High Speed Rail 88


There is no scenery so beautiful is is not enhanced by a train running through it. If the Victorians had equivalents of the silly people from the Chilterns Society, we would never have the amazing beauty of the Settle to Carlisle railway.

The biggest problem about the government’s plans for high speed rail are that they are far too limited. Rail is by far the most resource efficient way of moving large quantities of people, and above all freight, around the country, and is much less disturbing to the environment than the equivalent motorway capacity. An updated and expanded rail network is an absolute necessity for the UK.

Unfortunately not only are the government’s high speed plans very limited, they doubtless will involve a model whereby the taxpayer pays for the construction, the fares are sky high, the taxpayer pays an operating subsidy and yet there is “profit” for a “private” operator and its financiers, who purchase our politicians.


88 thoughts on “High Speed Rail

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  • Suhayl Saadi

    Mary, how interesting, yeah, says a lot, doesn’t it. Btw, just out of interest, were you a radiologist, a nurse, a porter, a radiographer, an Admin. person… or a hidden source of radionuclide emission? :))
    .
    I agree totally with Craig’s post. Also with much of what others have written.

  • Dale Martin

    @ Passerby….. I have to agree with 99% of what you say, the whole system is a farce, corrupt, driven by greed and yet contrary to the love of money that drives greed, is all too often wasteful in the extreme of the very worshipped and adored money in the process too. I suppose the point I am pushing is that the system that we operate under which is so inherently flawed, corrupt and counter productive to the human race in essence, is in reality a system that operates because the vast majority of the human race permit it to do so and not because the few force it to be so. The few cannot force anything indefinitely if the majority stand up and demand that it change, it only exists by indirect permission given by us all which stems from our apathy and failure to take control of our own lives and strange leaning toward putting others there to do it all for us. If we as a society do not see that the future which belongs to us all requires being shaped by us all, if we cannot participate in it as opposed to our time honoured failed method of handing power and responsibility off to the select few and then retiring from the scene while they get on with it, which essentially is tantamount to handing someone a blank cheque and expecting them to fill it in with self restraint, then nothing will ever change. To my mind the most effective change will not be brought about by bringing the power brokers down for their failings, they will only be replaced by new power brokers who will continue the cycle in an unchanged and inherently flawed system. The real change that needs to be made is to get the general population to see just how much responsibility they really do bear themselves for the things that are and get them to stand up and insist on change. The stark reality is that if we continue to act like sheep then we will continue to be viewed as sheep, instead of grumbling endlessly that those in power abuse, we need to be honest about how we abuse ourselves by letting them

  • Rob Royston

    @ Mary, I don’t quite follow what Bob Crowe means. Surely if the Euro is down 10% on Sterling and the contract was agreed in Euro, then it should be a saving of 10%?

  • Rob Royston

    Even if we spend all this money we don’t have on HS2, which will only take us from London to Birmingham, it will still be decades behind the rest of the world.
    We should enhance the rail track we have to improve our inland freight and commuter rail systems, and use coastal shipping for normal long distance freight with railheads at some of the ports.

    We need to start looking at alternatives to rail for passenger transport as it is unlikely ever to become an efficient, user-friendly mode in the UK. We have had the freedom of our cars and vans for so long now that rerverting to rail would be like tying balls and chains to our ankles. At business or leisure, we can do six times as much in a day by road as we can by rail.
    What we need is some sort of raised roadways that we can drive our cars onto that will take over the driving and speed us to our chosen town or city. The new electric vehicles would be ideal for this form of transport and we could be billed for the electricity that was used by our vehicle automatically. There would be an electronic gadget in the vehicle that would tell the guidance system our exact details and destination as we appoached the roadway. If something was wrong we would be run off down an escape road to get it sorted.

  • Mary

    That link to John Arnmitt did not work.
    I have copied the text from the Bloomberg Business Week site.

    .
    EXECUTIVE PROFILE* Berkeley Group Holdings plc
    John Armitt C.B.E.
    Non-Executive Director, Co-Chairman of Sustainability Committee, Co-Chairman of Health & Safety Committee, Member of Nomination Committee and Member of Remuneration Committee, Berkeley Group Holdings plc 1717
    This person is connected to 17 board members in 2 different organizations across 4 different industries.
    .
    See Board Relationships Age 65 Total Calculated Compensation $65,000
    .

