Misinformation is not a service
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.
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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-supplement-to-the-october-2013-strategic-case.
The Department for Transport have been notified of the situation, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens.