Alternative transport futures to HS2

 

The whole HS2 issue has become charged with emotion, with exaggerated claims being made by both sides.

 

For the sake of our grandchildren, we need to step back and get the debate in perspective.

 

 

Public transport

 

1.1 Train based alternatives to HS2

 

 

We need a Pre-HS2 Enquiry to identify transport and communication trends deep into the future, when today's politicians

are well into their retirement.

 

On this page we offer some suggestions for a Pre-HS2 Enquiry to consider.

 

 

Contents: Alternatives to HS2

 

1 Public transport

1.1  Train based alternatives to HS2.

1.2  A bus based alternative.

 

2 Private transport

2.1  Self driving cars.

2.2  Charging battery powered vehicles while cruising.

2.3  Hydrogen powered cars

2.4 A near future threat to HS2.

 

3 Improved broadband to reduce the need for all forms of travel.

 

 

 

 

 

Public transport

 

1.1 Train based alternatives to HS2

 

The principle argument made by champions of HS2 is that it will increase our national railway network capacity.

Several alternative solutions have been proposed by opponents of HS2.

 

(i) Equip trains with more powerful frictionless braking systems so that more trains can travel safely along

our exiting tracks.

This would allow the whole of the UK to benefit from improved rail communications.

 - Not just the handful of English cities favoured by HS2.

Declaration of interest: This alternative is based on our intellectual property.

 

(ii) Reopen the Great Central Railway Line to increase network capacity between London and the north.

Reference:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/andrew-gilligan/10406562/HS2-now-Labour-look-at-an-alternative-scheme.html

 

 (iii) A range of other railway based alternatives are suggested at http://www.betterthanhs2.org

 

 

1.2 A bus based alternative: the universal bus pass

 

In return for paying an annual fee, pass holders would have universal access to all local and intercity buses throughout

all four countries of the United Kingdom.

Single, couple and family cards would be offered. Senior citizens would pay a top-up fee, to upgrade their existing

bus passes to universal status.

 

Free Wi-Fi would be available on all buses. Bus stops would have bus arrival time information displays and Wi-Fi,

allowing passengers to check  bus times further along their route.

All bus stops and shelters would be well lit and include intercom and CCTV to discourage prowlers and vandals.

 

This option is an income generating version of the successful senior citizen free bus pass system.

In spite of heavy use by senior citizens many buses still travel largely empty. If more income generating passengers

travelled on the buses, additional funds would be raised to run more frequent buses and add more routes to the network.

 

As an incentive, people who had owned a car for (say) more then three years would be offered a free one year

family bus pass if they sold their family car(s) agreed not to buy a replacement car during the year.

The card would be cancelled if they changed their minds.

 

The scheme could be subsidised by hypothecated taxes; with a clearly defined fraction of motor vehicle road tax

 being used for the purpose.

In essence, motorists would be paying other people to take their cars off the road.

 

Points scored over HS2: Most UK citizens living more than a few miles from a HS2 station are unlikely to see

any direct benefit from the project.

In contrast, a  universal bus pass could benefit everyone.

 

 

2 Private transport based

 

Car manufacturers will not stand idly by while public transport is improving.

 

The following innovations are already under development and could undermine the need for HS2 before it is built.

 

 

2.1 Self driving cars

The car makers predict they will be widespread on the worlds roads sometime between 2020 and 2025

When HS2 finally opens for business in the north in 2033, passengers will probably arrive at the station in a self drive car.

So what advantage will HS2 offer them, compared with being taken directly to their final destination by car?

 

Points scored over HS2:

(i) Self-drive cars offer door-to-door transport while allowing people to do remote office work while travelling.

(ii) EU and Japanese research demonstrates that trains of self-drive vehicles travelling in convoys experience reduced air drag

and can make fuel savings of up to 20%. For battery powered vehicles, this equates to an increase

in range.

Car convoy technology combines the fuel saving benefits of railway trains, with the flexibility of road travel.

The sad truth is, HS2 has been overtaken by technology. It was conceived many years before driverless cars became a viable option for commuters.

If we had to start the transport debate from scratch again, would anyone propose HS2 as an alternative to autonomous vehicles?

 

 

 

2.2 Charging battery powered vehicles while cruising.

 

A process known as induction uses cables buried in the road to recharge the batteries without the need for any physical contacts.

Induction is the process used for recharging electric toothbrush batteries.

Reference:

“The Future of Electric Vehicles: Induction Battery Charging While Cruising”

http://www.topspeed.com/cars/car-news/the-future-of-electric-vehicles-induction-battery-charging-while-cruising-ar160432.html

 

Points scored over HS2:  Unlimited travel by battery powered vehicles offers green  door-to-door transport.

If our government backed Latent Power Turbines project succeeds, the cost of generating electricity will fall.

This will reduce battery recharging cost.

 

 

2.3  Hydrogen powered cars

 

New Scientist magazine speculates that hydrogen fuel cell powered cars will be the future for transport.

["Fill her up with liquid hydrogen", 21 December 2013, p 29. ]

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029485.300-2014-preview-hydrogen-suv-ready-to-hit-the-road.html

 

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that reacts with oxygen from the air to produce electricity and water. There are no other waste products.

Currently the main obstacle to a hydrogen economy is the high cost of manufacturing and liquefying the fuel.

This could all change if Latent Power Turbines live up to their promise.

Reference: For brief details of the technology required to produce cheap liquid hydrogen visit our

Transport Internet web page and scroll down to Appendices A1 and A2.

 

 

The unintended consequences of clean self-drive cars

If the price of hydrogen tumbles or the range of electric cars increases, the cost of oil will fall.

This will tempt commuters who own conventional vehicles back into their cars.

The demand for all forms of rail transport will drop and there will be increased congestion on

our roads.

 

To combat this congestion threat we need an urgent solution to our rail network problems, not a generation from now when

 HS2 finally reaches the North and green self drive cars have become the norm.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Improve broadband to reduce the need for all forms of travel

 

By the time HS2 is built, many older people who prefer face to face communications will have moved into retirement.

They will be replaced by young people who have grown up using remote electronic communications as an essential part of

their social and working lives.

Meanwhile, the communications technology will have improved, offering more and better communication features.

The case for improved broadband instead of HS2 is made at

http://www.itpro.co.uk/broadband/21195/hs2-money-would-be-better-spent-on-broadband-improvements#ixzz2nd9hGazm

 

 

 

A lesson from the developing world

Throughout the last century, expensive and complex copper wire networks of telephone cables were required for national telephone systems.

The absence of such networks in developing nations appeared to be an obstacle to economic growth.

But, thanks to the rapid take-up of mobile phones in developing countries, the whole costly process of installing a national network

of copper telephone cables has been eliminated.

In high speed train terms, the UK is a developing nation. We have fallen many years behind our continental, Japanese and Chinese competitors.

But in the long run, we may have avoided a second round of Beeching cuts.

Forty years from now, electronic technology may make high speed train networks as quaint as copper wire telephone lines and

pre-Beeching steam engines.

 

 

For more transport and energy related inventions, visit our home page.