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Archive for May 2014

The unusual step

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Paul Dale, Birmingham Post Newsblog, 15 June 2008

Paul Dale, Birmingham Post Newsblog, 15 June 2008

Written by beleben

May 29, 2014 at 9:39 am

HS2 and construction inflation, part two

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The June 2008 Railnews report “What future for high speed rail in Britain?” gave Greengauge 21’s estimate of the cost of a 177 km high speed railway from London to Birmingham as £7.1 billion, at 2007 prices.

2008 Greengauge 21 estimate for a London - Birmingham high speed line

2008 Greengauge 21 estimate for a London – Birmingham high speed line

The 2014 David Higgins HS2 Plus report stated that the government’s ~225 km HS2 phase one proposal was costed at £19.4 billion (P50 estimate, at 2011 prices). However, that does not appear to take account of Camden and Birmingham council aspirations for ‘high quality’ station developments, or the possible effects of “alliancing” on project delivery. Alliancing, an anti-competitive-anti-SME approach favoured by Network Rail, could add £1 billion or more to phase one costs.

Railnews, 2008: Birmingham Chamber cast doubt on the value of HS2

Railnews, 2008

Written by beleben

May 28, 2014 at 10:49 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2, Politics

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HS2 and construction inflation

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In 1894 Royal permission was obtained for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway company’s London Extension (which was envisioned as part of a passenger and freight route between Manchester and Paris). In anticipation of the completion of the London Extension, the MSLR was renamed the ‘Great Central Railway’ in 1897.

The Extension — which involved building one hundred and fifty kilometres of double track between Annesley (Nottinghamshire) and Quainton Road (Buckinghamshire), via Nottingham, Loughborough, Leicester, Rugby, and Aylesbury, and twenty-odd intermediate stations — was opened to passenger traffic in 1899.

Great Central Railway, map of connections

Great Central Railway, map of connections

The GCR intended that its trains would access London by means of the Metropolitan Railway between Quainton Road and Canfield Place (near Finchley Road), and then run three kilometres on new track into a terminus at Marylebone. Including its depots and sidings, the 153 km of the London Extension was estimated to have cost at around £11,500,000, i.e. around £72,000, in nineteenth century money, per route kilometre.

The 531 km proposed HS2 high speed railway from London to Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds is currently costed at £42.6 billion (without trains). So on a yard-for-yard basis, HS2 costs roughly 1,000 times as much as the GCR London Extension.

Written by beleben

May 22, 2014 at 8:26 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

The fullness of time

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In written evidence submitted to the House of Commons transport select committee in June 2011 Network Rail stated that “the WCML, particularly at the south end of the route, is effectively full”.

But in July 2011, open access operator Alliance Rail Holdings — which wants to run trains on the East and West Coast routes — claimed that Network Rail agreed that there is spare capacity on the WCML.

 Alliance Rail, WCML track access consultation, 2011

Alliance Rail, WCML track access consultation, 2011

Written by beleben

May 19, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

HS2 consultancy overspend

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HS2 goes troughtasticConstruction of HS2 is scheduled to begin in 2017, but already expenditure on consultancy is £87 million over budget, Building News reported (paywall).

[‘Revealed: HS2 consultant spend runs £87m over budget’, Vern Pitt, 16 May 2014]

[…]
An analysis by Building of the Department for Transport (DfT) HS2 spending to the end of February 2014 has revealed that HS2 Ltd has overshot its allocated £101m budget for four lots of professional services contracts by £87m, taking the total spend to £188m – 86% over budget.

Written by beleben

May 16, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Posted in HS2

Coventry bus stop confusion

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BBC Midlands today report on Coventry bus stop confusion, 08 May 2014

BBC Midlands Today report on Coventry bus stop confusion, 08 May 2014

On 8 May 2014 BBC Midlands Today reported on confusion over bus stop relocation in Coventry city centre.

For reasons unknown, transport authority Centro apparently decided to change a large number of the bus stopping points, but did not advise the public.

Centro director of operations Stephen Rhodes was interviewed for the report, but gave no explanation for the snafu.

Written by beleben

May 12, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Centro

Tagged with

Completed in record time

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In 2003 Spain’s development ministry awarded the contract for the Pajares high speed rail tunnels, plus several smaller links to connect Asturias and León. They have already swallowed up more than €3 billion, and there is no opening date in sight.