    BACKGROUND*
    John Armitt, CBE served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Network Rail Limited until July 31, 2007. Mr. Armitt served as the Chief Executive of RT Group plc (formerly known as Railtrack PLC) since December 2001. He is a civil engineer by training. Previously, Mr. Armitt served as the Chief Executive of Costain Group PLC and before that Chief Executive of Union Railways. He has been Non-Executive Director of Berkeley Group Holdings plc since October 1, 2007. Mr. Armitt served as a Director of the Network Rail Limited from October 3, 2002 to July 2007. Mr. Armitt serves as Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority and Chairman of the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. He serves as a Member of Advisory Board at Siemens Holdings plc.

  • Conall-Wales

    and while we are on the subject of spending £billions — wouldn’t it be much better spent on the Severn Barrage (a mere £20 bn) which could provide 25% of all our electricity, reliably and environmentally for our grandchildren?

    I can hear the squawking of greenies alredy! Ducks before people! Burn the planet!

  • KingofWelshNoir

    I wonder how many miles of high speed rail we could have bought with the money wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  • PhilW

    “There is no scenery so beautiful is is not enhanced by a train running through it.”

    I presume you are thinking of something like the Darjeeling Hill Railway, or the Tal-y-Llyn. High speed trains are much more like very low level airplanes. The feeling you get if you’re stood near the track and one arrives unexpectedly is exactly the same as when a low-level military jet takes you unawares.

    Travelling on HSTs is also very like travelling on planes. You cannot see any scenery – anything at all close is just a sickening blur. You are whisked from one spot and dumped in another with know feeling for the land in between. And Eurostars involve much of the same checking and security procedures as planes.

    Lets get our existing network working properly, with longer trains, better maintained track, better fault tolerance (systems to deal with breakdowns etc), rather than blow money getting businessmen from London to Birmingham 10 minutes faster than at present.

  • CanSpeccy

    “Rail is by far the most resource efficient way of moving large quantities of people”
    .
    Sorry to introduce a note of reality in this exercise in wishful thinking, but the above statement is incorrect.
    .
    Considering only the energy to propel the vehicle, trains are less efficient per passenger mile than long-distance buses and the most efficient cars. They are not even much more energy-efficient than planes.
    .
    If you take into account all the other costs, track, bridges, tunnels, stations, signalling, maintenance, trains are almost certainly much less resource-efficient than other modes of transport, which would explain why only the richest people in the World, i.e., the Chinese, are building a passenger rail network, and why in the UK, rail is the most expensive way to travel.
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    No doubt, for the nomenklatura, a nationalized high-speed rail service to whisk them in leisurely comfort And enormous speed from one end of the country to the other would be a huge plus. For the taxpayer, it would be the height of folly.
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    And I cannot see how a 500 km-per-hour bullet train roaring through, in anyway enhances the landscape, rural or urban, for those who live and work in it.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    There should be high-speed rail connecting all the major cities in the UK (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Dundee, right up to Aberdeen). In France, most people who travel on the TGVs are ordinary people, not upper class people. I’m sure it’s the same in Japan (maybe Angrysoba could fill us in on the situation there). In those places, it is normal, routine. Britain’s roads, and the skies around London, are incredibly overcrowded. Interetsing how, in the UK alone it seems, right-wing ideology has come to impose irrational and costly disasters on infrastructure as well as on society as a whole.

  • Frazer

    In July last year I and my father took the steam train from Fort William to Mullaig in Scotland..it’s the same one featured in the Harry Potter movies…my dad said to me that he and his brothers remembered thier first train ride, on a steam train, just after the 2nd world war…to them it was an exciting adventure, even if it was just to Glasgow from Edinburgh..now, it costs me 16 quid just to catch a poxy bloody train from Heathrow to Paddington, then another 70 quid to get to Birmingham on an overpriced, crowded, smelly,electric bullet. On the train from Fort William, you had the time to peruse the cows and sheep in the fields and see interesting little villages slowly chug by…oh, and the toilets were pristine as well…no junkie needles rolling around..and it only cost me 20 quid..

  • dispute resolution

    The new high-speed trains can travel up to 350KM/hr. The train tracks are continuously connected without cracks . This is why it can reach high speed. How can it adjust to the variations because of the expansion/contraction due to temperature variations?

