High Speed Rail, the big European picture

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notlob.divad

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The subject of this thread might have been discussed somewhere else, if so I apologize, I did have a look first but couldn't find it.

With the growing concern about Climate Change, High Speed rail could be (should be) the solution to the huge number of intra European short haul flights. High Speed 2 is being sold to the British public as capacity release for the WCML a 68 Manchester <-> London and 88 Leeds <-> London times. However, in Feb 2012 HS2Ltd released an FOI request giving estimated Paris <-> B.ham/Man/Leeds times using HS1 and HS2, of 187/218/218 minutes respectively, and thus it could be inferred 172/203/203 minutes times for the Brussels journies.
(Note: I don't see how Leeds and Manchester have identical times if their times to London are 20 minutes different, but these are the HS2 Ltd times so I shall run with them).

Potential Northern Extensions talk about a :wub:hr Glasgow/Edinburgh <-> London time triggering a substantial mode shift from Plane to Train. With the above times, B/ham - Brussels already makes this and - Paris is probably close enough. Therefore my first question: To get the most benefit out of the HS project(s) is there anyway we can knock 15-20 minutes more off of the Manchester and Leeds - Europe times to stimulate the required Modal shift?

Question 2, does this point to the HS1:HS2 link being the most crucial part of the HS project(s) to ensure overall success?

Question 3: Should the Eastern leg of HS2 Phase 2 contain provision for the completion of the inverted A, allowing construction of a route from south of Toton to the 4 remaining classic platforms at the Western side of St Pancras? The extra Euston Capacity could then be used for a Bristol/Cardiff HS route.

Question 4 (and final one): Could the St Pancras International hub station, with services running Leeds - Paris, Manchester - Brussels and Birmingham - Amsterdam with an international transfer lounge at St Pancras ever become a reality or is it just too big an ask to get people to move away from aviation?
 
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notlob.divad

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HS2 HS1 link is dead in the water now.

I was going to put "(on its designed or alternative alignment)" but I felt my post was long enough to begin with.

I fear you are right wrt to the Camden alignment however a subterranean Kilburn alignment to an upgraded Midlands mainline, or something similar.

Without a European link, the case for any North Bound HS rail is extremely limited, but the environmental benefits of Modal shift as much as anything should be the driver for us to push through some form of link.
 

edwin_m

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Part of the problem here is the relatively small number of air passengers on the flows in question. The total number of seats flown daily between Birmingham and Paris is probably less than provided on a single Eurostar, and if one or two trains were provided per day then these would not be conveniently timed for all the existing passengers.

Eurostar happens to connect two pairs of major cities which are sufficiently close together to achieve a competitive sub-3hr journey time. Apart from Thalys which does the same for Paris-Brussels, I can think of no other train service that survives mostly or totally on international passengers. Even with European integration a flow between city pairs of similar size and spacing is likely to be less with an international border involved, and probably even lower if it is not capital to capital, since much international business tends to be transacted between capital cities. Smaller cities also tend to have easier access to airports.

So, in short, even on the most promising flow of Birmingham to Paris there aren't enough passengers to justify a dedicated through service and looking at precedent elsewhere there are unlikely ever to be enough.

The only way this might work in my view would be to combine international and domestic flows on the same train. This is how other European international services survive. So for example a HS2-HS1 link could allow an hourly Manchester-Birmingham-Stratford-Ebbsfleet-Ashford-Lille-Paris which would provide some useful domestic links too. Alternatively just optimise the connection between Euston and St Pancras so there is a quick HS1-HS2 connection each hour. But either is made much more difficult by the passport control and particularly security screening rules that apply to Channel Tunnel trains.
 

TheKnightWho

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Part of the problem here is the relatively small number of air passengers on the flows in question. The total number of seats flown daily between Birmingham and Paris is probably less than provided on a single Eurostar, and if one or two trains were provided per day then these would not be conveniently timed for all the existing passengers.

Eurostar happens to connect two pairs of major cities which are sufficiently close together to achieve a competitive sub-3hr journey time. Apart from Thalys which does the same for Paris-Brussels, I can think of no other train service that survives mostly or totally on international passengers. Even with European integration a flow between city pairs of similar size and spacing is likely to be less with an international border involved, and probably even lower if it is not capital to capital, since much international business tends to be transacted between capital cities. Smaller cities also tend to have easier access to airports.

So, in short, even on the most promising flow of Birmingham to Paris there aren't enough passengers to justify a dedicated through service and looking at precedent elsewhere there are unlikely ever to be enough.

The only way this might work in my view would be to combine international and domestic flows on the same train. This is how other European international services survive. So for example a HS2-HS1 link could allow an hourly Manchester-Birmingham-Stratford-Ebbsfleet-Ashford-Lille-Paris which would provide some useful domestic links too. Alternatively just optimise the connection between Euston and St Pancras so there is a quick HS1-HS2 connection each hour. But either is made much more difficult by the passport control and particularly security screening rules that apply to Channel Tunnel trains.

