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The Benefits of a Dedicated High Speed

Introduction

Definition,

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Transport refers to the movement of goods and services from one place to another; railway transport involves the movement of goods, people, and services from one place to another.

Railway refers to a laid down track that guides the wheels of a train to ensure it does not leave the track.

It can also be defined as transference of people using vehicles running over steel rails from one location to another, it is swift and in most developed countries like England, it forms the stem of transport with other forms of transport like buses, feeding the train stations.

Trains form a very flexible mode of transport in the sense that, its capacity depends on the number of available passengers, thus making them more efficient than buses which sometimes may be limited by their carriage capacity. Trains can have special features such as a dining car and for trains cruising long distances have incorporated sleeper cars for overnight services.

In England rail transport has been categorized, depending on haulage:

  • Regional trains,
  • Commuter trains,

Regional trains connect cities with surrounding areas and are mostly regional while commuter trains offer daily commuting services to people living in the suburbs, who probably work in the cities and live in commuting zones.

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The railway is also categorized into:

  • Rapid transport,
  • Light rails,
  • Monorail,
  • People mover,
  • High-speed rail.

Rapid transport is commonly an underground rail network and is mostly found built in large cities with the greatest passenger counts while light rails are mostly upgraded trams with some sections underground and a right of way where it crosses road networks and leased lands.

A monorail constitutes medium-capacity systems while people mover operates as a shuttle and driverless connecting a few train stations.

High-speed rail is the most recent railway upgrade and operates at a relatively high speed compared to other forms of rail transport, it is mostly used for long distances and has a moving speed limit of between 200 to 320km/hr. United kingdom has so far four high-speed rails with the first section opening in 2003 named channel tunnel rail link which was later to be named High speed 1 in 2006, this section comprises of 60kms of the tunnel, over 150 bridges, and 3 major viaducts. The high speed 1 opened up East London and Southeast England; areas deemed neglected. The term high-speed train has been used in England to refer to high-speed trains linking cities operating at 201 km/hr at minimum.

Britain has been very keen on improving its railway infrastructure based on cost-benefit analysis, other than concentrating on building new tracks like many other countries such as France and Japan, the country has resolved to develop high-speed trains which can use the existing tracks. The new trains have a high power to weight ratio making it possible for rapid accelerations which have resulted in high-speed trains which can move at 201km/hr.

Railway system is growing at a very high speed in England, with a successful high speed 1, there were suggestions to incorporate High speed 2 into London Heathrow airport expansion package, though the Network Rail, the body in charge of rail infrastructure management, turned it down based on high costs involved which would prevail over the benefits and the revenues and in its place proposed a link to the airport through a devoted branch line which would be capable of handling new trains. On completion, the plan is to connect Heathrow airport to the west midlands and ultimately Scotland. Heathrow airport is regarded to be one of the busiest airports in the world an implication is that it involves a lot of people commuting to various places which may include places within England, neighboring countries, and far countries. The proposed rail network will ultimately ease congestion in the airport by offering an alternative mode of transport out of the airport.

The England government has identified the London route to the west midlands as the topmost priority considering it has the most traffic not only for passengers but also freight haulage. It has also been found to have twice the size of the travel market as London to the North West and six times that of London to Scotland (Department of transport, High Speed 2, 2009, 18).

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England spends thrice the money it used to spend on rail transport 10years ago in developing and even on new infrastructure, this is evident with vibrant railway system which has revitalized run-down areas along the railway lines and opened them up for massive redevelopments, the major examples are St Pancras, Stratford, and Kings Cross. The growing rail transport has transformed the country from a major manufacturing center to a service economy.

Benefits from a Dedicated High-Speed Train Network

Rail transport is described to be energy efficient in the sense that, railway tracks are smooth ensuring the least friction by distributing the weight of the train evenly over a long stretch of the train length; this is different from other forms of transport like the road where movement entirely depends on the friction of rubber tires on the roads.

Rail transport is the safest mode of transport on land, this is because the railway track is made in such a way that it holds and directs the wheels. The only possible means of accidents along the rails is through a collision, a rare occurrence due to the use of signaling which is a very effective way of controlling railway traffic and also single-track routes.

Railway transport is relatively cheaper compared to other modes of transport, this implies, a well crosscutting railway network and high speed 2 connecting the major cities to London would attract all social classes of people ultimately increasing benefits and revenues.

Trains can operate without a prime mover on board thus lowering operating costs, this means the much which would have been spent on this sector can be directed to other dire forms of development.

Railway lines are more durable than roads, thus any investment on rails is a long-term one centrally to road transport where constant repairs are unavoidable.

