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Archive for March 2016

Bombardier, Tata, and Tory lies

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On 30 March, the BBC reported on Tata Steel’s plans to sell its loss-making UK plants, and the company has written down their value to ‘almost zero’. And, earlier this month, Bombardier lost out to CAF on a £490 million Northern Rail train contract. It is demonstrably erroneous to suggest the UK does not have the capability to make trains from British steel.

'Bombardier', 'Tory lies', 'Labour Eoin'

Or is it? Bombardier UK does not have the capability to build trains from British steel, or anyone else’s steel. That capability disappeared with the closure of the company’s Prorail facility in 2005.

All Bombardier UK carbodies are now assembled from aluminium sections (imported from Germany, China, or elsewhere) and 100% of their bogies come from continental Europe. Bombardier UK trains are over 70% non-UK by value.

Obviously, the issues are rather more complex than some people think.

Bloomberg reports CAF's USD693m Civity train order from Eversholt

Written by beleben

March 30, 2016 at 9:52 pm

Posted in gibberish

As unconvincing as ever

with 3 comments

On 23 March, the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill cleared third reading in the House of Commons (399 to 44), with the assistance of a three-line Labour whip.

However, the project remains embroiled in controversy, and the economic rationale is as unconvincing as ever.

Consider, for example, the capacity case. According to the November 2015 ‘Demand and Capacity Pressures Technical Annex’, HS2 is supposed to provide congestion relief for the West Coast Main Line. But where is the evidence that HS2 is a cost-effective means of decongesting classic rail?

Extracted from: Supplement to the October 2013
Strategic Case for HS2, Technical Annex: Demand and Capacity Pressures on the West Coast Main Line
(Department for Transport, Nov 2015)
Solution ignored by DfT
WCML section Constraint
London Euston to
Rugby
“The mix of traffic. Fast Lines carry 125mph inter-city trains and 110mph outer suburban trains. More paths would be available if trains operated at uniform speed” Run all Fast trains at the same speed
“Flat junctions at Ledburn and Hanslope where commuter trains have to slow down to 60 mph to cross over from the Fast Lines to the Slow Lines, requiring precise timing of trains” Grade separation of junctions
“Capacity is lost due to the uneven stopping patterns of London Midland trains, and two intercity trains stopping at Milton Keynes/Watford Junction” Homogenise stopping patterns
“On the Slow Lines, there are no places for trains to pass each other between Wembley and Northampton” Provide a place for Slow Line trains to pass each other between Wembley and Northampton
Rugby to Birmingham
New Street
“Coventry station, which has flat junctions at each end and is on the main freight route from the port at Southampton the Midlands and North West. Passenger and freight services need to be carefully planned through these
junctions”
Do not route daytime freight from the port at Southampton to the Midlands and North West via Coventry station
“The approach to Birmingham New Street where five routes join together” Run some trains on other routes (e.g. by using a curve at Benson Road, Soho, to access the Great Western corridor)
“Knitting together the local West Midlands services with the Cross Country and West Coast timetable” Define what the problem is. What is the “knitting together” constraint?
Rugby to Stafford “Brinklow – Attleborough Junction – Northbound 60-75mph freight services have to be slotted in around 125mph inter-city trains on a three track section” 4th track Brinklow – Attleborough, or divert freight via other routes (e.g. F2N)
“Colwich Junction – where two northbound inter-city trains per hour leave the route and cross in front of Southbound trains on a flat junction” Replace flat junction with grade separation
“The two-track section between Colwich Junction and the approach to Stafford. Here inter-city and freight services (with significant speed differentials) share the track” Divert freight via other routes
Stafford to Crewe “Although this section is mainly four-track, the service mix and flat junctions, both at Stafford and Crewe, restrict route capacity” Grade separation, divert freight via other
routes
“Crewe is a major passenger and freight hub. Complex crossing movements limit the number of available paths for passenger and freight services and the number of useable platforms for services to stop” Remodel the station, and / or make more use of other routes

In 1994, the consultants to the ‘West Coast Rail 250’ group accepted “that the economic and financial benefits of an entirely new 300 km/h line similar to the French TGV lines could not support the costs of construction”. But the costs of building HS2 are far higher than anyone expected in the 1990s, or what the Conservative party suggested as recently as October 2009.

