct that the Chilterns aren't ideal - those are dormitory villages, already very expensive, I grew up there.

The open land near Oxford will be open because it's a swamp. If you could build on it cheaply somebody would.


20 minutes from London you are looking at about 5-10m per hectare and as mentioned good luck finding an empty square meter let alone a hectare.


£10k an acre, or £30k a heactare

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/commercial-property-for-sale/pro...

Once close to a HS2 station yes it would be £5m a hectare


I had never heard of an Overage Provision before...

Nice to know we explicitly provide for land owners to extract rent even when they don't own the land any more.


Sorry yes £25k for agricultural land but goes straight to the millions with planning permission.


"And as it’s going to last 200+ years, let’s do it properly."

And the day after this article was written the UK government announces a review of HS2 - probably for rather short term political reasons:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49420332


Maybe we should have a referendum on it, then we can just go ahead with it regardless of how much it will cost and how little benefit it might provide.


Remind me again how that fits in with the Brexit narrative? I thought we were going to be standing tall, thrusting forward, open for business. Or does that mean tall ships plying their trade in Boris Johnsons mind???


Johnson is worried about losing votes in the NIMBY areas north west of London


Making Britain more attractive for business than the EU does not sound that difficult, to be fair.


Apparently more difficult than making the UK less attractive for business - which seems to be the current plan.


It's a cute remark and I certainly don't disagree that the government (hell, even the opposition) are handling the situation horribly. But the sad reality is that post-Brexit the UK government is free to be more business friendly. I say "sad reality" because this is not necessarily good for the general public - we could see healthcare opened up to private US companies, we could see workers rights eroded, reduced responsibilities for companies, emissions standards relaxed, food standards relaxed ...

Tories whine about Brussels forcing all of this stuff onto the UK, they'll gleefully strip it away at the first opportunity. It might turn out to be good for business after all, but in the same way the Iraq war was.


One must remember that a direct quote from Boris Johnson, the (now) prime minister was "Fuck Business". Leaving the EU is about avoiding scrutiny, not stimulating business.

While it's true that the Tory party of old (charitably until ~2015) may have cared about competitiveness for business, that party is now dead - overtaken by the extreme right. The only thing that matters to them at this stage is power, and personal enrichment, and they have become masters of disinformation and confusion to ensure it -- a job made much easier by the generally awful state of the press in the UK. It's a shame that the opposition are, as you say, no better.


Friendly for certain kinds of businesses and practices - those that make short-term high gains for investors through rent-seeking and asset-stripping before shutting down or selling off to the next mug before it all goes down the pan.

Not friendly for manufacturing (relying on JIT inventory management across borders and regulatory alignment for exports).

Not friendly for scientific spin-off/catapult startups, which rely on the the universities attracting researchers and research grants.

Not friendly for anything relying on a large number of domestic customers with disposable income (e.g. retail), because everyone will have to save up against the fear of sudden unemployment or US-style healthcare bills.

Basically, most things that are not good for the general public are also not good for most business, because in the end, businesses rely on customers buying their product (or in a B2B scenario, their clients' products and so on).


As someone who spent a lot of time in London I hope he is correct about the track capacity released for local trains once the intercity move to the new lines.

Two stopping trains per hour between local stations is not enough and if any were cancelled or delayed it created hell.

I left partly because the commute to work sometimes took 2.5 hours each way and was ultimately draining. And that was living on the outskirts.


> As someone who spent a lot of time in London I hope he is correct about the track capacity released for local trains once the intercity move to the new lines.

Well of course there is. There's currently 10 trains an hour in each direction that run non-stop through Milton Keynes.

There could easily be an initial service along the lines of

Slow lines

  6tph London-Harrow-Watford-Stations to MKC
  6tph London-Watford-Hemel-Leighton-Bletchley-MKC
Fast lines

  6tph London-Watford-MKC-Northampton
  4pth London-Watford-MKC-Rugby-All_stops_TrentValley-Stafford
  4pth London-Watford-MKC-Rugby-Coventry-Airport-Birmingham
And I suspect stops at OOC will come too.


He's correct that there will be more track capacity. The question is whether it'll be used if a significant chunk of passenger traffic ends up getting moved to HS2. It might be that because the loss of traffic makes it less economically viable to operate trains on the existing routes, some stations actually end up getting served less frequently.


