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Room on top in double-decker trains proposed for HS2 route

Room on top in double-decker trains proposed for HS2 route

🕔25.May 2016

Continental-style double-decker trains running at upwards of 220mph could be a common sight on the HS2 line between London and Birmingham under plans put forward by train maker Alstom.

The French-owned railway company is bidding for a £7.5 billion contract to build rolling stock for the high speed rail route, which is due to open in 2026.

And it has put forward radical proposals for double-deckers, which would be the first of their kind in Britain although they are common in much of Europe.

Poignantly for Birmingham, Alstom was until it moved out in 2005 one of the city’s major manufacturing companies, building trains at its sprawling Westwood Heath depot. If the firm gets the contract, it will probably manufacture the HS2 carriages near Liverpool.

Some of the Washwood Heath site has been reserved for an HS2 marshalling yard. Birmingham has also been chosen along with Doncaster as the location for an HS2 engineering college.

French-owned Alstom is bidding for the right to build 160 trains which will be 650ft long.

Henrik Anderberg, acting managing director of Alstom UK & Ireland, told the Daily Telegraph:

The design means double-decker trains are no higher than a standard single deck one. However because the trains that will run on HS2 meet with European standards and are 170mm (6.7 inches) wider, we can do so much more with the space.

A double-decker train is a unique proposition and will give a better passenger experience. We are even considering designs such as double-height bars.

It is claimed the extra level would allow the trains to hold 40 per cent more passengers than on a standard train, and Mr Anderberg said this extra space could be utilised to create “business class train travel at economy class prices”.

Mr Anderberg urged the Government not to rule out the concept at an early stage, claiming building twin-deck trains is only “marginally” more expensive than traditional ones because the most expensive items are the power systems, bogies and computers, while the coachwork makes up only a small part of the total cost.

The contract is expected to be awarded in 2019 and will cover trains for the first phase of HS2 from London to Birmingham and the second phase from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester.

Alstom has said it would attempt to carry out as much of the work building the trains in the UK. The company has recently been granted planning for a 30-acre site near Liverpool where it intends to set up a technical centre.

Legislation paving the way for the £50 billion HS2 scheme continues to make its way through the Houses of Parliament.

The High Speed 2 Hybrid Bill has completed its Commons stage and is now before a select committee of the House of Lords which is considering hundreds of petitions opposing the line.

The Bill will proceed to a Grand Committee of the House of Lords where Peers will debate the proposals clause by clause before returning to the Commons for final approval later in the year.

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