He says with knowledge
Business trends at sea mean the HS2 rail plan is essential, according to HS2 Chief Information Officer James Findlay.
[HS2 CIO James Findlay interview – Boats, trains and CIO reveals, Mark Chillingworth, CIO, 19 Mar 2015]
[…] Speaking at his Canary Wharf office, James Findlay told CIO UK that “95% of our trade is by sea, so transport is critical to our ability to compete.”
When a ship such as Globe unloads (it takes 24 hours), its load would form a single line measuring 72 miles, Birmingham to Manchester as it happens, and the next phase of HS2.
“The ports at London and Southampton are being dredged for the new mega ships, so the challenge is the ability to distribute the loads. The ability to interface are critical to our survival and that requires a lot of strategic thinking about the hub cities in the UK.” While politicians try and sell HS2 to the public with everything but the truth; Findlay deals in facts and he knows the facts. Not just because he’s a well aligned CIO, but because he has a heritage on the seas, having been IT and projects leader at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for close to a decade and before that a career in ports and defence. To this day, the coast plays a major part in his life, and he sees what’s happening on our waves and to our demands of our economy.
“Over the next 10 years we will be at peak capacity on the existing rail network,” he says returning to dry land. “HS2 provides a relief to primary freight traffic. We won’t build more roads,” he says with knowledge, as Findlay doubles up as Technology Leader for the Department for Transport. “Network Rail has been re-engineering some of the lines through a process of dropping the lines,” but as he explains, because the UK was the first adopter of rail networks, the nation is lumbered with a legacy of Victorian lines that can’t take the growing capacity of local, intercity and freight rail. A new rail infrastructure is required.
So what is the relief which would be provided by HS2 to primary freight traffic? Careful scrutiny of the evidence suggests the uplift in railfreight capacity would be, at best, minimal.
And there may not be any uplift at all. When the Department for Transport were asked about HS2 released capacity for railfreight, the answer was
[…] there is good reason to believe that 3 additional freight paths per off-peak hour on the WCML corridor would be compatible with the HS2 Phase Two service set out in the PFM assumptions report.
3 additional freight paths per off-peak hour on the WCML corridor would be compatible with the HS2 Phase Two service set out in the PFM assumptions report. And 3 additional freight paths per off-peak hour on the WCML corridor would be compatible with no HS2 service at all.
Because 3 is the hourly two-way number of freight paths currently allocated on the WCML, but not used.