HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins has said that the company’s new high speed line would not aim to take business away from the Midland Main Line, and would have a “tough time” competing with Derby Midland train station.
[Timesavings HS2 could bring to Derby travellers are revealed, Chris Mallett, Derby Telegraph, January 21, 2016]
[…] Buoyed by last year’s decision by the region’s councils to unify and get behind an HS2 station at Toton, Sir David Higgins was almost incredulous when asked if he expected any issues in the region when he visited Derby on Wednesday.
He said that achieving the quick link between Derby, Toton, and Nottingham would need some kind of “Metro” service – in this case meaning a light rail or tram service.
Sir David said: “I don’t think there’s any contentious issues here [in the East Midlands]. “We’ll be working with residents and business owners all along the route that are affected and to keep them informed about the compensation they are entitled to.”
Asked whether it wouldn’t be better to electrify the current tracks and increase lengths of platforms and trains to increase capacity Sir David said this had been tried.
He pointed to the revamp of the West Coast Mainline, where “£10 billion” of spending had brought only a 20% increase in the number of people the line could serve.
But according to the National Audit Office, Phase 3 of the West Coast Main Line modernisation
was undertaken to increase capacity by “80 per cent for long distance passenger trains”, and “60 – 70 per cent more freight paths“.
And if HS2 is not supposed to compete with classic rail, why does its January 2012 Updated appraisal of HS2 transport user benefits state that 65% of its passengers would be transfers from classic rail?
The Derby Telegraph article mentioned that Mr Higgins was ‘keen to highlight the reliability HS2 would bring in comparison to existing train routes’.
He said: “The West Coast Mainline is down for three months [after storm damage].
“There’s no form of traffic there now. So it’s all about reliability. You can go down on HS2 a morning trip and get back.”
He said the line would benefit from flood protection that leaves it susceptible to flooding that has only a 0.1% chance of happening in any given year.
What a load of old nonsense. West Coast Main Line trains to Glasgow were stopped by flooding in Cumbria, but not one yard of the £56 billion HS2 Y network track would be in that county.
Network Rail has apologised for building large new overlead line gantries in the Goring Gap without consulting nearby residents, the BBC reported.
[Network Rail apologises for Goring Gap gantries, BBC News, 15 January 2016]
[…] Goring resident Roy McMillan said: “There was no foreknowledge of the actual design Network Rail has used… it is heavily, heavily over-engineered.”
Roy McMillan, chair of South Stoke Parish Council, said there was an “absolute forest” of the new gantries “stretching over in the distance towards Didcot”.
He added: “They’re absolutely horrible… people see them the whole time, every day of their life”.
But Lucy Murfitt, from the Chiltern Conservation Board, said [a meeting between residents and Network Rail] at the village hall had been positive.
She added: “They’ve now conceded there’s a problem and they’re going to look at redesigning and removing them which is fantastic, and they’re going to involve us in it and consult the public.”
The Treasury would probably like you to believe that the government’s sale of Eurostar last year was a marvellous result for the taxpayer, wrote James Moore.
[The Government needs to work on its sums when selling off state assets, James Moore, The Independent, 20 January 2016]
[…] Last March it agreed to offload the state’s 40 per cent stake for £585m. A further £172m was brought in through the redemption of preference shares, netting £757m for the cash-strapped Exchequer.
But here’s the first problem: the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) believes that sum represents only a fraction of the taxpayer’s investment in the business and the high-speed rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel (known as HS1). The National Audit Office says UK taxpayers have spent £3bn on these services.
[…] That could only be considered a good return by people who’d put money into the banking industry before the financial crisis struck. Still feel good about the forthcoming high-speed rail link between London, Birmingham and the North (HS2)?
In August 2014 transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he had asked HS2 Limited to work closely with the Crossrail sponsors to look at extending Crossrail services to key destinations in Hertfordshire. “Not only would this be a huge boost to passengers and the local economy, it would also provide flexibility when building HS2 into Euston, making sure we create a lasting legacy for the station.”
