High Speed 2 – UK’s High Speed Train Network

Not the actual High Speed 2 Train AFAIK.

Not the actual High Speed 2 Train AFAIK.

The new proposed "High Speed 2" UK High Speed Train Network will cost an estimated £89.5 Million per mile of new track – with a total of 335 miles in the completed High Speed 2 rail network. Another way to visualise the cost is as approx £55,000 per meter so a rail link from your front door to the road could cost as much as half a million pounds. Jaw dropping!

Some Vital Statistics:

  • Up to 250mph (400km/h)
  • 119 Miles of track (Phase 1), 335 Miles total
  • London to Birmingham – 2026 (Phase 1)
  • Birmingham to Leads & Manchester – 2035 (Phase 2)
  • Costs Up to £17.4 Billion Phase 1
  • Additional £12.6 Billion for Phase 2
  • Capacity of up to 18 trains/hour
  • 1100 Passengers capacity on each train
  • 30,000 Passengers per day at approx 10% capacity

Travel time savings from High Speed 2 are estimated as follows:

Destination (from London) – Phase 1 travel time savings – Phase 2 travel time savings
Birmingham 23 Minutes 23 Minutes
Manchester 28 Minutes 43 Minutes
Leeds 0 Minutes 60 Minutes
Glasgow 29 Minutes 59 Minutes
Edinburgh 0 Minutes 60 Minutes

The High Speed 2 Route

The High Speed 2 Route

The predecessor to High Speed 2 was the High Speed 1 rail network which hits a maximum of 186mph between the channel tunnel and London, in comparison High Speed 2 has a maximum speed for 250mph (likely to be closer to 220mph) and in that respect High Speed 2 stacks up nicely.

The cost of High Speed 2 has been a point of dispute, but the entire cost over the next 24 years is less than 0.05% of the UK’s total GDP, not a significant amount, and arguably the link from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will increase that GDP by more than 5 hundredths of a percent.

The speed of the High Speed 2 network puts trains in a position to compete with flying between major cities as the fastest method of transport. Including checking in, dropping off luggage, waiting around the boarding lounge, waiting for takeoff, landing, taxiing to the air bridge, collecting your baggage and making your way back onto a decent travel network (ever flown to luton?) the journey by train from Manchester to London is likely to take half as much time as flying.

At this rate tickets will be more expensive than flying, in fact the current "low speed" network generally costs more than flying. The cost of tickets is a major problem with the current rail network, and I look forward to some announcement of High Speed 2 ticket prices. But I don’t hold much hope, and I don’t think its appropriate to postulate about prices of a rail ticket in fifteen years.

In my personal opinion, High Speed 2 is an essential move for the UK, just as Australia has made an essential move into a high speed broadband roll-out which leaves most countries to shame. The fact is if a country doesn’t keep pace with development, the country as a whole will stagnate and suffer.

The cost of the network seems entirely absurd – £556 per centimeter of track… that means it would cost me £23,630 to lay a High Speed 2 rail network from one corner of my laptop screen, to the farther corner… a mere 42.5cm

But who am I to say the logistics of laying a high speed rail network such as the one proposed for High Speed 2 should cost any less – all the infrastructure, the costs of the trains, the costs of buying people off their land, the costs of digging great whopping tunnels through mountains.

At this stage my personal view is – yes, its a good move, even in this economy.

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