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Letters: Crossrail and High Speed 2 remain clouded in confusion

Crossrail and High Speed 2 remain clouded in confusion

Jim Middleton is right (NCE 28 July-4 August) that Crossrail will be little more than a Tube route as there are too many station stops outside its Old Oak Common to Canary Wharf/Stratford core.

That means it will be nothing like British Rail’s original idea for linking services to open up new markets for rail journeys.

I hope that the same mistake isn’t made if a key London Assembly observation on High Speed Two (HS2) is adopted, which states: ”Additional Tube capacity, in the form of a new line linking Chelsea and Hackney (Crossrail 2) should be constructed during phase 1 of the scheme to ensure that local transport services are not swamped by the new passengers created by HS2.”

I hope that doesn’t ignore Network Rail’s Route Utilisation Study recommendation for extensions to Crossrail 2.

As I see it what is needed most is the King’s Cross/St Pancras to Victoria section followed by through services from south of Clapham Junction to the Midland Main Line and Northampton line.

That would make HS2 much more accessible from the south east and leave the within London branches to be separately justified and financed.

As underground stations are expensive, Crossrail 2 needs to minimise intermediate stations and to leave room for Crossrail 4 to be built alongside, probably serving Leytonstone or Stratford, King’s Cross, Tottenham Court Road, Trafalgar Square, Waterloo, Elephant & Castle and Herne Hill, which represents the eastern part of Transport for London’s Crossrail 2 proposal and responds to Network Rail’s ideas for solving south London.

  • Stuart Porter (M), 107 Headlands, Kettering, Northamptonshire NN15 6AB

There appear to have been numerous objections to the proposal to build a high speed passenger only route from London to Birmingham and the north of England.

Has anyone considered the alternative, that is to build a dedicated freight-only line from the north of England to London and the continent, which could be built to a larger structure gauge capable of carrying large box containers full of products manufactured in the north of England and the West Midlands.

Transferring all freight off the West Coast and East Coast main lines would then free up extra capacity for passenger trains.

A dedicated freight-only line should be cheaper to build as it could follow parts of disused railway lines or motorways as it would not need to be high speed. The freight-only concept could be extended to the ports of Felixstowe and Southampton.

  • Bill Pilkington, wmp43@btinternet.com

Could somebody benchmark the parameters for HS2?

It will cost £32bn and trains will start running in 2026 over a 160km route.

This compares with France’s Tours to Bordeaux TGV line. Its 320km route is to cost £6.9bn and start operating in 2017. Maybe we should get the French to design, plan, cost and build HS2?

  • John Franklin (F), 11 The Ridings, East Horsley, Surrey, KT24 5BN

The price of a London HQ

Having read that ICE subs are again due to rise next year (NCE 28 July) I’m sure I was not alone in having to pinch myself to check that the current difficult financial times are not a dream.

While the rise may be below inflation this is hardly strong justification at a time when pay rises are scarce and the actual cost of living as represented by the Consumer Price Index has gone up by 4.52%.

Unfortunately the rise in subs seems to yet again emphasise the disconnect between the lofty few sitting in One Great George Street and the hard working membership. I suggest that at a time when so many are having to tighten their belts the ICE should also have borne a reduction in income allowing it to at the very least maintain the current level of subs.

The elephant in the room here must surely be the high cost of running a central London-based administration and the significant value tied up in One Great George Street.

I sense the days of a widespread national membership continuing to fund such expensive luxuries through increasing subs may be numbered.

  • John Rigby-Jones (M), director, RJM Ground ­Solutions, Waverley House, 35 Church Hill, Arnside, Cumbria LA5 0DJ

Decarbonisation isn’t the answer

With all the usual doom and gloom in the week carrying on as usual there were a few light-hearted moments.

Here in Wales, the First Minister finally woke up and realised Wales was only hosting the Olympic women’s football.

