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Capacity unbecoming

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Publicity about ‘capacity released‘ on the West Coast Main Line ‘becoming available for freight’ is misleading, according to Professor Tony May and Jonathan Tyler.

[HS2 and the railway network : the case for a review, Tony May and Jonathan Tyler, with contributions from Richard Allsop, James Croll and Stephen Plowden, 2016]

[It] should be noted that publicity about capacity released on the West Coast Main Line [WCML] becoming available for freight is misleading. Many of the constraints on freight paths will remain, especially north of Preston, and maintaining good passenger services for places like Stoke-on-Trent and Coventry while simultaneously satisfying the outer-London commuter demand would in practice mean no increase in paths for freight south of Rugby.

Professor Tony May discussed HS2 on the ITV Tonight show, November 2016

Professor Tony May discussed HS2 on the ITV Tonight show, November 2016

On ITV’s Tonight show about high speed rail, broadcast last month, Professor May recounted some of his doubts about HS2, noting that alternatives had not been properly investigated.

[From ‘HS2 and the railway network : the case for a review‘, Tony May and Jonathan Tyler, with contributions from Richard Allsop, James Croll and Stephen Plowden, 2016]

Significant improvements to capacity could be achieved at a much lower cost and much more rapidly.
[…]
In the case for HS2 it is assumed that additional capacity is needed, particularly on the main routes north of London. However, Euston, King’s Cross and Marylebone are the three least crowded of all London termini, with a load factor on Virgin West Coast of less than 40%.

The need for additional capacity is thus based on predictions that passenger demand will continue to grow at rates similar to the recent past. Easing price restrictions would spread the load since Virgin’s most crowded trains are outside the peak. Increasing the proportion of standard-class seats and using 12 car trains could increase capacity by approximately 25%.

HS2 would undoubtedly add to capacity, but two tracks with limited provision for passing are not a resilient way of doing so. HS2 Ltd bases its prospectus on operating up to 18 trains/hour each way when the scheme is complete. This is four more than any other high-speed line has achieved, and given that it involves both “captive” trains and “classic-compatible” stock which will run from and to the existing rail network it assumes a degree of signalling sophistication and operational discipline that may be difficult to achieve.

Written by beleben

December 1, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Carry on enjoying

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HS2's David HigginsBirmingham and the wider West Midlands region are “already enjoying the benefits of HS2“, and Stafford will have an “integrated high speed station” used by a community far wider than the county town, according to an article supposedly written by HS2 chairman David Higgins.

[‘HS2 will open up more than a high speed line’ says the boss heading multi-billion pound project, ‘David Higgins writes’, Express and Star, 31 Oct 2016]

Stafford’s integrated high speed station will be used by a community far wider than the county town, opening up services [to London] to hundreds of thousands of people and businesses to the north, west and south including Staffordshire and the Black Country.

It will also enable people to access faster and direct services to London – providing a much-needed boost to transport links [to London].

[…] Stafford Borough Council is commissioning a strategic vision and deliverable ‘route map’ and investment programme for Stafford station and surrounding areas, where the arrival of HS2 trains is expected to have the most transformative impact.

 
Surely, train services to London are already “opened up” – to anyone who can reach the existing Stafford railway station, and who can afford the fare. What is the difference between Stafford’s current station, and David Higgins’ “integrated high speed station”? So far as can be ascertained, they are one and the same thing.

[‘HS2 will open up more than a high speed line’ says the boss heading multi-billion pound project, ‘David Higgins writes’, Express and Star, 31 Oct 2016]

[…] Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region are already enjoying the benefits of HS2.

Through the largest devolution deal to date, the West Midlands Combined Authority has been given responsibility for an investment package worth more than £4bn to deliver the Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy with the potential to add £14bn to the economy and create and support 100,000 jobs.

So, carry on ‘enjoying’ four-hour waits in accident and emergency, carry on enjoying 3-foot potholes, carry on enjoying library closures, and carry on enjoying the results of the government’s spending choices on HS2, and the ‘Midlands Engine’.

Written by beleben

November 30, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with

HS2 ‘released capacity’ claims are mostly bunkum

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West Coast Main Line Coventry corridor (photo: Beleben archive)

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has claimed that by “providing new routes for intercity services, HS2 will free-up space on our existing railways for new commuter, regional and freight services”.

But the available evidence suggests that

  • HS2 would create new passenger capacity – on its own track – between a handful of cities, but most of that capacity would go unused
  • HS2 would release very little capacity on the existing railway
  • there are far more cost-effective ways to increase freight and passenger capacity.

Consider, for example, the existing railway between Birmingham New Street, Hampton-in-Arden, and Coventry. The December 2009 HS2 London – West Midlands technical appendix stated that “the Coventry Corridor [the railway between Birmingham and Coventry] is constrained by being only 2-track, and having a number of intermediate stations. Removing some of the fastest services from this route enables a better use of overall capacity to be made, particularly benefitting the local passengers.”

[Proposal from the London – West Midlands technical appendix, HS2 Ltd, 2009]

[4.3] Services on the Coventry Corridor are re-cast into a more-logical pattern, with Birmingham International and Coventry both being used as turn-back locations. (The current timetable is reliant upon a skip-stop pattern on a number of different services in order to minimize the capacity usage whilst serving the required locations at the desired frequencies. This results in a sub-optimal service pattern for local customers).

The Department for Transport has proposed reducing the existing 3-trains-per-hour New Street to London Euston intercity service to 2 trains per hour, to ‘free up regional capacity’. But those trains serve both Birmingham International (the airport station) and Coventry, and as such, provide a ‘regional service’ in the West Midlands county. (In the same way, Euston to Manchester intercity trains make stops on the Manchester approach, thereby functioning as a ‘regional service’.)