I don’t see how HS2 can move significant amounts of local traffic off local lines.

It’s a high speed intercity line that only has a few stops (compared to a local or commuter service). It can’t provide local services, it doesn’t have the stations or the track to do so. It also won’t be high speed of it stopped every 10miles.


As I understand it, it's because there often aren't 'local lines' per se. For instance, if you want to go from Doncaster to Retford (about a ten-fifteen minute journey)[1], you're either on the East Coast Main Line (which runs Edinburgh-London) or the Hull line (which runs Hull-London). The necessity to runs express/intercity services on the same line reduces the ability to schedule local services - a slow moving/frequently stopping local service would block express trains.

It's less about moving local traffic off current lines, and more about freeing them up to provide local services. You could potentially see something like Bawtry station[2], which is between the two, brought back into service if there is demand, whereas it might not currently make sense to do so as the line's primary purpose is intercity travel.

[1] Not necessarily something that might be affected by HS2 - just a set of stations I know as an example.

[2] Closed in 1959, but Wikipedia notes: "land near the station has been protected should the site be required as a new station, with car parking facilities, in the future as the town grows". The line initially went Doncaster-Rossington-Bawtry-Scrooby-Ranskill-Barnby-Retford, but now only Doncaster and Retford remain.


Someone at HS2 PR needs to hire this man and then connect him to a subeditor


Int he last few months HS2 has swung it's PR to emphasise the capacity -- although they still aren't giving concrete or even example figures of what that means (12tph from Milton Keynes for example)


If you have a 'tube level' map of London in your head it is not obvious why HS2 goes through Old Oak Common. Euston is North and Paddington (which Old Oak Common traditionally services) is West of the capital.

Some commentators in this post have questioned why the article is called what it is when it is just about HS2. For me I think that the title is apt and I now have so much more clarified. This is a really good article and I finally understand and like the project. Before I didn't give a damn about it.


The majority of stuff leaving Euston leaves on the West Coast Main Line. This nearly touches the Great Western Main Line near Old Oak Common - with just Kensal Green Cemetery separating the two. Having a large junction with GWML, Crossrail and Overground traffic would appear to be very appealing when it comes to giving additional choice to travellers.

As for not planning another exit route out of Euston, I'd imagine that there's a significant planning headache in routing new tunnels around the existing infrastructure in and around Euston, and that having the line shadow the existing WCML is much less painful to both plan and develop.

Paddington has had a significant amount of work done to it recently with the Crossrail work going into it. Though it doesn't appear to suffer the access issues that Euston has it may prove to be a headache if HS2 traffic was supposed to arrive alongside GWML traffic.


A good summary of the main points in favour of HS2 that almost no-one in English media or politics is making.

This article, which is unfortunately now paywalled, covers a lot of the same ground: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hs2-logistic...

HS2 is one of those projects that's unpopular across the political spectrum and unfortunately seems like it's under threat, but the arguments in this post make a lot of sense and they're just not being made more broadly.


Great piece. But if our goal is increased capacity, perhaps HS2 isn't the best way to do it - are there cheaper and slower alternatives? And if this is an either/or decision, there are alternative proposals that are absolutely worth of consideration - some scandalously poor situations up North for example. I just can't help feeling this is yet another example of the public being stitched up by their taxes being funnelled to a financial bonanza for the politicians' chums.


Basically, no - upgrades to the existing rail network are exceedingly expensive and disruptive (the whole East Coast Mainline is basically closing this weekend because a single junction needs to be renewed.) HS2 provide lots of fast intercity capacity meaning existing lines can be freed up for a massive enhancement to local services. The high speed also helps reduce demand for domestic air travel which is vital for combating the climate emergency.

This map shows where capacity will be unlocked: https://twitter.com/HS2ltd/status/1158403767756316672

And this comprehensively explains why more capacity is needed and a new high speed railway is the solution: https://medium.com/@garethdennis/high-speed-two-and-the-need...


As it stands I don't believe this. I'll happily accept that new tracks need to be built, and to support higher speed, but going up to "400 km/h (250 mph)" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Speed_2) seems pure dickwaving.

