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Let's check this against high-speed lines and line projects I am aware of.

Already with high-speed line connection:

  1. Rhine-Ruhr 11.8M
  2. Paris 11.6M
  3. Madrid 6.10 M
  4. Frankfurt-Rhein-Main 5.29M
  5. Berlin 4.94M
  6. Rome 3.78M
  7. Saxon Triangle 3.50M (Well, kind of... as yet a 40-km stretch)
  8. Naples 3.06M
  9. Stuttgart 2.70M
  10. Rhine-Neckar 2.50M
  11. ALMa 2.45M

On a (more or less firmly) planned or constructed line:
  1. Moscow 14.6M (long-considered but less certain plan)
  2. London 12.6M (CTRL-II opens 14 November this year)
  3. Istanbul 10.0M (well, kind of... upgraded line envisaged for 250 km/h)
  4. Randstad 6.62 M (same as above)
  5. Barcelona 4.85M
  6. St. Petersburg 4.83M (long-considered but less certain plan)
  7. Milan 4.32M
  8. Hamburg 4.30M
  9. Lisbon 2.76M
  10. Munich 2.45M

That's two-thirds. For almost all of the rest, there are either project proposals without serious political backing, or HST service via medium-speed lines.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 02:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's been talk of new high speed rail lines in the UK, to compete with air links between London and unspecified points North. (Probably Edinburgh, possibly Manchester and Birmingham.)

Noo Labour doesn't like trains, and finds the idea ridiculous. The Tories are raring to go, and even talking about Maglev. But as the opposition they don't have much experience of dealing with the clucking of treasury bean counters. So I would be surprised if the plans survive the onslaught of Sir Humphrey.

One problem for the UK is population density. The technology is straightforward enough - providing it's not Maglev - but the local politics are extremely complicated. You can be sure that whatever route is chosen there will be protests, court actions, and other legal issues which will create huge delays.  

I suspect other parts of Europe may have similar issues.

It's taken nearly 25 years to get CTRL I+II built. Other rail schemes, like Crossrail, are still in legal limbo, even though they've been discussed for a similar period.

The other problem for the UK is that - unlike air - there's no effective pro-rail lobby. This is one area where the EU could itself a big favour by pushing strategic infrastructure planning across the whole of the EU zone, instead of leaving individual countries to come to their own individual arrangements, which might, or might not, join up at some point, if we're all lucky and think happy thoughts.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 04:14:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crossrail is just another addition the the London commuter system. I'd much rather see high-speed rail across the country. The wikipedia page lists the following metropolitan areas of more than 1M inhabitants: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Tyne-Wear. And they're all within 352 miles/566 km of each other (the distance between London and Glasgow), which would give a travel time of 100 minutes (!) according to DoDo's rule of thumb (25mi in 10 minutes at either end and the rest at 220mph).

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 04:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has defined strategic corridors, and earmarked fixed percent support for projects in those corridors, but indeed it doesn't seem enough.

It's taken nearly 25 years to get CTRL I+II built.

After Maggie Thatcher's insistence on a private-financed project (wqhich the Major government at least turned into a PPP scheme). I submit that if a new high-speed line would be built in the West Coast corridor, there would be a lot of protests, but I would bet it would cause delays of significantly less than 25 years. (Also, with the use of some tunnels, maybe the bulk of potential protests could be avoided.)

The Tories are raring to go, and even talking about Maglev.

Heh, I missed that :-) My personal opinion is that when non-German politicians talk about Maglev, they aren't really serious (and the German ones only want it as prestige).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 06:35:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point about High Speed in the UK is that you wouldn't get significant time savings by upgrading either the East Coast or West Coast lines, because they're not nearly direct enough.

So to make it worthwhile, you'd have to go cross country. Which is where it gets very complicated.

The Tory Shadow Transport Minister went to see the German maglev system and is apparently quite serious. But considering the state of the technology and the distances, the idea is a little - shall we say...? - ambitious.

As for Crossrail - even though it's a relatively minor London commuter upgrade, the endless revisions and political reworkings it has been through are typical of UK rail projects that aren't controlled by a single authority.

Transport for London seems good at getting things done. And CTRL I+II have been managed successfully. But everything else is a mess, and there's really no strategic planning lead from the Dept of Transport at all - because cars are better, and air is better still, apparently.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 07:32:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Put at very big bulldozer at Charing cross and point it at Edinburgh, or whatever. Drive forward until you reach you target. Build rails in the wake of destruction.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 07:38:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After putting the (top of the) list of largest metropolitan areas on a map, and finding the distances and estimated travel times, this bit takes on a whole new meaning:
One problem for the UK is population density. The technology is straightforward enough - providing it's not Maglev - but the local politics are extremely complicated. You can be sure that whatever route is chosen there will be protests, court actions, and other legal issues which will create huge delays.

I suspect other parts of Europe may have similar issues.

The 10 largest metropolitan areas in Europe form a connected network except for Moscow and Istanbul. However, the list of metropolitan areas largest than 2M people includes Kiev, Bucharest and Krakow, and that is enough to connect the whole network.

Now, the issue of right of way is important. Basically, the 3h leg limit corresponds to roughly 900km, and it's hard to find 900 km in Europe without a largish city in the middle that will demand that the HST stop in them. Many European Countries are not even 900km across, so one could even find a national capital in between two nearest neighbours of the network.

Many Spanish regional governments insisted that the AVE had to go through some of their provincial capitals in order to collaborate with the Madrid-Valencia, Madrid-Sevilla or Madrid-Barcelona lines. In building a pan-European network, the national and regional governments would probably bargain similarly.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 10:15:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a good point about where support can be generated, but for fairness, we are pitting the city against the countryside here: opposition would mainly come from small villages and farms and supporters of ecological areas that can't be avoided and won't all be tunneled under. In Britain or Germany, those are more densely spaced than in Spain or France.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 04:28:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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