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Archive for May 2012

Tram-train tribulations (part two)

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Passengers in South Yorkshire will be the first in the country to benefit from flexible Tram Trains that will make their journeys easier and more convenient, announced the Department for Transport yesterday (in somewhat garbled English).

Transport Minister Norman Baker gave the green light to a £58m pilot scheme to run revolutionary Tram Trains on both rail and tram networks, making them ideal for the eight mile non-stop journeys of no more than 25 minutes between, suburb and city centres from Sheffield to Rotherham.[sic]

As well as providing a boost to the regional economy thanks to improved connections across the region, the project is also expected to create 35 new jobs locally as well.

As part of the major works being undertaken to make the project a reality includes the electrification of a stretch of track between Sheffield and Rotherham and the construction of 400 metre line linking the tramway to the train tracks.[sic]
Notes to Editors

1. The Tram Train pilot is a partnership between the Department for Transport and Network Rail, Northern Rail Ltd, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and Stagecoach Supertram. SYPTE will lead on delivery of the pilot.

2. Seven vehicles are being bought for Tram Train and the additional Sheffield Supertram capacity announced in 2011. The total project is estimated to cost £58 million.

3. A procurement competition led by Northern in 2009-10 identified Vossloh as the lead bidder for the supply of the Tram Train vehicles. Because Northern’s franchise ends before the two year experimental period, the contract for the vehicles will be let by South Yorkshire PTE and the vehicles are expected to be operated by Stagecoach Supertram.

4. Tram Train will commence in 2015 and the pilot will run for two years with a view to permanent operation. Tickets will be fully integrated with Supertram.

5. The core objectives of the Tram Train pilot are to:

◦ Understand the changes to industry costs of operating a lighter weight vehicle with track brakes on the national rail network;

◦ Determine changes to technical standards required both to allow inter-running of lightweight tram vehicles with heavy rail passenger and freight traffic and to gain the maximum cost benefit from Tram Train operation;

◦ Gauge passenger perception and acceptability of Tram Train;

◦ Determine the practical and operational issues of extending Tram Trains from the national rail network to on-street running; and

◦ Understand the technical and operational challenges involved in this project so that the concept can potentially be rolled out elsewhere.

6. A Tram Train vehicle is based on a tram that has been enhanced to make it suitable for operation on the main line as a train as well as street running. Typically a tram train will have:

◦ Higher vehicle crashworthiness to allow for the higher average speed operations of it and other trains and to resist slow speed collisions with heavier trains;

◦ Enhancements to the signalling system to minimise the risk of a collision between trains and Tram Trains. This involves installing train protection and warning system (TPWS) at all signals, whereas TPWS is currently installed at junctions and sites with high levels of signal passed at danger (SPAD) incidents;

◦ Road Traffic Act compliant head lights and direction indicators for on-street operation and to meet rail main line lighting requirements for visibility;

◦ Additional main line signalling and communications equipment such as TPWS and the Global System for Mobile Communication – Railway (GSM-R);

◦ More seating than a tram for longer distance journeys;

◦ A wheel profile suitable for both tramway and standard main line track.

In part one I mentioned the plan to trial diesel trams on the Sheffield – Penistone – Huddersfield railway, which was abandoned on cost grounds. Tram-trains have been promoted as a low cost way of modernising rural railways and improving urban connectivity, but they are not particularly ‘low cost’, as the £58 million Rotherham scheme demonstrates.

Whether tram-trains are good value, depends on the circumstances. In the West Midlands, Centro’s proposed £300+ million Wednesbury – Brierley Hill – Stourbridge tram-train is not value for money, and does not make sense.

In Greater Manchester, tram-trains look more promising. They could enable a surface running version of the 1970s Picc-Vic scheme to be implemented, with Bolton and Stockport brought into the Metrolink system.

Replacement of the Merseyrail third-rail fleet is likely to be progressed in the next few years, and a tram-train design could be adapted to facilitate no-change access to Liverpool Airport and Skelmersdale.

