HS2 “should create 33,000 apprenticeships”, according to Labour party leader Ed Miliband.
Ed Miliband’s article for The Sun
['HS2 should create 33,000 apprenticeships' - Ed Miliband, 31 Jan 2013]
“In the new £33 billion high speed rail project linking major cities, we have a massive opportunity.
“Experts say for every £1 million spent on this type of project, there should be at least one apprenticeship created.
I don’t know who Mr Miliband’s “experts” are, or where they get their figures from. A random number generator, most likely.
To get a realistic number, one can look at another rail project similar in size to the £17 to £20 billion HS2 phase one. The Crossrail 1 scheme is expected to cost £15 to £16 billion, and provide “at least” 400 apprenticeships. So one might expect perhaps 800 apprentice positions from the Y network, assuming that firms chose to train additional staff, rather than re-use staff trained for phase one.
In its ‘Responses to Transport Select Committee Questions’ HS2 Ltd stated
The London and South East Route Utilisation Strategy, July 2011 (Chapter 4, Table 4.1), notes that Euston currently operates less [sic] trains per hour in the peak than other London main line termini which have a similar mix of long distance and commuter services. This reflects extended platform occupation for some services. For example, the Highland Sleeper arrives before the critical peak but the empty stock remains occupying a platform until 0926 at present.
At the time of writing, there are nineteen C2C trains into Fenchurch Street in the 0800 – 0900 peak on Monday to Friday, compared with just eleven London Midland services into Euston. So ‘capacity shortages’ on the West Coast Main Line are largely a reflection of the fact that the Euston assets are inefficiently managed.
North West London rail connectivity would be improved if the Croxley rail link, and a Crossrail 1 connection into the West Coast Main Line (WCML), were implemented. Following the creation of a WCML link and relocation of the Anglo-Scottish sleeper, Euston could be remodelled with fewer but longer platforms.
There may be a case for
- reinstating WCML platforms at Willesden Junction to allow interchange with the North London Line
- having services on the Relief lines between Watford and Euston stop only at Willesden Junction. To compensate, frequency on the ‘Euston dc’ and Chiltern Marylebone lines could be stepped up.
West Coast Main Line services through the West Midlands would halve if the HS2 scheme went ahead, believes Tony Collins, chief executive of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains.
['HS2 will slash train services in Black Country and Staffs, warns boss', Express and Star, May 18, 2013 11:00 am] [...]
Mr Collins, who lives in Sedgley and runs the multi-billion pound West Coast line, has hit out at the design of the planned £33 billion HS2 scheme. He also voiced doubts that the controversial project will ever be built.
It comes after the National Audit Office also said it was unclear how the new train line would delivereconomic growth and suggested there was a £3.3 billion funding gap.
Mr Collins said: “We need the extra capacity on the rail lines. Unfortunately the way that HS2 is being done is an engineering solution looking for a problem.
“If it carries on it won’t properly integrate with the railway system.”
Despite criticism from the National Audit Office, the Department for Transport is ‘kicking on with the development of plans for the High Speed 2 rail scheme’, the Construction Index reported.
Alongside the draft [Environmental Statement], the DfT has published a series of design refinements for the HS2 route between London and the West Midlands, for further consultation.
Environmental mitigation measures set out include using technology to cut the noise of the trains, such as by eliminating the gaps between train carriages to boost their aerodynamic efficiency.
Drawing on Japanese expertise, HS2 trains could also be fitted with wheel farings [sic], like on a Citroen DS car, to cut the noise made by the wheels on rails – the biggest source of noise on any electrified railway.
Around 70% of the line’s surface sections between London and the West Midlands will be insulated by cuttings, landscaping and fencing, helping it to harmonise with the landscape.
Earth removed for track laying could be used beside it as noise-absorbing bunds, cutting the amount of earth that has to be transported and therefore reducing the number of tipper truck journeys which create congestion, disruption and pollution.
There is nothing new or ‘Japanese technology’ about wheel fairings and suchlike; the Great Western Railway used them in the 1930s. And the claim that ‘noise made by the wheels on rails is the biggest source of noise on any electrified railway’ is also incorrect. At the speeds planned for HS2, aerodynamic noise would be the largest source. Unfortunately, the effects of wheel-level fairings would be minimal.
The claim about “cuttings” and noise is also misleading. A cutting is defined by HS2 Ltd as “where the depth of excavation from existing ground down to rail level is more than 1 metre”. But high speed trains create noise up to, and over, four metres from the ground, with pantograph noise being particularly impactful at speeds above 300 km/h.
BBC radio’s You and Yours discussion with Arup’s Richard Greer gave the impression that the noise control would largely consist of nothing more than wooden fences. So much for ‘hi-tech noise reduction’. In reality, the best way to keep the noise down from 200 mph trains, is the same way as to keep electricity consumption and carbon emissions down — namely, don’t run them at 200 mph.
The point, for them, is not so much whether the benefits outweigh the costs – every government department and local council in the land could give you a list of projects that pass that test. The point is whether this is really the best one to be going ahead with, at a time when public capital spending generally is being cut.
