die belebende Bedenkung

Misinformation is not a service

with 3 comments

One of the most troubling aspects of the HS2 project has been the torrent of misinformation emanating from official sources. This has even included false statements by HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins to parliamentary committees.

Statement made by HS2 chairman David Higgins to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee

Statement made by David Higgins to the Commons Transport Select Committee

In August 2016, a complaint was made to HS2 Ltd about misleading and inaccurate statements made by David Higgins and chief executive Simon Kirby. The complaint asked HS2 Ltd to withdraw the statements, and provide accurate information.

HS2 Ltd did not respond to the complaint until November. As can be seen, the company’s view seems to be that complaints can only be made about HS2 Ltd’s “service”. And, apparently, inaccurate and misleading statements made by the company chairman to parliamentary committees are not part of that “service”, so no complaint can be recorded.

[HS2 Ltd response to complaint, Nov 2016]

Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding. There was an error in sending the reply below to you which unfortunately was only picked up earlier this week. I note that you originally requested your email to be treated as a complaint. Please be advised that our complaints process covers the service that HS2 Ltd provides and we do not consider that your email request is a complaint about HS2 Ltd’s service. We have therefore treated your email as a general enquiry and our response follows.

The statements that you refer to made by David Higgins and Simon Kirby relate to the broader strategic context for high speed rail rather than a detailed plan for the operation of HS2.

The remainder of the response was “look over there” off-topic waffle:

[HS2 Ltd, Nov 2016]

The Strategic Case for HS2, published in October 2013, sets out how additional capacity will be created by building a new high speed railway line which will free space on the existing network. The “Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2”, published in November 2015, provides an update to some of the evidence set out in the 2013 Strategic Case. The supplementary report details that HS2 Phase One could increase the combined capacity for fast trains on HS2 and the West Coast fast lines into/from London Euston from 15tph to 23tph. In turn, increasing the number of outer suburban commuter trains on the fast lines would allow a more even stopping pattern on the WCML slow lines.

The findings of a study on whether strategic alternatives to HS2 could meet HS2’s strategic objectives of increasing capacity and improving connectivity were published in October 2013 in the “HS2 Strategic Alternatives” report. This work is summarised in Chapter 4 of the “Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2”. HS2 would provide a step change in route capacity by having a new dedicated high speed line which would allow crowding issues on the inter-city services on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to be solved for the long term. In both the AM and PM peak, HS2 offers the potential to operate around 60-70 per cent additional inter-city services. HS2 would also provide a step change in commuter capacity on the WCML. This is because capacity released by operating much of today’s inter-city services on dedicated high speed lines could allow the number of West Midlands franchise services in the AM peak to increase from 28 to 41. Table 3 shows the increase in the number of seats that could be provided in the scenarios with HS2 compared with the strategic alternatives.

Further information is available in the “Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2” which is can be found on the HS2 website via the following link:

The Department for Transport have been notified of the situation, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens.

HS2 Ltd's Beth West stands in front of HS2 Ltd's 'culture'

Written by beleben

November 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Where do we start? Claimed journey time reductions fall apart when you factor in the REAL journey times – just as the current journey times by air between London and Central Scotland are (if measured as the amount of time you need to block out got travelling) longer than those currently delivered by rail, and lacking the number of regular and evenly spaced services through the day (every 30 minutes London-Glasgow/Edinburgh between 5 am and 8 pm – and later services)

    “No new main Line for over 120 years” – when last nationally significant projects in 1906 with planned work in 1930’s & Selby diversion barely 30 years ago – in 1968 rail traffic between London and Birmingham was forced on to WCML by deliberate closure of the second high speed main line (used by the Premium Birmingham Pullman service) in order to make the returns on the electrification artificially enhanced.

    The same nearly happened for ECML electrification to Edinburgh, with the closure of the S&C forcing all ‘Leeds’-‘Glasgow’ flows to go via York. As the shorter route this delivers, despite a 60mph line speed, a Glasgow-Leeds journey time (including a change of train and excruciatingly slow 90+ miles), faster than going via ECML.

    “With just 2 tracks the faster passenger trains cannot overtake the slow freights” Err… Dear SoS you might not have noticed that WCML has effectively 4 tracks to Rugby and between there and Crewe, between 6 and 8 tracks which can be ‘permed’ into a selection of routes, and then 4-6 tracks coming on-stream to Preston.

    Just some basic window gazing as the train heads North from Crewe will reveal long stretches where the 4 track railway has been reduced to 2, and so the answer – if it’s capacity you want seems rather blindingly obvious – the cheapest and fastest way to add track (as proven in Scotland) is to move in on a former corridor and restore it, expensive, contentious, and legally time consuming (as well as politically and environmentally a bad idea) routes through unknown territory are a disaster. Get out now before the costs start racking up even faster

    Dave H (@BCCletts)

    November 13, 2016 at 9:53 pm

  2. […] to HS2 Ltd. But the company says the complaint is ‘not a complaint‘, because it is not concerned with “a service provided by HS2 […]

  3. […] the blog Misinformation is not a service, Beleben website, […]

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