Extracted from: Supplement
to the October 2013
Strategic Case for HS2, Technical Annex: Demand and
Capacity Pressures on the West Coast Main Line
(Department for Transport, Nov 2015)
Effect of building
HS2 on Constraint
WCML section Constraint
London Euston to
Rugby
“The mix of traffic. Fast Lines carry 125mph inter-city trains and 110mph outer suburban trains. More paths would be available if trains operated at uniform speed” With HS2 in operation, mix of traffic types and speeds continues
“Flat junctions at Ledburn and Hanslope where commuter trains have to slow down to 60 mph to cross over from the Fast Lines to the Slow Lines, requiring precise timing of trains” No effect, flat junctions still there
“Capacity is lost due to the uneven stopping patterns of London Midland trains, and two intercity trains stopping at Milton Keynes/Watford Junction” No identifiable increase in capacity utilisation
“On the Slow Lines, there are no places for trains to pass each other between Wembley and Northampton” No effect
Rugby to Birmingham New Street “Coventry station, which has flat junctions at each end and is on the main freight route from the port at Southampton the Midlands and North West. Passenger and freight services need to be carefully planned through these junctions” No effect from HS2, but DfT “Electric Spine” exacerbates the problem
“The approach to Birmingham New Street where five routes join together” No identifiable change in number of trains approaching New Street from the east
“Knitting together the local West Midlands services with the Cross Country and West Coast timetable” Unfathomable
Rugby to Stafford “Brinklow – Attleborough Junction – Northbound 60-75mph freight services have to be slotted in around 125mph inter-city trains on a three track section” Brinklow – Attleborough Junction – Northbound 60-75mph freight services have to be slotted in around faster passenger trains on a three track
section
“Colwich Junction – where two northbound inter-city trains per hour leave the route and cross in front of Southbound trains on a flat junction” No effect
“The two-track section between Colwich Junction and the approach to Stafford. Here inter-city and freight services (with significant speed differentials) share the track” Passenger and freight services (with significant speed differentials) continue to share the track
Stafford to Crewe “Although this section is mainly four-track, the service mix and flat junctions, both at Stafford and Crewe, restrict route capacity” No effect, route capacity restrictions remain
“Crewe is a major passenger and freight hub. Complex crossing movements limit the number of available paths for passenger and freight services and the number of useable platforms for services to stop” Rebuilding Crewe station and approaches could increase throughput and usable platforms (but no details of proposed HS2 scheme available)

Written by beleben

March 30, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Posted in HS2

A victory for common nonsense

with 4 comments

The Ordsall chord actuality

Network Rail has emerged victorious in a court battle with engineer Mark Whitby, who was set on stopping the company’s £85 million Ordsall chord being built, the Manchester Evening News reported.

[One man battle to derail Ordsall Chord finally comes to an end as Judge dismisses appeal, Charlotte Cox, 23 Mar 2016]

Work has already started on the major scheme, which Network Rail says will speed up travel times and increase capacity.

However the legal row has set the completion date back from December 2016 to the end of 2017.

Rail expert Mark Whitby first brought a case to against Network Rail last year, claiming the planning permission process for the project had been flawed.

Mr Whitby, who had initially been a consultant on the project for Network Rail, also claimed there was an alternative route which would do less damage to Manchester’s rail heritage.

But a judge ruled in October that the Ordsall Chord could go ahead and work began.

However in January, Mr Whitby won his right to appeal and a further case was heard.

But today Judge Simon, sitting at the London Court of Appeal, decided to dismiss Mr Whitby’s three appeals.

Two were statutory challenges of the Transport and Works Act order of Listed Building Consent and one was a judicial review of the planning permission.

The chord is part of Network Rail’s wider Manchester Northern Hub programme, but the evidence for the Ordsall chord ‘speeding up travel times and increasing capacity’ is graphene thin.

In a November 2011 article for Rail Technology Magazine, Peter Johnston, former Greater Manchester PTE Rail Services Officer, pointed out that Ordsall’s capacity benefits were largely illusory, and it would make journeys from the north to the airport longer, not shorter.

Clearly, the Ordsall chord is in no way a substitute for well-designed rail connectivity across Greater Manchester. But the outlook is bleak. Amanda White, Transport for Greater Manchester’s “head of rail”, engineered the preposterous HS2 route into the city.

