HS2 Plan B is a full-scheme alternative to HS2. Its first aim is to help lessen the tilt of the UK economy towards London and its construction would start North-first.
Stage One of Plan B would be a forty mile fast link between Manchester and Leeds, halving the rail time between the two cities and opening up a:
Northern Cities Crossrail to take half an hour out of rail times between the key centres of Lancashire to the west and those of Yorkshire to the east: an urban economic zone half as big again as Birmingham.
HS2 misses this opportunity.
Plan B construction would continue in stages; south towards London St Pancras via Sheffield Meadowhall and East Midlands Airport and north via Bradford, Leeds-Bradford Airport and Harrogate towards Tees-side and Newcastle.
Plan B’s Midlands Crossrail, the scheme’s fast connector from Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Coventry, would join the north-south main line by Jn.19 of the M1.
The first trains on Plan B would be successors to the 140mph blue commuters running on HS1: see header photo. These would be able to terminate at St Pancras International or continue via St Pancras Thameslink to central London interchanges: with the London Crossrail at Farringdon and with the Southern network and Gatwick lines at Blackfriars.
The Plan B main line is shown in heavy red on the map. It follows existing rail and motorway corridors where possible. Existing main routes where Plan B trains could continue beyond the major stations are shown in thin red.
The line for the North-South Divide, from the Severn Estuary to The Wash, was calculated by Prof Dorling and colleagues in 2010: See The Economic Geography of the UK: www.sagepublications.com
Plan B and the North South Divide: HS2 Plan B aims to deliver its northern benefits North-first, not London-first and North much later; and to anchor railway engineering, civil engineering, rock-tunnel (Stages One and Two), power supply, steel-making, signalling system and train making skills and jobs well to the north of the North South Divide.
Plan B journey times are based on those of the Class 395 high speed commuter sets running between St Pancras and Ashford in Kent. More recent, faster versions of this type of electric train are in use elsewhere in the EU. The Plan B main line curvatures have been drafted to suit these.
Click: Miles and Mins.
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_395 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICE_3#Class_406
Centre-to-Centre fast connectivity: The Plan B main line would have connector chords to the town centre stations at Huddersfield, Wakefield, Sheffield, Rotherham, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester and Loughborough. It has options for rail/rail interchanges at M1 Jn.13 (Milton Keynes East) at M1 Jn.37 (Barnsley West), at Mirfield (Huddersfield-Halifax-Dewsbury), at Rochdale and with the West Coast Main Line at Coventry NE.
Connectivity south of the Thames: The Class 395 trains on HS1 operate north and south of the Thames between London St Pancras and towns in North Kent. They would be able to use via the Thameslink route to operate as far south as Croydon, Gatwick and Brighton.
HS62 on the plan would be the high speed Crossrail between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. It would track the M62 Motorway east from Rochdale through the Pennine Moors. It would involve rock-tunnel and surface sections between Rochdale and Halifax, with scope for commuter stops at Rochdale and at Jn.24 of the M62 for Halifax-Huddersfield. HS21 on the map would be the scheme’s main line, extending further north and south.
The Plan B’s main line north would extend from Bradford Central (a new station to replace the current two) to Leeds-Bradford Airport and on, via Harrogate-Knaresbrough towards Tees-side and Newcastle. But Bradford is only half-way between London and Edinburgh. If the revenue projections north of Harrogate are thin, an interim connection to the East Coast Main Line would be more than likely.
West Coast Main Line (WCML): In the period before Plan B was built, the quickest improvement to seat capacity on the WCML’s Euston-Birmingham-Manchester Piccadilly route would be to change one car in each 9 car set to Standard Class from First Class.
Medium term capacity shortfalls on the WCML would be eased by track, station platform (but not all WCML station platforms) and signalling upgrades; later by introducing 12 car trains instead of the current 9 car sets.
See Chris Stokes in ‘Quotes’.
Canary Wharf fast-connector: HS2 Plan B includes a Thames tunnel with rail-rail interchanges at Lewisham, Canary Wharf and Stratford. It would relieve Southern commuter congestion at and approaching London Bridge station and overcrowding on the Jubilee Line between London Bridge and jobs at Canary Wharf; and (in prospect) at Stratford’s Olympic Legacy Park.
Similarly, the new route would bring commuters to Canary Wharf direct from the Lea Valley, Harlow, Bishops Stortford, Stansted and Cambridge.
The idea for a direct Gatwick-Lewisham-Canary Wharf-Stratford-Stansted link first appeared in the BML2 project. See: http://www.bml2.co.uk/
So, what’s wrong with HS2′s London-to-Birmingham start?
London is the UK’s great economic powerhouse. It has four international airports. Its commuter arteries fan out across the south of England to access a catchment population and spending power twice that of Birmingham and Manchester put together.
If HS2 is launched South-first it will give London a big new economic artery and bring Birmingham to within an hour’s commute of London’s vastly bigger business sector. London would grow into an even bigger business draw than it is now. Birmingham and cities further north of the North South Divide would lose more ground and the chance to change the shape of the UK economy and give the North a one-off (but lasting) boost from fast connectivity first will be lost.
See Lord Digby Jones in ‘Quotes’.
The NorthStart scheme map was updated with the Plan B route on 17 September 2013. The Stratford-Canary Wharf-Lewisham tunnel route was added 3 July 2013. Further updates to map and text 24 September 2013.
Detailed maps to follow:
- Layout option for Leeds-Bradford Airport’s first rail connectors.