Timmy elsewhere

Don\’t build the HST.

Just stick Wi-Fi in the carriages instead.

22 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. I prognosticate that financial collapse will put an end to the HST fantasy long before they can begin it.

  2. Except now that more and more of our business masters (sat permanently behind their desks) are making us slum it in second class, they clearly don’t understand the concept of turning travel time into productive time anyway. Bit difficult to work on anything remotely confidential when sharing four seats with the hoi-polloi and your battery’s dead.

  3. All the against arguments for this ludicrously expensive folly have been well aired ,but our transport minister added a further doubt not go ahead when he said recently when questioned on subsidies involved (there will be no public money for HST) the real worry is that it will be another PFI project to saddle future generations with as despite being villified by Osborne when taking office,guess what there on the rise again.

  4. Considering that most railway companies seem to frequently fail to stock and staff a buffet, I don’t exactly trust them to keep some routers going on a train. And once they’ve pocketed a subsidy they’ll have no reason to improve it.

    A better option would be to give the 3G operators a subsidy on railway-supporting wireless masts. The Swindon to London signal is good, apart from around Stanford-in-the Vale. So, pay them a subsidy (and we’ll know when it’s enough when a couple of them erect masts) and then people pay for the 3G through those companies (which is already cheap).

  5. @TimAlmond – entirely agreed. Anyone who can’t work out how to get cheap internet on the move using their laptop and mobile phone should be fired anyway. The main problem is the frequently nonexistent signal in trains. Still, getting a signal along an entire route that’s sufficient not to bust your client or VPN connection at 300km/h is going to be a technical challenge however you do it.

  6. @JamesV – fortunately the likelihood of any train on the London lines busting 300km/h (or, for that matter, 100km/h) regularly simplifies the challenge

  7. Andrew Montgomery

    At the risk of stating the obvious, several train companies in the UK already have Wifi.
    – Grand Central (London to Sunderland & Bradford) offers free wifi to all passengers on all services.
    – Virgin (London to Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow) for £5/hr or £10/day
    – East Coast (London to Edinburgh) same prices
    – East Midlands (London to Derby) £4 for three hours
    – NX East Anglia (London to Norwich) £3 per trip or £19 per month
    In all cases wifi is free in first class. Generally it’s only available on mainline trains, not rural / local / urban services.

    Looking at that list the biggest holdout is FirstGroup – there’s no sign of wifi on First Great Western or First ScotRail. There’s no obvious explanation for their omission.

  8. Why is the HST being built between London and Birmingham when there are numeous railway lines and a motorway connecting them already?
    Far better to link up all those separated Yorkshire towns and come down the east of England ,miss London completely,cross the Thames on Boris’s airport island and carry on to the Channel Tunnel,all done in the true spirit of grand-scale social engineering which is probably due for a bit of comeback since the banks the media (Murdoch) have shewn up naive laissez-faire as leading to a more sinister corporate State than we Lefties envisaged .

  9. Why is the HST being built between London and Birmingham when there are numeous railway lines and a motorway connecting them already?

    Because they’re full. This is the point the anti-HSR people always miss: the reason to build the line is not primarily so people can go to Birmingham at 300km/h, it’s because the existing routes to Birmingham are already at capacity, and will be wildly over capacity in 15 years’ time when it opens. If you’re building a new railway, it’s no more expensive to spec it for 300km/h operation than 200km/h.

  10. Because they’re full.

    The motorways might be full, but I find it hard to believe that the trains are full of people getting on at Birmingham and getting off at London. Any evidence of high demand for Brum to London (or the other way around)?

  11. john b

    “If you’re building a new railway, it’s no more expensive to spec it for 300km/h operation than 200km/h.”

    Well that’s rubbish for starters, building a high speed is far more expensive on tunnels, signals, track, route, pretty much everything in fact.

  12. HS2 ( not HST ) is eventually planned to go at least to Manchester and eventually on to points further north, maybe even Scotland, so it isn’t about Brum at all. The shortage of capacity is for trains to all destinations on the West Coast main line, there is very little scope for further expansion with the existing infrastructure and demand is forecast to rise significantly. Of course whether the line will ever be built north of Birmingham is a moot point and the expected demand may not materialise, I’m less than convinced that the project is either necessary or cost efficient but some of the arguments put forward against are very ignorant ( par for the course for anything to do with railways ) . Mind you many of the arguments in favour are just as dubious.

  13. Phil.

    You’ve missed the point, if you’ve built the thing you’ve already spent a small fortune on infrastructure, building it for a higher speed won’t significantly add to cost. This is also true of much smaller projects, the reopened Ebbw Vale line has exceeded all expectations for demand, there are now proposals to upgrade it further, this would have been less expensive if done in the original project.

  14. what you need is the easy jet model, low cost, pre-booked trains that come into main terminals, pick up and go non stop to end destination. The non stop train to coventry currrently takes about the same time as the projected HST to birmingham. Given that is only about 12 miles further, the time saving looks to be a red herring. Better management of existing routes is the answer, not predict and provide grand planning.

