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The no-evidence base for Northern Powerhouse Rail

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The 'vision' for Northern Powerhouse Rail

According to the ‘Initial Integrated Rail Report, Strategic Transport Plan Evidence Base‘, the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme ‘has been developed with a definitive remit to ultimately deliver the following:’

[Initial Integrated Rail Report, Jacobs and SDG, June 2017]

* The delivery of new and substantially upgraded rail corridors across the North. To release capacity on the existing rail network, which in turn could allow it to be used differently, e.g. for new service patterns, additional local trains or to accommodate more freight traffic;

* To be fully integrated, to allow the benefits of faster journeys to Northern cities to be spread to those places not directly served by new and upgraded routes by through running. NPR stations will become integrated transport hubs, with co-ordinated rail services which also offer convenient connections to local transport services;

* To significantly upgrade hub stations, with more platforms and better facilities for all passengers;

* To mirror HS2 in the integration of NPR within long terms land use planning
considerations around station hubs;

* To drive innovation in rail through the creation of a critical mass for investment in new smart ticketing and information systems which can be used by all rail operators.

Although the ‘Evidence Base’ runs to 83 pages, there is no actual evidence in it which supports the ‘vision‘ for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The topology is questionable, and the target frequencies, and target journey times (e.g. ‘Sheffield to Manchester in 30 minutes’) seem to be round numbers plucked from the air. Evidence about corridor demand, capacity utilisation on the existing rail lines, etc, is conspicuous by its absence.

In its current form, ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ is a dreadful project which would do almost nothing for everyday transport in the north.

Commuting patterns into Greater Manchester (Paul Swinney, using 2011 Census data)

Commuting patterns into Greater Manchester (Paul Swinney, using 2011 Census data)


Written by beleben

October 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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    Alignment with Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR)
    Transport for the North and the Department for Transport have recently agreed six “touch points” between Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and HS2. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently allocated £300m to develop these further for inclusion in the Hybrid Bill for HS2 Phase 2b. They include a south facing connection to the HS2 main line for Liverpool – Warrington – London services and a connection to the HS2 Manchester spur to enable Liverpool – Manchester Airport – Manchester services.
    An important consideration is whether or not NPR would need to use the Golborne Link. The Golborne Link was proposed at a time when the rolling stock depot would have required the use of it by empty coaching stock. The depot is now proposed to be moved south to Winsford / Middlewich and would not need to use the Link. Should NPR not require the use of Golborne Link then the limited number of HS2 services using it may call into question its viability.

    andrew needham

    October 13, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    • The Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently allocated £300 million to develop these touchpoints, but nobody seems to know how exactly where they’re going to be, or what their full cost is, or whether there is a case to build them.

      www_linkingliverpool_org, 'Full-High-Speed-Rail-Connection-for-Liverpool-Moves-Closer'


      October 14, 2017 at 5:54 pm

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