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Old Posted Nov 12, 2006, 4:48 PM
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High-Speed rail : the European network

Several european countries are currently working on the extension and the modernization of their high-speed railways. Next year promises to be memorable with significant improvements in France, the Netherlands and the UK.

Please, post in this thread the news/pictures/opinions on this topic.

To begin with, an article about the opening of a new section of the Eurostar network to Central London.

Full speed ahead for Channel link
The Sunday Times
November 12, 2006

The railway is on schedule to be completed in a year’s time, reports Dominic O’Connell

A NEW NAME in rail transport will be launched in Britain this week when the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is renamed High Speed 1. In a year’s time it will start carrying high-speed services from London’s St Pancras station to Paris and Brussels.

Speed is what the new route is all about. Constructed at a cost of £5.8 billion, it is the first mainline railway built in Britain for more than a century. Eurostar trains have run from London since 1994, but have had to slow down in England to crawl across busy commuter lines. With the opening of the new link, they will run at the same speed as on France’s TGV tracks — 186mph.

Trips between London and Paris will take two hours 15 minutes, 20 minutes faster than the current quickest time — itself a 15-minute improvement on the original Eurostar journey thanks to the opening three years ago of the first section of the high-speed line, from the Channel tunnel to Fawkham junction, Kent. The second section runs from Fawkham across the Thames and into central London (through tunnels) from the east.

Rob Holden, chief executive of London & Continental Railways (LCR), the consortium that has built the line, said the name change signalled that construction was coming to an end and the first passenger services were only a year away.

“Channel Tunnel Rail Link is a bit of a mouthful and the initials CTRL don’t mean much to anyone who isn’t familiar with the project. We wanted to change the name, and high-speed rail has positive connotations here and in the rest of Europe,” he said.

The new name poses the question whether there might be a High Speed 2 in the pipeline, and whether LCR might want to build it.

High-speed rail is at the forefront of the current debate about transport and climate change in Britain. Iain Coucher, deputy chief executive of Network Rail, has proposed a north-south high-speed line to relieve pressure on the existing network. Sir Rod Eddington, the former chief executive of British Airways, is expected to publish his long-awaited report on transport at the end of the month, and may also back new high-speed lines.

If a new line was ordered, LCR would be an obvious candidate to construct it. Holden said the company had built up a great deal of expertise and it would be a shame to lose it. “There is a lot of experience here that could be extremely useful if the government decided to proceed. We can’t be involved in speculative development, but we are pro high-speed rail for the UK,” he said.

But if the government is to take advantage of LCR’s expertise, it will need to move quickly. Holden said his team would be ready “to step into a new railway” in 12-18 months, but beyond that the nucleus of experienced people would be dispersed. “The skills they have are transferable, and by then they will have the opening of this railway on their CVs, which will make them very marketable.”

The hype around this week’s launch of High Speed 1 will obscure some of the big questions about the rail link — such as whether it should have been built at all.

A House of Commons public accounts select committee concluded earlier this year that the economic case for its construction was “marginal”, because the number of passengers using Eurostar services is much lower than originally forecast.

When bidding for the project in 1996, LCR — a consortium comprising Bechtel, UBS, Arup, Halcrow, Electricite de France, National Express and SNCF — forecast 21m passengers a year by 2004. The actual number has turned out to be one-third of that. This year Eurostar will carry about 8.5m.

Holden said the original forecasts were “just wrong”. “When I arrived here I said — ‘so, everyone in the south of England is going to make multiple trips every year to Paris and Brussels? I don’t think so.’”

The truth dawned two years into the project and led to a financial crisis. LCR had to be bailed out by the government.

This in turn prompted much soul-searching by transport officials. Scarred by their experience on the Jubilee Line extension, which ended up late and £1.4 billion over budget, they had resolved not to entrust the management of the high-speed rail line to the public sector. By choosing LCR, they had thought the risk of cost-overruns had been avoided — only to find the solution blowing up in their face.

