We need the countryside – Why HS2 doesn’t fit

This is a guest article by Luke, one of our regular commenters. Please note views expressed are Luke’s own and do not represent Stop HS2 policy.

HS2 is inflexible, it does not fit around our needs, but rather asks us to fit around what it needs.

The HS2 route needs to be as straight as possible to achieve high speeds, and in exchange for this speed it asks us to give up our cherished woodland, homes, businesses, and livelihoods.

But never mind HS2, what do we need? We need exactly what HS2 demands we give up, we need our countryside, we need our homes and businesses.

It is not the speed itself that is the limiting factor, but it is the ‘curve radius’, that is how sharply the train can turn (measured in meters) and at what speeds.

Now this is a very important point, because as we can see from the HS2 Ltd website, the minimum curve radius for High Speed Rail (HSR) is 7200, compared with 1800 for ‘Classic’ rail.

This curve radius, or turning circle, of 7200 meters doesn’t leave HS2 with a lot of room to manoeuvre, and is the root cause of almost everything wrong with HS2, but naturally it is one that is not addressed by its supporters.

There is a newer technology called Magnetic Levitation (Maglev), as the name suggests Maglev trains are magnetically levitated and glide to their destination. Because there is no friction, they can achieve far higher speeds then that of HS2 and require far less maintenance. (HSR trains in Japan require daily maintenance.)

With its 1600m curve radius at 300kph compared with 3200 for HS2, Maglev offers the
manoeuvrability to fit around what we need.

Maglev Vs HSR Summary

Whether you are a supporter of this technology or not, it does help the case to stop HS2, why choose a technology that is slower, with less manoeuvrability, and will cause the destruction of the things that we need in our lives and in this country?

Maglev makes HS2 look bad, which is why it is so violently oppressed by HSR supporters, but how can they and the government justify pushing an inferior HS2 that will surely short-change the taxpayer?

HS2 will also not be the fastest railway in the world, that title will belong to the Chūō Shinkansen, which uses Japan’s own Maglev technology.

It is interesting to compare the two projects, HS2 and Chūō Shinkansen both have similar completion dates, but while Japan is leading the world with futuristic transportation endeavours, Britain is content to always be one-step behind our competitors, and our government seems to be intent on inciting hatred by labelling opponents as NIMBYs, Luddites, and Toffs.

Maglev also has better energy consumption, is quieter, and faster at 500kph (311mph) today compared with just a predicted top speed of 400kph (250mph) in 2020 for HSR.

HSR compromises so much for speed, that it really isn’t any better than what we have at the moment, which. I should point out, is classified as High Speed Railway by the EU.

So I say, Stop HS2, and let’s add to what we have, let’s take a technological leap forward with Maglev!

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8 comments to “We need the countryside – Why HS2 doesn’t fit”
  1. China claim to look at hitting 600mph with operation vactrain maglevs in 10 years, and our government, in an attempt to keep up with other countries with high speed rail, is looking at 250mph at a stretch with old technology to be operation in an even longer time?

    Also, this is Britain, HS2 wants to do one every 3 minutes? We can barely do one every half hour on current anything rail

    • But it is also better that he recognises that what we do not need is HS2 ruining the countryside!
      If we are to be ridiculous why not put a Maglev system in a straight line tunnel form London to Birmingham that would solve everybody’s issues and needs and if the economic case is to be believed would sort the economy out almost overnight.
      The case for HS2 gets weaker by the day.

      • Vacuum based Maglev is theoretical – at best.
        Longest train tunnel in the World is a massive 33 miles (Japan).
        HS2 covers a total of 335 miles.

        • Two things Simon,
          1) did you see where I said “if we are to be ridiculous”?
          2) I was only referring to phase one which, I believe, covers about 102 miles.

          If this vanity/legacy project, which is an “absolute necessity for the country”, is to be a world beater….then why not put it in the world’s longest tunnel? Another first for british engineering!

  2. Have you any idea how much more concrete a Maglev system would cover the countryside with and how many city centre buildings (you know, houses) would have to be demolished to make way for it? Be very very careful what you wish for and suggest…

  3. Luke, you forgot to add “and so modest with it”…

    Actually I wonder if a Maglev line with its concrete strip track will be welcomed any more than the “you know what”, especially if it were to operate at an even greater speed. How about it, Missenden, Wendover .

    Obviously, where there is a discrete high speed shuttle, such as the Chinese airport link, without junctions or intermediate stops, then Maglev may be best; but if the line needs to connect with or run over other lines of conventional track, then it isn’t.

    And on the matter of optimum speed, it is interesting to compare and contrast the published maximum design speeds both of conventional trains and Maglev systems in use and planned, and the actual average speeds over the total journeys.

    While British main line trains may be able to reach speeds well above the permitted 125mph max.on conventional main lines, their average speed over the entire route may well be less than half that, due to intermediate stops and speed restrictions due to geography and winding routes originally laid out 150 years ago.

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