Mystery over tunnelling costs as DfT tries to manage media coverage

One of the big mysteries of yesterday’s HS2 announcement was how the Department had pulled off the trick of adding in five miles of extra tunnelling and yet seemingly the cost of the project has remained the same.

Pressed on this point on Newsnight, Norman Baker was vague saying there was an extra cost,but he was very unspecific and was not pressed by the other participants in the discussion. However, buried in the ”economic appraisal’ document, the capital cost of the London to Birmingham section is revealed as £18.8bn – in other words nearly £2bn more than the previously used  £17bn figure.  I initially thought this explained the rise but as Transport Briefing explains in a comment below, this may not relate to the extra tunnelling, but may be associated with extra capital costs on completion and as TB points out, total capital costs in that document is £36bn – but with DfT not responding to requests for information, it is hard to pin it down – costs in the command paper are £32.7bn, almost equally split between the two, which therefore still implies that despite the extra tunnelling, the overall cost of the Birmingham scheme has gone down – which is incomprehensible. The extra cost of the tunnels has, like the line itself,  simply been buried.

This was all part of a very carefully worked out news management strategy for the whole HS2 announcement. First, on saturday, the department published the appraisal by Network Rail of the alternatives – which was less detailed and thorough than the Atkins appraisal published yesterday which suggests that the alternatives are actually a good deal – in orer to weaken opposition arguments. Then on Tuesday, a whole swathe of documents was placed on the website at 9 30 – and it promptly crashed, of course – looking at the alternatives, the economic appraisal, and so on. There was a briefing, too, from civil servants but only for a handful of national transport correspondents – not including me – were invite and there was no press conference. Then at 3 30 Justine Greening gave a statement and answered questions in Parliament.

Actually, she was pretty good on her feet and gave confident answers. Yet, she was kept off the airwaves, with no live programme discussions – left to the rather untidy looking Baker – and therefore managed to avoid questions on the increase in cost and other details.  For the most part, it was left to the rather flaky and shaky Pete Waterman and the suave former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis – in other words, an ageing pop impressario and a former transport secretary – to put the case for the lne rather than the elected government. Bizarre.

While this news management has been, for the Department, relatively successful – at least when Waterman kept his temper, unlike on Radio 5 when he berated me for cycling – there was still plenty of coverage of the opponents’ case and each time the govt uses these techniques, a little bit of democracy is lost….

  • Paul Holt

    Given how roads bulldoze their way with impunity, the solution for HS2 is to build a road along the route, thereby sidestepping the protesters, then immediately close the road and put railtrack down.   Anyone else thought of that?

  • Irish Richy

    I wondered this also, if a whacking 4 lane dual carriageway was being built past the village of Wendover, would the well heeled folks be so up in arms? 
    Don’t get me wrong, i agree with people who don’t want to see the countryside churned up unnecessarily, i just wish this level of rural revolutionary fervour could be induced by road building…

  • The new high speed rail command paper says, page 25, construction cost of phase 1 is £16.3bn and phase 2 £16.4bn – added together gives the government quoted cost of the Y (£32.7bn).

    Another report published yesterday, summary of effects of HS2 route refinements, says on page 7 that phase 1 construction cost has been reduced by £375m-£425m (to £16.3bn) since the public consultation.

    The table in the updated economic case you refer to quotes capital costs of £18.8bn for phase 1 and £36.4bn for the Y over a 60 year period. I’m guessing these figures are higher because money has to be spent on the infrastructure over 60 years in addition to building the route.

  • Chris Packham

    Road building through countryside provokes the same reactions-remember Newbury Bypass, Twyford Down, Solsbury Hill (near Bath)….No major road’s been built through sensitive landscapes since the 1990s.

  • Everyone loved the image of burying the railway and the extra costs associated with it!  Ms Greening did appaer live on PM coming in to the BBC studio right on the wire with Eddie Mair fretting like a bridegroom as his intended takes the perogative to provide the suspense of being appropriately late at the church.

