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Archive for November 2014

‘No answers on how to boost capacity on the railway’

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According to the Financial Times cuts calculator, scrapping the HS2 rail project would provide £8.1 billion of savings over the remainder of the 9-year government austerity drive. But it would “leave you with no answers on how to boost capacity on the railway”.

Yet only last week, the government announced that the new East Coast Main Line franchise — awarded to a Stagecoach / Virgin joint venture — would ‘boost capacity by 50%’. And on the West Coast Main Line, capacity could be increased by 40%, with minimal infrastructure expenditure.

West Coast Fast Lines, 3-minute spacing, 80% utilisation scenario (Beleben)

The truth is that HS2 provides no answers where capacity is most needed, i.e. on the commuter tracks south and east of London.

Written by beleben

November 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Posted in HS2

Closed down and sealed off

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Library of Birmingham twitter announced early closure on 27 Nov 2014, but no explanation

Library of Birmingham twitter announced early closure on 27 Nov 2014, but no explanation

The Chartered Institute of Building organised an event on ‘HS2 and The Benefits It Will Bring’ at Room 105 of the Library of Birmingham on the evening of 27 November. While it was possible to for invitees to attend the event, it turned out that the whole of the main library had been closed down and sealed off for a private business function (Quilter Cheviot) and the general public turfed out at 4.30pm. So much for the Library being a “people’s palace“.

Written by beleben

November 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Posted in Birmingham, Politics

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The cost of TfL Crossrail 2

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Cost estimates for the London Crossrail 2 railway scheme have increased by more than £6 billion, according to Transport for London.

[“Crossrail 2 cost rises by almost a third, says TfL”, BBC News, 27 Nov 2014]

The 30% increase, of £6.6bn, has been due to the inclusion of costs for new trains and surface works, figures show.

It means the north-south rail scheme is now expected to cost £20bn for the shorter Metro route and £27.5bn for the longer regional option.

A decision is expected in early 2015 between the Metro and regional routes.

[The regional version of] Crossrail 2 would run from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire to Epsom in Surrey, passing through central London via stations at Tottenham Court Road, Victoria, Chelsea and Clapham Junction.

But even the regional version of Crossrail 2 would not be particularly helpful in terms of maximising London rail capacity. The scheme should be redesigned to explicitly address overcrowding on the South West Main Line, and take account of population growth in East Anglia.

The Crossrail_X2 concept (below) combines elements of the 1970s Chelsea – Hackney tube and 1980 British Rail Euston – Victoria proposals, to relieve the South West Main Line, and provide a new route to East Anglia.

London Crossrail_X2 concept (Beleben)

London Crossrail_X2 concept (Beleben)

It would also be possible to route some Midland Main Line commuter trains into Crossrail_X2, in the event of Thameslink ‘maxing out’.

London Crossrail_X2 concept (Beleben)

Written by beleben

November 28, 2014 at 5:34 pm

HS2 and ‘seats into Euston’

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In the House of Commons on 12 September 2013, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin spoke about HS2 capacity.

[Mr McLoughlin:] If we made the improvement that some people suggest on the present line, it would lead to capacity increases of about 53% between London and Birmingham. HS2 will lead to a capacity increase of 143%.

What “the improvement that some people suggest”, referred to, was not explained. Equally unclear is where the “143%” and “53%” figures came from. The same figures cropped up in the FAQ section of the Greengauge 21 Rail Leaders Group website, but instead of referring to ‘capacity between London and Birmingham’, they referred to ‘seats into Euston’.

Greengauge 21 High Speed Rail Leaders Group faq, 'Seats into Euston'

Greengauge 21 High Speed Rail Leaders Group faq, ‘Seats into Euston’

Obviously, seats into or out of Euston (Rail Leaders), and ‘capacity between London and Birmingham’ (Patrick McLoughlin) are not the same thing. Most people occupying ‘seats into Euston’ are coming from Milton Keynes, or places between MK and London.

Even ‘intercity seats into Euston’ would be a curious measure, because the HS2 project is based on transferring West and South Yorkshire intercity traffic from Kings Cross and St Pancras into Euston.

Capacity reserved to serve East Coast and East Midlands destinations from Euston would not be additional capacity available to serve West Coast destinations. It would make much more sense to measure capacity between origin-destination pairs, e.g. London to Birmingham, but there are no published figures factoring in actual and potential capacity on the Chiltern line (for example).

HS2 October 2013, official HS2 and West Coast capacity representation with annotations by Beleben

The October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2 illustrative service pattern showed 11 HS2 paths serving ‘West Coast’ destinations (Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, etc), 3 classic long distance trains from Euston on the WCML, and 9 WCML Fast Line commuter trains from Euston each hour, allowing the following estimate.

  • HS2: 11 * ~1,100 ≈ 12,100 (based on all trains full length, and each 200-metre unit having 550 seats)
  • WCML Long Distance: 3 * ~600 ≈ 1,800 (based on 11-car Pendolino)
  • WCML Fast Commuter: 9 * ~800 ≈ 7,200 (based on 12-car Desiro)
  • Total: 21,100 seats

It might be worth comparing HS2 Ltd’s estimate of 550 seats in a 200-metre high speed train, with recent European orders. The 400-metre Class 374 units ordered by Eurostar are able to seat “up to 900 passengers”, and the 200-metre AGVs operated by NTV in Italy have around 460 seats. Using the Italian AGV figure would give a HS2 ‘West Coast destination’ capacity of ~10,100 seats, and a one way Euston hourly WCML_Fast plus HS2_West_Coast_corridor seating total of ~19,100.

