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Archive for March 2014

Y the huge overcapacity?

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@bridges_tom on the 'huge demand for rail travel between Leeds and Birmingham'

All-day demand for rail travel between Leeds and Birmingham in 2033 was forecast (by MVA for HS2 Ltd) not to fill even one HS2 train

Written by beleben

March 31, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Vision of a land-grab

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Vision of a land-grab at Euston, 2013

Vision of a land-grab at Euston, 2013

Written by beleben

March 31, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Modal effects of German high speed rail discussed by Robert Goodwill

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hoc-enviro-audit-cttee-hsr-oral-evidence-goodwill-26mar2014

Europe, busiest air routes, 2010 (Wikipedia)

Written by beleben

March 28, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Centro ‘to petition government for more infrastructure spending in London’

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Centro want billions of pounds to be spent on HS2 infrastructureWest Midlands transport authority Centro is ‘set to petition the Government to ensure links between HS2 and HS1 remain part of the plans for the controversial £50 bn line’, Transport Network reported (28 March 2014).

On Monday Centro is expected to approve the motion to call on Government to keep and improve planned links between HS2 and HS1 – the railway between St Pancras in London and the Channel Tunnel – in the Government’s HS2 Hybrid Bill.
[…]
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin recently vowed to scrap the £700m plans for a HS2 – HS1 link in London, following the recommendations of HS2 Ltd chair Sir David Higgins’ new report.

Centro is supposed to be concerned with the transport requirements of people in the West Midlands. So why should it be lobbying for a boondoggle multi-billion pound double track HS2 to HS1 link in London?

Written by beleben

March 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Birmingham, Centro

Contrary Mary on HS2

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Having described David Higgins’ flimsy ‘HS2 Plus’ report as “substantial, thoughtful and thorough” on 25 March, Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh has now questioned whether the project is “the right way” to spend billions of pounds of public funds.

[‘Labour casts doubt on HS2 in new attack on rising cost’, Yorkshire Post, 28 March 2014]

In a further sign of Labour’s deep divisions over the issue, Ms Creagh said HS2 has not been discussed by the Shadow Cabinet since she took over the transport brief last October.

Written by beleben

March 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Flawed to the Core

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The places in Britain most in need of regeneration are not the Core (and HS2 Station) cities of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds

Wolverhampton, Hartlepool and Bradford must be some of the most depressed places in western Europe

The places in Britain most in need of regeneration are not the Core (and HS2 Station) cities of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It’s the scores of industrial towns in the regions around them which have lost their old economic base and are struggling to find a new one, wrote Prof Peter Hall on The Conversation.

[‘HS2 must be one of many new transport links to benefit regions’, Peter Hall, 27 March 2014]

As a result, a split is developing between the core cities and other places such as Wakefield, Bradford, Burnley and Blackburn. There’s a risk that these secondary and tertiary towns and cities might even be worse connected to the rest of the country than they are now if left out of the HS2 project.

Prof Hall went on to claim that

  • it was essential that tram and bus rapid transit systems are created to link HS2 stations to surrounding areas
  • local and cross country rail networks need to be seamlessly connected to the HS2 hubs, and upgraded and electrified
  • HS2 trains need to provide onward connections to these networks, providing a direct service to London from the wider range of towns that fill the hinterland
  • HS2 tracks at Old Oak Common should facilitate cross-platform interchange with Crossrail, and
  • a second Crossrail line should be built to serve Euston.

HS2 is supposed to be designed for fast business travel, yet would only provide direct access to a handful of city centres. How many business people would really want to ride on a tram from say, Nottingham to Toton (~40 minutes), just to catch a HS2 train to London, must be open to question. As can be seen from Nottingham’s Incentro tram interiors, personal working space on trams tends to be quite restricted by comparison with intercity rail.

Nottingham NET Incentro tram interior by Chris McKenna (Thryduulf)

As Prof Hall said, HS2 regeneration is likely to be limited to a small circle around high speed stations, and towns like Wolverhampton, Hartlepool, Bradford, and Hull are unlikely to benefit. There is no plan for them to be served by direct HS2 trains, but even if there was, the overall economic impact might not be discernible. Margate and Ramsgate already have ‘direct’ HS1 services, but their problems seem too complex to be solved by a slightly faster train to London.

Prof Hall does not appear to have given any indication of the cost of all the additional measures he favours. The sums must run into billions. Just interlacing GW and HS2 tracks for cross-platform interchange might add perhaps £500 million to the cost of the Old Oak Common station.