    There was one slip in the script as Ms Greening referred to Grand Central as builders of the last main line rail route in the UK in 1899, quite clearly avoiding the ironic comparisons of the 1906 main line built through the Chilterns jointly by GC and GW to provide one with a route offering additional capacity and higher speeds that that they shared with the Metropolitan Railway to just short of Milton Keynes (had it existed at that time), and the other with a high speed route to …Birmingham 

    With its flying junctions built in from the outset, a wayleave for 4 tracks for much of the route, much still available now, alignments which are near straight for miles, constructed with the intent of having no level crossings, and an existing feature of the landscape, quite possible requiring minimal grinding of the legal mill to enjoy the established Railway Powers of the original Railway Bills.  Restoring the Ashenden-Rugby section and connecting this to the WCML puts 3 major towns back on the National rail network – Daventry, Brackley and Buckingham, and offers them journey time to London of 50 minutes or less.

    Effectively connecting this 113 mile roue from London (Paddington or Marylebone) to Birmingham to the other 113 mile route from Euston, delivers the other aspired to detail trotted out as the HS2 benefit – the added flexibility and robustness of the existing network can be delivered far more quickly by cross-linking the 2 existing main line routes, so that a 7 day railway can be delivered and total blockades run at the same time.  Some key localised work can deliver the ability to close Paddington or Euston and divert services to the other or send Birmingham and other WCML expresses via Milton Keynes or Banbury, when this is planned and for the near weekly incident that disrupts the route at present.

    The credentials of the GC/GW joint line are established. It was the route to Birmingham for the Blue Pullman, and 50 years ago with jointed track and semaphore signalling a forerunner of the Class 47 covered 87.5 miles in 81 minutes on a normal service. Today the low budget enhancement to deliver a 100mph line (rather than the step-change to delver 125mph) sees the standard service, with stops taking under 90 minutes, and a railway elsewhere delivering timetabled trans that cover 208 miles in 2 hours, and better.  With a 125 mph route on the existing railway and existing trains that can be used, the established practice of getting the enhanced business from this improvement paying in to the coffers to fund the next increment, with the great benefit that the capacity called for and the delivery of a substantial reduction in Journey times can be delivered many years earlier.  

  • Some of us are less concerned with the precise figures. As Christian has pointed out before, this sort of thing is largely guesswork anyway, especially when it comes to huge long-term schemes and arbitrary, fuzzy concepts like cost-benefit analysis. Leave all that to the beancounters. What is important is that there needs to be a very large increase in capacity if we are ever to achieve a big modal shift from motoring (and, in the case of Scotland, also from air, though that is probably a lot less significant). Remember that even a quite small percentage modal shift from car would mean a big percentage increase in rail. Can that really be achieved by extensive tinkering with the existing network? It seems very unlikely to me.

    I do, however, think the promoters of this scheme have so far done a pretty lousy job of selling it to the general public. Even calling it “high speed” was probably a bad idea. I encounter people saying “all this trouble and expense just to get to Birminghams 20 minutes quicker”, when that is not the main point at all. When I explain to people that it is about capacity, not speed, they tend to become less hostile.

  • JG

    If this about adding capacity then Dave H is right – rebuild the Great Central as four tracked, electrified with continental loading gauge for freight and double deck trains to Birmingham etc. All done at a fraction of the cost of HS2.
    If the WCML can concentrate on longer distance passenger traffic and bits are ironed out here and there and the original concept of 140mph Pendos is re-instated then say another half hour can be taken off London – Scotland times.
    Anyway thoughts of taking HS2 to Scotland are a non starter, the idea of pushing a brand new LGV through Cumbria and the Scottish borders is pure fantasy. Any money available to build the bit in Scotland would be far better spent on our internal network.

  • Closing the Great Central main line was indeed one of the most tragically short-sighted things that BR ever did. As you say, most of the formation is still there as far as Rugby and it ought to be used (the current HS2 proposal does use a few miles of it), though I suspect you might be underestimating likely future capacity difficulties between Northolt Jc and Ashenden Jc.

    North of Rugby the GCR formation is no longer available, but I understand the former Midland trackbed between there and Leicester is still largely extant.

    Everything you suggest ought to happen, but it (and much else) needs to be *as well as* HS2, not *instead of* HS2. Of course, Christian believes that HS2 will use up funding that would otherwise be available for such reopenings and improvements to the existing network. Other equally wise commentators strongly disagree with him about that, and I don’t know who is right.

  • John Morris

    No, but plenty of roads were built before that and you seem to have conveniently forgotten the M6 Toll and the A5/Hints bypass – both of which have greater impact on many of the very same local communities that are ‘threatened’ by HS2.
     
    The impact of rail through the countryside is less than that of roads. We have to build one or the other. The quaint comments (above) regarding the Blue Pullman trundling down the Great Central (max speed 75 mph) are just that. The GC would make a good additional freight route once HS2 is full and the West Coast cannot take more freight!

