Peter Parker's High Speed railway

Sad Sprinter

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According to Ken Clarke's memoirs-Kind of Blue, he mentions that Peter Parker had wanted to begin to develop a high speed railway in England before deciding instead to build the APTs. Is this true and was there any work undertaken on it?
 
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WesternLancer

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According to Ken Clarke's memoirs-Kind of Blue, he mentions that Peter Parker had wanted to begin to develop a high speed railway in England before deciding instead to build the APTs. Is this true and was there any work undertaken on it?
wasn't the APT project well underway well before Sir Peter had anything much to do with BR? The decision to go for tilt must have been made in the late 1960s / early 70s presumably.
Is it more likely that when he was appointed Board chairman in 1976 the French TGV project was well advanced and he may have started to wonder if that was not a better option?

I've not checked any sources on my answers I should say, so I'm speculating.
 

Midnight Sun

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APT project started in January 1969 when Stanley Raymond was BR chairman. The person who pushed the project foreward through Whitehall for funding was Dr. Sydney Jones head of BR Research.
 

Bald Rick

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Possibly related, but PP certainly pushed the idea of a very simple channel tunnel - a single bore, single track line (known as ‘the mousehole?’) - in the late 70s / early 80s, which got Governement interested enough to launch the competition for what was eventually built.
 

edwin_m

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Possibly related, but PP certainly pushed the idea of a very simple channel tunnel - a single bore, single track line (known as ‘the mousehole?’) - in the late 70s / early 80s, which got Governement interested enough to launch the competition for what was eventually built.
That was after the abandonment of the previous Tunnel scheme a few years earlier, in large part because it did include a new line across Kent which attracted a lot of local objections. Other than that I have no recollection of any serious proposal for high speed lines in the UK until HS1.
 

Sad Sprinter

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wasn't the APT project well underway well before Sir Peter had anything much to do with BR? The decision to go for tilt must have been made in the late 1960s / early 70s presumably.
Is it more likely that when he was appointed Board chairman in 1976 the French TGV project was well advanced and he may have started to wonder if that was not a better option?

I've not checked any sources on my answers I should say, so I'm speculating.
Well Clarke himself was involved with Transport from 1979-1982 and the quote from the book is "Peter Parker and his board were very keen to move towards high-speed trains of the kind seen on the Continent", but doesn't go into too much detail ang suggests the APT was seen as a better idea. So perhaps he was unaware that the APT predated the TGV.
 

edwin_m

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Well Clarke himself was involved with Transport from 1979-1982 and the quote from the book is "Peter Parker and his board were very keen to move towards high-speed trains of the kind seen on the Continent", but doesn't go into too much detail ang suggests the APT was seen as a better idea. So perhaps he was unaware that the APT predated the TGV.
The prototype TGV was authorised in 1969 so nearly contemporary with APT, although the latter was in essence a continuation of earlier research. The first high speed route in France was opened in 1981 so it would certainly have been possible to see high-speed trains on the Continent during that period.
 

WesternLancer

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Well Clarke himself was involved with Transport from 1979-1982 and the quote from the book is "Peter Parker and his board were very keen to move towards high-speed trains of the kind seen on the Continent", but doesn't go into too much detail ang suggests the APT was seen as a better idea. So perhaps he was unaware that the APT predated the TGV.
Thanks - sounds like the sort of lobbying that may have happened between Senior Board / Chair and Minister when Minster (or I see Clarke was in fact Parl Under Sec of State at the time) asks for briefing about 'why has France got this new TGV and we seem to have this train that does not work properly and keeps needing more money etc etc'

I can imagine the conversation in fact (and the Yes Minister type briefing from the civil servants at the DfT to Clarke...'Oh the BR Board just want more money as the French have got a better result than BR have minister - you must dissuade them as the Treasury will not have it and the PM is no fan of the railways...')
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Wasn't the premise of APT that it delivered high speed without the bother of upgrading the tracks?
A 140mph APT on 1970s infrastructure would indeed have been "transformational".
But even WCRM didn't deliver that.
 

Bald Rick

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Wasn't the premise of APT that it delivered high speed without the bother of upgrading the tracks?
A 140mph APT on 1970s infrastructure would indeed have been "transformational".
But even WCRM didn't deliver that.
No, it was that it could be done without the bother of building completely new, straighter, alignments.

The tracks would always need upgrading, which is of course what WCRM did (and the GW upgrade in the 70s, and the MML upgrade in the early 80s, etc. Etc.)
 

Taunton

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Up to TGV, future high speed rail had idolised the Shinkansen in Japan, always looking at completely separate alignments throughout, not necessarily noticing that the reason for that in Japan was that they were a different gauge. TGV brought the idea of high speed alignments on the cheap to build rural bits (completely lost on HS2 it seems), and running on to existing alignments with all the upsides of incremental development that provides as well.

At least Shinkansen was on rails, where politicians and high-placed amateurs are often fixated by hovertrains, monorails, maglev, hyperloops, and anything else even more incompatible and unworkable.

APT was a development because the West Coast is a far more corkscrew alignment than out of either Kings Cross or Paddington, and there's hardly any of it suitable for over 100mph without tilt. It was a shame they did not do more development of the prototype before rushing to the pre-production units, which had a notable number of fundamental points which the Pendolino etc shows were just wrong.
 

quantinghome

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TGV brought the idea of high speed alignments on the cheap to build rural bits (completely lost on HS2 it seems), and running on to existing alignments with all the upsides of incremental development that provides as well.
That's unfair to HS2 I think. LGVs don't generally need to build new or extended stations or routes through major cities because there is capacity available (apart from Lille and Marseilles where they did build new dedicated routes through urban areas). The situation is completely different in the UK where we need new routes in pretty much every large city and additional platform capacity in the city centres. And of course, HS2 does run on to existing alignments where there is capacity available.

I suppose you could have built HS2 purely as a rural high speed network, then construct the urban sections as separate projects: the Euston station extension project, the North London relief line, the Birmingham intercity station project etc. But what's the point of that other than keeping the headline cost down by splitting it into half a dozen projects?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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In the early 70s, BR Research in Derby was a beneficiary of the bankruptcy of Rolls Royce, when they picked up some key aero design skills for the APT project.
As history appears to be repeating itself with new cutbacks at Rolls Royce, I wonder if the railway can benefit in some way.
The engineering landscape at Derby is completely different today of course, with nothing like the same scope for railway design work.
 

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