The problem is that unless passport and ticket checks happen on the train itself there will always be a need to kick everyone off the train to check, unless UKBA are placed at every station which sees a link to Europe which is totally impractical (and still makes the journey longer, only with the delay at the beginning instead).

The only other comparable high-speed link over a controlled border that I can think of is the planned Hong Kong-Mainland China HSL, which is currently planned to be opened in 2018. However, because Hong Kong is reasonably small and will have only a single high-speed station, I believe it is being agreed that all passport checking - whether going to or coming from the Mainland - will occur in the new Kowloon West station, with some Mainland border guards specially stationed there. However, that means there have to be provisions in place for those who miss their stop at Shenzhen etc. and accidentally end up crossing the border (since the trains going to and from Hong Kong will not have any special arrangements in place at Mainland stations: if you have a ticket and ID/passport you can get on, as it is with every train in China). The current system they have set-up for their conventional trains going to HK from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are similar to the Eurostar set-up, with checks happening at those stations before you board, and segregated carriages for "international" and domestic travelers. However, just as we have, they've judged this impracticable if HK is to be connected to the main Chinese high-speed network properly, and this new arrangement will connect literally hundreds of new destinations to HK.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the solution is with the UK. It's not feasible to have French border guards commute to London every day or stay long-term, unlike with the China-HK set-up, to do checks for those travelling to the Schengen area via France. However, I consider the idea that it's not possible to do passport checks upon arrival in the UK absurd - airports seem to manage, and if we can check before departure we can certainly check after people have arrived instead. The only important thing is to ensure properly segregated arrivals, and to have proper systems in place for those who enter the UK illegally: quite doable at a major international hub. Airports certainly seem to manage.

The main issue, though, is that this still wouldn't connect destinations other than London to the main European rail network. I'm really not sure what the solution there is other than checking on the train instead.
 
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GrimsbyPacer

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What does Climate Change have to do with HS2?
The project is expected to be roughly carbon neutral, ie no reductions in CO2.
 

HSTEd

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There are no reductions in CO2 across the review horizon.

However carbon emissions have to be reduced permanently so over the entire lifetime of the scheme, which could easily be measured in centuries, there will be a significant reduction.
 

edwin_m

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Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the solution is with the UK. It's not feasible to have French border guards commute to London every day or stay long-term, unlike with the China-HK set-up, to do checks for those travelling to the Schengen area via France. However, I consider the idea that it's not possible to do passport checks upon arrival in the UK absurd - airports seem to manage, and if we can check before departure we can certainly check after people have arrived instead. The only important thing is to ensure properly segregated arrivals, and to have proper systems in place for those who enter the UK illegally: quite doable at a major international hub. Airports certainly seem to manage.

The main issue, though, is that this still wouldn't connect destinations other than London to the main European rail network. I'm really not sure what the solution there is other than checking on the train instead.

I'm never sure if the UK passport people at Gare du Nord are actually British, and the French ones at St Pancras actually French. I'd like to know whether to say "thank you" or "merci"!

I agree there ought to be some way round this issue but I think part of the problem is the possibility of someone activating the emergency alarm once the train gets into Britain then opening a door and disappearing. On a plane that's much harder to do...

Perhaps the answer is to have UK people checking passports on UK-bound trains between Paris/Brussels and Lille, and French/Belgian people checking trains from the UK between London and Ashford, together with the present "Lille Loophole" arrangement of a segregated coach for domestic passengers bound for Lille or Ashford. It would then be possible to identify and remove from the train any unauthorised passengers before they get onto the soil of the country they are trying to enter. Trains only running between the three capitals could retain the existing arrangement, so would not have to make these intermediate stops, but trains from beyond would need to make a stop somewhere near one of the capitals to pick up the checking staff.

This does have some practical problems. The checking staff will be far less productive and measures will be needed to prevent people hiding in the toilet or whatever during the check. Also ensuring the checkers are at the right place at the right time constrains the timetable and creates another reason why trains might get delayed.
 
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Tio Terry

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The subject of this thread might have been discussed somewhere else, if so I apologize, I did have a look first but couldn't find it.

With the growing concern about Climate Change, High Speed rail could be (should be) the solution to the huge number of intra European short haul flights. High Speed 2 is being sold to the British public as capacity release for the WCML a 68 Manchester <-> London and 88 Leeds <-> London times. However, in Feb 2012 HS2Ltd released an FOI request giving estimated Paris <-> B.ham/Man/Leeds times using HS1 and HS2, of 187/218/218 minutes respectively, and thus it could be inferred 172/203/203 minutes times for the Brussels journies.
(Note: I don't see how Leeds and Manchester have identical times if their times to London are 20 minutes different, but these are the HS2 Ltd times so I shall run with them).

