die belebende Bedenkung

Nottingham is ‘in the wrong place’

with 6 comments

Having the mastermind behind the Edinburgh trams fiasco as an ‘advisor’ on long distance rail planning, just begg-ars belief. Because, according to Biz4HS2 chief David Begg, Nottingham is “in the wrong place” for high speed rail services.

“when you get to the East Midlands you get this classic case of three population centres all competing with one another and the problem is that Nottingham is in the wrong place for the rail network.
“I’m an adviser to the HS2 on the route and I’ve sworn to secrecy, but the likelihood is that there will be a station serving Nottingham and Derby. But it’s difficult to find a station that will also serve Leicester. And that’s why the outcome of HS2 is not as attractive as it is for other cities.”

Begg believes that Nottingham’s connection to HS2 will be best served by extending the NET tram system to the new station.

Well I always thought that the idea behind railways was that they should to go to where cities actually are, but apparently, in Begg — McNaughton world, that’s an outmoded idea. It’s now much more important for trains to go in straight lines between beetroot fields in the ‘general vicinity’ of large conurbations. And rather than having the train come to you, you go out to the train.

This weird reconceptualisation of rail travel is not limited to the East Midlands. In the West Midlands, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Walsall, and West Bromwich are all of similar size to the East Midlands localities mentioned by Mr Begg — and they aren’t served by the Y network either.

If the NET tramway were extended to some field in Broxtowe — where the HS2 station were located — who would be paying for that? And as NET trams stop every few hundred yards, how long would it take to get from the beetroot field, into central Nottingham?

HS2 is not planned to run into central Sheffield, because that’s “in the wrong place” too. So I suppose Mr Begg would suggest having the Supertram extended to Sheffield Rhubarb Interchange out in the sticks. Again, people need to know how long the journey from Rhubarb to Sheffield by tram would take. And why isn’t the cost of Supertram extension to Rhubarb added to the Y network cost statement?


Written by beleben

March 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

6 Responses

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  1. What is important, I believe, is what I’ll call “journey measurement”; this is a mixture of total journey time and convenience.

    I live in south Derby; HS2 reports have suggested a station to serve the East Midlands in the Kegworth/East Midlands Airport/M1 junctions 23A/24/24A area, but local news media have suggested that a station in the Toton/M1 Junction 25 area is more likely. If I walk a few hundred yards from my home, I come to a road junction; if I turn right, there is a road sign which tells me I am 7 miles from the M1 (Junctions 23A/24/24A), and if I turn left there is a sign which tells me that I am also 7 miles from Junction 25. So I’ll be equidistant from wherever a HS2 station is built; and on a Sunday morning, with no traffic about, I’ll be able to drive to an HS2 station in about 12-15 minutes.

    But in the morning peak, there is no way I can guarantee being able to drive to either location in this time; I have seen all three lanes of the southbound A50 carriageway stationary between the M1 junctions and Junction 2 (the A6 Derby turn) at about 9.30am – ie., some time after the morning peak. Consequently, I would need to leave my home at least 30 minutes before the departure time of my train to be able to guarantee getting it.

    Contrast this with using Derby station.

    On one Sunday afternoon, I walked out of the front of Derby station just as a bus which would take me to my home was pulling in; very little traffic meant that I was unlocking my front door only ten minutes after my train had pulled into platform 1. This example was exceptional; but even in the rush hour, I can expect to get from local bus stop to the railway station in about 10-15 minutes; and there are 13 buses each hour (until about 7pm) to choose from.

    If I drive, I can be in the station car park in less than 10 minutes in poor traffic conditions; much better than the 30 I would require to an East Midlands station out in the middle of nowhere. And if East Midlands Parkway becomes the chosen location, I’m probably taking 45 minutes to drive to it from my home.

    I’ve tried to undertake a “HS2 and me” study; I’ve tried to remember as many journeys as possible that I have made over the last twenty years or so, determined the best way of making them now, and trying to identify what benefits – if any – HS2 will bring.

    The simple answer is very few; in fact, in most cases the journey would be worse using HS2 than at present. There might be some minor improvements in journey time, but the actual journey will be less convenient, for much to my surprise I’ve sound that journeys within London have very often been via the Piccadilly Line or east-bound along the Circle/etc; a Euston arrival is far less convenient.

    On longer journeys crossing London, I’ve found that the best way through to my ultimate destination is either via the South Eastern High Speed service or Thameslink from St Pancras; again, use of Euston adds a time penalty and also makes the journey less convenient.

    And if I look at journeys to and from the near Continent, I often used air for business trips to Paris or Brussels back in the late 1980s/early 1990s as rail via St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel wasn’t an option at that time; now, rail is a very real option, but if I had to take some form of people mover from St Pancras to Euston and then catch a high speed train to a station near either Junctions 23A/24/24A or 25, the appeal of rail suddenly goes. And don’t forget, if I was in rear vehicle of an in-bound Eurostar, I would have already walked nearly half a mile before I got on the people mover!

    So from a personal view, I get very few benefits from HS2; an electrified Midland Main Line would be far better from me – especially if tilting trains were to be introduced. London-Derby timings of less than 90 minutes are already on the cards, and further speed increases are possible which could reduce this further.

    Route upgrades shouldn’t be discarded just because that on the WCML was a failure; this was poorly planned and badly implemented, and reflects badly upon the organisational structure of our railways. I lived through the electrification programme of the 1960s, and never once got on a bus; what happened to the expertise we once had?

    But just because I get nothing out of HS2 should it be abandoned?

    I believe there is scope for building a relief to the southern part of the WCML, and a route through the Chilterns is the natural one for this. However, I believe the northern end should be north of Lichfield, perhaps ending in a ‘V’ with one line connecting to the Stoke line, the other to the WCML north of Stafford.

    As for the West Midlands, my preference would be for a connection to the Birmingham-Rugby line south of Coventry as the main connection; this wouldn’t relieve congestion between Coventry and New Street, but this capacity constraint needs to be grasped by four-tracking. The Belgians seem to be very good at this in urban areas; perhaps we should try and learn some lessons from them!

    As for the Birmingham spur, this should also be built; but it should be built for two purposes.

    Firstly, it should provide a path for, say, a single London-Birmingham non-stop each hour (perhaps more in the peak); and secondly, with a connection to the Birmingham-Derby line near Alrewas/Wynchnor Junction, it could provide a Tamworth by-pass for fast NE-SW services, thereby allowing an improved suburban service through a new Kingsbury station to Tamworth

    But for all of these to work, HS2 needs to be seen as part of the classic network and not as something independant; even the Spaniards have taken this approach, and they have the major problem of having a classic network with a different track gauge to the high speed one to contend with! Lets forget the idea of a fleet of captive trains for now, and go initially for a fleet of “Super Pendolinos” – tilting trains which can operate on the classic network at appropriate speeds, but can also run at very high speed on the relief WCML between Euston, the West Midlands, and the North West.

    And also, plans for the Birmingham end need to be revised; I believe the plan for an independent high speed station at Curzon Street is wrong, but I’m not sure what the best option is as so much has been committed to New Street. Could this just become a local/regional station, with Birmingham’s main station being somewhere in the Curzon Street area, having a station connected to Moor Street but also with platforms on the lines into New Street in the Proof House Junction area? Could this be used by Cross Country trains by them using Camp Hill and reversing? I just don’t know.

    And lets forget the eastern arm of HS2 completely; at a later date, there may be scope for HS3, but that is a long way off. In the meantime, an electrified Midland Main Line, perhaps with 11-car tilting trains and the extension of some services through to Leeds, should be seen as the better option (this would also provide some relieve to the ECML). And if some more platforms for MML services can be built at St Pancras (difficult, but not impossible by the purchasing back of some former railway owned land and the demolition of some social housing) there is considerable scope.

    David Faircloth

    March 23, 2012 at 11:27 am

  2. I do think you are bing unkind to Mssr Begg and McNaughton. It is quite simple. If Nottingham, Sheffield and other towns will not be served by HS2 then move them. It will create millions of new demolition and construction jobs. After all, destoying the north rather than regenerating it seems to be current Govt policy.


    Fran Heron

    March 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm

  3. Having great difficulty using the ‘confirm follow’ button on your second e-mai (as I did with the first but think this went through oK}. Is this because I don’t need to ‘confirm’ twice or is some hanky panky going on. Am I being fanciful like HS2 business case?

    Fran Heron

    March 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm

  4. […] of cities like Nottingham being “in the wrong place” confirm feelings that the civil servants and Railtrack retreads pushing HS2 are in a sort of […]

  5. […] is no station called ‘Nottingham’ on the Y network. It is not a HS2 […]

  6. […] St Pancras to Nottingham in their ‘East Midlands’ comparison. The problem is, HS2 is not planned to go to […]

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