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Do improvements to UK HSR actually best lie on the Continent?

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DPWH

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Actually come on the continent.

Firstly, there's the LGV Picardie. If built, this would provide a more direct route between the Channel Tunnel and Paris, bypassing Lille and going through Amiens instead. And would save 20 mins off journey times.

London-Lille-Brussels looks OK as it stands.

Presently however London-Amsterdam (and other Dutch cities) has to go via Lille and Brussels. Lille is OK but Brussels appears to be a particular pain because unlike Lille there aren't any fast through tracks, and Brussels-Antwerp gets all clogged up with in slower commuter traffic. Brussels also seems congested.

Getting my crayons out then we might be able to bypass Brussels and straighten things up a bit:

1. Calais-Antwerp via Ghent. Opens trains to Holland. The biggest problem here is crossing the Scheldt. A downstream crossing would cost more but also be better for services bypassing Antwerp.
2. Calais - Rotterdam along the coast via Bruges. This looks expensive due to frequent tunnels under rivers, and also probably not very global warming proof.

Linking with LGV Picardie also gives options to Paris.

Thirdly, London-Cologne also has to go via Brussels, but a short bypass to the southeast of Brussels linking HSL-1 with HSL-3 could mean that services avoid Brussels.

Thoughts?
 
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AM9

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Actually come on the continent.

Firstly, there's the LGV Picardie. If built, this would provide a more direct route between the Channel Tunnel and Paris, bypassing Lille and going through Amiens instead. And would save 20 mins off journey times.

London-Lille-Brussels looks OK as it stands.

Presently however London-Amsterdam (and other Dutch cities) has to go via Lille and Brussels. Lille is OK but Brussels appears to be a particular pain because unlike Lille there aren't any fast through tracks, and Brussels-Antwerp gets all clogged up with in slower commuter traffic. Brussels also seems congested.

Getting my crayons out then we might be able to bypass Brussels and straighten things up a bit:

1. Calais-Antwerp via Ghent. Opens trains to Holland. The biggest problem here is crossing the Scheldt. A downstream crossing would cost more but also be better for services bypassing Antwerp.
2. Calais - Rotterdam along the coast via Bruges. This looks expensive due to frequent tunnels under rivers, and also probably not very global warming proof.

Linking with LGV Picardie also gives options to Paris.

Thirdly, London-Cologne also has to go via Brussels, but a short bypass to the southeast of Brussels linking HSL-1 with HSL-3 could mean that services avoid Brussels.

Thoughts?

The above assumes that France/Belgium & the Netherlands see potential cross-channel traffic important enough to fund a major route that wouldn't have much use for other flows. I agree that Brussels may be bypassed at some point as that could have other benefits to North-eastern France to Germany traffic but relatively little high-speed trains would come from Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk to justify such an expensive project.
 

Ironside

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Yes The Uk would benefit from those faster connections but unless the Uk is prepared to contribute financially then they may not happen. London to Cologne improvements may be good for the UK and Germany but not for Brussels.
 

fowler9

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Can't imagine the Belgians being eager to build a railway that bypasses Brussels to help Brits who have just left the EU get to Germany and Holland quicker.
 

cle

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Brussels is key to those routes, especially Cologne. Eurostar can pick up international passengers and I think revenue on those routes would be very important.

Better to tighten up stopping patterns (e.g. most trains beyond Brussels are first stop Brussels) and try to get to 320km/h running - although I think that comes into play south of Lille.

Picardie would presumably be 320-350 km/h, with just a stop in Amiens. But perhaps that is the one which would end up at La Defense, as the French would like.
 

quantinghome

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Can't imagine the Belgians being eager to build a railway that bypasses Brussels to help Brits who have just left the EU get to Germany and Holland quicker.

Let's not forget it would also speed up direct services to Paris and other parts of France. In fact Greater London, Ile-de-France, Ruhr and Randstad are the four largest urban areas in Europe. There are fast, continuous high speed connections from Paris and London as far as Brussels, but Brussels itself and the mixed of upgraded and high speed routes to Rotterdam and Cologne mean rail journeys are barely faster than car. A Brussels bypass (interconnection si vous preferez) would go a long way to improving this situation. The selling point to Belgium would be to relieve the busy N-S route through the centre of Brussels.

It's a nice idea, and given the populations involved you'd think there would be a market for it, but there doesn't seem to be much push from any institution to do it.
 

fowler9

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Let's not forget it would also speed up direct services to Paris and other parts of France. In fact Greater London, Ile-de-France, Ruhr and Randstad are the four largest urban areas in Europe. There are fast, continuous high speed connections from Paris and London as far as Brussels, but Brussels itself and the mixed of upgraded and high speed routes to Rotterdam and Cologne mean rail journeys are barely faster than car. A Brussels bypass (interconnection si vous preferez) would go a long way to improving this situation. The selling point to Belgium would be to relieve the busy N-S route through the centre of Brussels.

It's a nice idea, and given the populations involved you'd think there would be a market for it, but there doesn't seem to be much push from any institution to do it.

Yeah mate, good point!
 

miami

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How feasible would a Brussels cross-rail, with a station still in the middle somewhere, but on separate underground tracks in from the west and out to the east?
 

edwin_m

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Would any of these new routes bring any pair of major cities to within three hours rail journey time, that aren't now? The rule of thumb is that once rail journey time goes below 3hr, most of the air passengers start using rail instead. London-Paris for example is already below 3hr, Eurostar already has most of the market so cutting say 15min off the journey time won't result in dramatically more passengers.
 

quantinghome

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Would any of these new routes bring any pair of major cities to within three hours rail journey time, that aren't now? The rule of thumb is that once rail journey time goes below 3hr, most of the air passengers start using rail instead. London-Paris for example is already below 3hr, Eurostar already has most of the market so cutting say 15min off the journey time won't result in dramatically more passengers.

If the average speed from London-Brussels could be achieved for Brussels-Amsterdam/Cologne, this would knock 40/50 minutes off, producing overall journey times to Amsterdam/Cologne of under 3 hours from London and 2:30 from Paris. Obstacles to achieving this are:

1. The slow speed through Brussels
2. The use of 'classic' railway over some sections of the route and
3. The relatively frequent stopping pattern to serve the major destinations en route - Antwerp, Rotterdam, Liege.
 

DPWH

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How feasible would a Brussels cross-rail, with a station still in the middle somewhere, but on separate underground tracks in from the west and out to the east?

Brussels already has a "crossrail" in the sense that unlike London or Paris there aren't several main line termini on the outskirts of the city centre each with a main line pointing in a different direction. Rather, there is one main central station and through route which is aligned north-south.

Trains from Lille approach from the south, and trains to Antwerp and Cologne leave to the north. Since Cologne is east of Brussels, trains to Cologne then basically do a 90* right turn onto "HSL-2". The line between Brussels and Antwerp is slow.

Having a look at a map might help. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_Belgium
 
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