The National Audit Office has
concluded that the schedule for HS2 construction is
unrealistic and faces cost pressures. In light of this and the major changes in the country's economic conditions
stemming from the Brexit decision, it is appropriate to consider
what could be done differently to enable it to open sooner and to
give better value for money.
Track11 has developed a variant of High Speed 2 that is much
better integrated with the existing railway system than the
official (HS2 Ltd) version is. It could cut the London to
Birmingham journey time to under an hour far sooner than the
official plan, and the ultimate journey time would also be lower.
It would also support a more intensive service, and directly serve
more destinations. And the most controversial section of the route
(through the Chilterns) would be avoided.
It should be stressed that the Track11 HS2 plan is only a variant of HS2. Most of the Track11 HS2 alignment is exactly the same as the HS2 Ltd version. Where there is a difference it is to address a defect or shortcoming in the HS2 Ltd plan. But most of that plan is adequate, and switching to an alternative plan that starts from scratch (such as the HSUK plan) would cause lots of unnecessary delays while failing to ultimately give better results.
The Track11 plan would enable high speed trains to commence
operating sooner because, as with HS1, the easy to construct
part would initially be accessed via existing railways. Without
the imperative to complete every tunnel between London and
Birmingham before the trains start running, there would be more
time available to bore the tunnels. Because of that, more of the
tunnels could be constructed in series. This would give
significant cost savings because fewer tunnel boring
machines would be needed, and because TBM crew productivity
improves with experience as the crews learn how to get the best
results from their machine.
The Track11 HS2 plan also includes construction of conventional railways, including one linking HS2 to Heathrow and Gatwick.
The Track11 High Speed 2 plan can be found here.
Track11 has also developed a plan for airport expansion that is complementary to the HS2 plan. Unlike the Airports Commission, whose final report demonstrated a lack of understanding of how hubs work, Track11 does not base its plan on an exaggerated view of the benefits of hubbing. Instead it aims to maximize the benefits of airports with a cheaper, more dispersed solution, giving a much greater attention to road and rail links to airports. It also has a stronger long term focus, with recommendations to cater for every plausible scenario throughout the rest of this century.
The Track11 British airports expansion plan can be found here.