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Archive for May 2016

Daft and you know it (part four)

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As mentioned in the previous post, on 30 May Centro chief James Aspinall told ITV Central News that trams will bring over three million extra people into the city and £50 billion of benefits to the region.

But Central News have now ‘updated’ the story to state that Mr Aspinall told them the metro system will bring over three million extra people into the city and £50 million worth of benefits to the region.

However, in the embedded video, Mr Aspinall can be heard saying “£50 billion”, not £50 million. “50bn” is also part of the story url, at least at the time of writing. Isn’t it a bit curious that Central News are apparently ‘bending over’ to rewrite history, on behalf of Mr Aspinall? Are they going to let him re-dub his piece on camera, replacing “billion” with “million”?

Central News story changed on 31 May 2016 from 'Trams will bring £50 billion of benefits to the region' to 'Trams will bring £50 million of benefits to the region'

One might also ask, how exactly would extending the tram to Stephenson Street bring “3 million extra people into the city”? Most of those ‘extra people’ would, no doubt, have previously travelled in by bus. Needless to say, most tram users on the existing line to Snow Hill previously came in on the number 74 and 79, etc.

Written by beleben

May 31, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Centro

Daft and you know it (part three)

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Part one | Part two

At the opening of the Midland Metro extension to Stephenson Street on 30 May, Centro chief James Aspinall told ITV Central News that trams will bring over three million extra people into the city and £50 billion of benefits to the region.

Central News, 30 May 2016: 'trams will bring £50 billion of benefits to the region'

Written by beleben

May 31, 2016 at 8:30 am

Posted in Midland Metro

HS2 and population change

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Subnational population projections (SNPPs) ‘provide an indication of the future size and age structure of the population in the regions, local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups of England’.

In its latest projection, London, the East of England and the South East regions are shown as growing at a faster rate than England as a whole, the Office of National Statistics announced on 25 May. In percentage terms, population growth in the capital is projected to be three times that of north west England.

Such growth would place additional pressure on transport networks in London and the South East. It seems likely that very substantial investment might be necessary in the rail system in and around London.

The projections also support the idea that the proposed HS2 railway between London, Manchester, and Leeds, is the wrong kind of infrastructure investment. Better projects might include automation of the Underground (to allow 40-trains- per-hour operation), reinstatement of the Uckfield – Lewes and Maidenhead – High Wycombe links, and surface light rail in central London.

Written by beleben

May 27, 2016 at 12:11 pm

The ‘transformational’ effect of HS2

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There are two motorways from London to the West Midlands, and three main-line railways to the north of England. Given the existing well-developed north-south connectivity, how could building HS2 “transform” the West Midlands, and the North?

Department for Transport, Robert Goodwill's letter to James Croll, 16 June 2015 (extract)

According to the Department for Transport, the effect of HS2 would be induce an additional 8 to 9 million journeys between Birmingham / Coventry and London by the year 2036-2037. Between Greater Manchester and London, about 5 million annual journeys would be induced (‘Figure 55’ below).

Department for Transport, West Coast Main Line demand and capacity pressures, Nov 2015, Figure 55

But those figures are for single journeys, and count trips to London and to the provincial cities. If half of the 2.5 million generated round-trips between Manchester and London had Manchester as their destination, that would mean that HS2 increased the number of annual visits to the city by about 1.25 million. That is not ‘transformative’; it is a minuscule payback for an expenditure running into tens of billions of pounds.

Of course, the same argument would also apply for travel to London. Building HS2 to ‘boost the London economy’ is nonsense; it is a very expensive way of increasing the number of visits to London, by not-very-much.

Written by beleben

May 26, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

HS2’s ruse to misinform

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Given Britain's small size, why would HS2 trains 
ever need to run at 300 km/h, let alone 400 km/h? The ‘over-priced, gold-plated’ HS2 rail project will fail in many of its objectives, a group of transport experts has warned.

[HS2 rail link ‘over-priced’ say transport experts, Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 26 May 2016]

The academics support high-speed rail overall, but say HS2 is five times more expensive than its French equivalent.

They argue that the benefits of HS2 can be achieved much more cheaply, with lower CO2 emissions, and they want their analysis examined by government.
HS2 has been designed to increase capacity and connections, regenerate the North and reduce climate impacts change.

Yet the critics say it will only achieve one of these – capacity. Many key rail journeys, they say, would be worse, including to Nottingham, Stockport and Wakefield.
One of them, Professor James Croll of UCL, told BBC News: “It is just vanity for the UK to have faster trains than the usual high-speed trains.
Professor Tony May from Leeds University told BBC News: “What’s needed is an independent, objective assessment of the alternatives. “These would include a less damaging version of HS2, a better-connected new line from London and transport investment in the North rather than to the North.