  • John Morris

    The original plan in Lichfield was to put HS2 alongside the A38. Then the residents of Lichfield had a petition, and roped in the Village of Whittington as support. MPs got involved and after Hammond’s visit, the alignment moved from the A38 and closer to Whittington, through its Golf Course and Club House. Moral of the story – beware of pressure groups who claim to be acting in your interest.

  • John Morris

    I note that the commentariat is not generally whining and whingeing about the London Crossrail project – which is consuming around £2 billion per year. It is envisaged that the income stream for HS2 will largely come from that.
    I’d take more notice of the Metropolitan view if London wasn’t seen as a special case where money can be lavished. Per capita, London gets three times the transport subsidy of other parts of the UK. But strangely, we never seem to hear righteous indignation over that…it is time for the rest of the UK to benefit from the same treatment SE has received for years.

  • Ironically Wendover has two sharp bends for through traffic, and a 2 lane by-pass was built a few years ago, right next to…… the railway line!

  • Percy

    I was wondering how you got on yesterday in your many newsroom encounters with Pete Waterman, so thanks for briefing us on that as well as HS2. I always get the feeling when watching PW on TV that he’s a bombastic opinionated man who doesn’t like to loose an argument, someone who was maybe not adverse to throwing his weight about in younger years to intimidate anyone who didnt’ see things his way. I might be wrong but thats how he comes across for me anyway. He’s got celebrity profile and is good at delivering the sort of soundbites and stories that the media likes and thats what seems to get him these type of gigs even though a lot is made up on the hoof bluster that wouldnt pass for valid if it wasnt for the fact that he has sold millions of pop music CD’s. There is a TV clip on youtube where he tells this ellaborate story of how he personally saved the APT from the scrapman and yet when you talk to people at the Crewe Heritage Centre it didnt happen like that and he wasnt that involved. OK he’s pro railway which is good and he even did a few years service on BR  which gives him an insight but he made his millions elsewhere in the murky world music publishing and when he initially came back to the rail industry he bought a TOC from HM Governement that didnt have an operating licence and couldnt run its own trains!  The result is that it was left to other charter operators like West Coast Railways to break the stranglehold of EWS, they had to go out, get an operating licence and do what PW had sai he was going to do, So why do we set such stall in the man and give him airtime. Simple, There’s No Show Without Punch.

  • Rich

      You can always tell when someone loses a TV debate with Mr Waterman because they scuttle off and write derogatory remarks about him on the internet, rather like on this page. Both Joe and Lizzy from StopHS2 did exactly the same thing after appearing on TV and losing in a debate with Mr Waterman. You would have thought that anyone who was confident about the way the debate went would simply let the viewers decide but no, the correct way to react is to make snide remarks about him on the web. Poor form IMHO.

      I was intrigued by the comment about using tram systems to get people out of their cars. In my home town of Sheffield, people really apreciate the tram system there, but whatever “cost/benefit” ratio they came up with for it can’t have been too impressive or acurate given that there isn’t a single tram destination that isn’t well served by buses. But then again I’d like to think that maybe the council just had this old-fashioned notion that using tax-payers money in building it and trying to give everyone a pleasant journey to work and a reason not to sit in thier cars was the “right thing” to do.  As Mr Waterman was pointing out, (and I understand why he gets so animated about this, particularly when confronted with Jerry Marshall who seems incapable of opening his mouth without lying),  you can’t possibly build a business case for a railway because you can never calculate it’s intangible benefits, such as for example, attracting inward investment as a result of *not* being the only major developed economy to put a stake in the ground and refuse to take part in the next major stage of railway evolution. (A total disaster in in my opinion for which future generations would not thank us). 

      Thankfully it seems we now have decision makers who realise the importance of this can see the bigger picture decades from now, and we should ignore people demanding to see impossible ratios for no other reason than to hide a basic, selfish desire not to see it built, because it’s either too near their house or they don’t think they’ll benefit from it.

    Cheers.

  • Percy

    Rich said, “You can always tell when someone loses a TV debate with Mr Waterman
    because they scuttle off and write derogatory remarks about him on the
    internet”

    Interesting statement as the fact compiler at Railway Eye has recently blogged the following about this clash of the titans, scoring CW over PW.
    “Such was his virile prowess that he even knocked the waterman for six!”I didnt see the all debates yesterday but as a viewer I thought CW did score over PW on the one I did see. Its interesting how this HS2  issue is deeply dividing the supporters of  the Railways in this Country into two very disperate camps.