Potential Northern Extensions talk about a :wub:hr Glasgow/Edinburgh <-> London time triggering a substantial mode shift from Plane to Train. With the above times, B/ham - Brussels already makes this and - Paris is probably close enough. Therefore my first question: To get the most benefit out of the HS project(s) is there anyway we can knock 15-20 minutes more off of the Manchester and Leeds - Europe times to stimulate the required Modal shift?

Question 2, does this point to the HS1:HS2 link being the most crucial part of the HS project(s) to ensure overall success?

Question 3: Should the Eastern leg of HS2 Phase 2 contain provision for the completion of the inverted A, allowing construction of a route from south of Toton to the 4 remaining classic platforms at the Western side of St Pancras? The extra Euston Capacity could then be used for a Bristol/Cardiff HS route.

Question 4 (and final one): Could the St Pancras International hub station, with services running Leeds - Paris, Manchester - Brussels and Birmingham - Amsterdam with an international transfer lounge at St Pancras ever become a reality or is it just too big an ask to get people to move away from aviation?

You could take a look at the EU's TEN's (Trans European Networks) site. This describes what the EU's view is for a number of things, including Railways. They have a plan for an EU wide network which includes Freight, not just passenger services.

As for the HS1-HS2 link being dead, this is certainly true for the original proposal but don't rule out a link in it's entirety. Seems a link involving Stratford is under consideration - or it was before the Referendum became a reality, now it's on the back-burner.
 

HSTEd

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But there is no real business case for a HS2-HS1 link.
Border controls scotched that years ago.
 

TheKnightWho

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But there is no real business case for a HS2-HS1 link.
Border controls scotched that years ago.

I wish we'd just join Schengen already. Not likely in the current political climate, however - too much paranoia about :roll:
 
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I wish we'd just join Schengen already. Not likely in the current political climate, however - too much paranoia about :roll:

The Schengen Agreement is disintegrating before our eyes, joining Schengen with the refugee crisis and terror threats across Europe would be political suicide.
 

najaB

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I wish we'd just join Schengen already.
A year ago I would have agreed with you. The ongoing mass migration from Syria and north Africa makes me glad we still have a border. While we can easily support a few tens of thousands of refugees, I don't think we could support a million-plus like Germany.
 

matacaster

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A year ago I would have agreed with you. The ongoing mass migration from Syria and north Africa makes me glad we still have a border. While we can easily support a few tens of thousands of refugees, I don't think we could support a million-plus like Germany.

OFF-topic, but the real reason Merkel took in 1M migrants is because of Germany's ageing population and lack of wage earners to support it. German birthrate is very poor these days.
 

najaB

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OFF-topic, but the real reason Merkel took in 1M migrants is because of Germany's ageing population and lack of wage earners to support it. German birthrate is very poor these days.
I appreciate that, but without a border we wouldn't be able to station border guards in Calais - and there are a lot of people who would rather be here than there.

Agree it's a bit OT, so now back to your thread in progress.
 

Noddy

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Part of the problem here is the relatively small number of air passengers on the flows in question. The total number of seats flown daily between Birmingham and Paris is probably less than provided on a single Eurostar, and if one or two trains were provided per day then these would not be conveniently timed for all the existing passengers.

Eurostar happens to connect two pairs of major cities which are sufficiently close together to achieve a competitive sub-3hr journey time. Apart from Thalys which does the same for Paris-Brussels, I can think of no other train service that survives mostly or totally on international passengers. Even with European integration a flow between city pairs of similar size and spacing is likely to be less with an international border involved, and probably even lower if it is not capital to capital, since much international business tends to be transacted between capital cities. Smaller cities also tend to have easier access to airports.

So, in short, even on the most promising flow of Birmingham to Paris there aren't enough passengers to justify a dedicated through service and looking at precedent elsewhere there are unlikely ever to be enough.

The only way this might work in my view would be to combine international and domestic flows on the same train. This is how other European international services survive. So for example a HS2-HS1 link could allow an hourly Manchester-Birmingham-Stratford-Ebbsfleet-Ashford-Lille-Paris which would provide some useful domestic links too. Alternatively just optimise the connection between Euston and St Pancras so there is a quick HS1-HS2 connection each hour. But either is made much more difficult by the passport control and particularly security screening rules that apply to Channel Tunnel trains.

Build it and they will come. In 2005 who would have predicted that 15cm long phones that barely fit in your pocket would become the norm 10 years later? Certainly not a business case built on the existing market dominated by Nokia.

Building a direct link from the midlands and the north to the continent will drive a modal shift. Just like every other direct railway line between major cities.
 

edwin_m

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Building a direct link from the midlands and the north to the continent will drive a modal shift. Just like every other direct railway line between major cities.

