Professor Felix Schmid, Director of Education at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, University of Birmingham, comments on the Chancellor’s spring budget 2016 review and the announcement of the HS3 rail scheme.
“The spring budget has significant announcements that will benefit Britain’s railways, notably the go ahead for Crossrail 2 between north east and south west London, along with the green light for HS3; the high-speed line that will create a new megalopolis by linking Manchester and Leeds. The team at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education are excited about both projects. Both will provide many opportunities for research into railway traffic management since a high frequency core will connect branches with different characteristics at each end. The team has ‘form’ in this area, thanks to the work undertaken for the Thameslink project."
“Crossrail 2 will link three branches in the north with four branches in the south, while connecting the termini of HS1 and HS2 with Crossrail 1 and the West End. Similarly, the new line between Manchester and Leeds will need to integrate seamlessly into the rail network between Liverpool and North Wales in the West and South Humberside, Hull, York, Middlesbrough, York and Newcastle in the East. It will also link up with HS2 at both ends. Again, there is a core section that will have to handle high intensity long-distance services operating at speeds of 200 to 250 km/h. A less obvious but no less difficult challenge will be that of maintaining railway infrastructure and stations that will have to operate reliably more or less 24/7, with very short periods where access will be possible."
“From a skills and knowhow perspective, these new projects will result in even greater shortages of qualified staff in the railway industry and BCRRE education activity is well positioned to assist in filling the gap, particularly through its relationships with the High-Speed Rail College in Birmingham and Doncaster and with the National Training Academy for Railways in Northampton."
“The Chancellor will also provide funding to study an 18 mile road tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester. This will be the longest road tunnel in the world and one might wonder whether a Eurotunnel style solution, with cars and trucks carried in shuttle trains, might not be safer and more environment friendly.”