HS1 in Kent – no comparison to HS2

HS2 has been compared to HS1 in Kent right from the day of the announcement in March.

To find out just how valid these comparisons are, I joined a fact-finding visit, organised by Bucks CC, to Kent.  What I found was that HS1 is a very different train line to the proposed HS2.

The first difference – which you can see just by looking at a map – is that for most of the route it runs along existing noise blight corridors: the A2, the M2 and the M20.  Standing next to these major roads is unpleasantly noisy even when there is no train passing near.

In addition, HS1 goes through a significant number of cuttings.  It crosses the Medway on a viaduct –  next to the M2 viaduct.

{joomplu:2}On the ground, what is most noticeable is that there are very few trains.  We visited several sites, and at all of them, we could spend 15 or 20 minutes without any trains going past.  This is in complete contrast to HS2, where the business case relies on there being 28 trains an hour (every two minutes) from the start of operations.

The trains are different, too.  Some are relatively short domestic trains and others are the 400m international trains.  One local resident I spoke to said that the long trains were significantly more noticeable then the short ones.  That’s not surprising: the domestic trains have a maximum speed of 140mph.  HS2 trains will be significantly faster, at 250mph.

Another difference is that there are stations in Kent, at Ashford and Ebbsfleet (there is also a station at Stratford).  However HS2 recommends having few stations on  their route, and advised against stations at Milton Keynes or Aylesbury.

To summarise HS1 has:

  • Fewer trains
  • Shorter, slower trains
  • More stations
  • Runs alongside motorways
  • Cuttings, not viaducts

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