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AndyE
1342562.  Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:13 am Reply with quote

Alexander Howard wrote:
It's interesting that you could in theory take a train from Aberdeen to Constantinople as the British standard rail gauge is used across Europe, but if ever a bridge or tunnel were built across the North Channel (that's another thread) the train would stop at once as Irish gauge is broader, unless we tear up all the tracks across the island.


We could perhaps adopt the Spanish solution. Traditionally, a rail journey from France to Spain involved a change of gauge at the border, since French railways use standard gauge (4' 8½", 1,435 mm) while Spanish railways use Iberian broad gauge (ancho ibérico, 6 pies castellanos, 1,668 mm).

That made it impossible to run through trains to Spain. The first attempt was a night train in the 60s which used adjustable axles and a special piece of non-parallel track over which to adjust. The same system is now used for trains running to countries which use Russian broad gauge (Russkaja koleja, 1,520 mm), but it proved unreliable in Spain and was short lived.

In 1973 came the innovation of winching the carriages off the ground, driving the bogies away, and then driving new bogies in before putting the carriages back down. This had two problems, though: the lifting gear was very noisy and upset the neighbours, while passengers found the dangling unnerving. It lasted only a few years before they reverted to changing trains at the border.

Then came a new standard gauge line which made it possible to run direct trains from Paris to Barcelona with no change of gauge. There is a flyover just north of the border, because French trains drive on the left while Spanish trains drive on the right. To make it possible for those trains out of Paris to continue to Valencia, the existing railway line from Barcelona to Valencia had a third rail fitted between the existing two, so that both standard gauge and Iberian broad gauge stock could use it.

Railways in both parts of Ireland use Irish broad gauge (5' 3", 1,600 mm). The DUP has occasionally advocated for all lines in Northern Ireland to scrap that 'foreign' gauge and adopt standard gauge, or alternatively for them to have a third rail fitted so that British stock can run.

The railways of South Australia and Victoria use Irish broad gauge, simply because the Chief Engineer when they were built was an Irishman. But the Chief Engineer who built the railways of New South Wales was a Scot, so NSW uses standard gauge.

 
tetsabb
1342578.  Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:41 pm Reply with quote

When I went to Moscow for my year abroad in 1977, they lifted the carriage to put "Russian" bogies on at the border at Brest-Litovsk. We were not on the train at the time but having a chat with Soviet Immigration. Same on the way back.

 
suze
1342606.  Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:25 pm Reply with quote

I've never traveled that border by train, but the good man tells me that by now it's only one train a week between Berlin and Moskva which changes the bogies at Brest. The other three services use adjustable axles with a time saving of about four hours.

The thing that brought an end to lifting the carriages to change the bogies at the France/Spain border was the pesky arrival of democracy in Spain.

Under Franco, entering Spain could be a vexatious process that took every bit as long as entering the USSR, and it kept the passengers occupied while they waited for their train to be ready. But after Franco died in 1975 and Juan Carlos took over, Spain adopted democracy and almost immediately began to prepare to join what was then the EEC.

One effect of that was that international trains adopted the French practice of carrying out passport inspection on-train. No longer did passengers have to stand in line at a gate, so the time spent changing the bogies was dead to them.

That ultimately led to the new high speed line and the section with three rails, but before that was built they adopted a simpler solution. While through trains appeared on the schedule they were a fiction, and passengers changed trains at the border.

 
Celebaelin
1342622.  Sun Feb 16, 2020 7:45 pm Reply with quote

I've been musing on the prospect of a modern trans-Pennine rail tunnel. Since it's not proving simplistically easy to look into can anyone comment on the feasibility of the idea? Would it perhaps allow there to be a West Coast or an East Coast line with a Nothern(ish) cross-over?

 
suze
1342642.  Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:08 am Reply with quote

There have been eight railway tunnels through the Pennines, three at Standedge, one at Summit, one at Totley, and three at Woodhead. Only Standedge 3, Summit, and Totley are still in use. The last of them to be built, Woodhead 3, was only used for trains between 1954 and 1981, but was the only one built with electric trains in mind.