On page 61 of the June 2016 draft West Midlands and Chiltern route study, Network Rail provided a ‘Potential post HS2 service structure on [the] Coventry corridor’, based on

  1. running 2 intercity trains per hour between New Street and Euston, with
  2. four tracking between Stechford and Birmingham International.

This showed that even with HS2, plus four-tracking at a cost of “£175 – 375 million”, the Birmingham to Coventry timetable would still rely on a skip-stop pattern, and still provide a ‘sub-optimal service for local customers’.

If 1 intercity West Coast service per hour between Coventry and Birmingham were reduced by 1 regional train, what would be the actual gain?

If 1 intercity West Coast service per hour between Coventry and Birmingham were reduced by 1 regional train, what would be the actual gain?

On page 38 of the draft study, Network Rail showed an ‘unconstrained’ year-2043 service of three intercity trains per hour between New Street and Euston. Which of course, is the year-2016 frequency.

Written by beleben

November 22, 2016 at 11:39 am

Posted in HS2

Tagged with

Take pride in snooping

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An extraordinary document was published by HS2 Ltd detailing how they would access and “process personal data” including details of individuals’ sexual orientation, trade union affiliation, criminal record as well as information about their physical and mental health, the Sunday Express reported.

[Rail bosses wanted to spy on sex lives of people who opposed controversial route, Caroline Wheeler, Sunday Express, 20 November 2016]

As part of the company’s Privacy Notice, HS2 said it could collect this information on a number of people, including staff and suppliers but also complainants and litigants, which would include those claiming compensation or objecting to the scheme.
[…]
HS2 did not give any indication why it wanted to collect such information, however in the document itself it said one reason was to help create a sense of “pride” in the scheme.
[…]
Hours after the Sunday Express contacted HS2 raising concerns about the policy, the document was withdrawn with “immediate effect”.

[…] The document was withdrawn from the Government website where it had been freely accessible.

A spokesman for HS2 said: “We have withdrawn the Privacy Notice with immediate effect. It does not reflect how we handle information.

HS2 privacy notice page on gov.uk, after the privacy notice had been removed

HS2 privacy notice page on gov.uk, after the privacy notice had been removed

Written by beleben

November 20, 2016 at 11:03 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

Jones crusher

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Cheshire East council's then-leader Michael Jones with The Waterman in 2014

In November 2015, at the close of the epic battle of Cheshire versus Staffordshire for the ‘prize’ of the north Midlands HS2 ‘hub’, the Waterman vanquished the Maglevman, and Cheshire East council did rejoice.

[Cheshire East council, November 30, 2015]

Cheshire East Council has hailed today’s historic announcement that the Government is committed to building HS2 high-speed rail via Crewe and will invest £5bn to help bring the project online six years early.

Chancellor George Osborne, MP for Tatton, made the landmark statement confirming the finalised route the HS2 project will take. It also confirmed that the northern section to Crewe would be completed by 2027 rather than 2033.

Cheshire East Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones hailed the announcement as a ‘game-changer’ that makes it certain that Crewe will get a HS2 hub station – helping create more than 120,000 jobs by 2040 and injecting £10bn a year into the wider region’s economy.

But how much of a prize was it, really? What does the ‘Crewe HS2 hub’ actually amount to? How much ‘game changing’ might come of it? And which cities could be reached directly by HS2 from the ‘Crewe hub’?

According to the government’s updated economic case for phase 2, the ‘HS2 hub’ looks likely to be not much more than some revamp of the existing station. It would be unable to accommodate captive high speed trains, and if the ‘service pattern for modelling purposes’ is anything to go by, just two HS2 trains would call each hour, in each direction.

The cities directly served would be

1. London
2. Liverpool
3. Preston (yes, Preston is officially a city)
4. Er, that’s it.

So, HS2 ‘hub’, or ‘just a nub’?

Network Rail diagram claiming that a Basford hub station is feasible

Network Rail diagram claiming that a Basford hub station is feasible

Written by beleben

November 18, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Politics

Visit mum in Leeds

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The various ‘modelled train service specifications’ produced for HS2 have always been good for a laugh. In the latest version, the exposure of HS2 to unreliability from the legacy railway is increased further.

As can be seen from the extract below, Birmingham to Leeds HS2 services would use legacy track for some or all of the Yorkshire part of the journey, and stop en route at Sheffield Midland station. For some reason, those services are shown as being ‘Captive HS2 trains’.

HS2 eastern leg 'Modelled train service specification (M18 loop)', November 2016

HS2 eastern leg ‘Modelled train service specification (M18 loop)’, November 2016

By the look of the ‘service specification’, someone high up in Birmingham Airport needs to visit his mum in Leeds. But there are no bigwig family ties with Newcastle upon Tyne, or York, it seems.

Written by beleben

November 18, 2016 at 11:44 am

Bickenhill beetroot

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In the November 2016 HS2 train service specification ‘for modelling purposes’, the Bickenhill parkway (‘Birmingham Interchange’) station is shown as having a total of just 5 trains calling each hour in each direction.

Presumably, between London and Birmingham, there would be an awkward 20 – 20 – 40 minute interval between trains.

DfT, HS2 phase 2b, modelled train service specification, M18 route, Nov 2016

Just one train to / from the eastern leg would call at Bickenhill gare des betteraves.

What a shocking waste of £65 billion, this project is.

Written by beleben

November 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2