Written by beleben

March 28, 2014 at 11:40 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London

Never gonna give Crewe up

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Daresbury resident Pete ‘The Hitman’ Waterman told tourism chiefs about the £50bn HS2 high speed rail project at a conference in Chester, the Chronicle reported (27 March 2014).

Domestic HS1 trains in Kent run largely empty in the off-peak, because there is no incentive for the operator [Southeastern] to sell unoccupied seats (as it is handed subsidy on a supersize plate, it doesn’t need the hassle). But according to Mr Waterman, the excess capacity on HS2 would mean there would be “lots of deals to be had”.

[‘Hit-maker speaks up for HS2 rail project’, David Holmes, Chester Chronicle, Mar 27, 2014]

He said: “Everybody is going ‘This will be an expensive railway just for business’. There are, just on HS2, every hour, 10,000 seats. And HS2 will be running 17 hours a day. We don’t have to be geniuses to understand that to keep those trains full there will be lots of deals to be had.”

He also suggested that the original plan for HS2 “missed” Crewe, and had been changed. Had it not been, it would have meant “the end of the North West”.

“Five years ago when I saw the first map for HS2 and it missed Crewe by 21km, I thought ‘My God, this is the end of the North West’, which is why I joined the LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and why I’ve been working with the DFT (Department for Transport) and joined the treasury team to make sure that they understood this is the second biggest part of our economy and it’s still the best and most under-performed.

Mr Waterman also appeared to think that Network Rail’s ‘Northern Hub’ scheme (last estimated at around ~£600 million) was a rather bigger scheme than it is.

As an example, he said £3.2bn was being spent on the ‘Northern Hub’, improving the service between Leeds and Liverpool, with a second phase enhancing the Manchester and Liverpool route via Warrington.

Written by beleben

March 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Reimagining Euston

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Euston Estate, problem buildings

Although the concrete coffin that now masquerades as Euston station concourse was designed by faceless architect bureaucrats buried deep within the old British Rail, Richard Seifert was responsible for the miserable range of polished, dark stone-clad offices arranged around its entrance forecourt, wrote Ike Ijeh (“The notorious work of Richard Seifert”, 5 Nov 2011).

But according to Cabe lead advisor Thomas Bender, Euston station represents the functional rigour and order of 1960s modernism.

[‘In defence of… Euston Station’, Thomas Bender]

Everything is efficient, easy on the eye and elegantly designed; from the geometric rhythm of the ceiling to the clear and legible routes to the platforms, and even the layout of the ticket office. Even the first glimpse of the station, across the charming little park along Euston Road, makes it feel open and accessible.

As Mr Bender suggested, the station would be a much nicer place if its Railtrack / Network Rail clutter were stripped out. The quality of the space in front of the station could be transformed if the ‘Euston Estate‘ offices, mainly built in the late 1970s, were demolished.

At present, Euston’s onward local public transport connections are poor. If HS2 were cancelled, funds could be reallocated to divert inner suburban / Watford ‘dc lines’ trains into Crossrail 1 at Willesden, which would free up space at Euston. It would also be possible to fund

  • diversion of outer suburban (London Midland) trains into a “Crossrail X2” connection with the Southern Region
  • separation of the Northern and Northern & City underground lines, allowing train frequency on both to be increased
  • on-street light rail from Camden to Waterloo, the City, and Victoria.
The 'Crossrail X2' concept combines elements of the 1970s Chelsea - Hackney tube and 1980 BR Cross London link schemes

The ‘Crossrail_X2’ concept combines elements of the 1970s Chelsea – Hackney tube and 1980 BR Cross London link schemes

Diversion of suburban services into Crossrail 1 and Crossrail_X2 would allow Euston’s track layout to be re-cast for longer platforms. If Old Oak Common became the terminus for the Scottish sleeper and Birmingham / Manchester intercity, only 12 to 14 platforms at Euston might be needed.

Written by beleben

March 26, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London

The future, according to Network Rail’s Rupert Walker

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Rupert's ugly future

Written by beleben

March 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Rail upgrades more cost-effective, and capacity enhancing, than HS2

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The notion that £9 billion was spent on a “failed upgrade” of the West Coast Main Line is an-oft repeated cozenage in HS2 fable. In fact, the planned stage two upgrade, ‘PUG2‘ programme was abandoned and replaced by a de-scoped West Coast Route Modernisation. While WCRM did have an upgrade component, it was primarily concerned with the renewal of worn-out assets.

The Association of Train Operating Companies stated that upgrades had accounted for just 15% of infrastructure spend

Even the Association of Train Operating Companies accepted that the vast majority of recent railinfra expenditure was not spent on upgrades. It stated that they had accounted for just 15% of infrastructure spend.

Written by beleben

March 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2