8 February 2013

Training for the future

Over the past few weeks the government has made some big announcements on spending on public infrastructure.

They've published their plans for a second high-speed train line that will run from London up to Birmingham after which it splits to go to Manchester or Leeds. This will be called "High-Speed 2" (HS2).

As far as I can tell, it is needed because the trains out of London Euston, up to Birmingham and the north-west, will be full in about 20 years' time. Euston currently has lots of long-distance trains (Virgin Trains); lots of local trains (London Overground) and lots of trains-that-are-not-quite-local-but-not-quite-long-distance (London Midland). The train line itself also has lots of freight trains. In about 20 years' time there won't be enough space for all of them, and the idea is to build a separate train line for the Virgin Trains, which will create more space for the other lot.  It'll also make my journeys back home to Lancashire much quicker.

It seems to be one of those all-too-rare occasions where plans for being made for the future, and also a good idea.

Separately there appear to be formal plans for a "Crossrail 2". Yes, that thing that's currently ripping up numerous bits of central London is likely to gain a younger brother or sister.

The basic plan is for a tunnel from outside Wimbledon that will lead to London Victoria; Tottenham Court Road; Euston-King's Cross-St. Pancras; and Angel then up through north-east London in two directions.

Apparently it will solve a lot of transport issues in London and the south-east: it'll remove lots of local trains from Waterloo, creating room for longer-distance ones; and will help the Victoria and Piccadilly lines, as well as creating space on the trains in north London. It'll also make massive reductions in travel times across London.

TfL have previously said that it should be built with HS2, but now it seems that it is essential to build it, otherwise Euston won't cope with the amount of extra people that HS2 will bring in.

As an alternative, TfL propose starting it at Wimbledon and only having the trains go in one direction after Angel.

Hopefully it will be built - I currently live in one of the areas that would stand to benefit from it, and given that I struggle to squeeze on my train in the morning I fully support the plans - and there's a good chance given that both TfL and Network Rail both support it. The only down side is that it is unlikely to do so for about 20 years, i.e. when the HS2 Manchester and Leeds bits open...

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