In revealing comments to the select committee last year, David Rowlands, then permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, said that next year the department planned to re-evaluate its handling of the project. “We would probably want to re-visit it quietly and hide it in a drawer in case of FOI (the Freedom of Information Act) . . . but there are lessons to be learnt.”

The solution was for the government to give LCR an extra £1 billion, and to issue bonds to finance the project. Railtrack was brought in to carry the cost-overruns — another clever solution that backfired when the company collapsed into administration in 2001.

Holden maintains that the public accounts committee, and the National Audit Office, have found it difficult to quantify the project’s regeneration benefits. As well as the international trains, the new line will carry domestic services that will sprint to Ashford in Kent in 26 minutes.

LCR believes the link will bring £10.5 billion of extra investment for regeneration. The big schemes are at three sites: in the brownfield land north of King’s Cross station, where developer Argent plans 50 new buildings and 30,000 new jobs; at Stratford, where Westfield plans a £4 billion development including 7,000 new homes; and at Ebbsfleet, where 3,000 new homes will be built.

“When the project began, the priorities were the international services, the domestic services and regeneration. Now it is the other way round. Regeneration is No1 and then take your pick,” said Holden.

And despite LCR’s interesting history, it can at least claim to have avoided the curse of most big projects in Britain and to have delivered on time and to budget. Under the terms of its funding agreement with the government, the line will be on time as long as it opens before the end of the first week in January 2008 — and while the expected cost of £5.8 billion is more than the £5.3 billion target, it is with- in the available financing of £6.1 billion. An insurance facility put in place with Bechtel and a consortium of insurers to underwrite construction overruns was unlikely to be called on, said Holden.

As well as speeding passengers between London and the Continent, the new line has rejuvenated St Pancras station, London’s smartest terminal when it opened in 1868 but which had long been allowed to fall into decay. The most visible sign of the work to date has been the restoration of the Midland Grand Hotel, Sir George Gilbert Scott’s famous neo-Gothic pile on Euston Road.

But from next November, when the station behind the hotel reopens, travellers will be treated to another restored Victorian marvel — the St Pancras train shed built by William Barlow. Barlow’s name is less well-known than Brunel’s, but the train shed may change that. When it first opened, its 74- metre span made it the largest enclosed space in the world, and, with ironwork repainted in the original peacock blue and reglazed, it retains its “wow” factor.

Beneath the platforms is another Barlow gem, the station’s undercroft, originally used for storing Burton’s beer. It has been opened up as a passenger concourse, but the 900 original cast-iron pillars that support the platforms above remain in place — the spacing between them by repute dictated by the width of three beer barrels.
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Old Posted Nov 12, 2006, 5:24 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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^ It pains me to read this while living in the ass-backwards US. I think I'm gonna move to Europe
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Old Posted Nov 12, 2006, 6:15 PM
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^LOL! I was thinking the exact the same thing as I was finishing the article. We need a sea-change in this country.

I just wish someone would come along with a huge proposal for HSR and sell it to the public as the new millenniums version of the Interstate highway system. Think of all the good that would come from such a huge, multi-year project. The amount of $$$ per capita spent on rail in Europe just makes me weak. We could probably easily do it for less than we've spent on the war so far.....

Fabb - Thanks for posting this, it was a good read.
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Old Posted Nov 12, 2006, 8:30 PM
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Here's some average speeds I found on the web:

France TGV -- 158 mph
Japan Shinkansen -- 164
Germany -- 125
Italy -- 103
British - London to York -- 112

By contrast, the fastest part of the Acela Express route (Philadelphia-Washington) averages 85.3 MPH, and the entire Boston-Washington route averages 70.3 MPH.
Diagrams | SVMetro Blog | "Urban planning, whether based in projects, plans, or process, works only when the results are feasible simultaneously in physical, functional, financial, and political ways. Having merely one or two of these feasibilities just won't work" --Alexander Garvin
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 1:41 AM
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I hate livinig in North America.
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 3:04 PM
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The CTRL is an amazing project that involves dozens of tunnels (2x19km tunnels under London to get to London St Pancras) and high-spec redevelopment that will essentially create new centres..... Phase I as the article noted is already open, but Phase II is where it really gets interesting....