From your article "Yet the story doesn’t seem to be getting through. As engineers, it is not just our duty to create new infrastructure, it is also our duty to communicate its purpose. Helping the British public to get behind High Speed 2 must be a priority for our industry if we are to truly make this megaproject a success."

Translation: shut up and swallow, plebs.

I'd like to know what incremental cost there is for an increment of higher speed - I bet I know the shape of that graph. If you want higher capacity, let me know why longer trains don't work.

New line yes, gouging expense for national vanity, no.


What money are you trying to save?

You could go for Ballast rather than Slab, which means lower install costs and slower trains, but also means higher maintenence costs, but the headline price will be lower, even though the TCO will be higher and the service will be worse.

Longer trains don't work because you'd have to demolish the towns that the stations are currently in -- extending 200m north/south at every station between Euston and Rugby is not cheap and will piss off a lot more people than building a quiet railway through an empty area, not to mention all the signal problems and points fouling, and what will you do at Euston?

> I'd like to know what incremental cost there is for an increment of higher speed

The big costs are land acquisition and earthworks, which won't change at all regardless of the speed. Euston is another cost, but you'd have to completely rebuild the station, including putting all the platforms underground, for your longer train plan - and Underground space in London isn't that easy.


I'd like to know what incremental cost there is for an increment of higher speed

So you are arguing against it when you don't know the cost?


That's a good question. I don't know the cost but it is reasonable to suppose that every extra 10% in speed adds >10% in cost, and that this cost increment grows nonlinearly. So my objection is I think reasonable - or does it grow linearly in your view?

However to be sure I'm not being unreasonabe I want to know what that curve is - am I being unreasonable to ask for information given that I'm going to be paying for HS2?


That doesn't seem to be the case, if you look at the infrastructure cost breakdowns the total construction cost for phase 1 is estimated at £6.6Bn, with the remaining £9.6Bn going to things like project management, mitigation costs, and land acquisition.

If you take a look at the construction costs, of the $6.6Bn only £665 are going towards the rail and control systems. With all other items being largely the same regardless of rail speed, I have a feeling (though I could be quite wrong), that the cost difference between low and high speed is marginal.

Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/...


Thanks, I really appreciate you made the effort to find some actual stats, but with respect, that doc is from march 2012. I don't know if the data is still relevant now (though it may be).

We need some solid stats by an independent party which is why I'm happy one is going to be looking into it.

FYI from that document, let me quote cos it's interesting: cost estimates in march 2012:

2.9 Route package cost summaries

2.9.1 The phase one total cost estimate is £16.3 billion within a cost range of £15.4 billion to £17.3 billion. [...]

2.9.2 The phase two total cost estimate is £17.1 billion within a cost range of £15.7 billion to £18.7 billion. [...]

2.9.3 The full Y network cost estimate is £33.4 billion within a cost range of £30.9 billion to £36.0 billion. [...]


Construction costs haven’t changed all that much since then. A significant proportion of the costs are in project management and contractual arrangements designed to shift risk away from politicians and managers. If you look at costs in France, we are about 5-10 times more expensive for a route of equivalent complexity. French digger drivers don’t earn 5x less and materials are not 5x cheaper in France, if they were French would be the language of building sites in Britain. So the costs must be coming from somewhere else; land acquisition, risk management and over complicated contracting and project management processes are my bet, based on my experience of working on large construction projects in the UK and Europe.


Most expensive TGV route so far €15m/km. ~200km London-Birmingham. Therefore ~€3bn for the high speed line itself. €5bn each end for stations? €10bn for tunnels into London? The rest spent on typical British dicking around with procurement, only people worse at wasting money on getting stuff done is the US. I wonder if it’s to do with the way we contract things? Edit: another stat says €20m/km LGV Mediterranean.


There's a lot of tunneling on HS2 - including massive underground stations at Euston and OOC, a new station in Birmingham, and tunnelling in London and Chilterns.

That has to happen whether the trains run at 180mph or 80mph.


LGV Mediterranean has to negotiate the hilly terrain in southern France. Plenty of tunnels and viaducts. €20m/km. Way less than us. The problem is with how we manage construction projects in the UK.


It's hard to compare, the UK is more densely populated, twice as high as France. My guess is a lot went into buying off property owners.


They budgeted £1.1b, but have already spent £2b


You'd be amazed just how poorly dynamite works for making miles of tunnel, in between up to 12 layers of pre-existing tunnels, through wet central London clay.


