Archive for May 2014
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.
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.
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.
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 , 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.
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.
Construction 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.
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.
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.”