In the East Midlands, tram-trains could allow travel direct from Nottingham’s Market Square all the way to East Midlands Airport, or Mansfield. However, Nottingham’s current trams are only 2.4 metres wide, and re-engineering of the existing NET trackage might be required to allow wider vehicles to circulate.

Written by beleben

May 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Are you being spun?

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Having struggled to originate much of its own content, transport authority Centro‘s Go HS2 website has largely relied on external ‘guest’ contributors, which is probably just as well. Another example of Centro’s public relations maladroitness cropped up a few days ago on BBC local radio, when presenter Adrian Goldberg slated their “gobbledegook” refusal to come on air to discuss Midland Metro.

Being too hot for Centro, the Beleben blog is banned from commenting on the Go HS2/Centro blogs and Twitter feeds, so I can’t comment directly on ‘Are You Being Served’. That’s not the 1970s sitcom, but the title of a Go HS2 blogpost warning of ‘difficult choices‘ if HS2 does not go ahead. Apparently, as a character in another 1970s sitcom used to say, “we are all doomed” without HS2. As “demand continues to soar on our railways, we will be forced to make increasingly difficult choices about which stations are served and which are not”.

Go HS2 cited recent changes in the Chiltern Railways timetable as evidence

There was more evidence of this problem this week in a news release from London TravelWatch which says it is alarmed by the new timetable introduced on the London – High Wycombe route last Sunday (May 13).
In this case London TravelWatch says stopping services to High Wycombe have been revised so that the level of service at some stations such as Northolt Park and Seer Green & Jordans will be reduced to just one train an hour.

Sharon Grant, London TravelWatch chair, said the new timetable had been put in place to improve reliability.

“It does so at the expense of those passengers who rely on the half hourly stopping service to High Wycombe. One overcrowded train an hour is really not acceptable,” she said.

This is happening across our network as train operators struggle to cope with the competing pressures for faster, more frequent, long distance services whilst at the same time striving to maintain local service frequencies on a mixed use railway network with limited capacity.

and rail scribe Nick Kingsley chimed in with

HS2′s opponents are quick to cite Chiltern as an HS2 ‘alternative’ yet here we have Chiltern Railways targeting city to city journeys by business people (even introducing ‘business zones’ on board, a pseudo first class). By achieving a 100 mile/h line speed AND BY ELIMINATING INTERMEDIATE STOPS, Chiltern Railways has been able to eat into Virgin’s share. BUT let nobody claim that this is the best use of capacity: it is the worst possible use actually, because different speeds and stopping patterns eat up the slots available on any section of the railway.

Recovering from its 1970s nadir, Chiltern has become a main line again, so I’m not sure where the crime is in offering city to city journeys to business people. Disparate speeds, stopping patterns, and acceleration are the norm on Britain’s railways, and in a perfect world, such disparities would not exist. However, in the real and imperfect world, mixed traffic is often the optimum in economic and environmental terms.

The Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL, or HS1) is a good example. There is a big difference between the characteristics of TGV373000, Class 395, and freight trains using it, which reduces its ‘capacity’. But this has no practical consequence, because the line is running well under theoretical capacity. In fact, the domestic Javelin services were devised to ‘mop up’ some of the unused CTRL capacity, and improve its bottom line. Train operator Southeastern’s track access charges are a significant help in meeting HS1 Ltd’s fixed costs.

The argument of high speed proponents is that HS2 would free up capacity on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) because

  1. express trains would transfer from WCML to HS2;
  2. this would free paths for more semi-fast/stopping services;
  3. and the WCML traffic mix would be more homogenous

but this is all very dubious. For example, unless the incumbent passenger operator(s) were ‘nobbled’ in some way, it’s likely that they would want to continue to run fast trains on WCML, competing against the high speed operator on HS2. In an un-nobbled market, they would have a strong operating cost advantage against the HS2 franchisee, and this would be particularly important for the leisure travel sector.

