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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.

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Written by beleben

May 9, 2014 at 9:49 am

Posted in Centro, HS2

14 Responses

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  1. Yes, high speed race to ever lower morality. How much (worthless) economic activity has been generated by councils having to draw up plans for rerouting HS2 because of the original low cost desktop job. Others touting for the ‘national’ HS2 engineering college or for their own HS2 hub to the detriment of their neighbours.
    Take Cheshire East: http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/highways_and_roads/hs2_in_cheshire_east.aspx
    and their plan:
    http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/highways_and_roads/hs2_in_cheshire_east.aspx
    in which they propose that the Crewe Superhub will eliminate the need for the Phase 1 link to WCML at Handsacre or the HS2 station at Manchester Airport.
    I do not know if the latter document was released at the time of:
    https://beleben.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/inglorious-basford/

    Meanwhile the folks of the City of Stoke-on-Trent spend massively in the vain hope that they will not have to face the ignominy of having to “change at Crewe!” for all their long distance journeys.

    McMichael

    May 9, 2014 at 10:55 am

  2. Isn’t there a slight problem that you would then need a completely consistent stopping pattern on the fast lines as well? 24-32-40tph is very much possible on metro networks where all trains will stop in the same places so there is no need to overtake but the WCML and ECML will never look like that. Forcing long-distance intercity trains to stop at every fast line platform on the way to London would be one sure-fire way of losing all the passengers that rail has gained with the shortened journey times that have come from previous upgrades. Either that or you can’t serve any fast line platforms anywhere south of Crewe or York which would be a disaster in equal measure. Unless you can reduce the turnaround times at London terminals you would still run out of platforms and the cost and disruption of adding more would be the same as building those platforms for HS2.

    CautiousObserver

    May 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    • I don’t believe the current utilisation of the West and East Coast Main Lines is rational, or economically optimal. There is always going to be a tradeoff between through_capacity and intermediate_point connectivity, but the extent of the capacity penalty depends on the real-world circumstances. The issue with stopping ‘some but not all’ WCML Down express trains at Milton Keynes, for example, is how to re-start them into the Fast line. In an intensive-utilisation scenario, there is no way of doing so. But how much does that matter, given that most demand from MK is towards London?

      beleben

      May 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      • How can the utilisation of the fast lines be improved if there are still two fundamentally different markets competing for their use? The unquestionable advantage of building a new pair of tracks with their own platforms in London and wherever else is that there needs to be no conflict between the services, allowing both the new and existing lines to be used to their fullest capacity.

        It would not be economically feasible to stop every ICWC train at Milton Keynes because the further north you go, the less interest there is in travelling to or from there and the greater economic penalty is applied for doing so. It would theoretically be possible to make the stops set-down/pick-up only so to prevent MK passengers from taking all the Glasgow/Preston seats but the number of passengers who would actually benefit from stopping in MK would be negligible compared to the number inconvenienced from the longer journey to/from London. Longer journey times for the sake of timetabling convenience on a journey which is already four and a half hours long are not without cost.

        The practicalities of pushing the WCML to its absolute limits are not pretty. These trains would be long-distance runs, the least suited to the metro-style turnaround and platform waiting times that would be required for higher infrastructure utilisation. The WCML is the busiest mixed-traffic railway in Europe and it is a fantastically complicated operation where minor perturbations at one end can cause rippling effects along its entire length. North of Weaver Junction it is primarily two-track and all services must share track with one another, especially as grade-separated junctions become more and more sparse the further north you go. All that would be needed to send the ultra-high-frequency WCML into disarray would be a single Pendolino being too overloaded to tilt on the journey down, causing it to lose massive amounts of time and trapping it behind stopping passenger services. It is for that reason that Network Rail have been unwilling to allow additional Virgin paths to places like Blackpool and Shrewsbury in recent years – the paths they would use are essential for recovery in the very likely event of something going wrong and if there is no time to recover, the whole service goes down the toilet.

        One of the reasons that HS2 Phase 1 will see a lower number of trains per hour compared to Phase 2 is to provide additional recovery time for long-distance services so that they do not cause too much disruption on the rest of the line. With Phase 2, there is a longer distance on the high speed line before having to merge into the 18tph high frequency service south of Birmingham, thus services can be just as or more resilient to service perturbations. No such recovery capacity would exist on a new-line-less WCML network, making rail travel less reliable and less attractive for passengers. Reliability is one key advantage of new infrastructure, as exemplified by High Speed One’s average delay of less than double-digit seconds, and one that cannot be ignored.

        CautiousObserver

        May 11, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      • How can the utilisation of the fast lines be improved if there are still two fundamentally different markets competing for their use? I’d say there are three fundamentally different markets competing for their use, namely, (i) intercity / long distance, (ii) outer suburban / regional, and (iii) freight. The indications are that HS2 would allow a reallocation of paths between those categories, but they would all still exist on the same tracks. So conflict would still exist.

        It would not be economically feasible to stop every ICWC train at Milton Keynes because the further north you go, the less interest there is in travelling to or from there and the greater economic penalty is applied for doing so. That is undoubtedly true, even though the demand data from Milton Keynes is secret. Northbound connectivity for Milton Keynes could be improved in a less problematic way by running more trains on the Relief lines via Northampton, and / or stopping ECML fast trains at Sandy.

        The practicalities of pushing the WCML to its absolute limits are not pretty. These trains would be long-distance runs, the least suited to the metro-style turnaround and platform waiting times that would be required for higher infrastructure utilisation. The WCML is the busiest mixed-traffic railway in Europe and it is a fantastically complicated operation where minor perturbations at one end can cause rippling effects along its entire length.

        I don’t see all that much difference between running 33 trains on the Victoria Line, and running 26 on the WCML Fast lines. Fewer stops, longer dwell times, but the underlying issues are quite similar.

        Reliability is one key advantage of new infrastructure, as exemplified by High Speed One’s average delay of less than double-digit seconds, and one that cannot be ignored. Given the huge amount of public resources put into building HS1 and keeping it running, it would be surprising if it wasn’t more reliable than the legacy system. And it’s much easier to maintain reliability, when so many HS1 paths aren’t used.

        beleben

        May 12, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      • [i]I’d say there are three fundamentally different markets competing for their use, namely, (i) intercity / long distance, (ii) outer suburban / regional, and (iii) freight. The indications are that HS2 would allow a reallocation of paths between those categories, but they would all still exist on the same tracks. So conflict would still exist.[/i]

        In a sense you are correct but the conflicts between suburban/regional and freight are far smaller than the conflicts with LDHS. A stopping 90/100mph service averages out as being not much faster or slower than a non-stop 75mph freight, so it is easy to timetable them around each other. Non-stop 125mph services fit well with nothing other than other 125mph non-stop services.

        [i]I don’t see all that much difference between running 33 trains on the Victoria Line, and running 26 on the WCML Fast lines. Fewer stops, longer dwell times, but the underlying issues are quite similar.[/i]

        The Victoria Line is a completely self-contained operation where everything – infrastructure, trains, stations, drivers, maintenance, etc – is entirely consistent. The WCML has to deal with everything from 30m Pacers to 775m intermodal electric freight to 11-car tilting Pendolinos at 125mph and they all interact with each other, as well as other services which cross onto adjacent lines. It would not be feasible to run only Pendolinos on the fast lines and only freight/local services on the slows where there are four tracks and where there are only two, i.e effectively all of the WCML north of Crewe, you don’t have a choice.

        Running 26 trains an hour on the fast lines is impossible unless you provide a huge number of extra platforms at major stations, especially Euston, as the dwell times cannot be reduced enough to use only the existing ones. Dwell times are related to journey time and so only reducing journey times through something like HS2 would see an improvement in station utilisation.

        [i]Given the huge amount of public resources put into building HS1 and keeping it running, it would be surprising if it wasn’t more reliable than the legacy system. And it’s much easier to maintain reliability, when so many HS1 paths aren’t used.[/i]

        The difficulty then is how expensive it would be to increase the reliability of the WCML to the same level. The law of diminishing returns results in further WCML upgrades and enhancements becoming far more expensive for a lot less gain. There will be a point when there is no economic rationale to further upgrades and it is this reason why the plan is now for a new line; there are further upgrades which will without doubt be performed on the WCML such as grade-separation of the Northampton loop but after these there is nothing left to do without incurring biblical expense.

        CautiousObserver

        May 16, 2014 at 11:18 am

      • In a sense you are correct but the conflicts between suburban/regional and freight are far smaller than the conflicts with LDHS. A stopping 90/100mph service averages out as being not much faster or slower than a non-stop 75mph freight, so it is easy to timetable them around each other.

        But the conflicts between suburban/regional and freight are not “far smaller” than the conflicts with LDHS. The average_speed of freight and commuter trains is not a useful metric on which to base an assessment.

        In any event,

        * many freight trains are unable to run at 75mph,

        * their acceleration capabilities are vastly inferior to commuter/regional services, and

        * (energy-)efficient railfreight operation depends on not having to repeatedly stop and re-start en route.

        According to HS2 Ltd, the Y network would deliver about ten additional WCML freight paths per day, per direction. That is well below the demand forecasts of railfreight companies, and the aspirations of the government.

        Non-stop 125mph services fit well with nothing other than other 125mph non-stop services.

        125mph services not stopping at Milton Keynes from Euston to the North, would fit very well with 125mph commuter services between Euston and Milton Keynes. Because it doesn’t take 3 minutes, or even 2 minutes, to route a 125mph Milton Keynes commuter train on or off the Fast line.

        The Victoria Line is a completely self-contained operation where everything – infrastructure, trains, stations, drivers, maintenance, etc – is entirely consistent. The WCML has to deal with everything from 30m Pacers to 775m intermodal electric freight to 11-car tilting Pendolinos at 125mph and they all interact with each other, as well as other services which cross onto adjacent lines. It would not be feasible to run only Pendolinos on the fast lines and only freight/local services on the slows where there are four tracks and where there are only two, i.e effectively all of the WCML north of Crewe, you don’t have a choice.

        The efficiency objective is to recast the southern West Coast Main Line, so that the daytime Fast Lines service is “entirely consistent”. I see no reason why it is infeasible to run only fast trains on the Fast Lines. What happens, path-wise, on the WCML in the North, is of much less concern. Because demand there is much lower.

        Running 26 trains an hour on the fast lines is impossible unless you provide a huge number of extra platforms at major stations, especially Euston, as the dwell times cannot be reduced enough to use only the existing ones. Dwell times are related to journey time and so only reducing journey times through something like HS2 would see an improvement in station utilisation.

        I haven’t seen any evidence that the platforming requirements would be ‘huge’. The main platforming pressure – at Euston – would be solvable by re-routeing most inner and outer suburban services into Crossrail / Crossrail_X2.


        The difficulty then is how expensive it would be to increase the reliability of the WCML to the same level. The law of diminishing returns results in further WCML upgrades and enhancements becoming far more expensive for a lot less gain. There will be a point when there is no economic rationale to further upgrades and it is this reason why the plan is now for a new line; there are further upgrades which will without doubt be performed on the WCML such as grade-separation of the Northampton loop but after these there is nothing left to do without incurring biblical expense.

        It seems likely that improvements on the WCML would be subject to diminishing returns. That’s not that important, when in straight comparisons with HS2, upgrades come out on top in benefit-cost, affordability, scalability, and risk.

        beleben

        May 16, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      • “But the conflicts between suburban/regional and freight are not “far smaller” than the conflicts with LDHS. The average_speed of freight and commuter trains is not a useful metric on which to base an assessment.

        In any event,

        * many freight trains are unable to run at 75mph,

        * their acceleration capabilities are vastly inferior to commuter/regional services, and

        * (energy-)efficient railfreight operation depends on not having to repeatedly stop and re-start en route.

        According to HS2 Ltd, the Y network would deliver about ten additional WCML freight paths per day, per direction. That is well below the demand forecasts of railfreight companies, and the aspirations of the government.”

        For pathing purposes over long distances average speed is a very important metric. The electric local/regional train would be the one decelerating and accelerating, not the freight. The 50/60/75mph freight would just keep plodding on behind or in front, with the gap between it and the stopping services going up and down but never being too short for safety or too long to use the capacity effectively.

        “125mph services not stopping at Milton Keynes from Euston to the North, would fit very well with 125mph commuter services between Euston and Milton Keynes. Because it doesn’t take 3 minutes, or even 2 minutes, to route a 125mph Milton Keynes commuter train on or off the Fast line.”

        It may be possible for a fast line train to stop at a platform where another track is available for non-stop trains, as will be the case in all fast through HS2 stations. This is not the case at Milton Keynes, where there are two unidirectional and one bidirectional platforms for the fast and slow lines. The time taken for a service to decelerate from 125 to a stop, have the guard open the doors, wait for passengers to alight and board (including any with disabilities requiring ramps or other assistance, or those with luggage), have the guard perform despatch procedures and for the train to accelerate back up to 125mph is the limiting factor on how many services can run on the fast lines. If all services don’t stop at MK, it might be possible to route >20tph through the station, as would be the case if all services were made to stop. A combination of the two is mathematically impossible unless the expense of adding additional non-stop lines is provided and even then the timetable has to be written in such a way that there is a path available for stopped services to retake once they have accelerated away. The works at Reading have cost in the region of £800m and it is this magnitude of work that would be needed on all major ICWC stations if maximum capacity were to be squeezed out of the two pairs of tracks. The cost of such a move would be very high, with extreme disruption caused, yet the overall benefits of such a scheme are still considerably lower than the provision of an all-new LDHS line running parallel.

        “The efficiency objective is to recast the southern West Coast Main Line, so that the daytime Fast Lines service is “entirely consistent”. I see no reason why it is infeasible to run only fast trains on the Fast Lines. What happens, path-wise, on the WCML in the North, is of much less concern. Because demand there is much lower.”

        Buying high-density Pendolinos for London Midland might make timetabling easier but it wouldn’t make a massive difference for passenger capacity. An 11-car Pendolino in high-density configuration can’t carry as many people as a 12-car 110mph 350 with 2+3 seating, and would result in higher costs for passengers and the TOC with the higher maintenance costs of a bespoke and outdated train design.

        It is important however if you want to continue running services to the North West and Scotland. The WCML is not just a Birmingham and Manchester to London line; if it were, there would be little need for HS2. On a journey of four and a half hours a delay of ten, fifteen, twenty minutes is not just possible but is actively probable when the line is two-track and shared with everyone else. Such an unpredictable delay would cause chaos to any ultra-high-frequency WCML-South timetable; do you upset all of the WCML-S services to fit in a delayed Glasgow train or do you cancel it at Wigan and get everyone to change? No amount of moving-block signalling will ever solve the problems of the WCML – it would very much help to get it back on schedule if things went wrong with the current timetable but anything more and it would do no good at all. As I said before, reliability will be one of the key benefits of any new line and reliability is just as important for passengers as speed and comfort. What good would a 4 hour 15 service to Glasgow be if there’s a 33% chance it would be cancelled halfway to London? The only way of reducing the risk of a Glasgow train ruining the timetable would be to add copious amounts of padding so that it is possible to make up time. That either means a massive investment in the northern WCML to enhance speeds here there and everywhere (which would realistically benefit only the EPS125 paths, allowing them to catch up with the freight/stopper in front even faster and thus be utterly pointless on the two-track WCML) or slowing services down artificially. Neither option is workable.

        “I haven’t seen any evidence that the platforming requirements would be ‘huge’. The main platforming pressure – at Euston – would be solvable by re-routeing most inner and outer suburban services into Crossrail / Crossrail_X2.”

        The Crossrail-WCML link would only free up a couple or so of platforms at Euston – very useful for a rebuild but not for a long-term solution. CR2 is southwest-northeast, so there is no way to free up platforms at Euston. The idea of Crossrail 3 has not even been officially defined yet and there is no guarantee it will serve Euston – of all options it is very possible that it will but it is still a very long-term ambition that would be delivered well after the finish of HS2-1&2. The Overground will without question be removed from Euston during the rebuild and forever afterward and eventually the current LM stoppers will be sent into tunnel but their platforms will just be used for other services, such as the enhanced WCML timetable available post-HS2.

        “It seems likely that improvements on the WCML would be subject to diminishing returns. That’s not that important, when in straight comparisons with HS2, upgrades come out on top in benefit-cost, affordability, scalability, and risk.”

        It may be the case that in the short term another round of WCML upgrades may deliver a higher BCR, but it is the very long term that HS2 is there to fix. The issue with all the WCML upgrade proposals is that once they have been built there is nowhere left to go afterwards other than building another pair of tracks. If you want to build another pair of tracks the only realistic way of doing so is to build them for LDHS, and thus you end up with an HSR. If we know we’re going to have to build a new line anyway one day, it is better just to build it now when the land is available and the time is ripe than it is to delay. Remember that HS2 is not to solve the problems of the 2014 rail network, or 2017, or 2020, or 2023. It is to solve the problems of 2030, 2040, 2050 and so on. No amount of moving block signalling, eddy current/ferrite bar brake (you know the guy I’m talking about) or ultra high frequency timetabling solves the issues of being limited to two pairs of tracks limited to ~265m long and single-deck UK gauge trains (which then have to tilt). No amount of WCML upgrades are ever going to bring Manchester within spitting distance of an hour away from the world’s foremost city and no amount of upgrades are going to make rail a realistic time-sensitive alternative to air on the London-Scotland/Newcastle travel market.

        CautiousObserver

        May 16, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      • For pathing purposes over long distances average speed is a very important metric.

        I think not. The average speed of railfreight in Great Britain, or anywhere else, in Europe is nothing like 75mph. Not even close.

        Diurnal intensive freight and regional passenger traffic on the same tracks, is just not possible. That explains why the WCML freight uplift from HS2 is so low.

        It may be possible for a fast line train to stop at a platform where another track is available for non-stop trains, as will be the case in all fast through HS2 stations. This is not the case at Milton Keynes, where there are two unidirectional and one bidirectional platforms for the fast and slow lines. The time taken for a service to decelerate from 125 to a stop, have the guard open the doors, wait for passengers to alight and board (including any with disabilities requiring ramps or other assistance, or those with luggage), have the guard perform despatch procedures and for the train to accelerate back up to 125mph is the limiting factor on how many services can run on the fast lines.

        The reference was to the city_of_Milton_Keynes, and not the_current_configuration of Milton Keynes Central railway station. It is perfectly possible to re-engineer the southern West Coast trackage to allow an intensive LDHS service and Milton Keynes commuter fast service, to co-exist on the same lines.

        If all services don’t stop at MK, it might be possible to route >20tph through the station, as would be the case if all services were made to stop. A combination of the two is mathematically impossible unless the expense of adding additional non-stop lines is provided and even then the timetable has to be written in such a way that there is a path available for stopped services to retake once they have accelerated away.

        The MK commuter trains do not need to re-start on the Fast Lines. Reinsertion conflict north of the city of Milton Keynes would not arise, because demand is much lower.

        The works at Reading have cost in the region of £800m and it is this magnitude of work that would be needed on all major ICWC stations if maximum capacity were to be squeezed out of the two pairs of tracks. The cost of such a move would be very high, with extreme disruption caused, yet the overall benefits of such a scheme are still considerably lower than the provision of an all-new LDHS line running parallel.

        Reading-style upheaval on the WCML is part of the HS2 proposition (at locations such as Euston and Crewe), not part of the upgrade propositions. The scale and cost of works required for upgrade based capacity augmentation is much lower, as was demonstrated by the 51m proposal.

        The quantification of HS2 benefit-cost have been rigged to produce a predetermined outcome, by overvaluation (and overquantification) of business travel benefits.

        Buying high-density Pendolinos for London Midland might make timetabling easier but it wouldn’t make a massive difference for passenger capacity. An 11-car Pendolino in high-density configuration can’t carry as many people as a 12-car 110mph 350 with 2+3 seating, and would result in higher costs for passengers and the TOC with the higher maintenance costs of a bespoke and outdated train design.

        “Costs for passengers” don’t really come into the equation for Department for Transport. If they did, there would be no IEP trains on order for the GW and ECML.

        Also, train designs from 10 or 20 years ago are not really relevant to the discussion. Tilt is predominately used on the northern sections of the West Coast route, and may confer negligible benefits for 125mph London outer suburban use.

        If we know we’re going to have to build a new line anyway one day, it is better just to build it now when the land is available and the time is ripe than it is to delay. Remember that HS2 is not to solve the problems of the 2014 rail network, or 2017, or 2020, or 2023. It is to solve the problems of 2030, 2040, 2050 and so on.

        We don’t “know” we’re going to have to build a new line anyway.

        Future demand is not knowable.

        No-one has the foggiest idea what the “problems of 2030, 2040, 2050” will be.

        No amount of moving block signalling, eddy current/ferrite bar brake (you know the guy I’m talking about) or ultra high frequency timetabling solves the issues of being limited to two pairs of tracks limited to ~265m long and single-deck UK gauge trains (which then have to tilt).

        No amount of fancy overhead line stanchions or 18 trains per hour timetabling hype can alter the fact that the HS2 trunk is just a single pair of tracks between the West Midlands and London.

        No amount of Westbourne spin can disguise the fact that the 50 billion pounds Y network would only link four UK cities directly.

        No high speed operator in Europe, apart from SNCF, uses double deck trains, and HS2 Ltd have never expressed any interest in running them.

        No amount of WCML upgrades are ever going to bring Manchester within spitting distance of an hour away from the world’s foremost city and no amount of upgrades are going to make rail a realistic time-sensitive alternative to air on the London-Scotland/Newcastle travel market.

        After an outlay of £50 billion, Manchester would still be 300 km from London, i.e. beyond acceptable commuting time and affordability for most people. Most people in Manchester hardly ever travel to London by train, and have shown very little interest in HS2.

        beleben

        May 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      • “I think not. The average speed of railfreight in Great Britain, or anywhere else, in Europe is nothing like 75mph. Not even close.

        Diurnal intensive freight and regional passenger traffic on the same tracks, is just not possible. That explains why the WCML freight uplift from HS2 is so low.”

        It may be that the average freight speed across the entire UK is less than 75mph but on the line(s) that are actually relevant for this discussion the speed of freight is higher. Go to realtimetrains.co.uk’s detailed view and look at all the freight passing Beattock and you’ll notice they are all pathed for 60 to 75mph. With increased electrification and more powerful diesel/electric/combo locomotives the speed of freight is only going to increase, with a particular justification for this increased speed being that it is then easier to path the services in with other faster services.

        “The reference was to the city_of_Milton_Keynes, and not the_current_configuration of Milton Keynes Central railway station. It is perfectly possible to re-engineer the southern West Coast trackage to allow an intensive LDHS service and Milton Keynes commuter fast service, to co-exist on the same lines.”

        It is all fine and well to say that it is possible from an engineering perspective but is it actually the best use of the state’s money? Re-engineering the southern West Coast Main Line would be a spectacularly expensive undertaking and per kilometre of new track/alignment it would not cost significantly less than HS2. If re-engineering it were a sensible option then it would be done instead but we all know that it is not a sensible option. Even if the entirety of Milton Keynes were rebuilt for the WCML it would just move the bottleneck to another location, which would then require its own massive investment. If you gave Network Rail several billion pounds to ‘fix’ Milton Keynes they would simply build a bypass track in a tunnel or around the edge of the city to take the non-stop trains at 225km/h. If asked to upgrade the southern ECML they would do the same thing – a brand-new two-track 225km/h fast railway from Alexandra Parade to Biggleswade so to bypass Welwyn for non-stop trains. In the realities of running a railway the only way to gain sufficient extra capacity is now to provide another pair of tracks and sets of platforms all the way from Euston to Crewe, as a sort of joined-up bypass line along the entire WCML.

        “The MK commuter trains do not need to re-start on the Fast Lines. Reinsertion conflict north of the city of Milton Keynes would not arise, because demand is much lower.”

        That means there must be free paths on the slow lines for these trains to take up, thus you do not gain much extra capacity over what is possible now and so the point is moot. The only way of adding extra capacity is to add another pair of tracks to the railway heading from London to Crewe.

        “Reading-style upheaval on the WCML is part of the HS2 proposition (at locations such as Euston and Crewe), not part of the upgrade propositions. The scale and cost of works required for upgrade based capacity augmentation is much lower, as was demonstrated by the 51m proposal.”

        The economic cost of service disruption is not included in the BCR figures for WCML upgrades and this is now the largest cost involved in most large-scale railway works. The previous WCML upgrade was an unmitigated disaster; the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link happening simultaneously was relatively trouble-free (other than due to Railtrack’s financial position from the WCML fiasco). Although Network Rail have learned from the mistakes of their predecessor, they are completely and utterly unwilling to upgrade the WCML in lieu of HS2. Going against the advice of the company responsible for the rail infrastructure in this country is one absolutely terrible decision, especially when the work involved is of such massive strategic importance.