  • Rich

    I much have watched a different one. It was the one with Jerry Marhsall who made his customary “there will be no more nurses, doctors, jobs, flowers, poetry and love because of HS2” speech. There was no “virile prowess” on display and I’m sure it’s something I’d want to see to be honest. It sounds unpleasant.

  • Rich

    *not* sure, I should have said.

  • philipstuartparker

    I’d suggest that on past performance, the concept of “Don’t do HS2 and spend the money on the current railway” is flawed. If you do that, the improvments are small and easily cancelled when Parliament wants to increase the subsidy to the members canteen. On the other hand, once you start HS2, even an anti-rail media will spot it if you stop again because you’ve nicked the money for something else.

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  • Percy

    the idea of pushing a brand new LGV through Cumbria and the Scottish borders is pure fantasy.

    Its not stopping people talking about it already and the plan seems to be that the after Preston its next stop Glasgow, no stations in the cities of  Lancaster or Carlisle let alone Kendal or Penrith and a route that goes up the Lune valley from Lancaster to straighten things out and make it fast. Obviously when the good people of North Lancs & Cumbria find out about this they wont be pleased as there is nothing in it for them except destruction of wonderful, awe inspring countryside.

    Currently Lancs & Cumbria will  gain if the current section is built south of Preston both in time time savings and by not having bulldozers in their counties, hence MPs & Councillors are 100 percent up for HS2 at the moment but it’ll be interesting to see how their voice changes once and if a northern section with no stops between Preston & Glasgow is planned and it is increasingly likely that it will surface once construction of the southern section starts.  The old saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”,  will come home to roost as they have to change their tune in order to represent their constituents views which I guarantee wont be positive toward such a scheme.

    All that said it might go up the East Coast as an extension  from Leeds, much flatter landscape making it easier to build, more population than the West Coast has North of Preston and the route can take in Edburgh & Glasgow on its north/ south course so no need for two seperate  branches

  • Percy

    the idea of pushing a brand new LGV through Cumbria and the Scottish borders is pure fantasy.

    Its not stopping people talking about it already and the plan seems to be that the after Preston its next stop Glasgow, no stations in the cities of  Lancaster or Carlisle let alone Kendal or Penrith and a route that goes up the Lune valley from Lancaster to straighten things out and make it fast. Obviously when the good people of North Lancs & Cumbria find out about this they wont be pleased as there is nothing in it for them except destruction of wonderful, awe inspring countryside.

    Currently Lancs & Cumbria will  gain if the current section is built south of Preston both in time time savings and by not having bulldozers in their counties, hence MPs & Councillors are 100 percent up for HS2 at the moment but it’ll be interesting to see how their voice changes once and if a northern section with no stops between Preston & Glasgow is planned and it is increasingly likely that it will surface once construction of the southern section starts.  The old saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”,  will come home to roost as they have to change their tune in order to represent their constituents views which I guarantee wont be positive toward such a scheme.

    All that said it might go up the East Coast as an extension  from Leeds, much flatter landscape making it easier to build, more population than the West Coast has North of Preston and the route can take in Edburgh & Glasgow on its north/ south course so no need for two seperate  branches

  • JG

    Can you imagine the outcry from Glasgow when it’s announced they’re going to have meander through Edinburgh and Newcastle! Especially when they realise that theres’ very little, if any, time saving than if the present WCML is used to Lancashire and then HS2 (particularly if we had 140mph Pendies). 

  • Anonymous

    I have no doubt that PW is a great supporter of the railways, but comes across to me as one that has forgotten his old a**e, in his actual years as a railwayman he was involved in the union side of things and spoke fondly of his BR years, yet he “applauded” privatisation; like many BR turncoats I guess – because he made a mint out of it by selling his rail interests to Arriva at a profit I believe. Clearly he doesn’t like losing – remember the first series of Pop Idol when Michelle McManus (whom he made no secret of his dislike for) won the final, and he stormed out of the studio before the credits even began to roll on live TV.  Such infantile behaviour says a lot about the man’s character – but I digress….

    Nothing wrong with being passionate about what you believe in, but I suspect many rail enthusiasts are being suckered into the thought of a shiny piece of new infrastucture just for the sake of having it, and the “me-too” factor overall because other countries are building HSLs.

  • Rich

    “..just for the sake of having it, and the me-too factor overall because other countries are building HSLs.”

    Oh dear. It’s all about wanting a “shiny” new train set and the whole thing is a vanity project. I appear to have gone to the StopHS2 website by accident.

    No hang on, I’ve just checked and this is indeed the website of Britain’s leading demander of actually impossible to calculate benefit ratios, so let’s consider this. I’m a wealthy foreign investor (the type the UK seems to rely on a lot these days) looking to build my factory abroad. Do I site it in country (A) which has shown ambition by building a modern, efficient, reliable rail system so that employees and goods can move about relatively unhindered, or do I choose country (B), which has shown no ambition whatsoever by endlessley trying to patch up it’s knackered old rail network, where delays are endless whilst it does so, where it eventually becomes choked, and all the time knowing that any land development proposals for my business is likely to be scuppered because the government will cave in to some placard-waving, retired, barbour-clad nimbys? Oh let me think about this one.

  • Sean Baggaley

    Try getting from Preston to the Medway Towns sometime. The rail network in the “SE” isn’t quite as good as people living in the regions seem to think it is.

    Remember: London was saddled with a ring of 13 mainline railway termini—the London Underground had to be invented primarily _because_ of that quirk. 

    Paris and other cities around the world looked at their original privately built infrastructure, realised it needed major surgery, bit the bullet, and reorganised / rebuilt their original infrastructure, closing many stations and, in Paris’ case, resulting in their RER network. (Where London is gaining its second RER-type line, Paris had _five_ by the 1970s!) 

    London did precisely bugger all, other than closing Broad Street, for decades. The reason it’s sucking in so much money now is simply because that attitude is just no longer tenable. London’s infrastructure is simply not fit for purpose.

    Also: hands up anyone who’s seen a tram on Oxford Street or Charing Cross Road? No? Didn’t think so. Yet Sheffield, Newcastle (which has its own metro) and Manchester all have shiny trams. (No, Croydon doesn’t count. It’s nowhere near central London, which is where an intermediate transport mode is urgently required.)

  • Sean Baggaley

    Christian W: You might want to consider one of the less-trumpted benefits of a TGV-grade slice of infrastructure stretching all the way up to that mysterious land known to Londoners only as “The North”… _proper_ sleeper trains using continental gauge stock. The Germans have some very nice sleeper trains that, unlike the current Scottish sleeper trains, make rather better use of the available space thanks to the larger loading gauge they have to play with.

    A crucial advantage of sleeper trains is that they can venture much further afield. High Speed trains tend to be seen as airplane replacement services, so it’s rare for a daytime service to travel more than 4-5 hours or so. But sleepers don’t have that issue: you’re going to be asleep for most of the trip anyway, so Manchester-Rome, Leeds-Vienna, and so on, make a lot more sense. 

    Flighting of trains to make the most efficient use of the limited HS2-HS1 connection would be necessary, but this is already normal practice on the continent: you really don’t want a 26-coach trainload of tourists decanting at your station in the middle of the rush hour. But there are already sleeper services between France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland (among others). 2nd Class Couchette cabins can hold up to six people, and they’re popular with students. You can pay more to have just two, or even one, bed per cabin if preferred.

    Paris has dedicated an entire station to its sleeper services: Paris Bércy, but it’s unlikely this would be possible in London. (I suspect Ebbsfleet might be a good candidate for this; it’s quick to get to from St. Pancras, and there’s ample space nearby for the necessary servicing, logistics infrastructure and sidings.)

    All the above is something the GCR could have provided back in the day, but never had the chance to. Nevertheless, by bringing continental gauge infrastructure all the way to Manchester and Leeds, (and, possibly, right up to Scotland), HS2’s network effect will likely have more benefits than the government mandarins have currently predicted. Even cities not directly served by HS2 might benefit from such services if gauge clearances can be provided economically. 

    *

    I also agree with John Morris re. the need for more rail freight infrastructure. Not just in the form of new lines—it’s a shame the Central Railway Ltd. proposal some years ago never made it off the drawing board—but with modified planning rules to ensure that any infrastructure built that would add to the freight burden of the national infrastructure must be rail-connected as a matter of course.