[‘€1.2 billion over budget and still no opening date in sight’, Rafael Méndez, El Pais English, 7 May 2014]

[…] The project had a budget of just under €1.8 billion and involved nearly all of Spain’s major builders: FCC, Acciona, Dragados, Ferrovial, Sacyr, Constructora Hispánica and others.

But the trouble started soon, when water began seeping into the tunnels. “The tunnelling machine kept running into pockets of water,” recalls [construction worker] El Tigre, who is currently unemployed. “I have seen the water pull away containers weighing three tons. But instead of stopping to seal the tunnel properly, we were told to go faster to get out of the water area fast.”

He then pulls out some photographs and videos taken by construction workers before cellphones were banned at the construction site.

The tunnels were completed in record time. On July 11, 2009, then-Public Works Minister José Blanco attended an event to celebrate the occasion. But the water problems were still there.

El Tigre orders another orujo and notes: “Instead of boring the tunnels eight months ahead of schedule, they should have taken longer, but that was money for the construction companies. Our orders were to finish fast, no matter what.”

Written by beleben

May 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Reason is an obstacle

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Reason, necessity and value are factors that simply don’t count in the discussion about the HS2 rail line, wrote Peter Lloyd. They are merely obstacles to be overcome in a miasma of bravado, hubris and obfuscation.

Written by beleben

May 11, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

The morality of HS2

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Supporters of HS2 claim there is a capacity problem. This is nonsense, for with the latest signalling techniques coming on stream, present availability can be doubled using existing lines, wrote AE Harris chairman Russell Luckock (Birmingham Post, 8 May 2014).

[Russell Luckock]

[…] Amazingly, the Labour opposition, in the shape of Ed Balls, was stating earlier this year, that they would take another look at HS2 to see if value for money was being obtained should they win power at the next election. Now they have voted to go ahead, with no caveats.

In this day and age, when we have an underfunded NHS, due to an expanding population, coupled with lengthening life cycles, a shortage of electricity generating plants and huge investment needed in the field of education, it is morally wrong to spend so much money on a single project that will benefit relatively few.

Currently the Euston Fast Lines are signalled for 20 trains per hour, and about 13 of those paths are used. There has to be some leeway in the timetable to allow for instances of disruption and unpunctual running, but getting to 16 trains per hour should be achievable in a relatively short timescale. Getting to 26 trains per hour on the Fast Lines would certainly be possible in a longer term process including moving-block type signalling, homogenisation of rolling stock capability, and a cultural transformation in operating practice.

Written by beleben

May 9, 2014 at 9:49 am

Posted in Centro, HS2

Nanny knows best

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West Midlands transport authority Centro is a big supporter of the prying, nannying and hypocritical “smarter choices” agenda.

[Centro]

What is Smart Network,Smarter Choices?

Smart Network, Smarter Choices is a £48 million package of sustainable travel projects being carried out over the next three years along ten key corridors/routes in the West Midlands. It comprises of £33 million from the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) and at least another £15 million from local public and private contributions. The project, which is being delivered by Centro in partnership with the seven West Midlands councils, aims to:

• Tackle the road congestion already costing the West Midlands economy more than £2.3 billion a year;

• Help kick start our local economy by underpinning growth and job creation while better connecting people to work, skills and training; and

• Reduce carbon emissions to help the region achieve its tough CO2 targets.

The project will concentrate on ten key corridors/routes across the West Midlands implementing a range of schemes including: new or improved walking and cycling routes; small scale road and junction improvements; better passenger waiting facilities; expert travel planning for families, companies and schools; free travel support for job seekers; more mobile and real time transport information; and smartcard technology for cashless travel.

The project sets out to help people make smarter and greener travel choices (Smarter Choices), especially for short trips, which in turn can cut congestion and improve traffic flows for essential road users such as hauliers and bus operators. To help bring about this change in travel behaviour, experts will work closely with families, schools, businesses and community groups to provide them with the bespoke support and advice they need. Smart Network, Smarter Choices will not only help support our regional economy but it can also bring substantial benefits for the environment as well as people’s health through more cycling and walking.

Centro’s MyNetwork Personal Travel Plans site now includes various condescending documents telling people how they should travel, shop, and eat.

Nanny knows best

Nanny knows best

The Great Barr Community Guide contains startling revelations such as the existence of businesses such as Acres Estate Agents, Barclays Bank PLC and Cashino Adult Gaming Centre, in the locality. Who’d have thought it.

No doubt, Steer Davies Gleave and AECOM are also big supporters of “smarter choices” programmes. Because they were handed lucrative contracts to run them. And the sums involved, run into millions.

Written by beleben

May 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Centro

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