Making the case for the HS2 double decker

Source: RTM Jun/Jul 16

DG244157 editHenrik Anderberg, acting managing director at Alstom UK & Ireland, tells RTM why his company’s double deck train can offer the best rolling stock solution for HS2.

It’s an exciting time for the UK rail industry and for passengers as HS2 moves ever closer to becoming a reality. Conversations are now turning to the glamorous stuff – the kind of trains that will run on the line.

HS2 is expected to publish the specification for its rolling stock this autumn. The formal procurement process will begin in early 2017 and contracts will be awarded by the end of 2019. 

Two types of train will operate on HS2 – ‘captive’ and ‘classic compatible’. The ‘captive’ trains can only run on the newly built high-speed lines, which will be built to European standards. ‘Classic compatible’ trains will be built to fit the existing UK railway infrastructure, and will therefore be smaller than the ‘captive’ trains. They will be used to operate high-speed services on HS2, and then continue on the existing UK network to locations such as Liverpool, Newcastle and Scotland. 

Importantly, the ‘captive’ trains can be either single or double deck, whereas the ‘classic compatible’ trains will be single deck. The brand new ‘captive’ trains, therefore, represent the greatest opportunity in generations to introduce the benefits of double deck trains to the UK. 

Last month, at an event in Parliament, Alstom unveiled its latest model of high-speed, double deck trains, which we believe are the best option for HS2. 

Greater capacity and flexibility 

The trains are the latest model in our Avelia Very High Speed Train range and are some of the most technologically advanced in the world. Innovations include the miniaturisation of components and the most sophisticated power car that we have ever created. They offer up to 40% more space than other single deck trains. This capacity could give HS2 the option to carry more passengers per train while simultaneously providing travellers with more room at their seats, like on business class travel. 

Our double deck trains could also offer a number of flexible configuration options. Why not have a crèche, business meeting room and even a glorious two-storey bar on-board the train? And as these trains have been designed with the needs of the modern passenger in mind, of course they will feature the best interactive and real-time information systems and wi-fi. 

Importantly, we also believe our double deck trains are the most cost-effective option for HS2. The trains will be fitted with articulated bogies, for instance, which through fewer components will help lower the cost of the trains as well as minimise their impact on infrastructure. And the energy consumption is significantly reduced compared to non-articulated trains, which results in lower operational costs and lower environmental impacts. 

Once-in-a-generation opportunity 

Of course, our passion for our double deck trains doesn’t mean that single deck models could not play an important role in our bid to build rolling stock for HS2. Our solution for ‘classic compatible’ trains would necessarily be single deck. We have a number of innovative technologies we could employ here too, including tilt developed for our Pendolino trains and distributed traction like that of our AGV train, as well as push-pull solutions derived from TGV style trains. 

Nevertheless, thanks to HS2’s ‘captive’ line we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make double deck trains a reality in the UK. These trains are commonplace in Europe with more than 200 high-speed double deck trains in daily service. 

Now is the time for Britain to catch up with its neighbours. Double deck trains offer unrivalled passenger comfort and are cost effective. Put simply, they make the most sense for HS2. Let’s not let the opportunity to introduce them into Britain’s railways pass us by.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]



Realist   20/07/2016 at 21:05

Double deck trains require GC gauge or greater clearance which is not compatible with the UK rail network and can only be provided through the expenditure of tens of billions of pounds on new stations and new routes. The station platforms needed are also incompatible with British trains and if constructed in accordance with the TSI would be 155mm lower than the UK standard making access more difficult for everyone and requiring longer dwell times. Douuble deck trains would be constrained to GC gauge routes so would be very vulnerable to any disruption of those routes as no alternative routes are proposed. How can the 10% capacity gain of a 200m double decker train compared to a 12 coach Pendolino justify spending tens of billions on creating a small network that serves only 8 stations now that the latest proposals do not include Meadowhall?

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