How does adding flat junctions increase capacity utilisation?

Written by beleben

March 23, 2016 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Manchester

Conclusions by Jim

with 4 comments

On 23 May 2015 the Independent reported that ‘the £50bn High Speed Two rail link will not be extended to Scotland, as the team behind the project has found there is “no business case” for the undertaking’.

And HS2 Ltd’s March 2016 ‘Broad options‘ report must make for very grim reading for the Scottish government.

Greengauge 21: Network Rail concluded that a new high speed line to Scotland would 'more than pay for itself'

But according to Jim Steer’s Greengauge 21

  • the value for money of Manchester — Scotland high speed rail is more than double that of Manchester — London high speed rail, and
  • Network Rail concluded that a new high speed line to Scotland would “more than pay for itself”.

Greengauge 21: the value for money of Manchester - Scotland high speed rail is more than double the value for money of Manchester - London high speed rail

However, Network Rail’s “investigation” of high speed rail was undertaken by Steer Davies Gleave, not Network Rail.

So Network Rail’s “conclusions” were, in essence, those of Steer Davies Gleave.

Another conclusion of the SDG report for Network Rail was that the case for a HS2 rail link between London, Birmingham and Manchester was “marginal“, but a ‘standalone’ scheme not requiring more than eight trains per hour might cost less, and so fare better in economic terms. (HS2 Ltd are planning to run 18 trains per hour.)

Network Rail's New Lines Programme - mostly the work of SDG

The cost-effective and affordable way to cater for demand between London, Birmingham, and Manchester would be to upgrade the existing asset base — freeing up billions of pounds for education, healthcare, and clean intracity transport.

Written by beleben

March 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Posted in HS2

Value of a railfreight path between Preston and Carstairs

with 2 comments

The addition of classic by-passes for HS2, or HS2 new-build track to Anglo-Scottish West Coast Main Line capacity could provide more freight paths, subject to compatibility with classic passenger services, HS2 Ltd’s “Broad Options” report proclaimed.

[HS2 Ltd, “Broad Options” report, March 2016]

[…] The additional paths which are taken up by freight, which would otherwise have been transported by road, could provide environmental and decongestion benefits. To give a sense of scale, preliminary analysis (using DfT’s marginal external cost approach and a series of assumptions) shows that an additional freight path between Preston and Carstairs (every haulage day in one direction) could generate approximately £20 million (PV) in benefits over the appraisal. Further analysis would be needed to understand all potential benefits.

Not £20 million a year, but £20 million PV.

So the present value of an additional daily ‘released’ railfreight path between Preston and Carstairs is, at best, about 0.01% of the cost of the enabling infrastructure. And if the enabling infrastructure is ‘new line’, not ‘by-pass’, the present value of a freight path is more like 0.005% of its cost.

Written by beleben

March 22, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Posted in HS2, Scotland

The criteria according to Jim

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According to Greengauge 21 (a.k.a. Jim Steer), a high speed rail line between northern England and Scotland would offer very good value for money. And the Scottish High Speed Rail Planning Criteria design for “400 m long European-sized trains travelling at up to 400 km/h”.

gg21-hs2-scot-northern-england-criteria

Written by beleben

March 22, 2016 at 10:38 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Arrive at the appropriate conclusions

with one comment

On 3 March, the publicly-funded HS2 Linking Liverpool PR campaign announced that ‘High Speed Rail proposals put forward by Liverpool City Region will deliver a £10 billion boost to the local economy’, according to a new report supposedly ‘released’ on that day.

But the report was not ‘released’ on that day. And Merseytravel are (surprise, surprise) refusing to release it, on the grounds that it is a “draft version rather than the finalised document”.

Enquiries for the Beleben blog have also established that Merseytravel handed Steer Davies Gleave £35,000 of public cash to work on the report, without having to face any competing bids.

[Merseytravel’s refusal to release the report, March 2016]

Merseytravel can confirm that Steer Davis [sic] Gleave were appointed by Delegated Decision due to their experience in the field, at a cost of £35,000 (excluding VAT).

