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Have a tough time

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HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins has said that the company’s new high speed line would not aim to take business away from the Midland Main Line, and would have a “tough time” competing with Derby Midland train station.

[Timesavings HS2 could bring to Derby travellers are revealed, Chris Mallett, Derby Telegraph, January 21, 2016]

[…] Buoyed by last year’s decision by the region’s councils to unify and get behind an HS2 station at Toton, Sir David Higgins was almost incredulous when asked if he expected any issues in the region when he visited Derby on Wednesday.

He said that achieving the quick link between Derby, Toton, and Nottingham would need some kind of “Metro” service – in this case meaning a light rail or tram service.
Sir David said: “I don’t think there’s any contentious issues here [in the East Midlands]. “We’ll be working with residents and business owners all along the route that are affected and to keep them informed about the compensation they are entitled to.”
Asked whether it wouldn’t be better to electrify the current tracks and increase lengths of platforms and trains to increase capacity Sir David said this had been tried.
He pointed to the revamp of the West Coast Mainline, where “£10 billion” of spending had brought only a 20% increase in the number of people the line could serve.

But according to the National Audit Office, Phase 3 of the West Coast Main Line modernisation
was undertaken to increase capacity by “80 per cent for long distance passenger trains”, and “60 – 70 per cent more freight paths“.

And if HS2 is not supposed to compete with classic rail, why does its January 2012 Updated appraisal of HS2 transport user benefits state that 65% of its passengers would be transfers from classic rail?

The Derby Telegraph article mentioned that Mr Higgins was ‘keen to highlight the reliability HS2 would bring in comparison to existing train routes’.

He said: “The West Coast Mainline is down for three months [after storm damage].

“There’s no form of traffic there now. So it’s all about reliability. You can go down on HS2 a morning trip and get back.”

He said the line would benefit from flood protection that leaves it susceptible to flooding that has only a 0.1% chance of happening in any given year.

What a load of old nonsense. West Coast Main Line trains to Glasgow were stopped by flooding in Cumbria, but not one yard of the £56 billion HS2 Y network track would be in that county.

Written by beleben

January 27, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

3 Responses

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  1. Higgins doesn’t do his project any favours by distributing inaccurate information; the MML journey times he uses for comparison purposes don’t take into account work in progress or planned (which – if claims being made are accurate – will reduce the Derby – St Pancras time to about 76 minutes) and assume a time of twenty minutes between leaving a shuttle leaving Derby and the connecting HS2 service leaving Toton exactly twenty minutes later. The chances of the latter happening a number of times each hour is VERY unlikely, and therefore the journey time benefit gained by changing at Toton will be, at best, a couple of minutes; not really sufficient to encourage people to change from a direct train to one which requires a change.

    The fact that HS2 will use Euston is also overlooked; underground connections are inferior to those available at St Pancras, and the easy link between MML and Eurostar, Thameslink, and HS1 domestic services will also be lost.

    Higgins also spoke in a ‘Guardian’ interview some months ago about how “clapped-out” trains were used on XC services passing through Derby, comparing them to the newer ones operating GW services out of Paddington. Of course, to many people HSTs are far superior to Voyagers, but the point he was making wasn’t about quality, but age; he was arguing that Voyagers (built early 21st century) were older than 1970s era HSTs. So if he gets simple information like this transposed, how can anyone have confidence in him as leader of HS2?


    January 29, 2016 at 6:47 pm

  2. It’s not clear whether the Great Helmsman actually believes his rhetoric or just makes it up as he goes along.

    Tim Stockton

    January 30, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    • It is a case of pure Maoism i.e. expound an idea often enough (even if it is an outright lie) the sooner people believe it.
      The “revamp” of the WCML was explained as costing GBP9 billion for so many years but now has risen to GBP10 billion. Notice the use of the word “revamp” instead of “upgrade”. What really happened was the WCML received a serious repair job for the first time since being electrified in the sixties and seventies which fortunately achieved an increase in capacity of 20%. The alternative was for the line to collapse.

      The “revamp” was cut short before it reached the southern section which has had to be done anyway (e.g.Watford Junct.). The “upgrades have gone ahead anyway at e.g. Stafford and Norton Bridge.

      The other point that should be emphasised is that the HS lines do not go to the places people want to go i.e. city centres. Out of town stations have proved a disaster in Europe. If a train has to slow down to stop what problem is there if it rejoins the classic line and runs into the city centre at Derby or Nottingham? This argument seems to be winning in Sheffield. Also it is so easy to suggest a connecting “metro” service, but is that included in the costs of HS2? Also as “djfaircloth” points out there would be no gain against a direct train if the alternative was to transfer to an HS train at Toton from a “metro” system from Derby.

      This monster, HS2, has become so big and important to the political lives of so many politicians that it has taken on a life of its own.Rational analysis of the project (even with the crticisms so far) would mean the project were cancelled or at least seriously modified to serve Joe Public better. So Higgins is spouting half truths and even outright lies. Let us hope people do not fall for it.

      Stephen Cryan

      February 3, 2016 at 10:38 am

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