The Anonymous Widower

A Glimpse Of 2035

Today, I was on the first direct train between London and Dublin.

I arrived at Euston early for the eight o’clock departure time and took my seat in First Class of the train built by Spanish company Talgo at Longannet in Fife.

The train appeared to be little different to the High Speed Two trains, that I have ridden extensively since they started running in 2026.

What differences there were, were in the decor and colour schemes, with the train wrapped in a rainbow of colours reflecting the red, white and blue of the UK and the orange, white and green of the Irish Republic.

We left on time and after a brief stop at Old Oak Common to pick up passengers we were soon speeding towards Birmingham whilst eating breakfast. I had requested a gluten-free Full English and the quality showed how far railway food has come in the two decades.

Birmingham at 08:40

Running at 225 mph, the spectacular Birmingham International station was reached on time at 08:40 and there were quite a few passengers who left and joined.

Birmingham International

Since Heathrow’s plans for a third runway crashed in the planning process and the opening of Gatwick’s second runway, High Speed Two has enabled long distance travellers to use Birmingham Airport, which since the opening of High Speed Two in 2026 and its subsequent extensions to Manchester and Leeds, has grown at a fast pace.

As a jokey advert shown around the world by Visit Britain said, London now has three main airports; London South (Gatwick), London West (Heathrow) and London North (Birmingham).

On a recent trip to the Gambia, I used Birmingham Airport for both flights and coming back, I was in my house in East London, around an hour after I set foot in the terminal at the Airport.

High Speed Two and the expanded Birmingham Airport have certainly expanded and improved the economics of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.

Crewe Before 09:00

Next stop was Crewe station, which from today has been renamed Crewe International, to indicate that you can now get trains to England, Scotland, Wales and now Ireland.

The station is unrecognisable from the tired Victorian station, I first passed through in 1965 on my way to Liverpool University for the first time.

Like Birmingham and the West Midlands, the area around Crewe has benefited immensely from the arrival of High Speed 2 in 2027 and the continuing expansion of Manchester Airport.

From today, Crewe is now served by these trains in both directions, in each hour.

  • London – Belfast and Dublin
  • London – Glasgow (2 trains)
  • London – Liverpool (2 trains)
  • London – Preston

The ticketing and capacity is such, that Crewe now has a genuine turn-up and-go service to the capital, which is just under an hour away.

Preston At 09:20

The train was now on the upgraded West Coast Main Line and the train was limited to 140 mph, but Preston was reached on time, just eighty minutes from London.

When High Speed Two opened to Crewe in 2027, the journey time was a few minutes longer, but improvements to trains, tracks and signalling in the intervening years, had reduced the time.

On the journey from Crewe, the train had passed the massive construction site of the new Central Lancashire station, or as Scouse comedians have dubbed it – Wigan International.

This new  station will be a hub linking the following.

  • The West Coast Main Line
  • High Speed Three between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • The M6 and M62 motorways
  • Manchester Metrolink
  • Merseyrail

The station should have probably been built years earlier, when High Speed Three opened in 2026, but all forecasts of the number of passengers who would use the new High Speed Lines, were much lower than they were in practice.

Preston station like Crewe is a station  that has been rebuilt to handle two of the 200 metre long trains running as a pair.

These long platforms are now used at Preston to join and split some services, to give Blackpool, Blackburn and Burnley three fast services per day to and from London, in under two hours.

Carlisle At 10:20

We sped through the Lake District at 140 mph, to reach Carlisle in under two and a half hours from London.

It should be noted that timings North of Crewe have improved over the last couple of decades.

  • All passenger trains running on the fast lines North of Crewe are capable of matching the speed of the High Speed Two trains
  • Some of these trains used for services between Liverpool/Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh were built by Talgo to High Speed Two standards.
  • The few freight trains running in the day are now hauled by 125 mph electric locomotives.
  • The continuous upgrading of the Cumbrian Coast, Settle-Carlisle and Tyne Valley Lines has also allowed some trains to divert away from the West Coast Main Line.

Effectively, the West Coast Main Line North of Crewe has become a high-capacity 140 mph line.

Belfast At 11:30

When I saw that it was planned that trains would reach Belfast from London in the same time that it takes to go between London and Glasgow, I didn’t believe it would be possible.

But we arrived at the Belfast Parkway station on the outskirts of the City on time.

The journey between where we left the now-electrified Glasgow and South Western Line just to the West of Gretna to the bridge across the North Channel had been nearly all at 140 mph and there was little interruption before we ventured onto the bridge to Northern Ireland.

A few minutes later we were waiting to continue our journey at Belfast Parkway.

There had been political arguments about the gauge of the tracks on the thirty mile section between Scotland and Belfast.

But in the end the engineers got their way.

  • There is a standard gauge line as far as Belfast Parkway.
  • From Belfast Parkway, there is Irish gauge for the rest of the journey.

There would be no change of train at Belfast Parkway, as the Talgo High Speed Trains have had the ability to change gauge at a slow speed for thirty years.

Dublin At 13:30

This has been the slowest part of the journey, but we pulled into Dublin on time to a lot of celebrations.

