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Archive for February 2018

The inextricable intertwining

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High Speed Two Limited is beginning the search for a new chairman to replace David Higgins, the Sunday Times reported on 25 February.

Euston Square gardens fenced off by HS2, February 2018

Two days earlier, the Times reported that the inextricably intertwined lives of Mr Higgins and the construction giant Lendlease Group had taken another twist as HS2 confirmed that the Australian company would lead the £4 billion redevelopment of London Euston as “master development partner”.

In November 2013, Mr Higgins was presented by the government as the man to ‘drive down’ the cost of HS2., 'Sir David Higgins to drive down the cost of HS2', 4 November 2013

But he was unable to drive costs down, and the limits of his understanding of railway operations were all too visible.

On 17 November 2014, David Higgins told the House of Commons transport committee that a railway line where trains travel at 220 miles an hour as opposed to 120 miles an hour 'clearly has nearly twice the capacity because you can have twice as many trains on it.'


Written by beleben

February 26, 2018 at 9:56 am

Posted in HS2, Politics

Four thousand seats ‘gone missing’

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In the 5 pm to 6 pm evening peak, HS2 would provide 15,700 seats from Euston, on completion of the Y network in 2033 — according to the July 2017 Strategic Case.

DfT, HS2 strategic case for HS2, July 2017, Figure 3

But the October 2013 Strategic Case gave the Y network full capability as 19,800 seats.

DfT, HS2 strategic case for HS2, October 2013, Figure 9

So, around 4,000 seats, or one-fifth of HS2’s entire capacity, seems to have ‘gone missing’.

Also notable is the ‘downlift’ in Phase One capacity, from an ‘initial’ 8,300 seats, to 6,900.

Written by beleben

February 8, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Posted in HS2

This year’s (broken) model

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In yesterday’s “update” to Parliament on the East Coast, West Coast and East Midlands rail franchises, transport secretary Chris Grayling claimed that “other countries are now adopting Britain’s model for running the railways”.

But what is the “model”?

Do his recent statements not signal that “the model” is being changed (again)?

Chris Grayling, update on the East Coast, West Coast, and East Midlands rail franchises, 5 Feb 2018

In 2012 the ‘Brown review‘ noted that “confidence in franchising and the rail sector have been severely damaged by the problems that came to light on the ICWC competition” but claimed, “There is no credible case for major structural change”.

A year earlier, the Commons Public Accounts Committee concluded that the Department for Transport “did not undertake sufficient due diligence on the bid by National Express for the East Coast franchise. Crucially, the Department did not test any of the bids against the impact of an economic downturn.”

[PAC, 2011]

In future the Department must make clear to [train] companies that failure to deliver on their obligations will have serious lasting consequences.

Propellerheads ft Shirley Bassey, 'History Repeating'

Written by beleben

February 6, 2018 at 11:18 am

HS2 opening date is ‘an error’

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The opening date for HS2 phase one assumed in HS2 Ltd’s 2017 PFM v7.1 assumptions report is “an error”, which “will be corrected in due course”, the Department for Transport has confirmed.

DfT confirms HS2 stage 1 opening date in PFM v7.1 report was an error

So, when the government says ‘HS2 will open in 2026’, that now means ‘it is assumed HS2 will open on the last day of 2026’, apparently.

Sylvester I and Constantine

Written by beleben

February 5, 2018 at 10:55 am

Posted in HS2

The aggression starts here

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The planned HS2 station at Birmingham Curzon street is supposed to ‘regenerate’ the area around it.

HS2 Curzon site

But the area around the site is already largely rebuilt, as a result of plans which pre-date the HS2 project. In fact, some of the new buildings are in the way of the HS2 line, and are now scheduled for demolition.

HS2 Curzon site

Parts of the station site have been fenced off for preparatory works.

HS2 Curzon site

From the public highway, sawn-up felled trees can be seen inside the main compound.

HS2 Curzon site

Or at least, until the nasty and aggressive LM security man comes out, and starts laying the ‘law’ down.

HS2 Curzon site

Written by beleben

February 2, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Posted in Birmingham, HS2

What Patrick understands

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Official portrait of Patrick McLoughlin by Chris McAndrew (CC-BY-SA 3.0)On 30 January the High Speed Rail Phase 2a (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill was debated in the House of Commons, and given a second reading by 295 to 12 (meaning that most MPs did not vote).

This kind of debate tends to expose the limitations of MPs’ understanding of what they are talking about, and the Phase 2a Bill debate was no exception.

For some reason, former transport secretary Patrick ‘Spud’McLoughlin was dusted down and wound up to support the government’s case. He declared, “We have spent a fortune on upgrading the west coast main line from Birmingham up to Manchester, although I understand that we did not carry out any upgrade south of Rugby.”

[PMcL:] The upgrade was essential, and if the then Government had been a bit more forward thinking, they could have built a new high-speed line then rather than doing an upgrade.

The West Coast rail modernisation was renewals based (DfT)

The West Coast “upgrade” was a modernisation, focused on renewals (after years of increasing maintenance backlog), rather than enhancements. Most of the work was unavoidable. There was an upgrade aspect, but if renewals had been done like-for-like, rather than on a better-than-before basis, ~75% of the cost (and disruption) would have been incurred anyway.

The ‘higher speed’ junction constructed near Train Robber’s Bridge at Ledburn is just one of the ‘upgrades south of Rugby’ which PMcL “understands” didn’t happen.

Like the current transport secretary, he seems to have difficulties with facts.

[PMsL:] I think that HS1 was operating before Labour came into government.

BBC News, HS1 opening story, 14 Nov 2006

Written by beleben

February 1, 2018 at 12:05 pm