While Merseytravel can also confirm that while a copy of the report is held (from which the figures referred to in the Liverpool Echo article are derived), this is a draft version rather than the finalised document. Consideration must therefore be given to Regulation 12(4)(d), ‘Material in the course of completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data’.
[…]
Given the potential impact of the on-going HS2 project and the Linking Liverpool campaign, due importance must be placed on the need to allow the organisation the room to arrive at the appropriate conclusions.
[…]
On this occasion, Merseytravel considers that the factors for withholding the requested information outweigh those in favour of disclosure. The draft report by Steer Davis Gleave is therefore withheld in accordance with Regulation 12(4)(d) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Merseytravel can confirm that it intends to publish the finalised version of the report after it has been received from Steer Davis Gleave.

Written by beleben

March 22, 2016 at 10:14 am

A major milestone for vacillation

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Keith Brown and Robert Goodwill's awkward HS2 Scotland photo opp, 21 March 2016

Three-hour Scotland to London rail journeys are “on track”, according to the Department for Transport, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited and Robert Goodwill MP.

[Governments agree joint aim on train times, gov.uk, 2016-03-21]

Work with the ultimate aim to deliver a 3-hour rail journey time between Scotland and London will get underway next year.

The UK and Scottish governments have agreed to further work that will:

* aim to bring train journeys between London and the Central Belt down to 3 hours or less

* ease the severe congestion on cross-Border routes

* create jobs, investment opportunities and economic and environmental benefits for the whole of Scotland

This comes alongside publication of the HS2 Ltd report Broad options for upgraded and high speed railways to the North of England and Scotland, which was welcomed today (21 March 2016) by Scottish government Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown and Robert Goodwill, UK government minister responsible for high speed rail, at a reception in Edinburgh’s Waverley Station.

The report, jointly commissioned by the 2 governments, considers various options including upgrades or new routes to deliver the 3-hour journey time.

Work is now planned to be carried out in 2017 to identify options with the best business case for implementation from 2019 onwards.

Scottish government Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said:

“This report is a major milestone in the campaign to deliver high speed rail to Scotland and marks the beginning of the next chapter in the tale.

I now have a firm commitment that development work will begin during the current control period towards getting journey times between Scotland and London down to 3 hours or less.

High speed rail will bring billions of pounds worth of benefit to Scotland’s economy and an infrastructure project of this magnitude – possibly the biggest Scotland’s ever seen – means jobs, investment, benefits for the economy and benefits for the environment.

This plan will bring to life our target of 3 hours or less Glasgow and Edinburgh to London train journeys, which will lead to a significant move from air to rail, bringing big reductions in carbon emissions.”
[…]

‘On track, like heck’. All Mr Brown has, are some weasel words… “a firm commitment that development work will begin during the current control period towards getting journey times between Scotland and London down to 3 hours or less”.

More bad news for Mr Brown appeared in the March 2016 High Speed Scotland Summary Report. Despite concerted attempts to massage the figures upwards, it is clear that the Scottish government’s cherished Edinburgh-to-Glasgow high speed concept is an economic lemon, with a sub-unity benefit-cost ratio.

Quelle non-surprise.

And one might well ask, why has only the Summary Report been published?

The Broad Options report on Anglo-Scottish high speed rail concentrates on upgrade-based approaches rather than new build, but there is no mention of value for money for any of the options. Nevertheless, the cost estimates given in the report suggest that the benefit-cost ratio in all cases is too low to print.

The numbers in Broad Options pour freezing cold water on Transport Scotland’s December 2011 Fast Track Scotland report, and on Network Rail’s claim that ‘extending HS2 to Scotland would improve its benefit-cost ratio’.

Network Rail's nonsensical written evidence to the Transport Select CommitteeGreengauge 21's Scottish HS2 benefit-cost nonsense

[Broad Options HS2 Scotland report, 21 March 2016, extract]

Continuous high speed options
=============================

A number of continuous high speed routes were developed to assess the viability and performance of a high speed route.
[…]
The four options are:

• Route A – a route following the West Coast Main Line, M6, A74M corridor which splits near Carstairs to serve both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

• Route B – a route following the A1M to Newcastle and the A697 corridor to the border, where it runs through the Lammermuir Hill, to approach Edinburgh from the east.

• Route C – a route following the East Coast Main Line corridor east of Newcastle and along the coast to Edinburgh.