Conclusion

This route has been a long time coming, since it was first seriously proposed in 2018.

There will be improvement in the next few years.

  • A service between Edinburgh and Dublin via Glasgow and Belfast starts next year.
  • The West Coast Main Line North of Crewe will allow faster and more trains.
  • The EU are funding and building a High Speed Line from the Irish border to Dublin.
  • This Irish High Speed Line will be linked to a new deep water port at Shannon.

I can see London to Belfast in three hours and London to Dublin in four.

 

 

 

 

November 15, 2018 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

13 Comments »

  1. “I can see London to Belfast in three hours and London to Dublin in four.” ,,,, not with the current rabble of a political class that we have…

    Besides that, reading your post made for a lovely trip .,,,

    Cheers…

    Comment by PJS | November 15, 2018 | Reply

  2. I have only met a few politicians with vision, two of which have retired. But if the economics of the country and the Irish Republic go the right way, I suspect that the UK, the Irish Republic and the EU will see it as mutually beneficial.

    The big driver could be a new deep-water port at Shannon, which would save a day on a lot of container traffic to and from the West. There’s no point in building the port, without a rail link between Ireland and Central Europe.

    In today’s Times, there’s an article about the factory, which says that Talgo are looking for other orders in the UK and Ireland.

    Comment by AnonW | November 15, 2018 | Reply

  3. When I read the bit about you being on a London – Dublin trains, I have to say, I thought you had lost the plot somewhere, or a bridge had been built that we hadn’t been told about. Then I realised it was nighter of those. I enjoined reading the piece, and it would be great if it can happen. My daughter now lives a 20 minute walk from Ebbsfleet International Station, and could easily to a shopping day out in Paris if she wished, (and could afford the rail fare). Although in April she might need a visa etc. UK and other EU countries should be spending money on all these things rather wasting all this money on Brexit – as you probably already know we have 2 cabinet members resigned this morning.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | November 15, 2018 | Reply

  4. Do you have any info on when the first Moscow to Los Angeles train, via the Bering bridge, will arrive?

    Comment by Alan Boyce | November 15, 2018 | Reply

    • If the Russians build the bridge it will be a long time.

      Tango will probably build the dual-gauge trains.

      Comment by AnonW | November 15, 2018 | Reply

  5. The main issue (one of many) with a link between the UK and ireland would be who pays for it. Given the huge benefit to the republic, and the relatively minor benefit to the UK, we would expect Ireland to pay for most of it. In Ireland, there is no political will for closer ties (physical or otherwise with the UK.

    Comment by j m | November 15, 2018 | Reply

    • I don’t think finance would be a problem!

      We could pay for the bridge between Scotland and Belfast.

      The EU would pay for the line from the border to Dublin and Shannon. In the Baltic, the EU is paying for Rail Baltica to bring goods from Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.The Irish High Speed Line would fit into the same policy.

      If say the bridge and the line across South West Scotland were built with private money, the infrastructure owner would just charge a fee.

      Note that Networks Rail updated the Chiltern Line for Chiltern Trains and charged them extra. So it’s been done before.

      Comment by AnonW | November 15, 2018 | Reply

      • Why would we pay for a Scotland-Belfast bridge though? To connect a country of around 1.5m people to another of about 5m. It wouldn’t be popular in Northern Ireland, half of the country dont want closer ties with the UK, and the cost would be huge, for relatively low passenger numbers. Who knows what Northern ireland and scotland as states will look like in 50 years time anyway. I would love to see it done, don’t get me wrong, but unless we see a sharp movement away from nationalism towards unionism (not just UK but also EU, ect.) I can’t see the will being there to connect the British isles unfortunately. But w knows what the world and country will look like in 100 years time.

        Comment by j m | November 15, 2018

  6. None of us will be here to see it if it did get built. We Can’t even get HS2 properly started!

    Comment by mauricegreed | November 15, 2018 | Reply

    • 2035 is just over 17 years away and so most of the population will still be around in 2035 !

      Bit like saying nobody will live to see full Crossrail open back in 2008 and yet structurally most of it has been built !

      Building the first section of anything be it the first motorway or railway is always the hardest but once you have enough in place extension becomes easier and you get a network effect as Metrolink found in Manchester when building the 2nd city crossing which linked existing lines in a different way and created new routes.

      It’s worth remembering that in countries like Japan and Spain that used a different gauge their new high speed lines were often built to the new HS gauge .

      Comment by Melvyn | November 16, 2018 | Reply

      • The EU is insisting that Rail Baltica will be built to standard gauge and electrified to 25 KVAC.

        In Spain, dual-gauge high speed trains, built by Talgo are used on some routes.

        Comment by AnonW | November 16, 2018

  7. If I want to go to Dublin in 2025 I will simply jump on my Personal Inflatable Gyrocopter (aka flying PIG) and be there in under an hour…

    Comment by Mark Clayton | November 16, 2018 | Reply

    • You’re probably too large for one of those, as the weight limit is 70 kg.

      Comment by AnonW | November 16, 2018 | Reply


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