Contrary to what was said by Ben Ruse, train speeds are not 'rising throughout Europe'; in Germany, trains with a maximum speed of 249 km/h (or less) are replacing 300 km/h models

All that Ben Ruse, lead spokesperson for HS2, could say in response was that “HS2 would lure people off cars and onto trains, and so reduce carbon emissions”. Rail speeds, he claimed, “were rising throughout Europe – and keeping the speed lower would only cut carbon minimally”.

As train speed increases, the energy required and 
the carbon emissions increase much faster

[HS2 rail link ‘over-priced’ say transport experts, Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 26 May 2016]
Jim Steer, founder of the pro high-speed rail group Greengauge […] agreed that ultra-fast running would increase CO2 emissions by about 20% but said it was better than people driving cars.

‘Better than people driving cars?’ In the 2013 Economic Case, it was projected that just 4% of HS2 passengers would have previously used a car for their journey.

Written by beleben

May 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Posted in gibberish, HS2, Politics, Transport

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Alstom plans for HS2, part two

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The ‘High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group’, set up by Jim Steer, uses figures produced by Leo Eyles to show jobs associated with building HS2.

Leo Eyles HS2 Y-network jobs profile

Mr Eyles claimed that in its peak years, HS2 rolling stock production would account for around 10,000 jobs.

According to Alstom, if it won the contract to provide HS2 trains, it would use a facility in the UK, possibly at Widnes, to assemble them, employing ‘600 people’.

So the UK share of Alstom HS2 train-building jobs would be around 6% by number, and less than 6% by value (because the manufacturing and design would be at La Rochelle, Belfort, Ornans, etc).

Although HS2 Ltd used the Alstom AGV11 as their ‘Reference train’, Alstom are heavily promoting a ‘short power car’ version of the TGV Duplex for the Y network, with double deck carriages. How double deck carriages would affect dwell time at stations, is unclear. Because the kinetic energy of a train travelling at 330+ km/h is much larger than one travelling at 200 km/h, accident survivability would be lower, which might account for the zero-passenger end cars.

Alstom Avelia tgv at a Birmingham Curzon Street station with no roof or overhead power lines

Because HS2 is supposedly being designed as a 400 km/h railway requiring much higher traction power than TGV lines, it is also unclear how Alstom would fit the additional kit into short power cars.

Alstom are also proposing the use of tilt carriages for HS2, which would a require a research and development programme. Would that be part of HS2 Ltd’s budget, or Alstom’s?

Written by beleben

May 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Daft and you know it (part two)

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Balfour Beatty, Midland Metro, Birmingham City Centre extension to Stephenson St, faqs

The opening of the Bull Street to Stephenson Street section of the Midland Metro in central Birmingham was re-programmed to take place on 22 May 2016, but had to be cancelled because ‘anomalies in the track alignment needed to be addressed’.

According to Centro’s Network West Midlands website, public service to Stephenson Street has been rescheduled to commence on 30 May, with a six-minute frequency in the peak. (Before the first section of Midland Metro opened in 1999, Centro claimed there would be a ‘six-minute’ all-day service, but that appears never to have been achieved.)

Written by beleben

May 25, 2016 at 9:13 am

Alstom plans for HS2

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Only six hundred mainly low-skill UK jobs could be created if Alstom were awarded a £7,500 million contract to build HS2 trains. A few years ago, thousands of UK workers were made redundant as the nominally Anglo-French GEC Alsthom transformed into the wholly French Alstom SA.

[Plan to put double-decker trains on HS2 rail line, Alan Tovey, Daily Telegraph, 24 May 2016]

[…] The French rail company hopes to win the £7.5bn contract to build rolling stock for the planned rail line connecting London, Birmingham and Leeds and is proposing two-level trains for the route, which is hoped to be operational in 2026.

Although the final specification for the contract to build 160 trains which are each 650ft long has yet to be decided, Alstom wants twin-deck designs to be considered, saying they will bring advantages to passengers.

Henrik Anderberg, acting managing director of Alstom UK & Ireland, said: “The design means double-decker trains are no higher than a standard single deck one. However because the trains that will run on HS2 meet with European standards and are 170mm (6.7 inches) wider, we can do so much more with the space.

“A double-decker train is a unique proposition and will give a better passenger experience. We are even considering designs such as double-height bars.”

The extra level would allow the trains to hold 40pc more passengers than the 430 to 500 more on a standard train according to Alstom, and Mr Anderberg said this extra space could be utilised to create “business class train travel at economy class prices”.

[…] Alstom said should it win the contract – expected to be awarded in 2019 – it would attempt to carry out as much of the work building the trains in the UK. The company has recently been granted planning for a 30-acre site near Liverpool where it intends to set up a technical centre.

“There is no guarantee until we see the specification but we would like to do as much of the work as possible in the UK,” Mr Anderberg said. “We don’t just want to assemble the trains in the UK, we want to manufacture their systems here.”

