Posted 16th March 2012 | 14 Comments
Engineer sets out plan for more trains on HS2
THE chief engineer of High Speed 2 has told an audience in Derby that sophisticated signalling, plus dedicated 'acceleration lanes', could increase headways from 18 to 30 trains an hour.
Giving the iRail 2012 Distinguished Lecture – ‘Designing High Speed Rail for Britain’ – at the Derby College Roundhouse, Professor McNaughton declared that the future was based on the use of dedicated Very High Speed Trains rather than compromise rolling stock like Eurostar, adding that with a new railway 'you can optimize every feature to maximize capacity'.
He said HS2’s control system would be based on ERTMS Level 2 train control, and would be designed to allow headways of two minutes, giving a theoretical capacity of 30 trains an hour. At the moment, a maximum of 18 is envisaged.
Headways would be maintained by trains stopping intermediately, such as at Birmingham Interchange, and then departing on 'acceleration lines' up to 14km long, so they were running at high speed before being slotted back in behind a fast train that had just overtaken them.
He said an Alstom AGV with a maximum design speed of 350km/h, on which HS2 operations are modelled, could accelerate to 200km/h in 8km, and to 300km/h in another 5km.
He also disclosed that Bombardier had been commissioned by the Italian State Railway to develop a 400km/h Very High Speed Train, while the Russians were looking at 500km/h.
Professor McNaughton said the detailed proposed route for the Manchester and Leeds arms of HS2 will be passed to transport secretary Justine Greening within the next two weeks, and could be available for public scrutiny in the autumn.
In answer to questions from the 100-strong audience, he said that if the political and financial will was there it could be possible to carry forward the process, already adopted for Phase One, and move to a second Hybrid Bill two years after the first.
The length of time necessary to complete the northern sections will be less than for the first phase – because 25 per cent of Phase One to Birmingham will be in tunnels, which take a long time to construct. Some substantial viaducts will also be needed on the London-Birmingham section, again adding to the construction time.
He said the crossing of the Colne Valley will be “the ultimate challenge for viaduct architecture.” Showing a picture of Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle and Carlisle line, he said that route would never be allowed now because it passes through a National Park.
Referring to the HS2 proposals for London, he said the city was the 'only true metropolis in Europe', and that it was necessary to be able to distribute people to all parts of the metropolitan area. This explained the plan for a major interchange station at Old Oak Common, just west of Paddington, which would enable passengers for the west and east of central London to continue their journeys with one simple change to Crossrail, while passengers heading north or south would continue to Euston, where they too could make one change to Underground, Overground or suburban National Rail services.
He added that the new station at Euston, which would include housing as well as commercial and retail developments, would be the size of 17 Emirates’ football stadiums, and would be 'the biggest development of any kind ever seen in London'. In support of the Old Oak Common plans, he said that the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham was regarding the development not just as a railway interchange but as a West London equivalent of the Docklands regeneration area.
He also predicted that, further north, the building of a new central station in Birmingham would trigger development of that city's East Side as a new commercial quarter, while the National Exhibition Centre area would become a new city, focused on crucial interchanges of railways and motorways. He believed the airport alongside the NEC would be able to claim the title of 'London Birmingham', because it would be closer to central London in journey times than either Stansted or Gatwick.
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