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Sunday 13 March 2016

Gilligan HS2 Scare Busted

With the campaign for the London Mayoral election getting into its stride, some observers might have wondered where the Telegraph’s Tory cheerleader Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan had got to, such was his ubiquitous presence last time round, creatively retelling stories in order to regularly smear Ken Livingstone as a “liar”. Of course, he was rewarded with a job by his preferred choice as Mayor, but he is still writing.
High speed trains in Spain SEVEN YEARS AGO

Such is the faith, or perhaps that should read desperation, of the Tel that Gilligan has been entrusted with today’s front page splash which tellsHS2 at risk of derailing at top speed, report finds”. Seasoned Gilligan watchers will not be surprised that there will be no risk of derailment, or that the “secret research” he references is so secret that he wrote more or less the same story, for the same paper, MORE THAN FOUR YEARS AGO.

Then, it wasHigh speed rail link ‘at risk of derailment’ because of 225mph trains”. And, as now, the research quoted was that of Professor Peter Woodward, who last time, Gilligan admitted “declined to answer questions about his work”. He saw the Telegraph man coming. Also as before is Gilligan’s talk of a “critical track velocity”, but on neither occasion do we find out for certain what this is for any of the HS2 route.

Instead, we get conjecture: there “may” be problems with ballasted track, which means that, equally, there may not. Readers are warned of “embankment instability … over poor soils”, but as the soil characteristics along the route have not yet been analysed, no conclusion can be reached. Steadily increasing speeds along the UK’s existing rail network has revealed very little in the way of embankment instability.

Something else that Woodward’s research mentions, but that Gilligan leaves out, is that the Japanese Shinkansen trains have run up to 270mph as far back as the 1990s, with no problems, and the current rail speed record is held by a modified French TGV at over 350mph. No mysterious waves were encountered during the record breaking run, although some ballast throwing was experienced.

There is also some straightforward dishonesty in Gilligan’s article, as he claims of HS2 that “Its planned two-track core route between London and the Midlands is supposed to be able to handle the traffic currently served by three separate main lines”. No it isn’t. All of those lines will continue to offer passenger train services. He also claims that the cost-benefit ratio of HS2 is “shrinking”, which it is not.

So when he says “The disclosures are the latest blow to the scheme, viewed by many even in the rail industry as unnecessary”, it is not. There is no new information in his article, which will be of use only to the project’s detractors, who are always on the lookout for something - anything - to keep their spirits up. If Rayleigh Waves were to affect high speed trains, they would have done so by now. They have not.

Still, a few Telegraph readers are gullible enough to believe it, so that’s all right, then.


DBC said...

Hearing all these HS2 scare stories puts you in mind of the equally silly theories put forward nearly two hundred years ago when the first railway lines were planned.Remember the "if you travel at more than 30mph then your lungs will explode", of that there would be mass stampedes of horses and cattle, and other scare stories?

Anonymous said...

Gilligan's Island is plainly inhabited by space cadets.

File under "Loonies."

Arnold said...

He'd have been in his element two hundred years ago, claiming that it would be impossible to breathe at 60mph or that the passengers’ eyes would be damaged by having to adjust to the motion.

SteveB said...

"Continent Cut Off" journalism is alive and well! Perhaps as well as opting out of european law they want to opt out of common laws of physics as well? Has he head about the "sonic boom" that can be caused when the trains leave tunnels, there's another problem for him to worry about after it has already been solved!

Martin said...

Looks like the goon is at it again this week. HS2 Third Reading desperation me thinks by Goon.