The rail boss estimated that about 600 UK jobs would be created at Alstom if it won the contract, with more in the supply chain.

So each temporary HS2 train-building job at the Alstom UK facility in Widnes would come at a cost of around £12 million. There seems to be no chance of Alstom creating an additional supply chain in the UK, given that its French factories are short of orders.

Because of the cramped interior and limited appeal of double deck (“2N”) trains for very high speed service, Alstom’s only European customer has been the domestic operator SNCF.

So far, Alstom’s single-deck high speed train with distributed traction, the AGV, has only been ordered by the Italian private company NTV. Because they have power cars at the end of the train, the TGV 2N capacity uplift over the single deck AGV is nothing like 40%.

The likelihood is that the HS2 Y network could not be built within its budget of £55.7 billion. In the highly unlikely event that the Y network could be built within its current budget, the British government might buy second hand TGVs from SNCF, as it has large numbers of surplus trains which were ordered for make-work reasons. Or to reduce costs and faff, the plan to order a mix of captive and ‘classic compatible’ (cc) trains might be replaced by an all-cc option.

Lexington Communications tweet that Emma Reynolds MP is to host an Alstom high speed 'reception' in Parliament, 24 May 2016

Oddly enough, Lexington Communications, which apparently has fracking company Cuadrilla among its clients, tweeted that Wolverhampton Labour MP Emma Reynolds would be hosting a ‘reception’ for Alstom in Parliament today.

Alstom UK factory closures and downsizing cost many people their jobs

Written by beleben

May 24, 2016 at 10:40 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Hard habit to break

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For transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, talking nonsense seems to be a hard habit to break.

Patrick McLoughlin, speech, 19 May 2016

According to Mr McLoughlin, GB railways have grown overcrowded as the country slipped down the global infrastructure league table (whatever that is).

As can be seen, the ORR / TfL count of London commuter rail showed no real change in overcrowding over the period 1990 – 2008. If Mr McLoughlin has better figures, which support his speechwriter’s point, maybe he’ll present them.

Written by beleben

May 20, 2016 at 11:36 am

HS2 and Crossrail 1 crowding

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Evening Standard: 'Sadiq Khan calls for HS2 Euston rethink'Recent speculation about HS2 de-scoping has included the possibility of terminating the line at Old Oak Common, instead of Euston. There is certainly enough land at Old Oak, but transport links to central London are not particularly good.

According to HS2 Ltd, with stations at Old Oak and Euston, about two-thirds of high speed passengers would use Euston, but of course HS2 Ltd is not a reliable or objective source of information. The real balance of advantage is not clear, because no detail is available on things like dwell time of HS2 trains at Old Oak, or the length and characteristics of the interchange at the two locations. If stopping very high speed trains twice in under 10 miles is such a good idea, why don’t Eurostar trains stop at Stratford “International”? How about domestic TGV trains? Do TGV Nord trains stop at St Denis?

Two oft-repeated objections to terminating HS2 at Old Oak are:

  1. ‘Crossrail 1 would be unable to handle the totality of HS2 traffic heading to and from central London’
  2. ‘If Crossrail 1 “broke down”, HS2 passengers would have no alternative means of getting to and from central London’.

Objection: ‘Crossrail 1 would be unable to handle the totality of HS2 traffic heading to and from central London’

Crossrail 1 is intended to operate twenty-four 205-metre trains per hour per direction on its trunk section, each of which would be able to carry 1,500 passengers.

As can be seen from Transport for London’s diagram (below), with 24 trains per hour operating east of Old Oak (36,000 pphpd), the entirety of HS2 Phase One passengers headed into central London could be accommodated on Crossrail.

TfL Crossrail 1 loadings and HS2 Old Oak Common

What about HS2 Phase Two? Well, Crossrail 1 is also supposed to have a ‘Phase Two’, in which train frequency would increase to 30 per hour, and trainset length would increase to 250 metres.

Objection: ‘If Crossrail 1 “broke down”, HS2 passengers would have no alternative means of getting to and from central London’

One might as well ask, if HS2 “broke down”, how would long distance passengers make their journey to the North of England? The ‘weakest link’ would not be the 4 miles east of Old Oak, it would be the 90+ miles north-west of Old Oak.

Clearly, if HS2 Old Oak — Euston were not built, there would be enormous resources freed up to improve local rail links between Old Oak and other parts of the capital (including Camden). Creating better links between west and central London (e.g. Overground and tram) would perform much better in cost-benefit and social equity, than the white-elephant HS2 tunnel.

And if HS2 Old Oak — Birmingham were not built, there would be would be enormous resources freed up to improve existing main and secondary railways, across the whole of Great Britain.

Written by beleben

May 19, 2016 at 10:11 am