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HS2 and policy-based evidence

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From its inception, HS2 has been dependent on a reverse-engineered business case ‘methodology’, in which the starting point for appraisal was the desired conclusion (‘build HS2’).

Examples of policy-based evidence can be seen in the Department for Transport (DfT) November 2015 HS2 strategic case update. According to the Department, the period from 7pm to 8pm is the ‘busiest’ for InterCity West Coast (ICWC) departures from Euston.

For planning purposes, DfT considers the demand peak as extending over four hours, between 4pm and 8pm. In autumn 2014, standing on ICWC trains out of Euston over the 4-hour peak was seven per thousand passengers (on Fridays, 24 per thousand).

DfT HS2 Strategic Case update, November 2015, Figure 5

DfT HS2 Strategic Case update, November 2015, Figure 5

The Department for Transport claimed that in the absence of HS2, if “the 2014 train timetable” were in operation in the year 2033 / 2034

  • weekday peak standing on 11-car ICWC ‘Reconfigured Pendolino’ trains “could” be 20 per thousand – rising to 90 per thousand on Friday evenings – in the ‘Reference scenario’
  • and in the ‘Higher Growth scenario’, weekday peak standing could be 140 per thousand (and 230 per thousand on Friday evenings).

But what if obsolescent Reconfigured Pendolinos were replaced in the forecasts by more space-efficient rolling stock (such as the Hitachi IEP train)? Five and nine-car versions of the IEP have been ordered for the Great Western and East Coast Main Line intercity. In DfT literature, somewhat surprisingly, IEP trains of up to twelve carriages were mentioned as an option for the East Coast Main Line.

Lengthening platforms to ~312 metres at Kings Cross for 12-coach IEP trains would appear to be much more of a challenge than running 10-car IEPs on the West Coast Main Line. A 10-car IEP train, or a similar design, would not require WCML platform lengthening, but with around 594 Standard Class seats, would have 14.6% more than a Reconfigured Pendolino.

In the DfT year-2033 Reference scenario, a 14.6% capacity uplift would result in an average unseated intercity West Coast passenger count of zero, on all evenings of the week.

Inter City West Coast, standee forecast with 260 metre, 594-standard-seat, IEP trains

Inter City West Coast, standee forecast with 260 metre, 594-standard-seat, IEP trains

In the DfT year-2033 Higher Growth scenario, there would still be some standing passengers on Friday evenings, with the 2014 timetable. However, in 2014, there were only 19 ICWC departures between 6pm and 8pm, compared to 22 between 4pm and 6pm.

Intercity West Coast departures from Euston, weekday evening peak hours, autumn 2014 timetable

If available paths were used, the available data suggests an average unseated passenger count of zero, in the year 2033 ‘Higher Growth’ scenario, on all evenings of the week.

Written by beleben

December 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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