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COMMENT


The aims of a high-speed network must include the reduction of the transport carbon footprint, which by defi nition implies rail travel being competitive with both domestic air travel and car travel. This in turn implies very limited stops (if any) on the longer journeys to comply with a target time of 2.5 hrs and excellent connectivity with the local transport networks at the HSR trip ends.


It is unlikely that this target could be achieved with a network built on the traditional system connecting city centre to city centre with some stopping trains and some through trains. In order to ensure the integrity of the network, the system would have to be built as a spine route with branches to or loops through the cities en route.


Generally centres with enough traffi c to justify terminating services would have branches to, and those with less traffi c would have loops through, intermediate stations.


Although ideally all the above conurbations would have direct high speed connections with all the other listed conurbations, it is recognised that the travel demand between several of the trip ends would not be enough to justify a new direct high speed connection, particularly if conventional rail services have, or can be made to have, suitably fast enough journey times to compete with alternative modes of transport.


It is also recognised that for a high speed network to be commercially viable, certain low- demand direct journeys between trip ends may not be practical. However, such journeys may be feasible with suitable interchanging and still be within the target travel time to compete with other modes.


The majority of the main stakeholders in Scotland, including the relevant local authorities, transport partnerships, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, The Scottish Council for Development & Industry, Scottish Financial Enterprise, Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses and Scottish Enterprise jointly support the proposal to commence construction of a high-speed rail network from central Scotland southwards simultaneously with construction from London northwards.


The main questions still to be answered therefore relate to routeing both crossing the border and within Scotland. Proposals to route via one of the cities to the other would not achieve the objective of a sub 2.5-hour journey time to both cities.


The Glasgow-Edinburgh Collaboration Initiative favoured a ‘Y’ confi guration within Scotland with a single new border crossing splitting at an appropriate location equidistant


from Edinburgh and Glasgow to twin termini within the two cities. This approach would also allow a local high-speed link between the two cities. This has now been accepted by the Scottish Government with the announcement by the Deputy First Minister on November 12 that a high-speed link connecting the two cities, thereby forming the northern branches of the Scottish ‘Y’, will be built by 2024.


This leaves the location of the border crossing still to be decided. There is no obvious route, the choices all being through mountainous country with the engineering problems to meet the high-speed criteria that would ensue.


The far longer coastal routes would be unlikely to meet the journey time objective and be more likely to interfere with existing settlements, industrial and agricultural interests.


The routeing decision must therefore be taken on the basis of the greatest benefi t to the economy by reducing travel time to the intermediate destinations. From the statistics


above, the most economically advantageous intermediate


destinations lie in northeast


England, Yorkshire and the East Midlands. Although there is a substantial movement to/ from Manchester, the imminent electrifi cation of the lines from Preston to Manchester and Liverpool will allow Pendolino trains to take over the routes to both Glasgow and Edinburgh, resulting in signifi cant enough journey time reductions to maximise modal shift towards rail.


A route down the east side of the Pennines to the East Midlands could intersect with the HS2 line to Leeds, thus completing a route to Birmingham and London – although a more direct route via Luton airport would be shorter and improve both international and local connectivity.


Roderick McDougall


www.railfuturescotland.org.uk FOR MORE INFORMATION


rail technology magazine Dec/Jan 13 | 17


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