> but it is reasonable to suppose that every extra 10% in speed adds >10% in cost

I suspect the numbers are more like

60mph railway: £40b 140mph railway: £50b 180mph railway: £60b


The original article made the case that this was cheaper than upgrading existing infrastructure, it also made the case that this will be around for 200 years. That being the case, attempting to future proof, by eg designing it to be 250mph capable seems sensible.

Theres also the fact that this route will have competition, against aircraft and cars, ideally it needs to be quicker than its alternatives in order to succeed.

Longer trains probably will increase capacity, but mailing around TB hard drives probably has higher bandwidth than the average internet connection. Good luck selling individuals on that 'upgrade' though.


> The original article made the case that this was cheaper than upgrading existing infrastructure

which part of "I'll happily accept that new tracks need to be built" was unclear?

> designing it to be 250mph capable seems sensible

I understand it's not going to be run at that speed for much of its length, so what's the cost benefit?

> Theres also the fact that this route will have competition, against aircraft and cars, ideally it needs to be quicker than its alternatives in order to succeed

Interesting question whether we will have fossil-fuel powered aircraft for many decades, and as for cars it's a matter of cost. Trains are expensive now - that's where it will compete with cars; they often are already faster than cars for long distances.

> Longer trains probably will increase capacity

'probably'?

> but mailing around TB hard drives probably has higher bandwidth than the average internet connection

false equivalence. Trains can already be faster than cars.


I don't think it's beyond the wits of engineers to work out which parts of the track need to be 250mph capable given the acceleration profile of the trains that are likely to use it. The ECML out of King's Cross is a 125mph route but unsurprisingly the points outside the station aren't designed for anything close to that.


Relevant snippet from https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-qa-how-doe...

<<<

Will HS2 be the world’s fastest bullet train?

[...] But HS2 told FactCheck that there are actually no plans to operate at this speed. What’s more, they say this was never the plan. Indeed, the track, control systems and trains being purchased are not physically capable of it.

The confusion has arisen because HS2 says it has allowed enough flexibility to potentially do a major upgrade of the line at some point in the distant future, should the government want to. The curves in the route could theoretically see speeds of up to 400km per hour.

>>>

So my claim taken from wiki is not incorrect but not relevant yet.

Back to your point "I don't think it's beyond the wits of engineers to work out which parts of the track need to be 250mph capable given the acceleration profile of the trains that are likely to use it"

Good point! However while the engineering of the tracks can vary the trains have to be made to run at that spec speed even if it was for 1 yard. On t'other hand, judging by the jaw-dropping price of the tracks (£104.8m per kilometre, source is same as above) perhaps the trains are the cheap bit.

OK, you are right.


"false equivalence"

That wasn't the point I was trying to make, in the quoted paragraph

Passengers may value the speed more than the capacity. If you quadrupled capacity, but halved speed would that be better or worse for the railway, or the internet?

Door to door train v car journey is more marginal that what you suggest. I would have to spend 2 hours to get to the east cost mainline. In a car I could be over halfway to London by then. And i could have the same problem at the other end. In the same way you'll never be as fast as a plane, but you don't have to turn up 2 hours early for a train.


> If you quadrupled capacity, but halved speed would that be better or worse for the railway, or the internet?

Bandwidth is speed in most cases for the internet, lag intolerant games being an exception. Also my 10Mbit link is good enough for me despite having 100Mbit available. So the question is about comparing things which are not really comparable. Well, TBF, I can't.

> Passengers may value the speed more than the capacity

well they might, and they might want the carriages painted polkadot with hot podium dancers at each end, so how about arguing from a basis of fact instead?

from https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/rail-companies-... and with a table at the bottom. Speed is not mentioned in the report. Clearly other things really are hurting them.

As to speed vs capacity, look in the chart at 'standing room' and 'availability of seats'. That's about capacity.

> Door to door train v car journey is more marginal that what you suggest

For you I wouldn't doubt, but there's a lot of others who may feel different. Pace but arguing from 1 data point is not rigorous. I've heard of people spending £5,000 a year for their work commute (that may be reporting bias but it's another data point).