Even if all current long distance high speed services were forcibly routed onto HS2 (e.g. by means of an ‘Integrated West Coast’ franchise), mixed traffic would still be the order of the day. Freight trains travelling at 60 mph (100 km/h) are never going to run particularly well with semi-fast passenger workings at 90 mph (145 km/h) on the same busy tracks. So the best way of decongesting the West Coast Main Line is to reconfigure North – South traffic on a network basis — the principle used in Rail Package 6.

Written by beleben

May 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Great Britain, High speed rail, HS2

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HS2 and Staffordshire

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With his news release dated 14 May, Stafford’s Member of Parliament Jeremy Lefroy put forward the case for a North Staffordshire station on the Manchester leg of the HS2 Y network.

Following a meeting with transport secretary Justine Greening, Mr Lefroy said

“The Secretary of State listened with an open mind to the case for this stop. The Local Enterprise Partnerships and business community have been working hard on the economic case which will need to make the strongest possible case. It is important that the benefits of High Speed rail come to us here in Staffordshire and do not pass us by.”

Centro’s Go HS2 campaign has also backed a HS2 station in Staffordshire, alongside its attacks on the 51m Group’s Optimised Alternative. Centro seems particularly upset by the idea of building a Stafford by-pass for the existing West Coast Main Line.

Upgrades of existing track, or trains, are difficult territory for high speed protagonists, because their top-line message involves presenting upgrades as ‘inadequate’, ‘disruptive’, ‘poor value’, or ‘tried and failed’. Although it appears in the 51m package, the Stafford by-pass concept originated at Network Rail, and has its own existence away from HS2 controversies. Go HS2’s April 24 blogpost described the ‘Project 110’ upgrade for some London Midland Outer Suburban trains to run at 110 mph (177 km/h) as “innovative”. Which I suppose it is, for a company that runs trains just eight cars long, at times of maximum demand. But it should have been obvious ten years ago that procuring Desiro rolling stock, unable to keep up with 200+ km/h Pendolinos running on the same track, was a capacity blunder.

Go HS2, or rather Alan Marshall, went on to claim that

Rail Package 2 (RP2), from which the ‘Optimised Alternative’ has been developed, would provide some 9,700 seats, and 51m’s around 10,400.

But the difference with 51m’s proposal is largely accounted for by a proposed additional inter-city train that would require construction of the 14 mile-long Stafford by-pass line at a cost of £1.23 billion.

This line would be built through open countryside, from Colwich to Norton Bridge. When 51m question the economic case for HS2, how can they claim £1.23 bn is value for money for just one extra train per hour?

But the key issue now is that this extra capacity, broadly similar to that proposed in RP2 and by 51m, is already being added — because it is required, now, to cope with the present and continuing rising demand for passenger travel on the West Coast Main Line.

I am not a supporter of the 51m scheme, or the Stafford by-pass, but there’s no sense in opposing new build railway when or where it is beneficial. But HS2 is not necessary or beneficial. Nor is it value for money, even in the terms put forward by Mr Marshall himself, as he implied that incrementing West Coast capacity by one (hourly) path for £1.23 billion (the claim for the Stafford by-pass) is poor value. According to the government, the HS2 phase one scheme would provide 14 additional paths on the West Coast corridor, at a cost of £18 billion — which works out at £1.28 billion per path.

Whilst a new high speed rail station may bring some (limited) economic benefits to North Staffordshire, they are highly unlikely to be significant, based on the current skills of the local workforce and based on the existing range of businesses in the area. Not my words, but those of the Atkins company (a fervent supporter of new build high speed rail) in its discussion note for Staffordshire county council. Here are some extracts.

On frequency and capacity

Defining available capacity on any rail route is not straightforward, and is driven by complex interdependence between services with different speed profiles and stopping patterns, junction conflicts and platform availability, as well as the impact of timetabling constraints elsewhere on the network. Of relevance to routes through Staffordshire is the relatively limited capacity into Birmingham via Wolverhampton, which is predominantly two-track. This railway is shared by many different services, with approximately 8tph long distance (and a further 2tph stopping at local stations between Wolverhampton and Birmingham), including services from the West Midlands to Shropshire and West Wales, and 1tph from London Euston to Wolverhampton. In addition, there is limited capacity from Staffordshire into Manchester via Stockport and through Stafford. Schemes are in development for these two areas of constraint; the improvements at Stafford, including the Norton Bridge Junction upgrade and the Northern Hub schemes, respectively.

By moving non-stopping services off the WCML south of Lichfield, onto the new HS2 line, significant capacity is released on this section of the route, but net additional services would operate on the route north of Lichfield, where HS2 services will share the route with remaining residual ICWC, Cross-Country and London Midland stopping services. Hence no spare capacity will be released north of Lichfield as a result of Phase 1 of HS2, with additional HS2 services sharing the WCML and branches with classic services. Figure 2.4 shows the impact on network utilisation on the main WCML routes through Staffordshire.

We assume that some limited route enhancements [i.e. upgrades] would be required on top of the improvements earlier outlined for CP4 to achieve the higher levels of service on the WCML route, although exact details are not known at this time.
Figure 2.5 shows that the proposed HS2 Phase 2 timetable reduces overall service levels either at or below those operated at the moment, and significantly below those in the Phase 1 timetable.
As set out in public documents, the HS2 service pattern is focussed around serving the large point-to-point markets, with smaller markets continuing to be served on ICWC services. The notional service pattern for London-based ICWC services retains 5tph to or through Staffordshire, although the actual levels of service could be modified at any time to meet passenger demand
more effectively.

One concern might be that the financial and economic viability of the remaining ICWC services could be severely affected by the switch of the majority of passenger demand to high speed services, resulting in pressure to reduce service levels further in future years, whether or not guarantees of service level provisions are given at this stage.
It is important to note that there is unlikely to be any released capacity on the WCML route into Birmingham via Wolverhampton – this limits any use of capacity released by HS2 to operate more services from Staffordshire to Birmingham.

On a Staffordshire HS2 station

There is an increasing body of research into the non-transport impacts of HSR services, the findings of which have influenced this chapter. Having said this, the research clearly indicates that it is difficult to find well defined empirical and quantified evidence on the impacts of HSR.
Initial research into the impacts of the French TGV lines suggests that, generally, HSR services cannot be shown to have had a major impact on the net redistribution of economic activity between Paris and the provincial cities, or on the overall rate of growth of these cities.

The size of a city and its metropolitan area has been identified as a critical factor in how HSR service affects the development of that city. Large cities that act as regional centres seem to benefit far more from economic development related to HSR than smaller cities.

[…]it should be noted that there isn’t a simple direct correlation between travel time and commuting activity, with many other factors coming into play. For example, anecdotally, there are many parts of southern England (such as coastal destinations in Kent) with longer travel times to London yet higher commuting flows.
The presence of HSR is only a material consideration in a minority of cases of business location/relocation.

Some types of economic activity will be more likely to be influenced by HSR than others. Although there is still debate about which activities are most effected, research suggests the following are strongly attracted to relocate to areas with HSR services: information economy; retail; leisure and hotels, and those sectors indirectly benefitting from increased leisure travel; specialised service providers; and ‘land consuming industries’ (using travel time savings offset by lower land costs).
Greenfield sites for new HSR stations are not always successful. For example little or no development has occurred at two new green field stations outside towns of 25,000 – 35-000 population on the TGV Sud Est from Paris to Lyon. HSR service frequency and connections to economic activity centres are critical.

To be effective the high-speed rail station needs to become the focus of major redevelopment and regeneration activities, geared to the service economy.
An opposing argument says that improving access to employment opportunities elsewhere will draw the skilled workforce from existing local businesses. The Staffordshire Local Economic Assessment identifies that net out-commuting from the county is a major contributor to the output gap which sees GVA per head in the county as one of the lowest in the West Midlands. We do see commuting at present from Stoke-on-Trent to Manchester, anecdotally those drawn to higher paid jobs in central Manchester from a wide catchment.

