One thing that comes up every so often – including in Norman Baker’s speech to the LibDems – is that building a conventional new line is a Bad Idea.
It seems to come out of the work High Speed 2 Ltd did, in which they thought about building a conventional line, and decided that although it was cheaper to build, it just wasn’t a good idea.
But did they use sensible assumptions in considering a conventional new line?
You can read the ones they used in the “Economic Case for HS2”, p45.
“Apart from speed we used the same specification as for the high speed line, for example the service levels and station stops, to assess this alternative.”
HS2 has no intermediate stations, between London and Birmingham, and so HS2 Ltd’s conventional railway has no possibility of stops between London and Birmingham. Unlike HS1, which has three intermediate stations, at Stratford, Ebbsfleet and Ashford, in a 109km railway, HS2 Ltd’s view of a conventional railway has zero stations in a much longer stretch of track.
At the Transport Seleect Committee earlier this month, HS2 Ltd were asked whether they had considered an “imaginative use of intermediate stations” on HS2. It seems that not only had they rejected them on their high speed line, they hadn’t even considered a one or two intermediate stations if they built a conventional railway line.