The Welsh Transport Minister went also on TV to announce that the Brynglas tunnel, which had sustained fire damage and practically brought south east Wales to a halt, wouldn’t be opened until the “architect” had inspected the damage.

But the real icing on the cake was television’s Jeremy Paxman’s chairing of the debate on the legacy of the Olympic Games. I have never laughed so much.

But all this really underlined a more serious problem in our society. People in high places in politics, engineering and the financial world have lost touch with how “the ordinary folk” live and work and their aspirations.

I believe there is still time to prevent “the energy disaster” that successive governments have failed to address adequately.

The article by Declan Lynch (NCE 28 July-4 August) only illustrated that there was going to be some “work” out of the energy policy.

The ICE should really be addressing whether the pursuit of the existing crazy decarbonising policy will kill off what still remains of our energy intensive industries and increase the large numbers of people already in fuel poverty.

We should be concentrating on more energy efficient and cost effective ways to reduce carbon while stabilising and reducing utility prices.

  • David Jones (M), Mentmore, 20 Marshfield Road, Castleton, Newport CF3 2UU

Buildings will tackle C02

Carbon footprint is one of those 21st century phrases scattered about the intellectual papers and magazines that are sincerely concerned about the stability of global weather, so I was not surprised to see it discussed in NCE’s letters pages.

I had always thought it was a complicated metaphor to describe the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere as a result of human activity, such as keeping a herd of cows, or running a steelworks, which would result in an increase in the greenhouse effect, and so retain more solar energy than was desirable; and so the bigger the carbon footprint, the more undesirable the project generating it.

But it seems there is an alternative meaning attached to the phrase in some academic circles, viz, the weight of carbon incorporated in the permanent structure of a building.

This would actually mean that the bigger the carbon footprint, the better, as the carbon in question would be stored harmlessly in the structure, rather than circulating in the atmosphere. We are often urged to plant trees for this same reason, to achieve carbon capture in their timber.

  • Christopher May (M) 6, Leewood Road, Weston-super-Mare BS23 2PB

China’s political elite forged in engineering

Over the past 30 years I have had the privilege of being invited to China to discuss the development of cities.

During that time the whole infrastructure of the world’s largest country has been transformed in its scale and its quality.

It is becoming the world’s richest country and I find it quite fascinating that President Hu is a hydraulic engineer; the prime minister Wen Jiabao specialised in geological engineering and the previous President Jiang Zemin was an electrical engineer.

In fact the top government body − the Politburo’s Standing Committee − has nine members of whom eight are engineers. This large proportion of engineers is repeated at the lower levels of the political structure.

They have a firm belief that, if mistakes are made, it is due to a lack of the correct facts or a lack of understanding of those facts.

Yet engineers seem to be missing in our own political structure. Perhaps the Institution should consider setting up a working group to explore this issue for the benefit of Britain?

  • Ewart Parkinson (F), 42 South Rise, Cardiff CF14 0RH

Why does aid to Africa appear to do little good?

I am appalled at the double standards that we practise in everyday life which has become the norm.

I am deeply saddened by the disaster that has struck the Horn of Africa and moved by the images on the TV.

We have been bailing out Africa from time immortal but to what avail?

The aid agencies, who do a magnificent job, keep reminding us that £12 will sink a well and give potable water which would save thousands of lives. With the amount of aid that has been poured in Africa over the years, it could have been the bread basket of the world, yet they are starving.

The recent Libyan conflict saw rows of tents supplied for the displaced persons, yet the Haitians and the Africans, who have suffered so much more, are still making do with shacks and unsanitary conditions which breed disease.

The world dug deep to provide aid to assist them and we will all do so again this time, but unless we have a long-term, properly supervised rehabilitation programme rather than a knee- jerk reaction, we will always just be using plasters and tape to stem immediate needs.

  • Mario Donnetti (F), mario_donnetti@yahoo.com

Letters to the editor

NCE welcomes letters from readers.

We attempt to print as many as possible, which means letters longer than 200 words are likely to be condensed.

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