Having said this, the benefits to commuters to Manchester or Birmingham may be limited should the HS2 station be located to the west/north-west of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme as its location would negate any potential journey time savings of HS2 services for those currently travelling to Stoke-on-Trent or Crewe stations on foot, cycle or by bus.
In 2001, of the 153,000 people working in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Crewe, less than 200 live in Birmingham or Manchester (districts). However, it is not necessarily this proximity to stations that is the prime factor in determining travel to work patterns. It is also likely to be governed by the nature of employment opportunities at the destination, and the skills
available to work at that destination.
There is an additional factor at work here in terms of the cost of living. Commuters are unlikely to choose to live in a relatively expensive location such as London, and commute to a location where house prices etc. are significantly lower, such as the urban areas of North Staffordshire.
Relatively recent research showed that the average commuting time in the West Midlands is 23 minutes whilst official data shows that some 80% of those travelling to work (67% of employees) commute is 30 minutes or less. Only 9% of travellers commute for more than 50 minutes, but tend to be those on the highest incomes.
Evidence from London and elsewhere suggests that, increased travel opportunity has led to an increase in distance travelled and a stabilisation of travel time, rather than a reduction in travel time and distance.
In terms of inward investment, again, faster rail services to Manchester, Birmingham and London may make North Staffordshire a more attractive location for investment. However, the question remains as to whether the quality of external connectivity, particularly by rail, is currently a barrier to that investment. For example, the recent DaSTS study stated that: “The evidence shows that the failure of the conurbation to attract inward investment and to grow as much as the UK as a whole does not appear to be linked to the poor connectivity of the conurbation with the rest of the UK”.

Meanwhile, the Staffordshire Local Economic Assessment concluded that: “Current infrastructure is not seen as a constraint to growth”.
Critically though, the findings of much of the local analysis cited in this chapter is that external connectivity is good and, therefore, new HSR services are unlikely to be the key to overcoming the area’s economic challenges (as opposed to internal connectivity). It is the low skills and lack of growth sectors which are constraining the area’s attractiveness as a business location, not external connectivity. Even if external connectivity were an issue, research suggests that, whilst HSR can act as a catalyst for economic rejuvenation which is already underway, it is unlikely to kick-start it. Indeed, the North Staffordshire Connectivity Study noted that there is relatively little economic interaction with the Greater Manchester, West Midlands or London conurbations despite the relatively good road and rail connections.

The findings of much of the local analysis (including Staffordshire’s Local Economic Assessment) cited in this discussion note is that external connectivity is already good and, therefore, new HSR services are unlikely to be the key to overcoming the area’s economic challenges. It is the low skills and lack of growth sectors which are constraining the area’s attractiveness as a business location, not external connectivity. There is a real possibility that HS2 will result in the loss of two trains per hour on the classic network at Stoke-on-Trent, which would erode this good external connectivity.

Obviously, these observations have relevance for many other places in the English regions, such as Nottinghamshire, and South Yorkshire.

Written by beleben

May 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Marshall moonshine

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High speed rail travel at 400 km/h requires 3.2 times as much energy as 200 km/h (Systra for Greengauge21)

Like Siemens’ ICE3, the Alstom AGV is a ‘distributed traction’ high speed train (in which traction motors are dispersed beneath the carriages, instead of having power cars at each end of the trainset). The 200-metre long AGV11 variant was used by HS2 Ltd as its ‘Reference train’ in the development of its proposed Y network between London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester. And according to Railnews writer Alan Marshall

the AGV uses no more energy (nor generates any more carbon dioxide) per seat at 300km/h (186 mph) than a Virgin tilting Pendolino (based on an earlier Alstom design) running at only 200km/h (125 mph) on Britain’s West Coast Main Line.

