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  • Does it really cost that much to build a rail line to Manchester via Birmingham?

    A high speed line yes, as they can’t reuse existing Victorian era infrastructure.

    Look at the Shinkansen Line that was massively over budget, but fortunately work out well.

    UK simply need much more investment in public transport to local places than a single high speed line.

  • Just playing devils advocate here, but is the issue that we are not spending enough? France has over 2500km of high speed rail, Germany has high speed lines connecting most of its major cities.

    If we are baulking at 1 line (technically 2) because the money could be spent better elsewhere, should we be aiming higher and looking to spend £600billion to connect all of the UK? Or should we just forget high speed rail altogether?

  • I think we should forget about the North altogether and build a wall.

  • 10 years ago I worked on the HS2 business case, it was barely beneficial at the old cost estimate and a lot of that was due to some magic spreadsheet from (I think) PwC that said there would be huge benefits to the regional economies. I did transport modelling and almost all the benefit there was for people commuting into London from Birmingham. Politicians love shiny high speed projects though, nobody wants to spend the money on 4-tracking or electrifying existing routes.

  • Would have been nice if we were going to expand airports up north instead of Heathrow and build the national stadium in the Midlands instead of London. Would maybe begin to make it less obvious that HS2 is just about lining pockets...

  • I don't disagree but the bit that doesn't make sense is that constructing new high speed lines between town and cities outside London with each other would still benefit the construction companies and give "the people" what they want, so why does it have to be HS2?

  • I work in railway investment projects and I haven't fully coalesced my thoughts about HS2 yet. It's hard to get to the truth of it behind the click-baity headlines that jump on the inevitable issues any major complex project attracts. Not defending it per se but a lot of what gets reported is either subjective and emotive or designed to stoke up reactions. I'd be interested to read the latest business case for the various options.

    I would say that whether or not it goes ahead is not a zero sum game with other investments and improvements though. There is lots going on that isn't well publicized. In a lot of places the existing railway is at capacity under conventional signalling. I'm currently working on a project to introduce digital signalling to the East Coast Mainline that should unlock that and enable improved capacity and reliability. We've just had £350m by approved by the DfT to fit the remainder of freight and passenger trains so we can go signals away in 2024.

    cheesy vid here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue6Na6ZO­hwc

  • 10 years ago I worked on the HS2 business case, it was barely
    beneficial at the old cost estimate and a lot of that was due to some
    magic spreadsheet from (I think) PwC that said there would be huge
    benefits to the regional economies. I did transport modelling and
    almost all the benefit there was for people commuting into London from
    Birmingham. Politicians love shiny high speed projects though, nobody
    wants to spend the money on 4-tracking or electrifying existing routes

    Aha, but they do! Only issue with East Coast Mainline is that you can't 4 track it because of a2 track pinch point at Welwyn Viaduct and the tunnels either side. That and a suburban station, Welwyn North, right in the middle of that section where trains stop and effectively block the only route in front of high speed intercity service between London and Edinburgh (and York, Leeds etc). Options considered included demolishing that station, building new bridges, flying trains and massive tunnels. The digital solution is a bit of a no-brainer really.

    Plus because all new trains have the capability and under ECML we're fitting 80% of the national freight fleet, once we're done, the business case for the next scheme will be far stronger.

    That's the plan anyway. Now we only have to worry about training umpteen thousand drivers, conductors, signallers, maintenance staff, track workers, station staff... oh and making it work on steam trains.

    Easy.

  • The Trans-Pennine route upgrade business base got rejected recently and they've had to go back and have another think. We're currently looking at trying to fund a "digital" (meaningless term these days) traffic management* system to improve performance in the meantime.

    *bit like air traffic control for trains. system aims to give signallers the best possible guidance in order to get things back up and running again if there's disruption. It also covers stock and crew movements to try and minimise the infuriating "service cancelled due to non availability of a crew member" thing that winds folks up so much. That's almost always due to things going out of sych after disruption and staff and trains ending up stuck in the wrong place.

  • Imagine if you had an extra £100bn to solve all those thorny issues! My view was always that, as you say infrastructure investment is not a zero sum game, so we should spend money improving the railways but I didn't see any reason to spend so much on one line from Birmingham to London. Keep up the good work though!

  • I take no credit/blame. I am a small cog.

    *goes back to magic spreadsheet

  • An interesting train of thought.

  • Alright Oliver...

  • That awful squashed Bee Gee of a pub singer from the X-Factor turns out to be a sex pest. Who'd have thought it?

  • Haha, I know right... Treatment with Chinese characteristics...

  • That is much more sensible, however telling people to go to hospital makes it seem like the government is doing more (hospital! important!) so logic be damned!

  • I did mean to write something on this whole train malarkey but didn't have time yesterday. At any rate, there are drum puns to be done somewhere else first, and I'm not going to derail this whole discussion just yet.

  • And if we get onto monorails, I've got a few one-liners.

  • That was a pretty high-speed reply.

  • Let's try and stay on track guys...

    I have a cold, I live quite near China, will I be dead by Easter?

  • I’m in favour of adding high speed capacity to complement the existing rail network, given that’s running at capacity. Is HS2 as well-thought as it could be? Maybe not. But the benefits of big infrastructure projects like this are always hard to model. And I’m forever bemused by the fact that people who would happily back things like a Green New Deal - basically massive infrastructure investment which will create jobs and activity and have significant non-financial benefits that a simple fiscal analysis won’t reflect - will happily spout right wing populist NIMBY talking points in opposition to HS2.

  • Andrew Dallas, for the defence, said after moving to London and appearing on Pop Idol, Tetley developed an alcohol and drug problem that spiralled out of control.

    Suuuuure. So booze and drugs turn you into a pedo

  • I've been mostly of the booze this month and also haven't touched any kids.

  • will happily spout right wing NIMBY talking points in opposition to HS2.

    What are the specifically "right wing" NIMBY talking points? As far as I can see the main arguments against, other than spiralling costs, are environmental damage and the counterproductiveness of linking northern cities ever more closely to London in terms of stimulating growth specifically in the North.

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