Ebbsfleet will be the last station before entering London....this is part of the giant Thames Gateway project: several million homes, hundreds of thousands of jobs...

Pictures from earlier this year of Ebbsfleet International...nothing really special because its practically in the middle of nowhere and is going to be the catalyst for future development.

The CTRL then dives under the Thames, rides over a viaduct for a few miles and then just when it enters the eastern border of London, the line dives into the 2 19km tunnels. The line emerges in a 'box/trench' (ie still below ground level but open to the elements) at Stratford for a new transport interchange. This is where the 2012 Olympics will be held and where a massive new development called Stratford City will be based. The CTRL is right at the centre of this.

Including Stratford City and the 2012 London Olympic Park

From Stratford, the CTRL again goes underground, where it then emerges at London St Pancras: the new terminus for Eurostar services.

This is the over-view of the King's Cross-St Pancras Area. St Pancras is the terminus at the top, while King's Cross lies at the bottom. The new rail-lands development is to the west. Currently St Pancras is being greatly overhauled: the entire original station is being given a clean, while the interior is being completely remodelled for next years opening. The extension by Foster compliments the train by not competing with it and will house:
- Midland Mainline services
- Domestic Shinkansen services that will use the CTRL

Eurostars will run the entire length of the original Barlow shed and the Foster extension because they are 400m long. A new station is also being built below St Pancras to cater for longer and more frequent Thameslink services (currently they use platforms just to the bottom left of where King's Cross is in the image).

King's Cross is also being redeveloped. This involves the demolition of the temporary ticket hall which has stood at the front since the 70's...and being replaced by a 'dome' to the top of the station in the image which will be far more welcoming and connected to St Pancras next door. This will also involve the creation of a new piazza (equivalent in size to that of Leicester Square) in place of the original King's Cross ticket hall.

On top of this, the 6 line London Underground station which lies beneath the station is being completely overhauled. Essentially the size of the underground complex is being doubled, if not tripled in volume to cater for future rail demands.

Pictures taken by me a few months back showing the Barlow train shed and the extension.

Its quite a lot to get around so hopefully that all made sense
London Transport Thread updated: 14/06/30
London Stadium & Arena Thread updated: 14/06/26
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 3:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Fabb
[COLOR="Blue"]Several european countries are currently working on the extension and the modernization of their high-speed railways. Next year promises to be memorable with significant improvements in France, the Netherlands and the UK.
I guess you forgot about Belgium where already two lines are operative and in 2007 two more will be opened.

@ nick_taylor , wouldn't have a detailed map from the CTRL line from Ashford to Stratford + what is the purpose of a station in Ebbsfleet ??
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 5:46 PM
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Its actually quite hard to find a good map of the project - there is a set of maps showing every 10km but that was on the old CTRL website and it doesn't exist any more!

Ebbsfleet is being built for several reasons:
- Possible future ECML connections that by-pass London altogether (although that is unlikely any time soon)
- Acting as a catalyst for the Thames Gateway project...
- A station that provides HSR services to London (ie no need to get on the slower current commuter lines - hence the Shinkansen services) or to Paris (no need to drive further south to Ashford or go into London - less car journeys and more train journeys)

The BBC have some good info on the station:

On 12th September 2006, another chapter in the story of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link was completed - as work on the £100 million Ebbsfleet International Station came to an end. The map shows how Ebbsfleet will link to London and the Continent.

An artist's impression of how Ebbsfleet International Station will look in 2007, when Eurostar trains will run from St Pancras International to the Continent, via Ebbsfleet and Ashford.