Mr Marshall claimed that the ‘AGV’s ‘green credentials’ were disclosed in an analysis in an April 2009 ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) report by Richard Davies and Leigh Thompson.

ATOC undertook the analysis of carbon dioxide (CO2) impacts of High Speed Rail for Greengauge 21, the not-for-profit organisation established in 2006 to research and develop the concept of a High Speed Rail network.
The report also makes clear that rail’s ability to improve its carbon footprint by carrying more passengers with the same energy consumption is constrained by Britain’s restricted structure gauge and the inability of the infrastructure to permit operation of very long trains — whereas a new line will enable longer trains with duplex accommodation, so the energy demand per seat kilometre can be kept very low.

“A double-deck, double-unit TGV Duplex train, for example, offers 1,090 seats in twenty vehicles compared to the 439 seats that the nine-cars of a Pendolino can offer — a significant capacity advantage that would remain even after most of these have been extended to 11 cars,” said Davies and Thompson, who added: “The trains used are also typically longer, so that the aerodynamic drag of the front end of the train (which is a significant energy cost at high speed) is spread over perhaps 16 to 18 carriages rather than the UK norm of eight to 10 carriages.”

A new AGV operating at 300km/h will consume 0.033 kWh of electricity per seat kilometre, they say. The AGV’s construction and distributed power system along the train means the total mass per seat is just 0.78 tonnes. By comparison, a Virgin Pendolino on the WCML has a mass per seat of 1.055 tonnes — 35 per cent greater than an AGV — so at only 200km/h (125mph) its energy consumption is the same as the AGV going 50 per cent faster.

A Eurostar — a TGV scaled down to fit within the UK structure gauge — has a mass of 0.96 tonnes per seat and an energy consumption of 0.041 kWh per seat/km.

What useful conclusions can be drawn from the ATOC ‘research’? The answer seems to be: none whatsoever. Comparing the energy per seat of a 9-car Pendolino at 200 km/h and a HS2 Reference train (AGV) at 300 km/h is not informative. HS2 is planned as a 400 km/h railway, with trains running, from the very start, at 330 km/h or more. Hyping AGV ‘reduced train mass’ is not going to be particularly helpful at 300 km/h or above, because at those speeds, aerodynamic drag is the major factor in train energy consumption, and energy required rises steeply (approximately as the square of the speed). A less misleading energy per seat calculation would be: 11-car Pendolino at 200 km/h, versus AGV11 at 330 or 350 km/h.

Neither the cruise speed nor the maximum speed of trains on the Y network is planned as 300 km/h, and the energy per seat calculations favoured by ATOC obviously take no account of load factor. The primary statistic for comparison should be energy per passenger-kilometre, not energy per seat-kilometre.

Spreading the aerodynamic drag of the front end of the train “over perhaps 16 to 18 carriages rather than the UK norm of eight to 10 carriages” is never going to be of much use, if most of the carriages are empty. When the 18-car Eurostar service between London, Brussels, and Paris first started, the load factor was very low (reported as around 20%), so the seat-kilometre and passenger-kilometre energy measures would give completely different messages.

HS2 Ltd gave the overall load factor forecast for its new line as 58%, which is higher than the average for British long distance high speed services, but nowhere near high enough to compensate for the additional energy its trains would use. HS2 is planned to have ‘similar fares’ to the legacy network, which obviously poses a credibility problem for the ‘58% load factor’. If the HS2 fare structure is going to be similar to the legacy network, how could its load factor be significantly higher? Answers on a post card to: Andrew McNaughton’s There’s-No-Answer-To-That Waste Paper Basket, HS2 Ltd, Eland House, London, SW1.

The claim that

rail’s ability to improve its carbon footprint by carrying more passengers with the same energy consumption is constrained by Britain’s restricted structure gauge and the inability of the infrastructure to permit operation of very long trains — whereas a new line will enable longer trains with duplex accommodation, so the energy demand per seat kilometre can be kept very low

is drivel. On a per-metre length basis, an AGV has no more accommodation than a British loading gauge train (such as a Pendolino). The AGV is currently not available in a double deck version, so its larger cross-section makes its less aerodynamically efficient than a modern standard train built to British loading gauge.

