28 February 2010

Fast Trax 4 - where will the high speed lines go? - Cross Country routes

As a continuation of Fast Trax 3 about radial high speed routes from London we have to look at other routes which do not touch on London but are also highly important in the infrastructure of this country.

The numbered paragraphs continue from the previous blog.

11-The second high speed line which we have already proposed in our  blog Fast Trax 2 (24/2/10) is the  Southern High Speed Line (SHSL). This would run from Reading through Heathrow and Gatwick airports to Ashford to connect to the Chunnel. The case for this was outlined in the previous blog.It would benefit local traffic in Surrey, Sussex and Kent, also through traffic for freight and vehicles from Fishguard, Bristol and Birmingham, while opening up the possibility of through trains(both passenger and freight) to near mainland Europe.All this would be without funnelling the traffic round or through London and adding to the congestion there.

12-The case for high speed lines does not and should not stop with the radial routes from London. In Fast Trax 2 we mentioned the line  Birmingham- Oxford- Reading. This route continues south to Basingstoke and Southampton  making it one of the important Cross Country routes through Birmingham not only for passengers but more importantly for freight.

13-Another important route from Birmingham is the one through Cheltenham to Bristol and onwards to the South West at Plymouth.This would open up a large area of Britain, which tends to be forgotten, to high speed services for both freight and passenger traffic.

14-This Cross Country pattern is then completed with the route Birmingham - Nottingham either through Leicester or direct, as a new route, through East Midlands Parkway. This latter option is unlikely to ever be built.

15-Obviously if the CLC line were considered for electrification as part of the Trans Pennine routes (as it is at present) then the benefits could be greater than present. The resulting traffic patterns could be  (without considering other alternatives) and taking for granted that Liverpool Central would be reopened for the Transpennine traffic as well as the London traffic.
(a) L/P Lime St.- M/C Victoria- Leeds- Hull 
(b) L/P Central- M/C Piccadilly- Sheffield- Doncaster- Grimsby.

The reopening of Liverpool Central makes an additional possibilty the redirection of  the old CLC services from Warrington Central  and Manchester back into the original destination which was Liverpool Central.The line speed on the CLC line would also improve considerably to something like it was before the redirection of services into Lime Street.The subtraction of these services from L/P Lime Street would reduce the pressure on that overcrowded station while permitting improved electric services on the newly upgraded line through Huyton- St.Helens- Wigan NW to Scotland. 

16-What should be added is the Blackpool- Preston- Blackburn- Halifax- Bradford- Leeds route. This will be partly electrified with the plans already approved for the upgrading of the Blackpool- Preston line.

17-Scotland should not be forgotten either. It is illogical that Glasgow and Edinburgh are not connected with some sort of fast/high speed line. we do not feel competent to suggest alternatives which should be left to more knowledgeable Scottish correspondents. However, from a distance it seems logical that the lines Edinburgh- Dundee- Aberdeen and Glasgow- Stirling- Perth- Dundee- Aberdeen are strong candidates to be upgraded. Other options the Scots have to suggest.

It has to be remembered that HIGH SPEED does not mean the same thing in  every case. The maximum speed can be 400kph or 200kph depending on the topography or the population density. These high speed trunk lines should be four tracked so that regional and freight services can use the same corridor. That is why it is better to use present corridors to help in the alignment of the high speed lines while avoiding unnecessary duplication in construction but providing alternative ways for traffic when a line is unusable.

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