Talking transport

Sam Shead

Reporter

The Engineer is eagerly anticipating the controversial decision for the £32bn High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project that is set to be announced this week by Justine Greening.

The Transport Secretary is expected to give the go-ahead on the project, which would run in two phases from 2016 – 2033, intially cutting journey times from London to Birmingham to 49 minutes, then spreading further north to serve Leeds and Manchester. Scotland’s ruling SNP have urged the UK government to ensure the line also serves Edinburgh and Glasgow.

A report in yesterday’s Sunday Times suggests that double-decker trains with glass viewing ceilings could run on the line. Consultants have drawn up blueprint plans for 400m long trains capable of carrying more than 1,000 passengers.

This week is going to be popular with those who have a passion for all things automotive with a clutch of motor shows expected to provide an insight into the future of the car industry.

Firstly, the Autosport International Racing Car Show starts on Wednesday at the NEC in Birmingham and continues until the end of the week, with the public being granted access from Saturday.

The exhibitors range from specialist engineering companies to major manufacturers and they will be covering everything from karting to F1.

Several conferences worthy of note will be taking place throughout the course of the show, with Wednesday’s International Low Carbon Racing Conference catching the eye. The conference will discuss how clean motor racing technologies are advancing and will see the unveiling of the new Lola-Drayson B12/69EV all-electric prototype racing car.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) starts today at the Cobo Centre in Detroit, Michigan. Visitors can expect to see several vehicle premieres, including the new Bentley Continental GT and Volvo’s concept petrol plug-in hybrid, the XC60, which allows drivers to control how much power is derived from each engine at the touch of a button.  

From cars of the future to cars of the year and news that the Car of the Year 2012 award, judged by a panel of European motoring journalists, is set to release a shortlist of seven nominees today, which will be reduced to a single winner on March 5, 2012. Those in the running at this stage include the likes of the BMW 1 series and the Mercedes SLK.

Furthermore, What Car? magazine is announcing its reader’s car of the year award on Wednesday, a title that was claimed last year by the Audi A1.

From the motorway to the runway and news that BAA is set to announce their stats for the Christmas getaway period today. The results are unlikely to be on a par with those from Christmas 2010, when the travel disruption caused as a result of the snow and ice was far more obvious.

However, it wasn’t all plane sailing, as several transport services were affected towards the back end of the Christmas period due to the storms that the UK experienced last week. My own flight from the Isle of Man to London City Airport had to divert to Luton Airport after two failed landing attempts at London City due to the severe gales.

Finally, the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) is teaming up with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) to provide an insight into manufacturing support and future opportunities in the region.

The interactive event will be held at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce on Friday and will feature presentations from key figures from LEP and MAS, in addition to a host of local companies who have already benefited from tapping into expert strategic advice and guidance.