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Doncaster, albeit quite old, as it depicts a Virgin Voyager on a Cross Country service. But West Coast Main Line? I don’t think so, unless my geography is way off beam!

Allan Machon Maidenhead

HS2 vs conventional alternative, RP2 Peter Plisner refers to RP2, the suggested ‘conventional alternative’ to HS2, as ‘little- known’ (News analysis, April 2011 issue) but it features prominently on the banners of anti-HS2 protesters who probably had little interest of any sort in West Coast Main Line services until last year. RP2 proposes a package of works including new platforms at Euston, grade- separation of the Ledburn crossovers (between Leighton Buzzard and Cheddington), four-tracking of a section of the route between Coventry and Birmingham, a new line bypassing Stafford, and various works in the Manchester area. But all we get in exchange for this in an evening peak hour is an increase in Fast Line departures from Euston from 12 to 16, of which two are just for the Northampton line. Meanwhile even more

intermediate services will be squeezed out to allow for these extra trains – Milton Keynes will lose all its direct Birmingham trains, having services only via Northampton that will be slower than now. A half-hourly Milton Keynes – West London – Croydon service will be impossible. Instead of decent connections at HS2’s Birmingham Interchange under Phase 2, the current hotch-potch of unsatisfactory options for travelling between the South Midlands growth area and Yorkshire/the North East will persist.

Matching the overall

national capacity offered by HS2 will require an RP2 look- alike for the East Coast and Midland Main Lines, both of which will have extremely big- ticket items in them, such as for the Welwyn bottleneck and providing terminal capacity in London.

The journey time

improvements compared with HS2 will, of course, be trivial.

The good point about RP2

is that it could be available in a shorter timescale than HS2. I have spent most of my

railway career searching for low-cost enhancements, but I know when I’m beaten. Rather than lock ourselves into 19th- century routes for ever, it’s time to build a proper one for the future.

William A M Barter Towcester Northants

Horwich’s wind power claim blown off course I always enjoy reading your well-informed magazine, but contrary to what you say on page 7 of the April 2011 issue, Horwich Parkway is not the fi rst station in Britain to be powered by the wind. Corrour on the West

Highland Line has had a wind turbine since 1993.

John Yellowlees ScotRail

Electrifying the Midland Main Line would improve connections from the Midlands to cities like York

The announcement about the electrifi cation of the Great Western Main Line is like the curate’s egg. Good in parts and distinctly malodorous in others. Certainly the replacement of diesel traction for a major route with intensive services is to be applauded. However this is weakened by the failure to develop the scheme to Swansea for all electric propulsion. This also applies to ECML services beyond Edinburgh. The half-baked alternative of the so-called bi-mode trains favoured by the DfT will extend the reliance on diesel traction west of Cardiff. There is extensive traffi c that would benefi t from through services and this would get rid of the need for and cost of diesel maintenance and the retention of diesel fuel logistics for this section of the route. I suspect the old GWR just does not want to use electric trains and the pre-grouping sentiment to maintain something different has prevailed. Lugging dead diesel kit around under the wires for the life of the proposed IEP trains will be a commercial and economic albatross. The essential focus should be on the deletion of diesel traction over as much of the rail network as possible. With oil prices rocketing and long-term availability under threat, any new projects using diesel technology is just plainly wrong. Hitachi’s offer to build a new plant for the IEP will put at risk

existing factories and there is no skills base in the north east to build complex capital items such as front line rail vehicles. Electrifying the GW was not the best choice in terms of national economic payback. The MML offers an already developed bridgehead at Bedford to link to the East Midlands (Nottingham and Grantham), South Yorkshire and the West Riding (Sheffi eld, Doncaster ECML, Leeds and York) and would have created much needed system network links rather than adding yet another radial line to/from London. Time to dust off the blue prints for steam traction, possibly?

Phil Mortimer Bognor Regis

MAY 2011 PAGE 13 Why stop at Cardiff?

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