Railway transport is the least pollutant form of transport and is said to live up to the green credentials due to its minimal greenhouse gas emissions. Trains use three times less fuel compared to big trucks and other benefits include:

  • Rail transport has displaced other modes of transport which are considered more environmentally damaging; reports show that flying to Paris from London produces 10 times the Carbon Dioxide of taking a train (Rees, 2007).
  • Lower energy consumption per passenger kilometer considering trains carry a lot of passengers at a very high speed.
  • Reduced land usage for a given capacity compared to motorways, this is because trains can even allow for double-decked trains thus an expansion without necessarily having to construct new railway lines.

The fact that trains can carry a lot of people, comparisons with air transport indicate that a 400 meter long Eurostar is equivalent to seven B737s in people-moving capacity (Rees, 2007), and the fact they move very fast without traffic jams as in the case with road transport, make railway transport the most ideal for medium to long distances and also ideal for situations where a passenger needs to move very fast.

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It is not a secret that traffic congestion in freeways is becoming a major problem in the United Kingdom, tractor-trailers take up most of the road transport thus bringing endless traffic congestions, and a well elaborate railway system will take most roles played by these tractor-trailers, ultimately reducing congestion in the major cities in the country. It is also a fact that with the incorporation of these high-speed trains in rail transport, more people would be tempted to use railway transport, thus freeing other modes of transport like road transport and air transport which are lesser friendly to the environment.

Railway transport requires less manpower in terms of crew members considering that it has few stopovers and in designated areas, this implies that less money would be spent thus directing these funds to other sectors of the economy.

With a high-speed railway network, less time would be spent on transit compared to road transport which is subject to other factors such as traffic congestion. A $34 Billion program has been rolled aimed at linking London with other major cities in the Midlands, Edinburgh, Northwest England, and Glasgow, on completion this program would cut the journey time from London to Edinburgh by more than 2hours, journey time to Liverpool by more than 1 hour and Birmingham to just 46minutes fro the current one and half hours (Millward, 2009).

This would ultimately have a long-term effect on the growth of the country’s economy since the time which would otherwise be spent on transit would be spent contributing to the growth of the economy.

The proposed new line would be capable of carrying up to 16 trains an hour and in each direction carrying approximately 9,100 people, this would eliminate 900flights a day, and would reduce traffic congestion along with some bus terminals and even at the airports (The transport politic archive, 2009).

Trains are more flexible modes of transport compared to air or even road transport since, unlike air transport which is dependent on weather, trains’ journeys would not be canceled or delayed as in the case with airplanes whose journeys depend on favorable weather, free from thunderstorms and blizzards. Trains also in worst-case scenarios would allow passengers to travel while standing thus capable of carrying excess, an attribute inapplicable with air transport.

When traveling for shorter distances which might last between 2 – 3hours the high-speed trains would be faster and appropriate than air transport considering with air transport a lot of time is spent on checking in, going through security checks and traveling to the airports. For the high-speed trains, lesser time is spent on checking in thus more reliable and free from hustle bustles involved in long procedures of boarding.

Conclusion

According to Lain Coucher, “demand for rail transport has been on the increase in England and the main lines from the North to London is almost full” (Millward, 2009), this is a clear sign that by 2020, some passengers will have to be turned away if the right measures are not put into place right now. The best way to avoid the shortfall is to implement the high-speed rails with low carbon thus reducing emissions and easing congestion on the main freeways by substituting cars and Lorries on the roads and also leasing capacity on the existing rail network.

The railway system would contribute immensely to development growth considering it is very swift and less congested thus a fast movement of goods and services from one location to another, the system requires less labor force onboard since some activities like ticketing and servicing can be done in advance at the stations, this would reduce expenditures thus high revenues.

Many cities in Britain already have existing rail routes currently not in use, and there are suggestions to have these routes upgraded and used as part of high-speed rail expansion, a highly cost-effective course which would enable trading off with existing railway stations and ultimately help in releasing capacity on the existing rail network. These passageways include former rail cargo or locomotive yards, remains of closed routes, and incomplete corridors probably due to either public or private encroachment aimed at alternate development; this would eliminate expenditures which would have been incurred in constructing entirely new routes thus more funds directed into maintenance.

References

Department of transport, 2009, High speed 2, p. 18, paragraph, 48. London, England. Web.

Millward, D, Telegraph.Co.Uk. 2009, Network rail plans for high speed rail to cut journey times between major cities, transport editor, London, England, Web.

Transport politic archive: United Kingdom, network rails moves forward with route choice for high speed 2, 2009. London, United Kingdom.

Rees, S, 2007, High Speed Rail, Web.

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