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Thursday, 8 October 2009


Greengauge 21 has published a new report which recommends the construction of a high-speed (300 kph plus) rail network in the UK. This follows hard on the heels of Network Rail, which has recommended a West Coast route from London to Scotland with a loop off serving Manchester.

Greengauge is recommending the construction of high-speed lines in both the West Coast and East Coast corridors and here's the interesting bit for us, a connecting 200 kph (125 mph) line from Manchester to Sheffield. This would be based on the upgrading of existing lines.

The report does not make it clear whether they are talking about the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Sheffield or the Woodhead route but Woodhead would seem to be a strong contender as much of the route either carries very little traffic (Sheffield-Deepcar) or is currently disused. We must now wait for the Government's own company, HS2, to produce its own recommendations on the shape of a future high-speed network, due in the autumn.

Greengauge 21 is an organisation which was set up to lobby for high-speed rail in the UK. Its members are rail industry bodies and local authorities (including Sheffield City Region). The impetus for the formation of Greengauge 21 was the success of high-speed rail on the Continent, which has attracted many passengers away from air travel and helped regional economic development.

The UK currently has one high-speed line, from London St Pancras to the Channel Tunnel. The opening of the high- speed line, now dubbed "High Speed One" has helped Eurostar, the cross-Channel express passenger service operator, to improve its reliability and to attract many more passengers.


Benjamin said...

The Hope Valley would be inadequate for 125mph running because of the tight curves and many stations which are built beside the running lines, allowing no possibility of local trains being overtaken easily.

The Woodhead line is not perfect. There are quite a lot of curves between Sheffield and Deepcar. But it is not as restrictive as the Hope Valley. And maybe it could be made suitable for high-speed running by digging short, straight tunnels through the outcrops of hills that make the Don Valley curved.

Presumably it will involve reopening Victoria as another large station. There is the space to do this whilst not demolishing any of the Victoria Inn extension.

The only other concern I have at the moment about Victoria station is the public transport connections. Victoria would almost certainly be the principal station for those heading to central Manchester and Liverpool. So there would need to be a quick way of getting between Victoria and Midland stations for rapid interchange.

A triangular junction and bridge could be built off the existing Supertram between Park Square Junction and Hyde Park stop. This would allow trams shuttling between the two stations to bypass the roads altogether, making journeys quicker and more reliable.

Either a tram terminus could be built on the south side of Victoria station, or a flyover would have to be built to carry the trams to the north side of the station and onto the northbound road corridors for future tram extensions.

Alternatively, the connecting corridor between the old Victoria Inn and the extension could be demolished to allow the tram to pass through. The track would then dive down to street level through a section cut out of the station floor close to the A6135 main road.
The track would then curve to the north, and travel under the Wicker Arches. So bus routes such as 75, 76, 83 and 88 could be replaced by tram routes that go from either the city centre or from the new tram bridges.