There is a by-election in the Copeland constituency, if you haven’t noticed and this is the BBC’s guide to the election.
When I was at Liverpool University in the 1960s, one of C’s friends used to live near Barrow-in-Furness. I remember we had a drink with her once and she told us how she used to have to take five trains and umpteen hours to get between Barrow and Liverpool.
Liverpool to Barrow-in-Furness now takes just over two and a half hours with a single change at Preston.
So when I heard someone from UKIP say that HS2 wouldn’t benefit Copeland on the BBC, I thought I’d check the times.
HS2 opens to Crewe in 2027 and I suspect that trains going to the North of Crewe will use HS2 to Crewe and then run on the classic lines to go North.
Euston to Crewe currently takes 90 minutes, but after HS2 opens this time will reduce to 58 minutes. Times are from this page in The Guardian.
The fastest trains to Barrow-in-Furness currently take three hours fifty-three minutes with a change at either Preston or Lancaster.
So just reducing this time by the thirty two minutes saved South of Crewe, brings the time down to three hours twenty-one minutes.
But I think we’ll see innovation in HS2’s trains.
It seems to be the policy now for a company to have short and long trains, as both the Class 800 trains and Greater Anglia’s Aventras come in both short and long versions, where two short trains can join together for flexibility of operation.
Could Hs2 take this further and say have five-car short trains, three of which could join together for the fast run to and from London?
So will we see five-car trains that can serve places like Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool and Burnley, joining at Preston for a fast run on HS2 to London?
I also think that by the mid-2020s, all electric trains will have the capability to fit onboard energy storage to give them access to places like Barrow-in-Furness, which may not be electrified.
So could we see a high speed train serving Barrow-in-Furness in 2027? After all Barrow-in-Furness to the West Coast Main Line is just twenty-nine miles, which by that date, will be totally in range of a train with onboard energy storage.
If you look at the provisional timetable for Phase 1 of HS2 on Wikipedia, you will see that there is one train per hour (tph) to Preston. Could this be a train created by bringing together portions from Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool and Burnley? I don’t know, but the French do similar things with TGVs.
I wouldn’t be surprised and with selective improvements to the route North of Preston and on the Furness Line, the time from London to Barrow could be under three hours, when HS2 opens to Crewe.
Effectively, by building HS2 to Crewe and using specially-designed trains, towns like Barrow-in-Furness get a high speed connection to Birmingham and London.
Cancel HS2 and Copeland will still be deep in the past, as far as rail travel is concerned.