  • Anonymous

    Surely the main mystery over HS2 is why this (largely Tory) government is so keen on this massive, grandiose project, instead of something less ambitious but still able to deliver valuable improvements. The complete Y won’t be assembled for 21 years. Admittedly Justine Greening did a good job of presenting the material on the day, perhaps avoiding the trickier issues. Yet the public response seems surprisingly positive, given current economic conditions: for example, on BBC’s Question Time there were remarkably few dissenting voices.
    The true costs will surely be much higher than predicted, the project will suck investment away from necessary upgrades elsewhere, the main beneficiaries will be constructors and a few passengers who can afford the high fares, the landscape effects will be catastrophic, and finally it’s designed for the unknowable two decades hence! Amazing.

  • Percy

    about three years ago there was a serious article in Rail about development taking place on  strategic freight routes, the plan north of Preston was to upgrade the Cumbrian Coast bridging Morecambe Bay, The Duddon and also the Solway estuaries and then dovetail into the GSW route. This might be a good idea – though I’m not sure the Morecambe bay crossing would come off  and there would in addition to new viaducts be a need to re engineer coastal section from Whitehaven to Workington inc a new tunnel at w’haven –  apart from Lindal the route would not have any long severe gradients for freight and it would free up the existing WCML which could be straightened up with new tunnels and alignments given that HSR routes generally are able to accept steeper gradients, you could then remove the old bypassed stretches of line  and turn them back to nature. In all this might be the only way to get any new HSR  through Cumbria.
    I think the idea of building a new route through but  with no stops in the County is going to be very difficult but give major route improvemetns to the depressed West Cumbrian towns while showing  your not taking any additional land in the central area but giving back what your taking in away that improves a route which serves the towns and city of that County, you could just about pull it off.

  • philip

    I worked for British Rail during the time the channel tunnel was opening for buisness and i witnessed what must have been over a billion pounds at todays prices wasted on a Regional Eurostar and Sleeper network that never started ,the class 92 locomotives ,many of which have been stored for long periods due to lack of buisness, and freight terminals that have seen only a fraction of their predicted buisness actually materialise ,so when we get fed all these wild predictions of growth to justify HS2 its right to be sceptical .  

  • Fandroid

    The apparent cost reductions may not be as sinister as they appear. Since the early 2000s the Treasury has insisted on the addition of an allowance for ‘optimism bias’ into any cost estimates for public projects.(For obvious reasons!) The same also applies to predictions of future income. The actual percentages used are based on an analysis of many previous completed projects where actual out-turns were compared with original estimates. It’s almost certain that HS2 has followed the same rules.

    However, the technique sensibly includes for a reduction in the optimism allowance as the project is scoped in greater and greater detail, with cost risk thereby being reduced in parallel. HS2 has now been scoped in a lot more detail than when it was first put forward as the preferred route among many. I imagine that the overall optimism allowance percentage has been reduced and has absorbed the costs of the extra scope ie more tunnelling.

  • Yes we need new capacity at present speeds, but the key justification of it being high speed in the latest Dept of Transport flyer is ‘connectivity’. What has a headline saving of 15 or 20 minutes to an inconvenient Birmingham station to do with that?
    Unlike Philip Hammond who compared non-stop HST times with stopping Pendolinos including 5 minutes recovery time and got half an hour, at least it compares like with like.
    BUT the whole point is that most trains will stop to connect with Crossrail and probably pick up most central London traffic at Old Oak Common: Eurostar allow 7 minutes for a relatively low number at Ebbsfleet.
    And when they get to Birmingham, most people will probably lose more time in messy transfers to their destination and would happily spend another quarter hour getting to New Street.
    And travelling further North proper trains fitting all sizes and shapes of people would be very welcome rather than tilting Pendolinos, but in terms of headline time would lose the quarter hour they gained if they were given the hugely expensive power requirements and construction needed for 400kph.
    And your Chiltern article emphasises that Business travellers value a bit more space as highly a sa bit less time – but NOT a the Virgin premium.
    And speed costs money in terms of energy, and reduces capacity too.
    SO lets have the capacity with a new 250kph Chiltern Line with a conveniently spaced stop to appease the nimbies.

  • Percy

    I see Eurostar is in the news today, long delays on the continental side due to overhead line problems causing cancellations and diversions onto non high speed routes.

    How reliable will our new heavily used two track HS2 route be when things go wrong given that the old west coast is planned to be filled up with additional freight and commuter paths once HS2 is complete. Are we getting a super fast but less durable two track high speed railway in place of a more resiliant four track conventional railway?

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