Wednesday 26 August 2009

New High Speed train plan inadequacies

Network Rail, the massive spender of taxpayers subsidies has come out with a new plan today to warm the cockles of David Cameron. A rail fantasy with deep Freudian overtones; Big trains that go really fast etc.

Yes, the Tories have said they want less airports and more trains. And is if by Magic, a shiny new plan is presented. Ah, travelling from Glasgow to London in 2 hours 15 mins (do you think many people will be buying return tickets though?).

However, this huge project will cost billions. Transport is one area where Government has to invest as the private market does not really work due to the 'tyranny of the majority' (everyone wants it but no one wants to pay).

But what we really need to help everyone in the country are new and better roads. 80% of journeys are by road. Far more people use cars than trains. As much as we need to improve the rail infrastructure, we need to upgrade the roads too.

Even global warming obsessives can see cars are here to stay. They may be electric or work on biofuel, but cars are not an invention that will be uninvented.

Only 10% of road taxes (£45 billion) are spent on roads. Neither Labour nor Tory are car friendly; as such neither can claim to be populist as this would require being cognisant that the majority of voters are road users and would like better infrastructure.


Demetrius said...

Presumably this will cater largely for the governing classes and the financial elite. Should Scotland decide to go independent, there would be a drastic reduction in the potential market. So what then? Cheap day returns for pensioners? Talking as a former railway employee, this project is a nonsense.

Anonymous said...

It's not so much more roads, but maintaining those that already excist and being able to dispose those vechicles coming off the fast motorways so traffic is not held up waiting and building up. There is nothing more aggravating than waiting in traffic and when having got to the exit there is nothing there, ring a bell?

Marchamont Needham said...

Bugger all use to those of us living on t'other side o't Pennines.

Be awfully nice for the BBC chaps when they're relocated to Salforrd though.

roym said...

speaking as a londoner id like to see fewer cars on the road so i can drive around in peace and quiet

James Higham said...

However, this huge project will cost billions.

That's OK, plenty more from.

Eckersalld said...

I wonder about the possibility of having 'car carriages' on trains - sort of roll-on, roll-off carriages to cart cars from A to B.

The ability to drive into city A, and then pay to have the train to take you to city B, where you then drive off into city B...

I could see a market for that, although the logistics would doubtlessly be 'interesting'

Electro-Kevin said...

As a train driver I agree entirely. Roads are under resourced.

The Continental style railway is entirely unsuited to our needs. What is required on this crowded island is good basic stock and infrastructure delivering reasonable journey times and giving wide and frequent coverage.

I despair that so much was spent on the WCML and Eurostar. If these are the shape of things to come then it will cost a hell of a lot and provide far less than could be achieved.

Electro-Kevin said...

Obsidian - there used to be a car train from Euston. I only ever saw classic cars put on there.

The idea is interesting - if it can be done on Eurotunnel ...

CityUnslicker said...

Amazed (pleased) to see broad agreement, thought this would be controversial opinion.

Old BE said...

My green mate reckons that the most economically efficient and green option would be to beef up the coach network. Coaches aren't as civilised as trains but they are much more fuel efficient per passenger mile and much more flexible in terms of timetabling for demand. Fast trains in Japan work because their island is even more densely populated than our own. Fast trains "work" in Europe because the leaders of those countries are much more interested in les grand projets.

We can have a fairly efficient national transport network by enabling better coach services and encouraging people to use greener cars.

CityUnslicker said...

and Flying cars, that is what I am waiting for.

Old BE said...

ps £34bn seems quite "cheap" for a national rail network built from scratch. Less than a year's road tax to build a new high speed network???

Anonymous said...

A long time ago an East Coast motorway was promised.

Top side of the current M11 would link up with the Humber Bridge, and then up the North East coast, to that previous industrial area.

Given that populations and new towns follow transport, it would still be worth the investment. It may also lessen the congestion on t'other side of the pennines.

Anonymous said...

Hey, CU, will you soon be leaving? Hope not.

CityUnslicker said...

Anon - an East side motorway would be a great plan and wouldhelp re-distibute the economy to some deprived areas.

other anon - If only I were a wealthy hedgie. They are all leaving though and that is not good fro the economy. And lefties say high taxes don't matter; we are seeing it before they even come into force.

Elby the Beserk said...

Glaring inadequacy; it doesn't go anywhere near the West Coast down her in the West Country, where public transport is largely conceptual, and where it does exist is sporadic and terribly expensive.

