Archive for July 2015
In Western Europe and North America, passenger rail operations require subsidy, but according to the British Government Response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee [High Speed 2 report],
- around 90 million passenger trips would be made on HS2 each year
- and, on a standalone basis, it would generate an annual ‘surplus’ of £2,800 million.
So the government appears to be claiming that each HS2 roundtrip would bring in £62 more in revenue, than its cost of production.
However, the Department for Transport has refused to provide any information on projected HS2 operating costs and revenues.
How does the HS2 ‘£62 surplus’ compare with other lines in Britain? In the year 2013 / 2014, train operators Virgin Trains West Coast and Southeastern received subsidies of £0.047 and £0.124 per passenger mile respectively. So each return journey from Manchester to London would have generated a ‘negative surplus’ of ~£17.
In a report commissioned by the Department for Transport in 2013, KPMG estimated that HS2 would create £15 billion annually in increased economic output, with phase one accounting for 40 per cent of that benefit (£6 billion per annum).
However, a ‘new mathematical model of human interactions’ predicts that HS2 phase one would create only £3.6 billion annually in increased economic output; less than one per cent of the current output of Birmingham and London.
[HS2 and Crossrail: Scientists predict the economic effect of major rail projects, Simon Levey, Imperial College, 31 July 2015]
[…] Dr [Aaron] Sim carried out the study with Professor Michael Stumpf, also from the Department of Life Sciences, Professor Mauricio Barahona, from the Department of Mathematics, and Professor Sophia Yaliraki, from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial.
They say the findings should be used to help politicians and civic planers to put in place the most efficient, widely beneficial and fairest infrastructure.
The siting of Curzon Street and Bickenhill stations suggests that Birmingham Chamber of Commerce do not see a need for a high speed station to be be well integrated with the existing rail network.
But West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce seems to have a somewhat different view. It wants redevelopment of the existing Leeds City station to accommodate HS2 (instead of building a separate terminus at New Lane), and extensive modifications to the classic railway network in the locality.
[WNY Chamber position paper, July 2015]
[…] In late 2014, Chancellor Osborne announced plans for HS3 (now TransNorth rail) as a solution for east-west rail connectivity (Liverpool to Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle via Manchester and/or Leeds) – this brings with it additional implications for Leeds’ city centre station and presents further opportunities to rethink its location and approaches.
[…] As highlighted by Sir David Higgins (March 2014), any [West Yorkshire] high speed station must be fully integrated with the existing rail network to ensure the benefits of HS2 and TransNorth are spread throughout the sub-region.
WNY Chamber seems to have ‘borrowed’ proposals such as the Aire valley rail link from HSUK‘s Yorkshire Rail strategy, but judging by ‘Figure 6’ above, it seems to be less concerned about connectivities outside of Leeds itself.
Obviously, the development favoured by WNY Chamber would involve extensive disruption to the existing rail network. The claim that building HS2 would be ‘less disruptive than upgrading the existing railway’, does not have a factual basis.
The Government Response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee HS2 report referred to the Rail Usage Drivers Dataset, “a dataset of disaggregate ticket sales data between the years 1994/1995 and 2013/14, for over 20,000 flows and 6 ticket type categories”.
[Department for Transport statement on the Rail Usage Drivers Dataset, July 2015]
This ticket sale information is combined at a disaggregate level with data on possible drivers of rail demand (including population, employment, GVA and households) for the purpose of estimating elasticities using regressions. These elasticities are then used in rail forecasting.
The ticket sales data within RUDD cannot be shared as they are owned by the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and held by the Department under a duty of confidentiality, in accordance with the National Rail Franchise Terms in place between the Secretary of State and the train operators. The National Rail Franchise Terms can be found published either in or alongside the franchise agreements via the following webpage:
Under section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, information held under such a duty is subject to an absolute exemption from disclosure. […]
The Government Response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report contained aggregate data that was sourced from the RUDD database. These data were released with the agreement of the TOCs concerned for the purpose of the Government’s response to this report.
What isn’t clear, is why the government should have the exclusive right to access and use RUDD data in support of its own favoured policies (such as HS2). For example, statistics from RUDD might also clear up exactly how many of the “long distance” trips on Inter City West Coast, actually are long distance.
Greater Birmingham and Solihull local enterprise partnership’s “Getting our people ready for HS2” report states that the number of HS2 construction jobs is unlikely to greatly exceed 10,000 in any one year.