HS2 would certainly not permit generalised operation of longer passenger trains in Britain. Indeed, the standard (off-peak) train length in the HS2 scheme is 200 metres, which is shorter than existing trains like the Pendolino. Operation of 400-metre long HS2 trains would only ever be possible on the new build track — which would only serve London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester directly.

Written by beleben

May 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Marshalling strange arguments

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For premier league HS2 entertainment value, Railnews writer Alan Marshall is right up there with Pete Waterman. In his letter to the Kenilworth Weekly News, published on 6 May, Mr Marshall wrote

if the rate of growth during the last three years continues, the number of passengers originally expected by HS2 Ltd (the planners of the new High Speed line) to be travelling in 2043 will actually be wanting to travel by train by 2020. But there won’t be enough capacity to cope with such demand until HS2 is built — and the earliest completion date currently envisaged is 2026!

I’m entirely unclear as to how opening a new railway in 2026 would solve the problem of a ‘full’ existing railway in 2020. But fortunately, the problem doesn’t exist, at least in the terms put forward by Mr Marshall. As a service group, the West Coast long distance high speed trains are not ‘full’ now, and that situation is unlikely to be much different in 2020.

Resolving capacity issues, such as those on London Midland Outer Suburban services to Milton Keynes and Northampton, in no way requires the construction of HS2. In fact, large scale misdirection of capital into Adonis/Steer high speed rail threatens the resolution of capacity problems on other parts of the railway network (e.g. south of the Thames).

The introduction of Virgin Trains’ Very High Frequency timetable was itself responsible for an increase in LDHS journeys. It’s painfully obvious that the rate of growth during the last three years on the West Coast Main Line is not going to continue ad infinitum.

Mr Marshall wrote that David Hodges (West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive) had told MPs

“We have seen local passengers double over the past 15 years or so. … We have the most crowded trains outside London, but our own figures show that crowding will get much worse. By 2019 we are looking at about 145 per cent of seating capacity on local services during the morning peak.”

But the capacity of the rail network in West Yorkshire has nothing to do with HS2. If the Y network were in place, the maximum number of trains that could run between Manchester and Liverpool, or Leeds and Harrogate, or Birmingham and Stourbridge, would be just the same as it is today. As in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, HS2 is virtually irrelevant to general passenger and freight capacity around Leeds.

Written by beleben

May 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm

What a node of rubbish

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Because the average length of HS2 trips is likely to be under 300 km, bad connectivity on the local legs (at each end of the high speed part of the journey) would have devastating effects on overall time ‘savings’. But bad connectivity is built into the HS2 concept. At the Infrarail 2012 railway infrastructure event at the National Exhibition Centre, Centro head of ‘strategy’ Alex Burrows gave a speech about the proposed Bickenhill HS2 station.

Mr Burrows claimed

My focus is on how we can turn this node into a strategic transport node predominantly accessed by public transport.

But conspicuous by its absence was any explanation as to how this could be done. Instead, there was just waffle about needing to have “a clear vision for access and connectivity which means passengers have options, by train or by tram or by bus, along with reliability, high frequency, comfort and world class information”.

Mr Burrows answered “criticism in some quarters about the distance between Interchange station and the Airport” by giving the “examples of North Greenwich and of Chatelet Les Halles in central Paris”.

Um, Chatelet and North Greenwich are located in built up areas. With effectively 360-degree public transport access. And of course, at those localities, there’s no need to travel 2 km by ‘people mover’ just to change lines.

So there are no parallels to the gare aux betteraves Bickenhill HS2 situation.

Mr Burrows is deluded if he thinks that there is a way of implementing high quality public transport links between Bickenhill HS2 and localities such the Black Country, Sutton Coldfield, and south Birmingham.

Written by beleben

May 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm