Archive for April 2013
Although the Department for Transport has said it has been “totally clear and transparent about the costs of HS2” the £8 billion cost of rolling stock is not included in the headline figure. According to Railnews’ Alan Marshall, rolling stock cost is separate, because ‘that will be the responsibility of the operator or operators that run the trains on the network’.
No one has decided yet whether HS2, in 10 or more years time, will be a franchise, a concession or an open access operation, or a mix of these.
When HS1 was built, its budget (which was not exceeded) did not include the cost of trains. The international trains that use it today are the responsibility of Eurostar, which pays for them out of the revenue it earns from passengers.
Previous governments, not train operators, decided who would be the suppliers of the domestic and international passenger trains currently running on HS1. And the current government is heavily involved in train contracts like Thameslink, Crossrail, Pendolino, and the Intercity Express Programme (use of IEP was mandated in the Great Western franchise renewal).
The idea that ‘Eurostar pays for the costs of its trains out of the revenue it earns from passengers’, is nonsense. Since it started up, Eurostar has been either loss-making or barely profitable, and so dependent on government support.
Because HS1 domestic services are bundled with Kent classic trains in an integrated franchise, there is no way of knowing how much money they lose. But it is known that rail commuters from Ashford to London have been getting a £100-a-week subsidy.
If a high speed rail franchisee had a free choice on rolling stock, it’s likely the specification would be for a maximum speed of 249 km/h — undermining HS2’s entire design fundamentals. Because standard (conventional speed) trains are much cheaper to buy and operate.
Mr Marshall went on to claim that the cost of HS2 would be ‘offset by massive income from passengers and the socio/economic benefits to the economy that will arise from regeneration and job creation.’
HS2 Ltd’s chairman Doug Oakervee estimates the benefit/cost ratio of the whole ‘Y’ network will be 2.6, or around £85 billion over 60 years return on an investment of £33 billion.
But Mr Oakervee believes that the 2.6 figure is a ‘very conservative’ one, based on his previous experience of developing the Crossrail scheme, and the realities of booming passenger traffic on HS1’s domestic services, even with premium fares — whereas the HS2 business case assumes fares would continue to be charged on the same basis as now.
The last published BCR figure (August 2012) for the Y network was 1.9, or 2.5 with ‘wider economic benefits’. Since then, the costs have increased, and HS2 Ltd has belatedly proposed extensive changes in London.
Rather than doing pretend economics, it might have been better if Mr Oakervee had concentrated on his primary responsibilities as HS2 chairman, i.e.
Formulating the Board’s strategy;
Ensuring that the Board, in reaching decisions across its full remit including the route design and environmental assessment, takes proper account of guidance provided by the Department for Transport or the Secretary of State;
Encouraging high standards of regularity and propriety; and,
Promoting HS2 to the general public.
Along with Alison Munro, Mr Oakervee must bear much of the responsibility for the failure to get to grips with the unrealistic ‘Bigfoot’ Euston station rebuild, and continued development of a massively disruptive overground alignment in Ealing. The costs incurred by the delay in cancelling Bigfoot, and surface running in West London, must be considerable.
The HS2 post-2026/2033 documentation does not say much about sleeper services between London and Scotland. What is the likelihood that such services would continue post-HS2?
When France’s TGV network was expanded, classic night trains were progressively cut back, and on some routes, completely withdrawn. Relations affected included: Paris — Bretagne; Lyon — Bordeaux; and Paris — Strasbourg.
HS2 Ltd’s “Updated economic case for HS2 (August 2012): Explanation of the service patterns” also demonstrated the intention to terminate East Coast Main Line services from London at Edinburgh. (It’s worth bearing in mind that the Intercity Express Programme was largely dreamed up to allow through service to places beyond Edinburgh.)
In the Rail Package 6 concept, pendular trains would run at up 225 km/h from London to Edinburgh in around 210 minutes — and continue to other destinations (i.e., no change of train needed at Edinburgh). Compared to HS2, Aberdeen electrification costs are trivial.
So, compared to the Rail Package 6 concept, HS2 would result in slower and less convenient journeys to and from points such as Dundee, Falkirk, Aberdeen, and Perth.
Decreased classic connectivity is a major problem in the HS2 concept, and something which its lobbyists find difficult to address truthfully. In February 2012, Centro’s publicly-funded Go HS2 high speed rail campaign claimed that “the HS2 alternative threatens stations in the West Midlands“. Part of the Go HS2 misinformation strategy is to close down discussion, and suggest that there is only one ‘alternative’ to HS2: the 51m scheme. But 51m is just one of many possible approaches to developing the classic railway.
There is no reason to believe that upgrading the West Coast Main Line would necessitate any closure of stations. Nor is there any reason to believe that upgrading of the West Coast Main Line would reduce service levels. In fact, HS2 Ltd’s “Updated economic case for HS2 (August 2012): Explanation of the service patterns” suggested that the HS2 scheme would reduce classic connectivity. As can be seen from the extract from the service table (above), the post-HS2 Crewe to London service would decrease from thirteen to eight trains per day.
In their 18-page response to criticism of the New Generation Transport project, Leeds city council and West Yorkshire PTE (‘Metro’) stressed how ‘tram-like’ the NGT system would be. But as Caen and Nancy demonstrated, there is no reason why a trolleybus system should be designed to imitate a tramway.
[Critical statement] Interestingly, results from five ‘major light rail systems’ in the UK have shown that ‘while there has been a modal shift from cars to light rail of up to 20 per cent, the impact on congestion has been a lot less or nil.’
[WYPTE] Comment: It is unclear what point is being made here. Tram systems are hugely successful in the UK and practically all (with exception of Sheffield, which has been used as an example in this paper) have out-performed the initial forecasts. It should also be remembered that NGT will be introduced while significant population growth in Leeds is also occurring. NGT is forecast to lead to an increased use of public transport. The absence of NGT will lead to exacerbation of congestion.
The point is: opening a new railway or tramway does not necessarily have any effect on congestion. It depends. So if congestion relief is the objective, NGT may well not be an appropriate response.
The idea that, ‘apart from Sheffield, UK tram systems are hugely successful’ is nonsense. The Manchester Metrolink has been plagued with technical problems. The Birmingham Midland Metro was supposed to carry 14 to 15 million passengers per annum from day one; its actual patronage has flatlined at around 5 million. The city of Edinburgh ‘lost faith‘ with its tramway years ago (it hasn’t even opened yet). And the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive managed to waste £70 million on a light rail system that was never built.
The West Yorkshire PTE and Leeds city council ‘Programme Entry’ NGT trolleybus route is 14.3 km long, with 56% segregation, and costed at £250.6 million (September 2011).
The Besançon tramway is 14.6 km long, and costed at 228 million euro (£193.8 million at the current rate of exchange).
So the Leeds imitation tram is budgeted to cost more than Besançon’s real tram.