So it was amusing to see Timothy Mould QC — representing the Department for Transport at the HS2 LWM Bill committee — rubbishing Mr McLoughlin’s claim that Crossrail Hertfordshire would “provide flexibility when building HS2 into Euston”.
[Uncorrected transcript, 30 November 2015: Mr Timothy Mould QC, Lead Counsel, Department for Transport; and Mr Colin Elliff, for Camden Civic Society]
MR MOULD QC (DfT): In order to construct Euston Station on your phased approach you require the west coast main line Crossrail link to be in operation, do you not? That is your diversion strategy.
MR ELLIFF: It would require that to be in operation while we have constructed maybe the first four platforms on the west side before founding my construction site.
MR MOULD QC (DfT): Our estimate is that it would take us up to 2026 to construct the west coast main line to Crossrail link.
In a “keynote speech” in Leeds on 1 June 2015, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin stated that, ‘building on the concept of High Speed 3 (HS3), the government would progress plans to transform east to west rail connectivity with high-speed services linking Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull, radically reducing travel times, increasing frequencies and improving the customer experience’.
But so far as can be established, Mr McLoughlin’s new “high-speed services” would only run at speeds achieved on a daily basis, on existing lines, since October 1976.
According to The Guardian’s article of 10 January 2012, Britain had just 71 miles [~114 km] of high speed railway, compared with Germany’s 803 miles [~1293 km].
However, most of Germany’s high speed rail mileage is made up of existing track that has been upgraded for higher speeds. The British “71 miles” figure referred only to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1). If the upgraded existing trackage in Britain were included, the situation would look quite different.
The problem with viewing HS1 as ‘high speed’ is that the entire western section is severely speed-restricted (and most of the trains using it — Class 395 — rarely exceed 200 km/h in service).
Oddly enough, the 2015 Northern Transport Strategy Autumn Report does not seem to mention “high speed”, or “HS3”.
|The Northern Powerhouse:
One Agenda, One Economy, One North
|The Northern Transport Strategy: Autumn Report
One agenda. One economy. One North.
According to the Department for Transport’s November 2015 Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2, commuter trains on the West Coast Main Line are less punctual than on other routes, partly because of the intensity of operation.
[Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case, Executive summary, DfT, 2015]
Recent London Midland punctuality was 83.2 per cent compared to 88.7 per cent for the wider London commuter network.
The claims that
- ‘London Midland commuter trains run on intensively used track, which makes for unreliable service’;
- ‘HS2 would reduce the intensity of use of the existing track, thereby making the remaining services more reliable’;
are not particularly convincing. Most Euston commuter trains do not run on the ‘intensively-used’ Fast lines; they use the Relief (‘Slow’) lines. In the peak, there are just eight London Midland trains per hour on the Slow lines, which is not particularly intensive.
Anyone who thinks ‘HS2 would allow a more punctual classic service by reducing the number of trains on the Relief lines’, might need to study the ‘before’ and ‘after’ service pattern in Professor Andrew McNaughton’s February 2015 presentation (below).
In March 2004, when transport secretary Alastair Darling opened line 1 of the NET tramway in Nottingham, he refused to endorse any extensions or new starts, saying that the government would not ‘pay more and more for less and less‘ (url appears correct, but the Beleben blog is apparently not an approved referrer).
Unfortunately, some of his successors have been all too willing to throw money into highly dubious light rail projects, such as Manchester Metrolink’s Airport line, and the Birmingham City Centre Extension (BCCE) of the Midland Metro.
After years of construction disruption, the first section of the BCCE — to Upper Bull Street — is now scheduled to open on 6 December. Opening of the rest of the track through to Stephenson Street has been postponed to early 2016.
Oddly enough, there are no active plans for tramways in central London, where they could plausibly offer transport benefits. Because of the time needed to reach Underground platforms, surface tram travel would be faster for many journeys in zones 1 and 2.