Still, we will just love having our pockets raided for the rest of the country; nothing new there - no-one votes Labour (we're smart down her, despite our wellies and the straw in our hair), and Labour know that. They pretend we don't exist.

Christ I am fucked off with this lot. Bring back hunting. Humans as well as foxes

Marchamont Needham said...

ah yes,

that reminds me of a long forgotten conversation with two worthies from Dyfed County Coucil Social Services in the mid 1990's.

I mentioned buses and they looked at me like the village idiot.

We haven't hsad those in years they said in unison.

Local transport is where we need to spend the cash.

Marchamont Needham said...

an East side motorway would be a great plan and would help re-distibute the economy to some deprived areas

Except that it would cut a great swathe through the North York Moors national park and the Wolds AONB.

I'd rather the Geordies starved.

Electro-Kevin said...

Dare I say it ...

Most of the underground networks and inner city suburban routes can be computerised.

Country branch lines can be tarmacced over and turned into guided bus routes using special grooves in the road surface dedicated to buses only with passing loops on bi-directional single lanes. Buses are far more efficient than trains in terms of energy and staff training. (I'd be shot by my colleagues for saying all this)

There are a myriad of different types of traction on our network and I think this is lunacy.

Why not build trains that can be worked for 70 years ? Of durable parts and cheaply replaceable through economies of scale because every operating company uses them ?

The money saved can be put into ticket barriers and passenger security making travel a far less threatening experience out of working hours.

We don't need flash on our railways. Just functional, safe and reliable.

Electro-Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Quango MP said...

How about a guest post on transport EK ?

Rail vs road debate. The debate is coming even if the funds for the outcome isn't.

ivan said...

If they ever get round to it why not build a maglev high speed line? The Maglev system is ideal for mas production and doesn't chop up the country side.

Edindie said...

Doesn't the M1 count as east coast? And I agree with the local transport comments, the only reasons I drive non business miles is because it's cheaper and the local transport issues at the other end. Anywhere south of london has issues.

Electro-Kevin said...

Thanks for the invite, BQ.

I'll give it some thought though it's been some while since I studied transport for my CIT diploma. I only really know about my own small area of operation rather than widespread integration.

There seem to be optimal distances required to make airlines and supertrains work economically. Of course I'd like to see SNCF style operations here - but when the opportunity cost is at the expense of the rest of the network doesn't make sense to me.

Steven_L said...

"I'd rather the Geordies starved." (marchamont needham)

a) We're on the A1(M) and can get to central London in 5 hours, Edinburgh in 2 and Cardiff in 6 and half overnight in a car .

b) If you're prepared to put your foot down I've done M1/M25 junction to my parents driveway 15 miles north of Newcastle in 2 hours 50 minutes, and Newcastle to Sheffield city centre in 90 minutes.

c) As for starving, since Northumbria is a net exporter of food (well sheep) I somehow doubt it.

rwendland said...

EK: I have to say the bus/train energy numbers I've seen don't seem to be as convincing as you are suggesting. While it is true that a near full Megabus on a high-traffic route is more energy efficient than the average train, the average single and double decker bus is much less energy efficient than the average train. I'd hazard a guess that on a high-density route Megabus is not more energy efficient to a well loaded HST 125.

The whole analysis is fraught with difficulty on the assumptions on average loadings, speeds, and for electric trains how the leccy is generated.

TGV/Eurostar class speeds also ups the energy consumption to around about half that of air, which few people appreciate.

The recent white paper has a stab at comparing carbon performance in Fig 11.1, which is very interesting to look at. It also sums up HSR to Scotland with:

“carbon emissions per passenger for a journey between London and Edinburgh will be approximately 7 kg of carbon for conventional-speed rail, 14 kg for high-speed rail, and 26 kg for aviation.”

Greenies need to carefully consider the benefits of HSR to Scotland if carbon use is doubled to half that of air.

James said...

Ok I'll bite.

"Cars are not going anywhere"

This is true in our current reality, however a city unslicker should be as aware as anyone that the reality of our standard of living is changing.

The switch to biofuel or electric will make the energy cost of transport more important, our continued decline of economic power will reduce the purchasing power of the majority.

So we're moving to a world where the UK pop will be able to afford less AND transport will be more expensive.

Cars are monstrously inefficient (even in terms of time if you can work on the train), they are however convenient. This convenience will be sacrificed in our declining standard of living, irrespective of what the government does.

All that said I think a high speed rail-line is a dumb idea and EK is far more on the money in where we should be going. The problem isn't that our railways are too slow!

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