        There is a need for extra platforms at Euston as part of a major rebuild and to do so only for WCML services would cost on the same order of magnitude of cost for a fraction of the benefits of the HS2 station rebuild. If you are going to knock down half of Camden you really might as well get the most bang for your buck and build it as an HSR terminus with the benefits that HSR will always have over classic rail.

        “The quantification of HS2 benefit-cost have been rigged to produce a predetermined outcome, by overvaluation (and overquantification) of business travel benefits.”

        The benefit-cost for the ‘alternatives’ to HS2 are also rigged to produce a predetermined outcome because there is a subset of society who are vehemently opposed to HS2 because it is being built near them. It doesn’t matter how much CO2 it would save or journeys it would free up or connections it would make or planes that would no longer be flying; these people will campaign against it because it personally affects them but does not directly benefit them (in their eyes). The local councils of the 51m group have a duty to protect the interests of their citizens but they have been spectacularly selfish in seeing none of the advantages that only building HSR can bring. Acknowledging that HS2 is inevitable and fighting for the right sort of mitigation works has done well for Ealing Council as they have now got HS2 in a tunnel rather than on the NNML surface alignment. What has spending millions of pounds against HS2 done for the rest of them? The idea of the scheme now has a massive majority of Parliamentary support and it still goes through most of their areas.

        ““Costs for passengers” don’t really come into the equation for Department for Transport. If they did, there would be no IEP trains on order for the GW and ECML.

        Also, train designs from 10 or 20 years ago are not really relevant to the discussion. Tilt is predominately used on the northern sections of the West Coast route, and may confer negligible benefits for 125mph London outer suburban use.”

        The initial IEP tender included the option for southern WCML services so you are not incorrect. When passenger numbers continue to grow I can see a fleet of Class 801s being ordered anyway (without the PFI scheme) for these journeys so that the most capacity can be drawn out of the WCML before HS2 is operational.

        “We don’t “know” we’re going to have to build a new line anyway.

        Future demand is not knowable.

        No-one has the foggiest idea what the “problems of 2030, 2040, 2050″ will be.”

        Not being able to know the future is not an excuse for indecision. There are four possibilities:

        1. Passenger numbers increase; HS2 is built.
        2. Passenger numbers stagnate; HS2 is built.
        3. Passenger numbers increase; HS2 is not built;
        4. Passenger numbers stagnate; HS2 is not built.

        The most likely option and the ‘best’ one is number 1, and that is what the Government has done its best to plan for. It is unquestionable that rail has gone from strength to strength in recent years, both through increased commuter journeys (not all into London, as well) and increases in long distance travel. Recent years have seen passenger growth well above what was predicted previously; do you simply ignore this as a multi-year fluke?

        Option 2 is by no means preferable to others but the rail network post-HS2 would still improve. Fewer trains would be ordered, as fewer services would need 400m formations, but there is always an increase in demand when service quality increases and journey time decreases as will happen with HS2. As a result, it would not be long until HS2 itself stimulates the extra demand to fill itself up, resulting in a situation not too dissimilar in the long term to option 1.

        Option 3 is by far the worst option and this is what the Government do not want to take. If we put off HS2 for another few years but watch passenger growth continue the plans will just come back with a vengeance. At best, the plans would have been fully put on hold with HS2 Ltd made dormant but the land would still be kept available for the original plans, resulting in more years of uncertainty around the HS2 development locations (depressing land prices for even longer; they increase/rebound once the main construction works have completed) while delaying any more work (as Network Rail would leave Euston to rot knowing that it would be demolished anyway while the Curzon Street site would remain barren and empty). The worst case scenario is that development would take place on the HS2 locations, requiring either new (and more expensive) plans to be drawn up taking another few years or requiring demolition of brand new property.

        “No amount of fancy overhead line stanchions or 18 trains per hour timetabling hype can alter the fact that the HS2 trunk is just a single pair of tracks between the West Midlands and London.”

        HS2 is another pair of tracks to be added to the plethora of tracks already available, while delivering far more capacity per track than any of the others with their train length, speed, capacity and loading gauge limitations. If HS2 goes tits-up the other services can continue as-is as there is little interaction between them; the benefits of such an approach are clear from the London Underground where the various tube lines are operationally separate from one another.

        “No amount of Westbourne spin can disguise the fact that the 50 billion pounds Y network would only link four UK cities directly.”

        It isn’t Westbourne spin to have read considerable chunks of the Hybrid Bill, DfT and local government policy documents, Network Rail documents and experiences from other high speed railways. HS2 itself links up nine of the ten largest cities in the UK, either through direct stations or classic-compatible services (which are not going to be significantly worse in passenger experience to captive ones) and it frees up capacity on the existing railway to serve even more places. For £50bn to be spent on anything-but-HS2 what kind of connectivity would you be able to get? HS2 is controversial because the resources have been spent on cataloguing every single thing it would do to affect people; ‘alternative’ schemes like 51M or HSUK can get by without having to tell anyone about the newts or the owls or the noise mitigation barriers or the vent shafts or whatever else annoys NIMBYs along the route of HS2.

        “No high speed operator in Europe, apart from SNCF, uses double deck trains, and HS2 Ltd have never expressed any interest in running them.”

        Indeed. The fact is though that in the future, if required, HS2 Ltd have the option of procuring them off-the-shelf if the small amount of extra capacity they bring would be necessary. Any WCML upgrade would not be able to call on double-decker trains or standard 400m EMU sets.

        “After an outlay of £50 billion, Manchester would still be 300 km from London, i.e. beyond acceptable commuting time and affordability for most people. Most people in Manchester hardly ever travel to London by train, and have shown very little interest in HS2.”

        Manchester will be 1hr8 minutes away from Euston. At this point in time, Brussels is just as far away as Manchester by train because actual distance is irrelevant. It is true that the vast majority of people do not travel LDHS every day but does that mean that providing the service is not a good idea? The vast majority of people haven’t travelled through the Channel Tunnel or gone on Eurostar; does this mean that there is no point to running this service? When you reduce the journey time from 2-and-a-bit to 1-and-a-bit hours it makes a considerable change to what sort of journeys can be done. There will be parts of Greater London that will be further away from the centre by journey time on the Tube than Manchester will be by HS2. When you reduce journey times you increase the number of people who are interested in making that journey and you enable things that just aren’t possible today when a round trip takes 5 hours.

        In the worst-case scenario of HS2 becoming a glorified commuter line to London there are still benefits over what is possible today. There is a severe brain drain of talented people from the North of England who head south to go to work every day and they must live in the south east as well, helping to cause the housing crisis there. If you allow them to live in their home cities of Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester etc it would allow them to live and spend their incomes in the places of the UK that need it more. These cities are large enough for agglomeration benefits to accrue, helping make them more attractive for businesses to invest in and certainly helped by their relative proximity to Zone 1. If you don’t build HS2 none of this happens.

        CautiousObserver

        May 20, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      • It may be that the average freight speed across the entire UK is less than 75mph but on the line(s) that are actually relevant for this discussion the speed of freight is higher. Go to realtimetrains.co.uk’s detailed view and look at all the freight passing Beattock and you’ll notice they are all pathed for 60 to 75mph. With increased electrification and more powerful diesel/electric/combo locomotives the speed of freight is only going to increase, with a particular justification for this increased speed being that it is then easier to path the services in with other faster services.

        The speed of freight trains passing Beattock has no relevance to the freight capacity uplift possible from HS2.

        It is all fine and well to say that it is possible from an engineering perspective but is it actually the best use of the state’s money? Re-engineering the southern West Coast Main Line would be a spectacularly expensive undertaking and per kilometre of new track/alignment it would not cost significantly less than HS2.

        Is an upgrade based approach actually the best use of the state’s money?

        That’s precisely what the benefit-cost metrics show.

        51m’s BCR was 5.1 (and that scheme included lots of unnecessary infrastructure work in the North).

        Re-engineering the southern West Coast Main Line would be a spectacularly expensive undertaking.

        In your opinion.

        The total rebuild of Euston station for HS2 would be a spectacularly expensive undertaking, in my opinion.

        Even if the entirety of Milton Keynes were rebuilt for the WCML it would just move the bottleneck to another location, which would then require its own massive investment.

        No bottleneck would be moved. Because demand north of MK is far lower.

        If you gave Network Rail several billion pounds to ‘fix’ Milton Keynes they would simply build a bypass track in a tunnel or around the edge of the city to take the non-stop trains at 225km/h. If asked to upgrade the southern ECML they would do the same thing – a brand-new two-track 225km/h fast railway from Alexandra Parade to Biggleswade so to bypass Welwyn for non-stop trains.

        That would seem to be a good argument for reforming, or abolishing, Network Rail. There are likely to be far bigger increases in demand on other corridors into London (from Surrey and Essex), where, oddly enough, Network Rail is not proposing any new lines.

        In the realities of running a railway the only way to gain sufficient extra capacity is now to provide another pair of tracks and sets of platforms all the way from Euston to Crewe, as a sort of joined-up bypass line along the entire WCML.

        No.

        “The MK commuter trains do not need to re-start on the Fast Lines. Reinsertion conflict north of the city of Milton Keynes would not arise, because demand is much lower.”

        That means there must be free paths on the slow lines for these trains to take up, thus you do not gain much extra capacity over what is possible now and so the point is moot. The only way of adding extra capacity is to add another pair of tracks to the railway heading from London to Crewe.

        A large capacity uplift north of Milton Keynes is not required. See above.

        The economic cost of service disruption is not included in the BCR figures for WCML upgrades and this is now the largest cost involved in most large-scale railway works.

        The economic cost of service disruption is not included in the BCR figures for HS2.

        The previous WCML upgrade was an unmitigated disaster; the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link happening simultaneously was relatively trouble-free (other than due to Railtrack’s financial position from the WCML fiasco).

        The WCML “upgrade” was primary about renewals, not upgrades, and renewals work is not really avoidable. The West Coast Modernisation was much less of a disaster than the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which is likely to cost taxpayers billions of pounds, for years to come.

        Although Network Rail have learned from the mistakes of their predecessor, they are completely and utterly unwilling to upgrade the WCML in lieu of HS2.

        Patch-and-mend is what Network Rail does. There is no sign of their being “unwilling to upgrade the WCML”.

        Indeed, the HS2 project would require massive engineering interventions on the WCML, at multiple locations.

        There is a need for extra platforms at Euston as part of a major rebuild and to do so only for WCML services would cost on the same order of magnitude of cost for a fraction of the benefits of the HS2 station rebuild.

        “There is a need for extra platforms at Euston”, in your opinion.

        Euston could be reduced to 12 or 14 platforms, in my opinion.

        With its commuter trains moved into Crossrail 1 and X2.

        The benefit-cost for the ‘alternatives’ to HS2 are also rigged to produce a predetermined outcome because there is a subset of society who are vehemently opposed to HS2 because it is being built near them. It doesn’t matter how much CO2 it would save or journeys it would free up or connections it would make or planes that would no longer be flying; these people will campaign against it because it personally affects them but does not directly benefit them (in their eyes).

        In October 2013 Faisal Islam (Channel 4 tv) noted that the forecast HS2 business travel benefits had been arbitrarily increased from £34bn to over £40bn, and boosted by essentially ripping up the traditional Treasury green book methodology. There has been no equivalent recalculation of the benefit numbers for alternative schemes.

        Not being able to know the future is not an excuse for indecision. There are four possibilities:

        1. Passenger numbers increase; HS2 is built.
        2. Passenger numbers stagnate; HS2 is built.
        3. Passenger numbers increase; HS2 is not built;
        4. Passenger numbers stagnate; HS2 is not built.

        There are numerous possibilities, such as ‘passenger numbers declining’. Or ‘something called HS2 but completely different to the current HS2 scheme, being built’.

        For £50bn to be spent on anything-but-HS2 what kind of connectivity would you be able to get?

        It might help if you define what you mean by “connectivity”.

        The HS2 concept is just a passenger-only line between London and 3 provincial cities.

        It is true that the vast majority of people do not travel LDHS every day but does that mean that providing the service is not a good idea?

        It means that investment in trains needs to be kept to reasonable levels.

        The vast majority of people haven’t travelled through the Channel Tunnel or gone on Eurostar; does this mean that there is no point to running this service?

        According to Ricard Anguera’s Strategic Rail Authority report, Channel Tunnel cost benefit appraisal revealed that the British economy would have been £10 billion better off had it never been constructed. Much the same could be said of HS1.

        When you reduce the journey time from 2-and-a-bit to 1-and-a-bit hours it makes a considerable change to what sort of journeys can be done.

        If a high speed line were built to Orkney, or under the North Sea to Rotterdam, that would also make a considerable change to what sort of journeys could be done. But the net benefits would still be negative.

        There will be parts of Greater London that will be further away from the centre by journey time on the Tube than Manchester will be by HS2. When you reduce journey times you increase the number of people who are interested in making that journey and you enable things that just aren’t possible today when a round trip takes 5 hours.

        HS2 Ltd’s modelling suggested that most journeys to and from outer London would be made by car, and not switch to HS2.

        In the worst-case scenario of HS2 becoming a glorified commuter line to London there are still benefits over what is possible today. There is a severe brain drain of talented people from the North of England who head south to go to work every day and they must live in the south east as well, helping to cause the housing crisis there. If you allow them to live in their home cities of Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester etc it would allow them to live and spend their incomes in the places of the UK that need it more.

        There is no way HS2 could have a noticeable impact on commuting into London, or the London property spiral.

        beleben

        May 21, 2014 at 11:54 am

      • “The speed of freight trains passing Beattock has no relevance to the freight capacity uplift possible from HS2.”

        No, it is very relevant. You said that there wouldn’t be significant benefits for freight from HS2 because most freight is pathed too slow to fit in with stopping passenger services. Freight is most economical over the longest distances such as Scotland-England and therefore a considerable amount of UK rail freight relevant to the HS2 discussion passes Beattock or Shap or the like every day.

        “Is an upgrade based approach actually the best use of the state’s money?

        That’s precisely what the benefit-cost metrics show.

        51m’s BCR was 5.1 (and that scheme included lots of unnecessary infrastructure work in the North).”

        The state must do the best for itself in the very long term. The benefits of HS2 take decades and decades to appear and would be long-lasting. The benefits of an WCML upgrade would take less time to appear but they wouldn’t last anywhere near the same length of time. Whenever rail services are improved passenger numbers will increase; if you upgrade the WCML to make the services better it will just encourage more people to travel by rail. You eventually are left with the same situation as you started with but this time the cost of another 30% extra capacity will be even higher because of the law of diminishing returns. As I said before, the strongest likelihood is that a high speed rail line along the idea of HS2 will be needed eventually in this country and this point in time is the best time to start constructing it.

        “In your opinion.

        The total rebuild of Euston station for HS2 would be a spectacularly expensive undertaking, in my opinion.”

        The total rebuild of Euston to add in extra platforms for extra WCML services would be a spectacularly expensive undertaking, in my opinion. The problem is that the benefits you get from doing this just to fill them with Pendolinos or their replacement is less than the benefits you get from using them for HS2, no matter how small you believe the benefits are from HS2.

        “No bottleneck would be moved. Because demand north of MK is far lower.”

        And you are ignoring all the other places where HS2 provides extra capacity. No amount of WCML upgrade would help the ECML or MML at all while HS2 relieves all three north/south main lines at once.

        “That would seem to be a good argument for reforming, or abolishing, Network Rail. There are likely to be far bigger increases in demand on other corridors into London (from Surrey and Essex), where, oddly enough, Network Rail is not proposing any new lines.”

        Unfortunately none of the other corridors into London suffer/will be suffering from the same sort of issues as the WCML though. There are a whole raft of improvements that can be made to the mainly-commuter lines that go to Surrey and Essex that don’t require a new high speed route to be built, e.g. Crossrails 2 and 3 or OHLE conversion and 12-car platform extensions or additional grade-separation or whatever. The north/south main lines do not have the same quick wins to be made and so the only options are to make enormously invasive upgrades or to build another line. Once the GWML has been electrified, resignalled, IEP-ed and Crossrail-ed there aren’t many other things that can be done to it either. At that point the next logical step will be a new line from London to Bristol. The same applies to the commuter lines – once there is nothing ‘easy’ left to do the only realistic option is to build a new line.

        “No.

        The MK commuter trains do not need to re-start on the Fast Lines. Reinsertion conflict north of the city of Milton Keynes would not arise, because demand is much lower.

        A large capacity uplift north of Milton Keynes is not required. See above.”

        “The economic cost of service disruption is not included in the BCR figures for HS2.”

        As terrible as you believe the disruption around Euston will be it’s pretty much the only place where there is going to be a particular issue. The vast majority of the construction of HS2 takes place far away from the existing rail network, needing no possessions whatsoever. The limited number of places where HS2 interacts with the existing rail network, e.g. at Handsacre, is nothing like the number of places that would be affected by a further WCML upgrade.

        You are also forgetting the need for upgrades on the other mainlines at the same time. The WCRM was made feasible because there was additional capacity available on alternative routes but this luxury will not be available in future. If you are pushing more passengers onto a railway that will see its capacity drop when engineering works are happening there will be a lot more of an economic affect than just closing some of the WCML platforms at Euston for a few years at a time and leaving the other mainlines entirely intact.

        “The WCML “upgrade” was primary about renewals, not upgrades, and renewals work is not really avoidable. The West Coast Modernisation was much less of a disaster than the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which is likely to cost taxpayers billions of pounds, for years to come.”

        The WCML upgrade was a disaster because it ended up as little more than a renewal when it was originally promised to be an upgrade. Railtrack promised 225km/h moving-block signalling for a couple of billion and what we got was 125mph standard signalling for several times that amount. That is the risk of another WCML upgrade – the risk of an upgrade going completely tits-up is far higher than the risk of HS2’s construction going the same way. There is nothing unprecedented about HS2 from an engineering perspective and the construction programme is conservative enough to make up for any individual problems that can arise. Look at Crossrail versus Thameslink – Crossrail is going along perfectly happily and it is a project of comparable complexity and cost to Phase 1. Thameslink, as an upgrade of what is already there, has taken decades to come to fruition and has been beset by problems throughout.

        “Patch-and-mend is what Network Rail does. There is no sign of their being “unwilling to upgrade the WCML”.”