Modal shift is irrelevant here. Even shifting all existing passengers between Birmingham and Paris by all modes onto rail wouldn't be enough to sustain a reasonable train service.

You would need huge numbers of new journeys to be generated by the train service, and quite frankly I can think of no city pairs where a new high speed link has increased the total travel market to the extent this would need. Hence my view that a train service would also need to serve a number of other markets to be viable, which isn't possible under existing security arrangements.
 

Noddy

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Modal shift is irrelevant here. Even shifting all existing passengers between Birmingham and Paris by all modes onto rail wouldn't be enough to sustain a reasonable train service.

You would need huge numbers of new journeys to be generated by the train service, and quite frankly I can think of no city pairs where a new high speed link has increased the total travel market to the extent this would need. Hence my view that a train service would also need to serve a number of other markets to be viable, which isn't possible under existing security arrangements.

The point is though it's not just a "new high speed link"-it's a new link providing a completely new set journey opportunities. You can't really compare it to most 'new high speed links' (ie replacing convential with HS trains such as HS2) except maybe the channel tunnel-but even here they built the link without the high speed bit at first.

I do agree about doing some stopping services though-ignoring the security issue. If they ever build the Heathrow spur it would also potentially allow other interesting and (relatively) high speed cross London journeys (much longer term obviously) to be added, perhaps using OOC and Stratford as 'London' stations eg Bristol/Reading/Heathrow-Ashord/South Kent 'stoppers'.
 
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RichmondCommu

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I wish we'd just join Schengen already. Not likely in the current political climate, however - too much paranoia about :roll:

It's not paranoia, ISIS are trying to get over to the UK to wipe us from the face of the earth.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The point is though it's not just a "new high speed link"-it's a new link providing a completely new set journey opportunities. You can't really compare it to most 'new high speed links' (ie replacing convential with HS trains such as HS2) except maybe the channel tunnel-but even here they built the link without the high speed bit at first.

You can have all the journey opportunities in the world but if the potential market isn't big enough then why bother?
 

edwin_m

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The point is though it's not just a "new high speed link"-it's a new link providing a completely new set journey opportunities.

I don't think it is. People in Birmingham have a reasonable selection of flights to Paris (and vice versa) with a centre-to-centre journey time not much more and fares perhaps rather less than what might be achievable by a through train. If there was more demand for this journey then there would be more flights today.

The same would applly to varying degrees to all the other possible journeys between north of London and the continent. Unless one train service can satisfy several of these possible flows, which we agree is very difficult due to security rules, it just isn't going to work.
 

hulabaloo

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I think the point has been made on here before is that there is a cut off point for when rail journeys are too long, and flying would start to save hours (and money). I'm also less than convinced that with so much "airline seating" being implemented into modern trains now, it would be any more comfortable.

Personally I think any high speed rail journey of over four hours wouldn't be worth it if a plane can take you there instead, and from Britain that is quite a limited amount of places.
 

HSTEd

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Would there be a business case without the border, or even security, controls?

Personally I doubt it - low cost airlines saw that market off a long time ago, and the LTO and oilsands have seen to it that it stays like that for the forseable future.
 

najaB

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Personally I doubt it - low cost airlines saw that market off a long time ago, and the LTO and oilsands have seen to it that it stays like that for the forseable future.
I don't know if I completely agree with that. Oil is cheap again, but there's no reason to believe that it will still be cheap in the timescales that we're talking about for HS2 being up and running.
 

TheKnightWho

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The Schengen Agreement is disintegrating before our eyes, joining Schengen with the refugee crisis and terror threats across Europe would be political suicide.

Don't be ridiculous. The right-wing press would have you believe that, but millions of people cross European borders every day for vital reasons, to no ill-effect.

Schengen is absolutely fine. The refugee crisis and terror threats are, however, stoking xenophobia for those that want to sell papers for an easy buck.
 

TheKnightWho

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It's not paranoia, ISIS are trying to get over to the UK to wipe us from the face of the earth.

So because of a few nutcases we should hamper our movement and our growth? Security forces do an enormous amount of work to track and stop these people: getting a tourist visa to come to the UK is an extremely trivial matter for terrorists. Most are home-grown anyway.
 

HSTEd

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I don't know if I completely agree with that. Oil is cheap again, but there's no reason to believe that it will still be cheap in the timescales that we're talking about for HS2 being up and running.

The available reserves at costs of $50-60/bbl are enormous.
Especially with synthetic fuels becoming more viable at that sort of price range.
 

najaB

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The available reserves at costs of $50-60/bbl are enormous.
Especially with synthetic fuels becoming more viable at that sort of price range.
This is OT, but a lot of the 'proven' reserves are questionable at best and some are complete works of fiction. It's my opinion that it's highly unlikely that we'll be seeing $60/bbl in twelve to fifteen years time - which is when we're talking about, a few years after HS2 opens.
 
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