Looking at the Shinkansen Japanese Bullet Train during a visit to the National Railway Museum in York in June, I wondered if such a high-speed service was any nearer in England. The new version of the train runs at speeds of up to 200mph in Japan. The original track opened in 1964 between Tokyo and Osaka and is the world’s busiest high-speed line.
This is a “series O” train – serial number 22-141 – and was the first vehicle built and run outside the UK to be part of the museum’s collection. It began service in 1976 and was mothballed in October 2000 after more than 20 years of service on the 320-mile Tokyo to Osaka route. It was delivered to the NRM in June 2001.
Now the British government is planning a high-speed line in England HS2 which will initially run from London to Birmingham in a journey tie of less than 50 minutes, compared to the 75 minutes it currently takes from London Euston to Birmingham International on a Pendelino inter city express run by Virgin Trains. The initial plan is for a new line between London and the West Midlands, carrying 400m-long (1,300ft) trains, with up to 1,100 seats per train. They would operate at speeds of up to 250mph – faster than any current operating speed in Europe – and would travel up to fourteen times per hour in each direction.
There would be a second phase: a V-shaped route taking services from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. Intermediate stations in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire are also planned (BBC News).
A new report by accountants KPMG says the HS2 rail project could boost the British economy by £15bn a year, with regions outside the capital being the biggest beneficiaries. But it says the economic boost will not be felt until 2037. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin presented the findings as he made the case for the new rail line.