The idea of reinstating that tunnel as part of a new High Speed line has been proposed a few times, but Government has always tended to think that it would be better to build a new tunnel were such a line ever to be built.

So yes, your suggestion is entirely feasible. A tunnel at or near Woodhead 3 would enable High Speed trains to run up the West Coast to Manchester and then cross over to Sheffield, while a tunnel at or near Summit would enable them to cross over to Leeds.

The geography makes it less likely that a High Speed line would be built whereby trains headed up the East Coast and then headed west. That's simply because Leeds is some way north of Manchester, so either you'd have a circuitous route, or else the railway would emerge in Lancashire too far north to be especially useful. A High Speed line from London via Leeds to Barrow in Furness is not believed to be a top priority.

(Andy pointed me in the right direction, but since he's meant to be working and I'm enjoying half term, he let me do the work!)

 
dr.bob
1342659.  Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:27 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
It would of course, although if were building a new high speed line to Edinburgh it probably wouldn't go that way. The "Sleeper Route" via Preston and Carstairs would be cheaper to build and less constrained by geography.


My initial reaction was that this would be a much longer route, though checking on google maps tells me otherwise. Going from a point in the Euston Road between the East Coast and West Coast termini to Waverley station is 396 miles up the A1 past Peterborough, and a surprising 412 miles up the M6 past Preston.

Admittedly this is using road rather than rail, but they tend to follow each other reasonably closely along those routes so I reckon it passes for a pretty good estimate.

I was then going to rant about how much longer it takes via the West Coast line, but I discover another surprise. While the fastest East Coast train takes 4h20m, the fastest West Coast train takes 4h47m, and that includes a 15 minute wait in Preston to change trains.

So maybe when HS2 is finally built, we'll have a definitive answer to Scottish independence, and the government can then crack on with an extension from Manchester to Edinburgh.

AndyE wrote:
There is a flyover just north of the border, because French trains drive on the left while Spanish trains drive on the right.


That is possibly the best factoid I've heard in a very long time! :)

 
cnb
1342660.  Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:32 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
AndyE wrote:
There is a flyover just north of the border, because French trains drive on the left while Spanish trains drive on the right.


That is possibly the best factoid I've heard in a very long time! :)


You can see it here.

 
suze
1342688.  Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:47 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
So maybe when HS2 is finally built, we'll have a definitive answer to Scottish independence, and the government can then crack on with an extension from Manchester to Edinburgh.


And of course, if the High Speed line to Edinburgh does indeed follow the western route, you can build the High Speed line to Glasgow at the same time for relatively little more money.

Even so, the good man still finds it unlikely that anything north of Birmingham will ever get built.

 
Celebaelin
1342691.  Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:30 pm Reply with quote

Which, as dr. bob suggested earlier in rather more forthright terms, would seem to undermine the entire rational point.

As regards feasibility I was thinking financially as I did get as far as discovering that tunnels had already been built. However a big-assed trans-Pennine route as a project similar to (but I imagine longer than) the 'Chunnel' would be a massive project wouldn't it? Personally I like the idea in principle but how long would it take to pay off? Almost any answer would do as far as I can see - surely it'd be an infrastructure game changer for the UK?

Quote:
The world's longest and deepest rail tunnel has officially opened in Switzerland, after almost two decades of construction work. The 57km (35-mile) twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe.

1 Jun 2016


Depending on positioning, which I'm really not informed enough to comment on categorically, I'm guessing a single stretch trans-Pennine tunnel would have to be longer than that but unless I miss my mark it could be done and bearing in mind the questions about the Scottish desire for independence it would seem a lot more sensible than extending the line towards Glasgow quite as yet.

 
suze
1342693.  Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:48 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
Which, as dr. bob suggested earlier in rather more forthright terms, would seem to undermine the entire rational point.


Well indeed, but then you'll have seen Andy's previously expressed opinion that there is no point.

Because of the political uncertainty surrounding the future of Scotland it would be foolish even to consider Edinburgh and Glasgow at this time. Of the major cities in the North of England only Newcastle is more than three hours from London by the existing railway line, and we're not going to build this thing especially for Newcastle.