  • Fedup

    Dispute Resolution said: “… connected without cracks … How can it adjust to the variations because of the expansion/contraction due to temperature variations?”
    ,
    The rails are held in place with clips, instead getting nailed (each rail piece is welded in place to the next piece), hence the whole track acts as one long piece and compensations are built into the system, including shallow arcs (no sharp bends/corners). This is a common technology and not exactly cutting edge science.

  • Mary

    Rifkind, mentioned earlier, is on the Board of Unilever. Nice one Malcolm.
    .
    http://www.unilever.co.uk/aboutus/companystructure/nonexecutivedirectors/
    .
    Strikes by the workers are imminent as the company make changes to the pension scheme. No doubt the pensions of Rifkind and his board colleagues are adequately funded.
    .
    Unilever workers to stage strikes
    Unions said the action will hit production of brands like PG Tips Thousands of workers at consumer goods company Unilever are to stage 24-hour strikes over pensions, unions say.
    .
    Leaders of the Unite, Usdaw and the GMB unions are to call strikes on eight sites across the UK for up to 12 days from 17 January.
    .
    They say the action at sites across the country will hit production of goods, including Dove, Marmite, PG Tips, Pot Noodle and Hellman’s Mayonnaise.
    .
    Unilever said it was “deeply concerned by the disproportionate action” the unions were taking.
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    The workers say the proposals to end the company’s final salary scheme will cut retirement income for staff by up to 40%.
    .
    Some 2,500 mostly factory-floor staff are represented by the unions at Purfleet, Port Sunlight, Warrington, Leeds, Crumlin, Gloucester, Manchester, Burton-on-Trent and Ewloe, Wales.
    .
    In December, 2,500 workers – out of a workforce of 7,000 – took part in the first national strike at the company.
    .
    Jennie Formby, national officer of Unite, said: “It would seem that Unilever believed the workers would give up after one day’s strike but they are badly mistaken.
    .
    “The workforce is angry that the company has refused to meet us or to attend talks at the conciliation service Acas.”

    /…BBC

  • CanSpeccy

    According to Wikipedia, the story on Japanese rail is pretty much as with British rail. Incompetent state management — privatization — cost savings — improved service and more passengers.

    “The demise of the government-owned system came after charges of serious management inefficiencies, profit losses, and fraud. By the early 1980s, passenger and freight business had declined, and fare increases had failed to keep up with higher labor costs.

    The new companies introduced competition, cut their staffing, and made reform efforts.”

  • CanSpeccy

    Interesting critique of the rail lobby’s case here:

    Including this conclusion:

    “The Case for Rail” is consistent with the railway lobby’s propaganda down the decades. That propaganda has created a myth that bears no relationship to reality – leading to massive Government expenditure on a system which half the population uses less than once a year.

    The truth is that the national railway function could be carried out by express coaches and lorries, given the rights of way, at one quarter the cost of the train, halving the death rate, using 20-25% less fuel and offering all London’s crushed rail commuters seats at a fraction the current fares.”

  • Mary

    Unilever !!
    Revenue €44.262 billion (2010)
    Operating income €6.339 billion (2010)
    Net income €4.598 billion (2010)
    Employees 163,000 (2010)
    .
    Many controversies. Deforestation for palm oil supply, extinction of animal species, child labour, animal testing, sexism in adverts, production of skin lightening cream, etc etc.
    {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unilever}

  • crab

    Id be content to see this expensive 400kph rail line cancelled, if legacy rail could get the investment instead. But as a prestige project, it might boost the standing and performance of existing rail. Defeating it (for taking the economic and environmental piss a bit) might just hurt all rail.

  • crab

    quote: British rail service is used by a small, “relatively better off” proportion of the population
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    Regular commuters will make up the proportion refered to there. Less well off people just dont travel and commute as much.

  • anno

    High speed rail.
    What an interesting topic for a polite tea-party. Maybe Craig’s grooming himself for re-entry into the FCO. Do tell me minister (of whatever) do these HSRs have bogeys like old fashioned trains?
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    More to the point, do they have rubber tyres and steering wheels so that they can stop at places in between? I agree with Canspeccy. The train is an extremely inefficient mode of transport when it is running empty
    And if it is expected to be full, more carriages should be provided and the damn thing should be running slower not faster when it’s got so many people in..

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