“Mind The Gap”
I am not too sure if the message refers to the gap between the train and the platform or between the train and Mr.Grayling’s expectations
Quote of the Year
The scrapping between political parties over the ECML has produced one of my favourite quotes of the year so far:
A senior Conservative source said it was disappointing to see “someone
of Lord Adonis’s experience making completely inaccurate statements based on a lack of knowledge of the facts”.
This surely indicates that “A senior Conservative source” does have the faintest idea of what’s going on, who started it and what has been seen, heard and experienced since a certain “Lord Adonis” started a project called HS2 amid a cloud of false information, manipulated statistics, rose-coloured projections and where all the money for the railway upgrades promised is going.
As has been advised by many and seen and heard by many more the construction of HS2 will have no impact on the upgrading continuing improvement of the existing railway. So you may imagine that I was a little surprised to see a headline in my regular mag. (which does tend to be a “believer” when faced with HS2 propaganda) which read:-
“This is probably the first public admission by the government that investment in HS2 will impact on the classic railway”.
“Industry Witness”, with whom I have crossed swords on occasions before, was reviewing the cancellation of electrification programs. It seems that the National Audit Office is reporting on the cutbacks announced last year due to the increases in budget figures required. Those affected will be the GW mainline, the Midland Main Line, the scheme to electrify the Windermere branch, the extension of electrification Cardiff to Swansea.
The “logic” is that the Bi-mode Cl.800 will provide a good alternative because of a speed restriction of 90mph beyond Cardiff, while, back on the MML, if electrified to Kettering HS2 could provide a good service to Nottingham and Sheffield.
Now, those with adequate memories will have in mind that HS2 doesn’t actually have stops in Nottingham or Sheffield, the “Nottingham” station is sited at Toton (sort of halfway between Nottingham and Derby while the official Sheffield station is about 10-11 miles west of Sheffield. How this constitutes a reasonable service I cannot imagine? Also the DFT has informed that their will be no rolling stock implications. The present HSTs will be life expired in 2019 and will require considerable work to extend their life further and to bring them up to standards required for Health and Safety.
There is another wrinkle which occurs to me, the existing HST stock is due to be “cascaded” to North of the Border to speed up services there, if the MML trains are kept and life-extended, where will Scotland get its traction?
With this in mind, I note that it is rumoured that the HS2 “Sheffield” station may be abandoned in favour of a spur line connecting HS2 the MML and the existing station; the Crewe effect again another injection additional traffic onto the “rattling Victorian railway”. His would seem to remind everyone of the findings of the French (who do have experience in running Ultra Fast Transport).
1. French high speed network is “incoherent” and uses existing slow speed track to save money. Therefore TGVs cannot achieve an operational and economic speed.
2. Lacks distance between stations for the TGV to operate in a cost effective manner. Trains should link cities after a travel time of 11/2-3hrs. That equates to 230mph for 1.5hrs or 345miles.
3. Many local authorities insisting that the TGV (UFT) pass their town or city which is causing many short distant stops. The Cour des Comptes are recommending the rationalisation of the TGV system to bring it within those limits ie. a gradual reduction in the number of TGV stops.
4. The French report I found a number quotations which sum up the situation, among them “beware the misuse of numbers to support a politically motivated argument”, and better planning and more transparency in passenger statistics”.
5. The SNCF (TGV operators) are already considering rationalising the number of stations as the system was in an ‘incoherent, disconnected and inefficient system’. Subsequently the Economie Matin reported that train operator SNCF was planning “drastic measures” to reverse the decline.
Of course, this information from someone with experience is being ignored.
I note that GWR is overhauling some of its HSTs, reducing them to 4 cars and two locos, calling them a “Castle” class and is to use them between Exeter and Penzance (over the Devon banks) while it is proposed to “hive off” this route to a separate franchise. This suggests to me that short-comings in the new cl.800 are to be hidden by keeping them away from the working sections where they will need to show their mettle. There are of course many suggested reasons why this is being done so the propaganda states; as passengers are seemingly turning away from the railway, that local knowledge is required to reverse this problem. Here is my “local knowledge”, the line has been singled, trains are less frequent, bottle-necks occur because the line is singled, lines through-out Devon and Cornwall have been closed meaning a round-about route to cover a few miles, journey times are slower etc.etc. If we recall previous propaganda by government, electrification solves all these problems so we are back to square one. Unless of course we could redirect HS2 to Penzance and round to Glasgow! HS2 cures everything.
To continue, Scotland has been promised the HSTs to speed up their main lines, where will the HSTs come from if they are converted and kept in the West Country? I have the distinct feeling the government/DFT is playing “Whack-a-Mole” with train sets! Has it occurred to any of the “powers that be” to try an IEP over the Settle route? That might give an idea of what they are capable or have the Devon Banks already solved that conundrum and face-saving is the order of the day, while more and more unsuitable units roll off the production line at great expense.