• Route D – a route following the A1M to Newcastle and through the Southern Uplands, where it splits to serve Glasgow and Edinburgh.
[…]
The cost of Route A is an estimated £32 billion – £34 billion, which excludes the cost of a high speed route between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
[…]
The estimated cost of Route B is £27 billion – £29 billion, which excludes the cost of a high speed route between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
[…]
The cost of Route C is an estimated £28 billion – £30 billion, which excludes the cost of a high speed route between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
[…]
The cost of Route D is an estimated £41 billion – £43 billion, which excludes the cost of a high speed route between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
[…]
HS2 trains operating on the route north of Phase Two would be classic-compatible. This is necessary even for continuous high speed routes, as they are developed on the basis of running on the existing conventional lines during the last few miles into Edinburgh and Glasgow stations, as per the Transport Scotland proposal.

In 2012 Transport Scotland claimed there would be high speed rail in Scotland by 2024

Written by beleben

March 21, 2016 at 3:42 pm

Posted in HS2, Scotland

Chiltern electrification versus HS2

with 9 comments

Another cost-effective way of increasing north – south rail capacity would involve electrification of the Chiltern Main Line to Birmingham Snow Hill.

At present, four Heathrow Express trains run each hour from London’s Paddington station to the airport, but when Crossrail 1 becomes operational, the case for the wasteful Heathrow Express should weaken further.

The capacity freed at Paddington from discontinuing Heathrow Express could be used to run an IEP-type train to Birmingham Snow Hill, via the New North Main Line and Bicester cutoff, every 15 minutes.

As can be seen from the table below, a more intensive use of existing infrastructure has the potential to meet any foreseeable demand between London and Birmingham.

Route Train type Trains / hour
Seats / hour
Euston – Birmingham Curzon
Street (With-HS2 scenario)
HS2 captive 2 * 200-metre 3 3300
Euston – Coventry –
Birmingham New Street
(With-HS2 scenario)
11-car Pendolino 2 1178
Total
(With-HS2 scenario)
4478
Euston – Coventry –
Birmingham New Street
(No HS2)
260-metre IEP equivalent
(715 seats)
4 2860
Paddington – Birmingham
Snow Hill, via Bicester cutoff (No HS2)
260-metre IEP equivalent
(715 seats)
4 2860
Total (No HS2) 5720

Written by beleben

March 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Pendolino and IEP capacity

with one comment

East Coast Azuma presentation at Kings Cross, 2016-03-18, copyright Virgin Trains, creative-commons-by-3_0

On 18 March, Richard Branson and Brian Souter attended the press unveiling of a Virgin Trains East Coast Hitachi IEP train (branded ‘Azuma’) at Kings Cross station.

[Richard Branson, 18 March 2016]

We’ll be adding 65 Virgin Azuma trains to our fleet from 2018, providing an extra 12,200 seats to services on a new and improved timetable. What’s more, the Azumas have the potential to reach speeds of 140mph (subject to Network Rail delivering on the track), meaning our passengers will get to their destinations much quicker.

However, the costs and benefits of increasing East Coast linespeed to 225 km/h remain unclear. The works required might include track and overhead line alterations, new signalling, and level crossing closures. Network Rail has decided not to go ahead with a “single programme of level crossing closures” on the route between Doncaster and London.

The future use of the non-tilting IEP trains for the East Coast franchise was imposed by the Department for Transport. Whatever the shortcomings of the design, the IEP does at least demonstrate the capacity achievable with longer carriages. For example, a 234-metre nine-car Azuma has more seats (~627) than a 265-metre eleven-car Pendolino (589).

A ten-car (260-metre) IEP would seat around 715 passengers, so if such units were used on the West Coast Main Line, there could be a capacity uplift of 20%, without needing to lengthen any platforms or run more trains.

Virgin Trains West Coast, Liverpool / Manchester - London timetable pattern, Dec 2015. The regular services make three intermediate stops (MK, Stoke, Stockport; Stoke, Macclesfield, Stockport; and Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport)

On the London Euston — Manchester Piccadilly run, a 12-car IEP (312 metres) could provide up to 900 seats, but would require new or lengthened platforms at the small number of stations used by the service. The cost would be a tiny fraction of the sum required for building HS2.

Written by beleben

March 21, 2016 at 11:13 am

Posted in HS2, Railways