2003: this image shows work to push into place a new, 9,000 tonne bridge for the existing North Kent Line near Ebbsfleet. The new bridge was needed to allow the high-speed line to run underneath. (LCR/QA Photos)

July 2004: this photo shows the early stages of construction of the station. The massive slab which crosses the high-speed line is in place, while construction of the main station building and platforms progresses. Photo: LCR/QA Photos

2005: aerial view, looking towards the Thames. Much of the key structures are in place, but the is still much evidence of earthworks etc. (LCR/Hawk Editions)

Early 2006: this photo shows track and overhead power lines for the train in place. The track machine is on the 'link' which connects the high-speed line with the existing North Kent Line. (LCR/Ros Orpin)

Aerial shot in May 2006, showing the station nearing completion with car parks in place. (LCR/Hawk Editions) nick_taylor: The Thames Tunnel is visible, as is the Thames itself - this entire area will become part of a new hub and major transport interchange. The car park is for people to drive to Ebbsfleet rather than going further south to Ashford or into London to get on the Eurostar

18th July 2006: London & Continental Railways, the company behind the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, unveiled a plaque as part of a ceremony to remember Pocahontas, the famous North American Indian who is buried near Ebbsfleet International Station.

September 2006: Ebbsfleet International Station from the air as work is completed.

Not all Eurostars will stop at Ebbsfleet, but 5 daily services to Lille & Brussels and 7 daily services to Paris will (the other Eurostars will by-pass the station thanks to the seperated tracks on either side of the station). The main services that stop here though will be the CTRL-DS (Domestic Services) which are essentially Series 400 Shinkansen (the first country in Europe to buy Japanese trains):

These services will run all around the major Kent urban areas, but their terminus will be at London St Pancras. The bigger picture with this though is that its showing one of the signs of re-birth of British railways after years of decline and poor service. Also for train geeks - London is going to be pretty interesting when the Shinkansens are introduced over the coming years (they are currently being built in Japan):
- Italian Pendolinos
- Japanese Shinkansens
- French TGV
- British Diesels (nout beats them )
- Maglev (okay maybe not quite yet... )
London Transport Thread updated: 14/06/30
London Stadium & Arena Thread updated: 14/06/26
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 6:58 PM
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Nice thread.

These are the upcoming big station projects in Germany:

Stuttgart 21:

Dortmund 3DO: (construction starts in 2007)

proposal for Essen HBF:

Munich HBF:

Dresden HBF: was just finished by Norman Foster:


More pics here:


Last edited by GNU; Nov 13, 2006 at 7:08 PM.
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 7:03 PM
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 7:49 PM
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Does anyone have a good map of the entire European network?
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 9:41 PM
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Oh good lord. You guys have way too much money!

You are so lucky you don't have to spend $1 trillion/year invading other countries. Instead, you get nice shiny toys (instead of drab ones amed with missiles).
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 10:36 PM
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That Stuttgart station is amazing. I hope it turns out just as good in reality.

@SHiRO - don't think I've ever seen one. maybe someone here with map-skillz could...
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 11:00 PM
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Damn I'm so jealous.
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SHiRO
Does anyone have a good map of the entire European network?
Some detailed maps from France I have if you want them?

This could become the 2nd TGV station in Brussels:

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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 11:39 PM
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Yeah please post the maps Grumpy.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2006, 7:26 AM
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nick_taylor, once again thanks for the wealth of knowledge! I cannot wait to finish my schooling and move to London, but if you guys keep building/proposing stuff at this rate I just might get too excited and try to finish my schooling across the pond!
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2006, 10:08 AM
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@ SHiRO,

Here you have some maps but I rather would like to give you the link cause the site contains several maps of France:

Example : the entire Paris region


Région Parisiennne


More maps:

Info in general:

Last edited by Grumpy; Nov 14, 2006 at 10:15 AM.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2006, 10:21 AM
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Some pictures I took lately of LIEGE GUILLEMINS (new station by Calatrava) & ANTWERPEN CENTRAAL (entire renovation of an existing station), both stations should be finished by june 2007:

Liége Guillemins:

Antwerpen Centraal:

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Old Posted Nov 14, 2006, 3:49 PM
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are they actually going through with the new Stuttgart HBf? Do they really need to replace the existing one? I find it one of the most beautiful railways stations in Germany except for the trainshed which seems quite outdated. If they just fixed that (ie. put a high glass roof similar to Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnhof) it would look amazing.
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