High Speed Rail in Britain
What is High Speed Two?
High Speed Two, often referred to as HS2, is the proposed high-speed rail line that is currently under consideration by the British government.
The new proposed 250mph line is estimated to cost £60bn and would be the biggest rail project in Britain for over a century.
High Speed One has already been established and now connects London St Pancreas International to the Channel Tunnel and to the wider European high-speed train network
The government, however, face growing opposition from campaigners and local residents over the new plans for HS2.
Many fear the line will ruin parts of Britain's finest countryside, including the Chilterns in Oxfordshire, providing little or no benefit to the areas it passes through.
The first high-speed train was the Shinkansen in Japan, which opened in 1964. France followed with its first TGV line in 1981.
Other countries with high speed railways now include Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Korea.
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- Provide additional rail capacity to pressured rail network
- Faster journey times
- Potential to link to Heathrow Airport
- Cheaper and less disruptive than upgrading exsisting lines
- Improve economic competitiveness of areas outside London
- Links to European high speed rail network
- Stimulus for tourism
- Support inward investment
- Ensure Britain keeps pace with other leading Eurpoean countries. Spain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Sweden are all expanding high speed rail networks
Cheap fast trains are 'transport future' - Lord Adonis (BBC News)
- Link city regions such as the Midlands, the North East and Scotland to international gateways
- Help to benefit areas outside of the wider south east
- Support regions to regenerate and grow
- Provide viable alternative to domestic flights and car travel
- Contribute to lower carbon emissions and meet national targets
Department of Transport: High Speed Two report
Should projects of national interest be held up by local objection?
Or is it our right to object to development in the our local areas?
- Threat to landscapes including the Chilterns and Lake District
- Noise pollution to neighbouring communities
- Threat to local habitat and wildlife
250mph rail link to 'rip up' finest scenery (Times Online)
Benefit for the few
- Inevitable higher ticket price means new line will mainly benefit the wealthy
- Areas of the country that are not serviced by the new high speed line could lose business and investment
- Train line will pass by local communities and residential areas but will not benefit from a local station
- Could reduce house prices of neighbouring residents
- Fears that the trains will be under used
- Increased carbon emissions per passenger to run services
- Designs are set to include sinking the train tracks 3ft below ground to reduce noise
- Trees to line parts of the route to reduce noise
- Tunnelling considered for section of route passing substantial settlements
- Government are considering grants to pay for noise proofing of near by homes
It is argued that the cost of building a high speed line is not significantly more than building a conventional one, which may well be true but is far from the whole story. Running costs of a high speed railway are much higher, due to the greater energy consumption (energy is proportional to speed-squared) and the need for specially designed and complex rolling stock, capable of running at the proposed speed of 250 mph - substantially faster than the French TGV which runs at 186 mph. This will be a particular problem in the British context because whilst it is proposed to build to the European standard loading gauge, a specially designed and constructed interim fleet of trains will be needed for running over both the high speed line and then continuing onto existing lines constructed to the smaller British standard.
The report argues that the benefits of higher speeds are substantial, pointing to big cuts in journey times between the main city centres. But how valuable are these time savings? The high speed rail line would reduce the time it takes to travel from Birmingham city centre to London by more than 40 per cent from the current 1 hour 24 minutes to as little as 40-49 minutes. However, adding in say, half an hour’s travel at each end gives a door-to-door journey time saving of 45 minutes on a 2½ hour journey, which is less impressive.
One test of the value of infrastructure investment is the aggregate change in land value to which it gives rise. A railway creates land value only around the places where it stops. Elsewhere, its effects are negative, hence the NIMBYs in the Chilterns who have already announced their opposition to the project. Has anyone tried to calculate how the proposed line would affect land values in the aggregate, bearing in mind the possibilities it opens up for improved stopping services on the classic routes?
The California High Speed Rail Authority is now showing the existing Union Pacific RR corridor through Fresno, Calif. as the proposed route for Fresno, right past thousands and thousands of homes. Today is Sunday, March 14, 2010. Fresno is in California’s Central Valley, about mid-way between L.A. and San Francisco. I mean 50 feet from 20,000 or 30,000 homes. And if HS trains are put in UP corridor here, collisions at 220 mph are possible with freight trains carrying hazardous cargo. Fresno population: 500,000. I am fighting it. The local government has not said one word about any of this! This will get ugly: Grand Jury, Attorney General of Calif and of U.S., billion dollar class action lawsuit against City and County of Fresno, and against Calif. High Speed Rail Authority, etc. I’ll make it known Obama gave Calif. $2.25 billion for high speed rail recently without any guarantees that home-owners would be protected from it. We’d have 120 trains a day coming through at 220 mph, most of them express trains doing us no good. The local paper here, The Fresno Bee, won’t even ask the politicians about it. I laid into the Fresno City Council about it during their meeting on March 3, 2010, so it won’t stay secret for long.
Google “noise and vibration study of high speed trains in France, Italy and Sweden, 1996”. Their trains only go 185 mph and produce 95 dB of noise. Ours will go 220 mph. Noise goes up with speed. If we have to have this route in Fresno, we’ll demand a trench, maybe a tunnel, sound-conditioning of homes, compensation for lost home values, severe speed limits on the trains, maybe 30 mph through Fresno. Suggest you do all of that too.
I live on the west coast mainline - they upgraded the line through the town to allow fast pendolino trains these go by around 100mph and i regularly record 90db at my back door - its horrible and 5db above the level the world health organisation say ear defenders should be worn - I can no longer use my back garden and all Network rail and my local Enviromental health officer can do is argue who is going to do some noise testing - why they did not do the noise testing before spending millions on the upgrade beats me - we are mere pawns in the game of speed - they don’t give a hoot that our lives are ruined or if it costs us in the value of our homes being reduced. - please fight as hard as you possibly can you do not want to be in the position I am in and my trains are only 100mph trains 200mph trains will produce around 112Db