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Main line electrification binned by Chris Grayling to pay for HS2

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It was only a matter of time.

'Thanks to  new bi-mode technology disruptive electrification works between Cardiff and Swansea, Kettering, Nottingham and Sheffield, and between Windermere and Oxenholme, will no longer be needed' - Department for Transport, 20 July 2017

Midland Main Line electrification between Kettering and Sheffield was cancelled by transport secretary Chris Grayling MP on 20 July 2017

Midland Main Line electrification between Kettering and Sheffield was cancelled by transport secretary Chris Grayling MP on 20 July 2017

Written by beleben

July 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Posted in HS2, Politics

Just a block of grey

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On 17 July 2017, the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP announced his decisions on refinements to the route proposed for HS2 phase two, and a number of documents were published on the HS2 website.

In line with HS2 tradition, the new documents embody doublespeak, sophistry, and incomprehensibility. Consider, for example, what Figure 7 from the “Phase 2 Strategic Case” appears to say. On first glance, this shows that “with HS2 phase 2”, from London to Peterborough the number of seats in the PM High Peak Hour (1700 – 1759) could ‘rise to 11,090’, compared to 5,630 in December 2016.


But on closer inspection, 4,400 of those seats would not be available to Peterborough at all. The number of intercity seats would actually fall by 760.

Of course, capacity on the East Coast Main Line could be increased vastly, without building HS2, for example, by closing Welwyn North station in the peak hours. Another option would be to use the money currently earmarked for HS2’s boondoggle Piccadilly tunnel, to four-track the Welwyn ‘bottleneck‘.

Figure 8 is captioned “Seating capacity from Leeds in Scenario 5”, but the graph itself is labelled “Manchester Piccadilly – PM High Peak Hour” (?)


Another document, titled “Economic case advice”, purports to present the analysis of the costs and benefits of a “Crewe hub”. But where the capital costs (item 7) should be, there is just a block of grey.

Written by beleben

July 19, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

On diesel or electric

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According to a BBC story about the uncertainty of railway electrification between Swansea and Cardiff, Network Rail expects to accommodate a 110%+ increase in demand for rail travel between South Wales and London, on the existing line.

Network Rail, forecast growth in Wales to London passenger demand

So why does the government claim that the “£55.7 billion” HS2 railway is needed to meet increased demand from Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds?

[Cardiff to Swansea rail electrification commitment urged, Brian Meechan, BBC, 18 July 2017]

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns on Monday took a look inside the new hybrid trains which will start operating on the Great Western service this autumn.
Mr Cairns would not be drawn on further electrification west of Cardiff but said the new [IEP] trains would bring benefits to Swansea passengers sooner than envisaged.

“Passengers won’t know if they’re running on diesel or electric,” he said.

How won’t they know? The IEP trains have diesel engines underneath the carriages. Has MTU invented a noise- and vibration-free diesel engine?

Written by beleben

July 19, 2017 at 11:30 am

Posted in Politics, Railways

Ellie versus the Elephant

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twitter, @elliegoulding, 'HS2 is a most ridiculous idea'

According to recording artist Ellie Goulding, the HS2 railway would shave virtually nothing off commuting time.

Which, of course, is absolutely correct. The vast majority of commuting into London Euston is from Milton Keynes, and points south thereof. Building HS2 would not make a Hemel commuter train go even one mile per hour faster.

Mass commuting from Manchester or Birmingham to London is not practical or affordable, with or without HS2.


Written by beleben

July 18, 2017 at 10:52 am

Posted in HS2

Capex per HS2 seat

with 2 comments

Each and every HS2 train seat would come at a cost of at least £600,000 to public funds

Suppose HS2 phase one cost £20 billion (prolly an underestimate), including its fleet of 60 trains seating 528 people each.

One could then say that

1. the maximum capacity at any one time is only 30,000 or so (standing passengers are generally not allowed on high speed rail systems)

2. the ‘system cost per seat’ is ( £20,000,000,000 / (60 * 528) ) = ~£631,000.

Obviously, this does not include the operating costs chargeable to each seat.

Each HS2 train seat would come at a cost to public funds of more than £600,000

Written by beleben

July 17, 2017 at 9:02 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Adonis released capacity delusion

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HS2 released capacity “transforms commuter services into Euston, Birmingham, Manchester & Leeds, and [offers] more capacity for railfreight”, according to HS2 ‘grandaddy’ Andrew Adonis.

twitter, @Andrew_Adonis, 'Released capacity transforms commuter services into Euston, Birmingham, Manchester & Leeds, and more capacity for railfreight'

As the Beleben blog has pointed out on several occasions, HS2 ‘released capacity’ claims are mostly bunkum.

‘Multimodal’ railfreight from the southern West Coast Main Line generally ends taking – not ‘releasing’ – capacity on London Overground tracks like the North London Line.

HS2 would reduce the number of classic intercity trains between Birmingham New Street and Euston from three per hour, to two. The idea that this would ‘transform’ commuter capacity between Birmingham and Coventry, is laughable.

If there really were a need to ‘transform’ commuter capacity between Birmingham and Coventry, this could be done just by lengthening platforms to take 12-car (instead of the current 4-car) trains.

Spot the 'transformative' released capacity

Written by beleben

July 17, 2017 at 11:53 am

The cost of HS2 jobs

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Two thousand apprenticeships are to be created from the £6.6 billion worth of ‘line of route’ construction contracts for HS2 Phase One announced today (17 July 2017).

But how many jobs are to be created from Phase One construction?

All the press release says is that “16,000 jobs will be supported over the next six years”.

So, ~£68,000 per ‘supported’ job-year.

And how many of the ‘jobs’ would go to UK nationals?

gov_uk press release, 'First big HS2 contracts to build Britain's new railway will support 16000 jobs'

Written by beleben

July 17, 2017 at 10:42 am

Posted in HS2, Politics