die belebende Bedenkung

Capacity phone-a-friend

with 7 comments

'On the phone to the DfT' Hello, this is Manuel speaking... I from DfT...'Capacity'...? Que capacity...? I know nothing

On 7 March 2014, PR Week reported that Network Rail ‘bruiser’ Tom Kelly is to start as communications director for the HS2 high-speed railway project on 1 April.

[PR Week]

Kelly declined to discuss HS2 with PRWeek before he starts his role, but a source close to the project says the PR strategy will move away from focusing on speed to making a case based on capacity.

Given the emphasis placed on it, one might expect the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd to have a comprehensive database on current and potential rail capacity, for freight and passengers. So, what information do they have?

DfT confirm that they hold no information about the actual and potential capacity of rail lines (2014)

The Department for Transform confirm that they hold no information about the actual and potential capacity of rail lines (2014)

The Department for Transform confirm that they hold no information on numbers of current or future railfreight paths

Written by beleben

March 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

7 Responses

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  1. At least if the argument is to focus on capacity rather than speed it will be much harder for DfT to avoid looking at the supposed (lack of) capacity issues. Staggering to think that DfT has no information about the actual or potential capacity of rail lines. In any rational world you would have thought this would have been a pre-requisite before setting up HS2 Ltd and giving them millions to spend on some vanity project.

    The WCML RUS states that the fast lines south of Crewe are signalled for 3 minute headways or 20 trains per hour in each direction. So they can already carry more trains per hour than HS2’s supposed 18, which is likely to have severe reliability problems. Furthermore, since the maximum speed on the WCML fast lines is 125mph it could theoretically carry even more trains; up to around 30tph. Higher speed lines require extra stopping distance between trains which more than offsets the fact that the trains are going faster.

    The current timetable shows about 10 or 11 fast trains departing Euston in an hour, so there are potentially 9 paths available on the fast line for other trains. Some fast trains depart in groups of 2 or 3 at 3 minute intervals, confirming that the line is capable of 3 minute headways. Up to three of the unused paths are taken up by slower London Midland trains which follow the faster trains. The maximum speed of these trains has been recently increased, freeing up some more fast paths.

    Given that the long distance trains are not very full (unless they carry commuters), that more paths are available now, that more paths are theoretically possible, and that alternative routes, such as Chiltern and Midland Main Line, could provide relief, how can there be a capacity problem? If there is, then something will need to be done soon. The Business Case for HS2 must be evaluated in relation to the network that is likely to exist at the time just before it would open, rather than by comparing it with an historic do-nothing option, which is already no longer relevant.


    March 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm

  2. Can you detail the source of the first image please?

    Joe Rukin

    March 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    • I obviously don’t mean the photos on the phones, but the first response from the DfT!

      Joe Rukin

      March 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      • That extract was from a response to a freedom of information request, sent to the Department for Transport.


        March 14, 2014 at 10:21 am

  3. “.. the PR strategy will move away from focusing on speed..”

    It’s worth looking at the map again. HS2’s Dash for Birmingham, without fear or favour, can only have come from a Whitehall requirement for HS2 that put line speed first; and without fear or favour.

    HS2’s other curiosities: not following existing transport corridors, separate forks to destinations in the North only forty miles apart and not stopping at East Midlands Airport on the way, all result from speed-fastest to Birmingham.

    Wouldn’t HS2 look a lot different if it had been required to be capacity-weighted, too?


    March 14, 2014 at 9:31 am

  4. Is this the same Tom Kelly? If so, he has either got two jobs or he is moving on rather rapidly.

    3rd Feb 2014
    Tom Kelly starts today as a non-executive director to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. He is currently the corporate communications director at Network Rail.


    March 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm

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