What part of 'let's communicate the case for our new infrastructure' translates to 'shut up'? If anything, they're saying they need to move away from steamroll it through and try and make the case to local communities that they'll benefit from this and should be singing its praises.


Provide reliable, independent costings and benefits for the project. That's how you make a case.

If you can't make a case then it's time to start up the PR bullshit, which uses nice words and breathless aspirations. It tends to sound like this: "Yet the story doesn’t seem to be getting through. As engineers, it is not just our duty to create new infrastructure, it is also our duty to communicate its purpose. Helping the British public to get behind High Speed 2 must be a priority for our industry if we are to truly make this megaproject a success"

Let's go through that:

"Yet the story doesn’t seem to be getting through"

why not?

"it is not just our duty to create new infrastructure, it is also our duty to communicate its purpose"

It's purpose is clear. It's a railway. So something else is going wrong with your story that you don't want to talk about.

The last sentence is content free. It says zilch.


Someone pointed out recently that the route of the former Great Central Main Line [1] could be relaid with track to increase capacity.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Central_Main_Line


My concern is that it will cost a lot of money but ultimately not deliver a reliable, fast, comfortable service. For some reasons Brits seem incapable of delivering great railway services. The Calendonian Express fiasco is just the latest example - an amazing idea that could have been absolutely fantastic, completely ruined by the awful implementation.

As a taxpayer, I would much rather the work was contracted out to the Japanese that built the Shinkansen services. But for some strange reason that seems politically unpopular.


It will be reliable and fast because it's on its own tracks. It'll be comfortable because those tracks are new, and the high ticket price requires decent seats. I'm surprised by your concerns. Try out HS1.

Like with Hinckley and various other grand projects I'd rather we taught ourselves how to do it. Only HS2a has passed into law, b&c, HS3 and Crossrail2 are still to come.


> and the high ticket price requires decent seats

The cost of the train can be amazing. I'd like to know what train users will say if offered the choice between 'decent seats' and a decent price.


£6 for a 90 minute 130 mile trip? Sure is amazing.

High costs on the WCML for flexible peak fares are becase

1) The costs subsidise rail elsewhere, like regional networks in the North and Welsh Valleys

2) The price encourages people to take less busier trains

(2) falls down a bit with the hard cutoff, because there's no "shoulder peak" at Euston, meaning that 1840 is empty but the 1900 is really full, but the principle remains.


£120 from Euston to Lime Street sitting on the floor bank holiday weekend. HS2 can't come soon enough.


Given that a walk up fare on a bank holiday is £89.60 return I struggle to see where you get £120 from. If you're happy to take a slow train it's £35 return.

Bank holidays are always very busy, you'd think that if prices were really so high people wouldn't travel. The extra 10,000 seats an hour that HS2 provides will certainly help though.


> Given that a walk up fare on a bank holiday is £89.60 return

An relative bargain compared to London-Leeds costing £113.50


Yet of tou’re Willing to take longer it’s £35 rtutn, or about 10p/mile


Pray tell, what is this route for £35 off-peak, walk-up?


Euston to Liverpool on LM. Trains are direct at xx:49, or change at Crewe

No break of journey on the outbound but allowed on return.


1. Are constant delays and signal failures on existing tracks because the tracks are old, and so new tracks would not have these problems?

2. The Caledonian Express also has high ticket prices, yet the service is completely shambolic.


> Are constant delays and signal failures on existing tracks because the tracks are old, and so new tracks would not have these problems?

Yes. This is also why the Tube and the NYC metro have such big problems compared to more recently built systems.


It's not the 'tracks' per se, as in the lumps of metal on the ground, but more frequently it's the design of the segment of the route.

A piece of route might have been designed in the 1800s, possibly to a speed limit of 20 or 30mph, then been rationalised and 'upgraded' over the years to a higher speed, but that section of track will still carry limitations that are implied by the way it was initially designed to be, signalling may be too close together, or too far apart, junctions that are rarely used but remain for whatever reason add complexity and potential failure sites, tracks.

There are of course some physical aspects of physically old track - shorter (~100m) sections of rail joined together have a higher risk of failure than the newer techniques of long (0.5km to 1km or more) single track pieces welded together, old wooden sleepers allow track movement that can result in delays and maintenance issues, whereas relative-new concrete sleepers, and really-new split-concrete sleepers are more reliable and permit faster and more reliable train operation.

Tearing routes apart and redesigning the sections from scratch is difficult politically, so the UK's railway network tends to suffer from the fact that 99% of it was designed and built before 1880.


This is my concern tbh. It's less about the 20min shorter travel figure, or the idea that is just extends the London commuter belt. But that we currently seem unable to deliver projects like this reliably or within a reasonable budget. Just look at the cross rail budget and delays for example. Something needs to be done about the way the gov handles these projects before piling more money into the hole.


Equally, we've delivered plenty of surface railway projects on time and on budget - the Borders line and Airdrie to Bathgate in Scotland come to mind. It's a pretty defeatist attitude to cancel ambitious projects because they sometimes go over-budget and leads to countries having terrible infrastructure.


Also the Queensferry Crossing - a bit over time (due to weather problems) but under budget and a gorgeous bridge.


The train service from the West into London, is generally reliable, fast and a reasonable price if you avoid peak times


As a Scot, I am skeptical how HS2 is going to improve the Edinburgh and Glasgow lines to London. Considering they don't go via Birmingham (they go Warrington, Stoke, Milton Keynes)


The west coast HS2 route threads between Birmingham and the existing West Coast Main Line, with a branch to Birmingham and a branch to join up with the WCML at (IIRC) around Crewe. It's a little less direct than the existing route, but engineered a lot faster.

The other dirty not-quite-secret about HS2 is that it's not mainly about high speed. The WCML is full to bursting in some sections, and putting freight, long distance passenger, and stopping trains on the same tracks reduces capacity further. So it's mostly about building a new line. And once you're doing that, it makes sense to make it high speed and passenger only.


It looks like trains could switch to HS2 tracks just south of York - which is about half way between London and Edinburgh:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-474...

What effect a detour via Birmingham on HS2 has on times to/from Scotland is another question!


Aw, high speed rail to Birmingham.

"Let's go to Birmingham".[1]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmPzB0qTy4M


Can't see why this has hit the front page. It's not really a look at Old Oak Common so much as a long spiel about why HS2 is Gonna Be Great (tm).


Because people voted for it as it is quite interesting?


And likely because it's hit during the morning in the UK and there's just been articles about a review of HS2 potentially putting it at risk due to large cost overruns.


I was thinking more along the lines that I was expecting something about the station itself, engineering challenges and so forth -- not a thinly-veiled puff piece for HS2.


I really wish the powers-at-be would look at Hyperloop as a serious alternative to HS2. While it seems so futuristic it's well within our technological abilities, just seems to be health and safety / legislature restrictions.

Potentially far cheaper to build and maintain, modern, environmentally better and quicker amongst a host of other benefits and would help make Britain a global leader in transportation.

The Danny in the Valley podcast episode with Dirk Ahlborn was eye opening on the potential benefits and briefly mentions HS2 and Crossrail along with the current SF to LA High Speed rail project.


The best transport option might be smartrail (similar to http://openprtspecs.blogspot.com/2011/11/climbing-chain.html but steel wheel/LIM and faster).

Smartrail and PRT are designed as a point to point separated-grade network carrying on av. 1 person or a pallette of goods. With a hanging rail you don't need heavy batteries, parking for the vehicles, you can run a pod straight into the factory to pickup goods, and large/rich places can pay to have track straight to their door.

You can prefab the rail and as land usage is just poles in the ground it can be rolled out over fields etc quickly. Track is one-way to eliminate junctions. Pods are on-demand ie. No waiting.

Accessibility improves, you can use the top of the rail to generate (solar) power, run highspeed internet cables in the rail to improve comms across a country, and save on distribution center logistics as you're going point to point.

The last mile may possibly be an issue, but forklift drones and bicycles can take most of the load I feel.

Drivers for this are that it would go fast (200mph+ as light pods so little wear), can go overnight (sleeper pods), you could buy track to your door, personal transport (like a cinema room if you want). The main real issue with cars is that there's a large lobby behind what is a legacy transport solution...

By way of example, UltraPRT has been running flawlessly at Heathrow airport for 10 years, was built on time, on budget, and performs exactly as predicted/modelled.

For more info checkout http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/ in particular Swedetrack (https://web.archive.org/web/20060202013014/http://www.swedet...)




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