One aspect of HS2 which has been a concern since the start is the number of trains which are likely to be using the track. This is in the consultation documents, but was also discussed at the Transport Select Committee hearing.
The main HS2 consultation document says on p19
“The focus has been on developing proposals for a safe and reliable railway, using proven European standards, technology and practice.
“Key aspects include:
• Speed: A line capable of up to 250 miles per hour but with a maximum train speed of 225 mph assumed at opening.
• Capacity: Up to 400 metre long trains with as many as 1,100 seats, and up to 14 trains per hour in each direction; developments in train control technology are expected to see that increase to 18 trains per hour on a wider network.”
With the mention of “proven … technology” most reasonable people would assume that 14 trains per hour in each direction must be in use somewhere – otherwise it’s not proven technology.
So what did the experts at last week’s Transport Select Committee hearing have to say about the number of trains per hour on other networks?
This is a topic which came up when Pierre Messulam, from SNCF, and Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, were being questioned.
Petrovic said that they run normally run two to three trains per hour in each direction, with up to five in peak periods.
Q83 Steve Baker: But is there anywhere on the network that operates at 18 train paths per hour?
Nicolas Petrovic: 18 pathways per hour?
Pierre Messulam: On a high speed line, nowhere in the world. The Japanese are running 12 trains per hour. We are running a maximum of 12 trains per hour. We are considering next December 13 trains per hour, and nobody does more.
Q84 Steve Baker: What would you say is the practical technological limit?
Pierre Messulam: That is a very difficult matter. I am in charge of some of the ERTMS programmes for SNCF. We have had a discussion in France about this capacity. It is a complex question. You have to consider the braking power and acceleration of the train, and also the stop pattern. The more often you stop, the bigger the impact on capacity. Ideally, you would say you would go from A to B without any stop. Today, we think that with ETCS or ETMS you could have about 15 to 16 trains per hour.
So there’s the expert’s view on the number of trains per hour in each track.
Nobody is currently running 14 trains per hour – meaning that it’s not proven technology. And the experts who run high speed trains elsewhere aren’t even considering 18 trains per hour.
And another example of HS2 Ltd are stretching the credibility with the consultation process.