Crossrail 2 can unlock High Speed Two’s potential
You raise the question of the link between Euston and St Pancras Stations as well as between High Speed 1 (HS1) and the proposed High Speed Two (HS2) (NCE 3 February).
The solution surely is to build a new east-west orientated station below ground for HS2 and Crossrail 2 between these two stations, accessible from both and with HS2 merging by underground flying junction into HS1.
This would permit all HS2 trains to run through to Stratford or the Continent without a slow meander along the North London Line and would allow passengers to be distributed to a wider area of London without changing trains.
Undoubtedly there will be technical problems to be solved to achieve this but surely that is the sort of challenge that we will need to be prepared to meet if we are to develop a high quality public transport system in the UK.
- Mike Schumann (M), Schumann83076@aol.com
Jim Steer’s letter on Crossrail 2 argues that High Speed 2 (HS2) ”must not be saddled with its adoption” (NCE 10 February).
My view is that Crossrail 2 is the essential way of spreading the benefits of HS2 more widely across the whole country and that the key core of Crossrail 2 should be financed nationally.
Without Crossrail 2 or other mitigation measures, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and the area served by the southern end of the West Coast Main Line are economic losers from HS2. However, a large swathe of the South Midlands could benefit from the following potentially HS2 branded mitigation measures.
Network Rail’s London & South East Route Utilisation Study implicitly recommends that Crossrails 1 and 2 should be used to relieve the pressure at Euston Station created by HS2. It suggests extensions of Crossrail 2 to main lines north of Kings Cross/St Pancras and south of Victoria and an extra station at Euston.
That could imply through services from south of Clapham Junction, the Midland Main Line and Northampton line − which would make HS2 much more accessible from the South East.
Ways to fund Crossrail 2 are essential and should not be at the expense of HS2’s capital budget. One way of doing that could be to defer the upgrade of Euston until HS2 phase 2 and pare back phase 1 of Crossrail 2 to its key core.
- Stuart Porter, 107 Headlands, Kettering, Northamptonshire.
Flood protection is more important than high speed rail
In times of economic difficulty, money should be spent where it will achieve the greatest benefit.
The problem with cutting back on flood defence spending (News last week) is that homes and businesses, as well as vital infrastructure, will be placed at increased risk of damage and disruption.
Environment secretary Caroline Spelman should be pressing the case for more expenditure on flood defence, not cutting back. Government spending plans should follow exactly the same principles as home economics - if your roof is leaking, you should repair or replace it, and not spend your limited funds on a “nice-to-have” conservatory.
Projects like the proposed high speed rail link, which has dubious economic benefits and is environmentally questionable, should be dropped in favour of keeping our existing infrastructure going.
Given the choice of chopping an hour off the journey time from London to Edinburgh, and preventing thousands of families from suffering the devastating effects of flooding, I know where I would put my money.
- Charlie Rickard, (F) 4 Millards Lane, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9ES
Is doing more work for same pay ‘efficient’?
Having staff work longer hours for no extra pay is not an example of being more efficient (NCE 10 February)!
Why don’t the bid teams submit realistic tenders to potential clients so that the client is aware of the true cost of the work it is asking to be done? Failing that, why can Atkins not take a reduction in their profit margin instead of asking its staff to take the hit?
At Grontmij we have been given the option to work 40 hours to meet client demands but we are also being paid overtime for working the additional hours, which is how it should be. I sincerely hope for the good of our profession that Atkins staff treat this proposal with the contempt it deserves.
- Paul Ahdal, assistant civil engineer, Morgan Sindall Grontmij joint venture, firstname.lastname@example.org
How do they do it cheaper?
Mark Hansford illustrates a thought-provoking article on the cost of UK infrastructure with a graph which, without further explanation, is either utterly farcical or an appalling indictment of the rail industry in the UK (NCE 10 February).
It purports to show that the cost of constructing a kilometre of railway line in the UK at just short of $300M (£185M).
By comparison, the cost of doing the same thing in Scandinavia is less than £15M. How can this possibly be?
I was surprised to see that there was not one letter from the rail industry in last week’s NCE either querying or explaining these figures, and this sad fact, along with Hansford’s conclusion on Infrastructure UK’s findings that “…after five months and a 144 page report we still don’t really know how European firms do it cheaper…” gives real cause for concern.
Given that this is one of the biggest issues facing the industry in the current economic circumstances, it’s surely time that someone with sufficient clout makes it their business to find the real answer to the question “how do they do it”.
Otherwise Hansford’s conclusion that the construction industry is in danger of following the decline of the car industry in the UK, takes another step closer.
- Blair Fletcher (M, Ardrishaig, Argyll, email@example.com
Editor’s note: The data collected by the EIB used to compare rail costs came from a number of projects, and was normalised into millions of Euros per kilometre in 2007 prices.
Getting real with the 2012 budget
In investigating a massive hydro power prospect my late Halcrow leader Charles Clarke multiplied my construction cost estimate by 2.5, allowing for what I later found chemical engineers called Known Unknowns.
And he then multiplied by 2.5 again for the Unknown Unknowns.
The Clarke 6.25 factor turned out to be about the right advice to the client. So £7bn for the Olympics 2012 budget is within reality.
- Stephen Wearne, senior research fellow, (retired professor), University of Manchester,firstname.lastname@example.org
Course providers exploit CPD
While I agree that CPD is required to keep our knowledge on civil engineering up to date, I am concerned that the cost of meaningful courses that are not organised by local committees seems to be extraordinarily high.
If I undertake to do the minimum recommended CPD of 30 hours, which equates to five days of CPD, I would be looking at an outlay of between £1,325 to £1,825 (based upon courses advertised by Thomas Telford).
Working for a company that does not provide a CPD allowance means that course costs are prohibitive.
My wife works in the veterinary profession and organises day/weekend courses with a local committee.
They were able to offer day courses for as little as £50 if booked two months in advance and still made a small profit, having paid for the speakers, speakers’ accommodation and transport, venue and food.
With the introduction of CPD monitoring, I can only see that the cost of courses is set to increase to take advantage of the situation, making it difficult to afford especially in the current economic climate.
- Alastair Forbes, civil engineer, email@example.com
Editor’s note: There are of course many ways for professionals to demonstrate CPD and not all require a cash outlay. Reading NCE each week, for example, is certainly a cost effective and highly recommended way to stay up to date with the profession. For full details of how CPD is measured by the ICE visit www.ice.org.uk.
Stan Fletcher has suggested that ICE officers enter the political and media arenas to enhance UK engineers’ status (NCE, 20 January). Great idea.
But are engineers or our admin people the best to represent us? Should we not instead hire well clued up actors to do the job?
Maybe someone like Michael Palin, a former civil engineering graduate, might volunteer.
- Dr Bruce Denness, Cinxia Cottage, Ashknowle Lane, Whitwell, Isle of Wight PO38 2PP