Henrik Anderberg from HSRIL member company Alstom spoke at a recent Greengauge 21 HSR conference, making the case that when inter-city train journey times can be brought under this totemic benchmark, rail gains serious market share versus air. Henrik used data from European and Japanese high-speed rail links to make his point that there is a “cliff edge” at three hours, stating: “It takes 4h8m from Glasgow on the fastest track. Even after phase 2 of HS2, you’re only halfway to Glasgow [from London].”

Speaking to Rail Technology Magazine, Henrik noted that the currently planned HS2 improvements will cut that to 3h38m, thanks to classic-compatible services using the existing network. Shaving that all the way down to three hours without entirely new infrastructure is difficult but not impossible.

“We have done simulations and, looking at it, with a combination of changes at the bottlenecks and in the infrastructure, and using tilting technology beyond Manchester, you can get to three hours.

“It’s very good to have potential alternatives. The Scottish are arguing that the best for their economy would be a full line all the way. But, if they can get the second best – using train technology, for example tilting technology, to increase speed by 25-30% in the curves in most cases, together with some minor infrastructure changes (and Network Rail knows where the bottlenecks are beyond Manchester) – it’s three hours anyway. So, maybe that could be a second-best option, if the money’s not available or the political situation is such that you will not get high-speed [track] all the way.”

Henrik was interviewed by Rail Technology Magazine – see the full article here