Henry Overman, an LSE economist who has advised the Department of Transport on some of these issues, has written a useful summary of all this. It was written before the Department revised its case but the basic arguments still seem relevant.
At the time of the Eddington Review in 2006, he says the benefit-cost ratio for HS2 put it in the bottom fifth of investment projects that the Department for Transport had on its books. (And that is when the benefits of the first part of the project were said to be much higher than they are now).
That may all be true, supporters of HS2 would say, but what these narrow calculations are forgetting are the broader economic and social benefits that would come from this project, precisely because it is so big. It will so change the economic shape of the country – who knows what the ultimate results will be?
Who knows, indeed. Economists are not very good at capturing the broader dynamic benefits which might eventually stem from a project like this one. It’s tricky to put a monetary value on the increase in national self-esteem that might come from the knowledge that we now have shiny fast trains too.
Many of the opponents of HS2 support infrastructure spending, rail investment, and domestic industrial reinvigoration. But the HS2 project is fundamentally flawed. The origin of the flaws can be traced to its design straitjacket, secrecy, and silo gestation.
['Now we know HS2's a fiasco. But can George Osborne admit it?' Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, 16 May 2013]
[...] Lord Adonis, once HS2′s most fanatical champion, faced such scepticism that he set up a private company, HS2 Ltd, to push the project “offshore” from Whitehall. He spent hundreds of millions on consultancy fees to lobby his own government. Assessors came in from firms such as Capita-Symonds, Ineco, Arup and CH2M Hill, who were less likely than Whitehall to bite the hand that fed them.
The truth is that when these schemes acquire offices, designers, subcontractors, PR consultants and political backing, no one wants to hear of doubts. They are the nearest the public sector gets to sex appeal. They suffer no prior audit and claim no return beyond political glory. Any rubbish will do to sustain them. Cameron will doubtless be claiming that HS2, like the Olympics, will “deliver £13 billion for British exports”. There is no such purchase in merely upgrading the old west coast main line. A politicians never eats a sandwich when offered a banquet.
Certainly, the leaders of Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester have welcomed HS2. For them it is either £1,000 a head from every taxpayer in Britain or nothing. They would be mad to refuse. The people of the Midlands and north were never asked what else they might do with such an enormous sum. If it were their money they would not touch it with a bargepole. No one offered them a Birmingham subway, a high-speed Manchester-Sheffield link or a Nottingham-Derby-Stoke motorway. No one did a rate of return on extending the M65 down the congested Aire valley in Yorkshire. To Westminster such projects are for peasants: they come nowhere near London.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin ‘does not accept the National Audit Office’s core conclusion on HS2′, the BBC reported.
The [NAO] report depended “too much on out of date analysis and does not give due weight to the good progress that has been made since last year,” he said.
“The case for HS2 is clear. Without it the key rail routes connecting London, the Midlands and the North will be overwhelmed.”
Mr McLoughlin added: “We are not building HS2 simply because the computer says ‘yes’. We are building it because it is the right thing to do to make Britain a stronger and more prosperous place.”
NAO didn’t attempt to evaluate capacity utilisation or potential of the rail network connecting London, the Midlands and the North. But the report did say that
The Department’s business case states that passenger demand is forecast to grow on the three main north-south rail lines – the East Coast, West Coast and Midlands Main Lines. It lacks detail on the expected capacity shortages on all three lines and why an increase is needed first on the West Coast Main Line.
NAO’s Figure 4 (below) did provide a limited point estimate of long distance high speed (Virgin) and outer suburban (‘Outburb’, London Midland) demand at Euston in the morning high peak hour in the years 2011, 2026, and 2033.
Exactly how the numbers were determined, isn’t clear, but they seem to be based on current (i.e., suboptimal) train and track capacities.
The use of ‘standard-class-only’ in NAO’s assessment is also puzzling (because declassifying surplus first class is an obvious way to boost capacity). Seating configurations can be changed, but an 11 x 24.5 metre Virgin Pendolino currently has 444 second class seats. A three-unit 4 x 20 metre LM Class 350 consist would have 48 first and 792 standard seats (according to Angel Trains).
5,100 Long Distance High Speed (Virgin ICWC) passengers in 2033, is the second class seating equivalent of 11.48 current Pendolinos. And 12,800 London Midland Outburb passengers is the second class seating equivalent of 16.16 current Class 350 ‘long trains’.
There are some other factors (some Outburb services run on the Fast lines that are primarily used for LDHS) but the size of year 2033 flows into / out of Euston used by NAO are not actually that large.
Twelve ICWC and four LM on the Fast, and sixteen LM on the Slow Lines, would appear to give a year 2033 standing count of zero. Or in the NAO’s terms, a percentage seat occupancy of 81 (instead of “194″). Sixteen trains an hour on a track is not a particularly ambitious target.
So there is no sign of a case for building new long distance HS2 trackage. And there are many, much cheaper, ways to boost capacity for regional destinations.
For example, on London Underground’s old sub-surface lines, a 30+ per cent capacity expansion is being provided, largely by resignalling.