The Government seems to be announcing today a high speed rail link to an expanded Heathrow airport. When built this will probably make Kings Cross the best connected city centre urban district in the world. This site has been covering plans for high speed rail in North London for many months so I thought i would pull them together to help understand the issues from a local point of view.
- A post here discusses Arup's original kite flying proposal for a high speed route from St Pancras to Heathrow.
- Another post here covers the Opposition's plans for the high speed line to the North West.
- And a further post here covers the operational difficulties at St Pancras that will make it hard to cope with more passengers.
And as more details emerge later, I shall post further links.
One of the things i am pondering is just how trains coming from the West will get around all the curves at any decent speed into and out of St Pancras. Quite a bit of time will be spent speeding up and slowing down in the journey. At a guess the current Heathrow Express, if it has special track to keep it going at its top speed would get to St Pancras just as quickly as a Hitachi bullet train and much much cheaper. Indeed it is only a 20 mile journey by road- so a regular train doing 70 mph, allowing for some speeding up and slowing down could do it in 20 minutes. It's all about having some dedicated track, not fancy trains.
The Department for Transport has announced the formation of High Speed Two a company to plan a new high speed train line from London to the West Midlands and points North. From the Government statement here (pdf):
'Network Rail’s initial work has pointed to a strong case for an entirely new rail line in the corridor from London to the West Midlands. Such a line would enable faster and enhanced services to be run on new and existing lines to Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and other destinations in the north of England and Scotland, cutting journey times and increasing capacity substantially. In the South, any new line could connect to a new Heathrow International interchange station on the Great Western main line, providing a direct 4-way interchange between the airport, the new north-south line, existing Great Western rail services and Crossrail into central London.'
'High Speed Two’s purpose is to help consider the case for new high speed services from London to Scotland. As a first stage we have asked the company to develop a proposal for an entirely new line between London and the West Midlands. To reach a view on this, the company will need to assess the likely environmental impact and business case of different routes in enough detail to enable the options to be narrowed down. We expect work to be completed by the end of the year. The Government will thereafter assess the options put forward for the development of the new line.'