Double-deck trains for HS2?

French train manufacturer Alstom has floated the idea of double-deck trains for HS2, hinting they could be made in the UK if the company gets the contract to build them.

Rail Technology Magazine reports that a £7.5bn contract to supply 160 trains for the new high-speed line is expected in 2019. Double-deck trains are unknown in the UK due to its restricted loading gauge, but they are used in many other countries where structure dimensions are more generous.

HS2 (if built) will be engineered to much wider clearances that would permit use of wider and taller trains.

Alstom maintains a double-deck train could carry 40% more standard class passengers than a single-deck equivalent. However it would be confined to the HS2 network as it would be too large to access other parts of the system.

Alstom ceased train building in the UK in 2005 with completion of the Class 390 Pendolinos, forcing closure of its Birmingham Washwood Heath plant.

The old Southern Region of British Rail built an experimental split-deck commuter train with staggered seating bays in the early post war period but it was not successful. (Strictly-speaking it was not a double-deck train but it was the closest British thing to).

The Alstom Avelia. c. Alstom/Design & Styling, Birmingham
The Alstom Avelia. c. Alstom/Design & Styling, Birmingham skyline

Other HS2 news:  A reply to a parliamentary question has revealed that £1.4bn has been spent on HS2 since 2009/10. This total includes £434m on land and property; £11.2m on compensation payments; and £80.4m on salaries. It has also been disclosed that the latest estimate for the AP3 (Additional Provision) design for Euston station is £2.25bn.

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