Written by beleben

November 28, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Camden to the rescue

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As the HS2 project teeters on the edge of self-destruction, a perhaps unexpected would-be saviour has emerged, in the form of Camden council. It has effectively dropped its opposition to the scheme, and is co-operating with Network Rail and HS2 Ltd. The U-turn appears to be confirmed by news that the council is “pressing ahead quickly” with contract plans to ‘decant’ households from their existing accommodation by the summer of 2017.

Written by beleben

November 26, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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HS2-induced disruption at Euston

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Network Rail's understanding of Euston capacity reduction from HS2 construction, 2013

Written by beleben

November 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Getting to Harrods ‘would be easier’, part two

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'@meetbirmingham on twitter: HS2 would help tourists reach Harrods quicker from BHX'

Birmingham city council shills on social media are continuing their bizarre campaign to promote shopping in London over shopping in Birmingham. Of course, the first place one could disembark from HS2 in London would be Old Oak Common — which would probably be classed as zone 3, or at best zone-3-border.

So, after a 2-kilometre people mover and a breakneck 30-minute train ride from Bickenhill, would-be Harrods shoppers would still be in zone 3.

Written by beleben

November 25, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Birmingham, High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with ,

Ready and desperate, part two

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Part one

Some of the biggest supporters of HS2 are foreign rolling stock manufacturers, such as Alstom. It’s not difficult to see why.

[“La chute des commandes de trains à partir de 2018 menace plus de 15.000 emplois”, Julie Chabanas, AFP, 24 Nov 2014]

Après le renouvellement en cours des TER, TGV et Intercités, les industriels du secteur ferroviaire s’alarment d’une baisse des commandes à partir de 2018, qui pourrait menacer au moins 15.000 emplois, et appellent les pouvoirs publics à clarifier leur positionnement.

La Fédération des industries ferroviaires (FIF) a fait état lors d’un comité stratégique organisé la semaine dernière, d’après un document obtenu par l’AFP, de “10.000 emplois industriels en risque dans la filière, plus de 15.000 au total, sans compter la baisse d’activité induite dans les services de proximité”.
Les usines Alstom de Belfort, Aytré (Charente-Maritime) et Reichshoffen (Bas-Rhin) verraient notamment leur activité chuter.

La FIF anticipe qu’il n’y aura “plus d’activité sur Belfort à la fin du programme TGV en cours”, et qu'”à la fin du TGV, Aytré n’a plus que du (tramway) Citadis”. Quant à l’usine du constructeur Bombardier à Crespin (Nord), qui produit des TER, sa charge sera en “chute libre dès fin 2015”.

Written by beleben

November 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Seven platforms of a building site

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David HigginsOn 22 November, the Telegraph picked up on the revelations from the 9 October meeting in which it emerged that work on the more ambitious development of Euston (‘madEuston’) had “stopped” because costs and benefits did not balance. The story, by Andrew Gilligan, seems to have prompted HS2 chairman David Higgins to give a few reassuring quotes to the BBC.

[“High-speed trains ‘will stop at Euston’, boss insists”, Richard Westcott, BBC, 24 Nov 2014]

The boss of HS2, the high-speed train project, has insisted that services will operate from Euston.

Minutes from a recent meeting of rail bosses suggested plans to expand the central London station had been put on hold because of disagreements about the cost and design.

It led to fears that the controversial line might terminate at Old Oak Common in west London.

But Sir David Higgins has told the BBC that will not happen.

“It’s simply about capacity. There’s not the level of connectivity at Old Oak Common that you’d get at Euston, which will eventually have Crossrail 2, but also because of the various tube lines that connect with the mainline trains,” he said.
As Sir David points out, all they have to do before 2026, when phase one of the line opens, is to add six or seven new platforms, independent of the existing station.

Sir David also denied that the project was slipping behind schedule: “We haven’t stopped anything and haven’t delayed a thing.”

The Euston redevelopment was supposed to be completed by 2026, but Mr Higgins is now talking of a situation where HS2 “day one” services might run from seven platforms of a building site (which could remain one for years afterwards).

Since it was set up, economy with the actuality has been standard practice at HS2 Ltd. And in the short time he has been chairman, David Higgins has made a series of implausible claims (‘HS2 would save the green belt‘, ‘without HS2, a new motorway would have to be built‘, ‘a 220mph railway has nearly double the capacity of a 120mph one‘, etc). There is no way of knowing what the real costs of madEuston are. Without additional public cash, HS2 looks doomed, but a further increase in the budget may not be politically possible.

Written by beleben

November 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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The legend of extra capacity, part two

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Part one

As previously mentioned, homogenised use of the Rugby – Euston West Coast Fast Lines could produce a capacity uplift of ~40% without major instrustructure work or resignalling. The capacity and reliability increase would largely arise from using more appropriate rolling stock. Lower performance units, such as the Class 350, could be cascaded to support an expanded electrification programme in northern England.

Network Rail Rugby - Euston Fast intensive use scenario

Network Rail Rugby – Euston Fast intensive use scenario (for comparison)

In the ‘80%’ scenario presented below, outer suburban capacity from London to Milton Keynes would be increased by 100% over the 2012 level. While it would be theoretically possible to originate a northbound Fast from Milton Keynes using the same path vacated by an ex-Euston outer suburban switching to Slow south of Bletchley, given the asymmetric demand north and south of Milton Keynes, re-casting the Euston Slow would be a more practical means of mitigating northbound connectivity loss. With an optimised station layout, some Fast station calls at Rugby would also be possible (the Rugby bifurcation effectively thins capacity utilisation of the WCML trunk).

West Coast Main Line, efficient use, no-resignal scenario

West Coast Main Line, efficient use, no-resignal scenario (Beleben)

Written by beleben

November 24, 2014 at 11:47 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2