The so-called Northern Powerhouse - Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds to Sheffield - makes more sense than Birmingham alone, much as all of those places are more like two hours from London by existing railway lines than three. We can forget Liverpool because it won't vote Conservative anytime this side of the Second Coming, and so Mr Johnson doesn't care about it. Manchester thence Sheffield would be the obvious one to build, so if Mr Johnson wanted to build it he'd have said so.

Celebaelin wrote:
However a big-assed trans-Pennine route as a project similar to (but I imagine longer than) the 'Chunnel' would be a massive project wouldn't it?


Andy thinks you may be over-estimating how long our New Pennine Tunnel would need to be. Five miles would probably be plenty long enough, and since the rock through which we'd have to tunnel is mostly limestone and sandstone it wouldn't be an especially difficult feat of engineering.

If we wanted a real engineering challenge we could build a tunnel from the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Lewis, through fifty miles of granite and gneiss and across a fault line. Even the Chinese probably wouldn't attempt that, and the tunnel might take several million years to pay for itself!

 
Celebaelin
1342704.  Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:23 am Reply with quote

Well that all sounds like relatively good news!

 
suze
1342714.  Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:51 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
My initial reaction was that this would be a much longer route, though checking on google maps tells me otherwise. Going from a point in the Euston Road between the East Coast and West Coast termini to Waverley station is 396 miles up the A1 past Peterborough, and a surprising 412 miles up the M6 past Preston.


To put my mind at rest, I've had Andy check the railway distances. The full National Rail Timetable (no longer published as a book, but available for free as a PDF) includes distances to the nearest quarter mile, so this wasn't a difficult task for him.

The railway distance from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh (disappointingly, "Waverley" has been dropped from the official name, much as it is still widely used) via the East Coast Main Line is 393 miles. The railway distance from London Euston to Edinburgh via the West Coast Main Line and Carstairs Junnction is 400 miles dead. This is actually shorter than the distance from London Euston to Glasgow Central, which is 401¼ miles.

 
Celebaelin
1342721.  Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:43 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
Which, as dr. bob suggested earlier in rather more forthright terms, would seem to undermine the entire rational point.

Well indeed, but then you'll have seen Andy's previously expressed opinion that there is no point.

The M6 is under a lot of pressure even after the addition of the M6 Toll and the increased freight capacity that HS2 will free up is the point that I can see as far as Birmingham is concerned. I have no figures to cite on this but I have quite a lot of experience of driving on the M6 and it's usually packed and slowed in multiple places by the continual need for repair.

A rail alternative for goods transport seems eminently desirable from that perspective.

 
Prof Wind Up Merchant
1343259.  Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:40 am Reply with quote

Without HS2 what will be the projected demand projection for the current routes HS2 is supposed to alleviate? Does anyone know?

 
Celebaelin
1344105.  Mon Mar 16, 2020 6:22 am Reply with quote

A bunch of people round here went on a walk yesterday wailing and self-flagellating with whips and spiked chains in protest over the planned 'destruction' of Crackley Woods by HS2 as legal action is being taken to clear the protest camp from the area.

The extent to which Crackley Woods will be 'destroyed' can be seen by zooming in on the area North of Kenilworth here.

This limited impact on the ancient woodland seems unlikely to affect the small number of muntjac deer and hen harriers/Montagu's harriers etc that I know to live wild there any more than the noise of daytime ramblers or the used condoms discarded by certain other denizens does.

Also

Quote:
Alongside improving connectivity and boosting the economy, it’s crucial that HS2 manages its impact on the existing, natural environment.

HS2 will create:

9km2 of new woodlands featuring 7 million trees and shrubs – over double the amount affected by HS2

4km2 of wildlife habitat – over 30% more habitat than HS2 affects

We’re therefore taking the opportunity to create a network of new wildlife habitats, woodlands and community spaces, helping to leave a lasting legacy along the route.

https://www.hs2.org.uk/building-hs2/environment-sustainability/hs2-green-corridor/

On the whole I'd say the protesters are being rather silly.

 

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