  15. Mark T.
    The demand for low cost pre-booked trains already exist, they run on the existing route which is close to capacity, the HS2 proposal ( not HST we already have those, some more would be nice ) is to meet the need for a very fast limited stop service, whether the market for this is as large as claimed is another matter. If you run non stop trains on the system as it is you miss out most of your intermediate market, does no one live or work en route ? There is already a wide mix of stopping, semi-fast and fast trains catering to the various demands of this market, capacity is severely limited and trying to squeeze in more fast trains is just not possible, I could explain in detail why this is but it’s very boring, put simply fast trains catch up slower trains and the timetable is very vulnerable to minor disruptions. You can increase capacity with improved signalling and extra lines but both are very expensive and not always practicable. Your suggestion of better management is fine up to a point but there comes a point when you run up against the laws of physics and just can’t get any more trains on to the system.

  16. I would n’t want to lock horns with any full-on transport bore ,but from my whimsical Arts educated lefty perspective, it looks like Birmingham is linked to London by two motorways and two railway lines already .Chiltern trains are hardly rammed and go through some delightful countryside as does the M40( with its red kite haven) also not chokker.Birmingham is hardly the industrial powerhouse it once was: that motorway spur that goes up to Coventry/Warwick,doubtless at the behest of the Rootes brothers, is always under capacity (to use the appropriate register).

  17. DBC Reed

    A transport bore writes. I must have bored you so much you didn’t read my comment about the HS2 not being primarily intended for Birmingham or the bit about capacity on the West Coast main line being close to its limit, these are facts boring or otherwise. It’s going to Birmingham first because railways are always built in stages and it makes sense to run it to England’s second city initially rather than just petering out in a field near Tamworth.

  18. @Thornavis,
    Please don’t take my comments personally: I was referring to the generic transport bores who haunt this kind of website (from a background in trainspotting,no doubt).
    It does n’t make it any better saying the Birmingham -London link is just a starting-point.
    If Birmingham is so well served ,which you are, in fact, conceding,with this its- the- Points- North- that- matter argument,why not go north in a different direction as for instance up the East of the country which as far as I remember was one of the original proposals.(Iseem to remember a ladder-like arrangement with two lines one West,one East with cross links.What happened to that?How have we ended up with this Hobson’s choice?)
    Why start at London? Why should all railroads lead to London? If there is any consideration for the needs of Yorkshire people to get to The Continent by rail, why should they be obliged to go via the capital? At one time the Yorkshire and Lancashire towns were important in their own right. Iwould have thought the primary purpose of high speed rail should be to regenerate areas that have gone a bit downhill.
    I am (fairly) serious that the High speed railway should northwards from the bend in the existing Channel Tunnel line ,over Boris’s airport island ( which should also have a container port) and then go North up the less developed East of the country.

  19. Thornavis: ta for clarifying my point to Phil. Building a new 300km/h line simply *doesn’t* cost much more than building a new 200km/h line, because most costs are fixed.

    DBC: because a quarter of the population live in the London metro area, and Birmingham is the next-most-populous place, whereas the east coast is pretty much empty.

  20. @jb
    So you’re quite happy to see Birmingham have three railroads (Chiltern/London Midlands/HSR)plus motorways and the East to remain “empty”?(BTW There is no point in a railway looping round the bulge/coast of East Anglia)
    I was making a plea for the old fashioned indicative planning of building new towns or enlarging old ones in the 60’smanner.Build (the railway) and they will come type of thing.
    A London airport in the Thames was mooted back then (it was Buchanan’s preferred option: Foulness ,Maplin etc).It was cancelled by Labour.If it had been built it would have dragged a lot of industry, warehousing etc from West London where planes from Heathrow pass feet over the M25 awaiting a Kegworth type disaster.Link a high speed railway to this Thames airport and you’ve got industrial regeneration breaking out towards Cambridge and a link to the Channel Tunnel.
    The present plans are more of the same/boring.
    However this website tends to favour the” let the big boys and giant corporations do it all,they’re so much nore cleverer than us “scenario which has left the country scandalously short of houses and precipitated a re-run of the 1930’s,unsurprisingly.
    Leave it to the private sector and nothing will happen.Private investment can make money easier from invessting in land and doing nothing while the price goes up.Viva Henry George! Viva H.GWells.!

  21. DBC Reed.

    A lot to consider there and we seem to be drifting away a bit from the original point, not that the points you raise aren’t worth a reply. I can’t really comment on the Maplin airport proposals as aviation isn’t my subject but the modern approach, which seems sensible to me, appears to be to disperse airports so that we don’t need monsters like Heathrow and people can travel from much nearer home. If railways don’t have to go to London why should planes ? I’m afraid though that John B is right, London will always be the main transport hub of this country as long as it is several orders of magnitude larger than any other British city and the centre of economic activity. This is not a new thing , even at the height of the industrial revolution when economic power swung briefly away from the south east London was still the major attractant, which is why most of the main railway lines led there. The reason for the chosen HS2 route and stage works is simple, cost, building a line in one hit to the north would never get past the Treasury. The proposed route has been chosen carefully to reach major population centres and the timescale is long enough to make it affordable, although that doesn’t mean it will ever get built of course. As for leaving everything to the private sector, well that probably isn’t possible today not because it couldn’t or wouldn’t do it but because the state is now so involved in everything from planning laws to finance that the private sector has far less incentive, after all all our great industries and the railway network to support them were built entirely by private enterprise, what changed ?
    BTW I wasn’t upset by your transport bore comment, I accepted my inner geek a long time ago !

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