        Network Rail have a duty to patch and mend what infrastructure they own and yes, they are continuing to do work on the WCML. These works are not the sort of upgrade that would be necessary without HS2 though.

        “Indeed, the HS2 project would require massive engineering interventions on the WCML, at multiple locations.”

        Multiple locations on the WCML < the entire WCML.

        ""There is a need for extra platforms at Euston”, in your opinion.

        Euston could be reduced to 12 or 14 platforms, in my opinion.

        With its commuter trains moved into Crossrail 1 and X2."

        And that would cost more or less the same as HS2 but would solve the capacity issues only on the final few kilometres of the WCML into London. CR123 doesn't do a thing anywhere north of wherever the tunnel portals and if all the WCML problems were solved by this we wouldn't be building HS2.

        "In October 2013 Faisal Islam (Channel 4 tv) noted that the forecast HS2 business travel benefits had been arbitrarily increased from £34bn to over £40bn, and boosted by essentially ripping up the traditional Treasury green book methodology. There has been no equivalent recalculation of the benefit numbers for alternative schemes."

        Would there be benefits for business travel if HS2 weren't built? Every single point you can think against HS2 needs to be thought about in regards to the alternatives. If business travel weren't spectacularly useful economically on HS2 would it be any better on the alternatives?

        "There are numerous possibilities, such as ‘passenger numbers declining’. Or ‘something called HS2 but completely different to the current HS2 scheme, being built’."

        If you believe that passenger numbers will decline then you are living in cloud cuckoo land. There is no other way to say it. The only way this would happen would be due to a nuclear holocaust.

        Try to come up with a scheme called HS2 that is completely different to the current HS2 scheme.

        You need a London terminus. Arup looked at all possibilities from Watford Junction to Hyde Park to Canary Wharf when they designed HS2 and they picked Euston for a very good reason. Even the HSUK people plan to use Euston for their London terminus.

        It would be a useful thing to have some sort of connectivity with Crossrail, especially if the normal terminus doesn't actually connect with it. That makes it easy to have onward connections to Heathrow Airport, which is a reasonable place to expect people to travel to in Greater London, and to the various other important areas all served by Crossrail 1. There aren't many better places for this where land is available other than Old Oak Common.

        The two largest cities in the UK are London and Birmingham and this route is directly on the way to to the third largest (Manchester), fifth largest (Glasgow) and sixth largest (Liverpool) urban areas in the UK, currently served by the WCML which is the busiest mixed-traffic railway in Europe. The ECML is important but it serves the fourth (Leeds) and seventh (Tyneside) and the MML serves the 8th (Nottingham), 9th (Sheffield) and 11th (Leicester). It really isn't difficult to see why the general arrangement of HS2 is what it is.

        Since you are serving Birmingham you need a station in a place where a station can be built. For its faults, Curzon Street is a pretty good place to put a station, being the right shape and being across the street from the Bullring. Although not essential, it would be nice to have a station available for use by the greater Midlands area, an area served already by the airport and motorway network around Bickenhill.

        Once you've come to these conclusions it's just a matter of designing the line that connects these places up. There are different alignments possible but the alternatives are not necessarily any better overall than what is planned for HS2. As terrible as this choice of route is for the residents of Burton Green the alternatives would harm even more people.

        "It might help if you define what you mean by “connectivity”.

        The HS2 concept is just a passenger-only line between London and 3 provincial cities."

        It is the start of a new high speed rail network. The majority of the population of Britain will be served by HS2 and classic-compatible services running off of it. Once HS2 is completed to Scotland and Newcastle any future extensions to the south west or the east can build on the network as the motorway network benefits today. What was the BCR of the Preston Bypass when there were no other motorways to connect to?

        "It means that investment in trains needs to be kept to reasonable levels."

        What are 'reasonable levels'? Society has just learned from its mistake in investing in roads and air above rail and we are playing catch-up. Rail is intrinsically a more efficient way of transporting people and goods around the UK than roads or air. You can criticise the post-HS2 timetable all you like but it makes it far easier to run extra services on the existing WCML, stopping at stations that currently exist, than another simple WCML upgrade. A WCML upgrade might provide extra capacity for intercity and some commuter traffic but it can't do as much for as many people as HS2.

        "According to Ricard Anguera’s Strategic Rail Authority report, Channel Tunnel cost benefit appraisal revealed that the British economy would have been £10 billion better off had it never been constructed. Much the same could be said of HS1."

        HS1 was a high speed line for a market that did not exist beforehand so it is understandable that it may have not met all of its targets. It is slowly filling up and its benefits will continue for decades and decades to come; as part of the wider European high speed rail network its value will increase as the rest of the network is expanded.

        "If a high speed line were built to Orkney, or under the North Sea to Rotterdam, that would also make a considerable change to what sort of journeys could be done. But the net benefits would still be negative."

        HS2 serves the most important places in Britain, home to millions of people and the vast majority of the economy. If there is one thing that you cannot criticise HS2 for is that it serves places that don't deserve to have a decent rail service. The number of people travelling along the main lines is already high and will continue to grow with or without HS2, so the investment in more capacity on this route is reasonable. There are no capacity limitations to Orkney or Rotterdam compared to the demand so there is no need to make this comparison.

        "HS2 Ltd’s modelling suggested that most journeys to and from outer London would be made by car, and not switch to HS2."

        And as car travel becomes more expensive and public transport networks become more comprehensive this will begin to change. No matter how few journeys that HS2 and the new WCML timetable would take off the roads, the alternative of a WCML upgrade would take off even fewer.

        "There is no way HS2 could have a noticeable impact on commuting into London, or the London property spiral."

        And a WCML upgrade has even less of a chance. As bad as the picture with HS2 can be painted to be the picture of a future without HS2 is even worse.

        CautiousObserver

        May 22, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      • Pretty much all you have done in this comment stream is post various outlandish opinions, unbacked by evidence. You are not so much promoting HS2, as presenting an alternative universe, in which transport and economics are completely different.

        beleben

        May 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm

  3. Some of us are speculating whether an action for fraud could be mounted against those who have so shamelessly promoted HS2 by way of pretenses to the “Transformational”, to the Wider Economic Benefits, and within the economic case generally, see topic 17 within the Transport-Watch web site to appreciate the mammoth scale of the deceptions http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/topic-17-high-speed-rail-hs2

    transportwatch

    May 12, 2014 at 9:06 am


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