A major milestone for vacillation
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.
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’.
[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.