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Archive for March 2018

The difference in affordability

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In March 2017, the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed “a package of cancellations and deferrals” from Network Rail’s enhancements portfolio, including the North of Kettering [NoK] and Oxenholme to Windermere electrification projects, the National Audit Office reported on 29 March.

According to the report, ‘Investigation into the Department for Transport’s decision to cancel three rail electrification projects’, Cardiff to Swansea electrification was in effect personally cancelled by the Prime Minister Theresa May.

The cancellations, done for ‘affordability’ reasons, were publicly announced in July 2017, some weeks after the general election. The cost of these projects was chicken feed compared to HS2, but very different affordability considerations seem to apply to that scheme.

'Three cancelled rail electrification schemes', NAO, March 2018

[NAO]

[8]
It is too early to tell the extent to which the Department will be able to deliver the benefits of electrification without electrifying the three routes. The Department still expects to deliver the majority of promised passenger benefits through planned infrastructure works and replacing existing trains. It will still introduce new electric trains to operate services between London and Corby on the Midland Main Line.

It will now use bi-mode trains to operate services on the Great Western Main Line and long-distance services on the Midland Main Line. Although bi-mode trains allow greater flexibility by being able to run on electrified and non-electrified lines, there are some disadvantages, such as increased track damage and higher energy costs, which the Department will need to take into account. For Oxenholme to Windermere the Department had interim plans to use bi-mode trains and proposes to replace existing trains with new diesel trains. It has also asked the operator to explore the use of alternative fuel trains on the route.

The Department has not yet fully costed the environmental and future financial implications of its decision on Midland Main Line and Oxenholme to Windermere. It is uncertain about how much the new trains will cost, but in October 2017 the Secretary of State told the Transport Select Committee that completing electrification would “be more expensive” than buying other trains.

[9]
In the case of Midland Main Line, bi-mode trains with the required speed and acceleration did not exist when the Secretary of State made his decision. When the Secretary of State made his announcement in July 2017, he specified that the next operator for the East Midlands franchise would deliver new bi-mode trains
from 2022. The Department expects journey times with bi-mode trains to be only one minute slower between London and Sheffield than they would have been with fully electric trains.

However, when the Secretary of State decided to cancel the project in March 2017, the Department had advised him that bi-mode rolling stock of the required speed and acceleration to meet the timetable of the route did not currently exist. The Department told us that, although it did not include it in its written advice, it expected that manufacturers would be able to develop a bi-mode train that would deliver service improvements on Midland Main Line.

NAO report, benefit cost assessments for the three cancelled rail electrification schemes

NAO gave the headline saving from NoK cancellation as around £900 million, but the underlying situation is more complicated. Last year, electrification of the track into Sheffield Midland from north Derbyshire, for HS2, was costed at around £250 million.

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Written by beleben

March 30, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Sometime in April

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The delay to the opening of Kenilworth’s new rail station is down to Warwickshire County Council not sending paperwork to the rail regulator, the Kenilworth Weekly News claimed on 20 March.

Kenilworth station car park (©) BBC 2018

On the BBC Midlands Today evening news, council managing director Monica Fogarty claimed that ‘we are learning that even when you get the spec right in the first instance, there will still be adaptions and changes… that mean it’s delayed’ (?).

Council managing director Monica Fogarty

Reporter Peter Plisner stated that the station is now expected to open sometime in April (with one train per hour in each direction).

Kenilworth station exterior, (©) BBC 2018

Apparently, the station cost £13.6 million, yet has only one platform.

Kenilworth station trainside, BBC Midlands Today, 2018-03-20

Presumably the architecture was supposed to recall that of the old Kenilworth station closed in the 1960s.

Kenilworth old station,  exterior (copyright unknown)

But unlike the old station, the new one has all the distinctiveness and proportion of an out-of-town hypermarket.

Local resident Fraser Pithie said the delay to opening had turned a 'wonderful facility into a subject of ridicule for the town'

Was there actually a need to construct a station building, with a ticket office?

Even with its front canopy removed, Kenilworth's 1883 railway station looked vastly better than its '2017' replacement

Even with its front canopy removed, Kenilworth’s 1883 station looked vastly better than its ‘2017’ replacement

The arch shape platformside does not even match the shape entranceside

The arch shape platform-side does not even match the arch shape on the entrance side

Written by beleben

March 21, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Heathrow Crossrail to have premium fares

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In a press release dated 16 March 2018 and titled “Mayor of London announces TfL fares will apply to Elizabeth line”, mayor Sadiq Kahn was ‘delighted to announce that the cost of travelling on the Elizabeth Line [Crossrail 1] in Zones 1 – 6 will be the same price as a similar journey on the tube – fulfilling a key manifesto pledge’.

The press release then went on say that journeys to Heathrow Airport on Crossrail 1 would not be the same price as by Underground.

In other words, the title of the article, and the prominent mayoral quote, are directly at odds with what is actually intended.

Transport for London press release, 'Mayor of London announces TfL fares will apply to Elizabeth line', 16 Mar 2018

Written by beleben

March 19, 2018 at 11:58 am

The lack of detail on HS2 costs

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On 15 March Lord Berkeley wrote to transport secretary Chris Grayling to update him on Michael Byng’s costings for HS2 phase one.

twitter @tonyberkeley1, 'HS2 Phase 1 costs now £51 bn, due to increased scope', 17 Mar 2018

Lord Berkeley letter to Chris Grayling, 2018-03-15, page 1

Lord Berkeley letter to Chris Grayling, 2018-03-15, page 2

Lord Berkeley letter to Chris Grayling, 2018-03-15, page 3

Written by beleben

March 18, 2018 at 10:22 am

Posted in HS2, Politics

Boondoggle versus cleaner air and safe cycling

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UK recommended route cycle signThe number of cyclists killed or seriously injured because of Britain’s badly maintained roads has more than trebled since 2007. But campaign group Cycling UK believes the statistics do not tell the full story because they only cover incidents where police attended the scene – and not all cyclists report injuries to the police (reported the BBC on 16 March).

“Cycling UK is incredibly concerned to see what is clearly a trend on the up showing more people being killed or seriously injured while cycling, all because our roads are in a shocking state,” said campaigns director Simon Jones.

“Unfortunately for cyclists if they hit a pothole, then it’s not just a costly repair bill but also a strong possibility of personal injury or in the worst cases death.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West told BBC News that funds earmarked for HS2 should be raided to fix roads.

She said the government would never be able to meet its clean air targets unless it made cycling to work safer for people living in “big cities”.

Written by beleben

March 16, 2018 at 8:29 pm

Posted in Cycling, HS2, Politics

Barca-ing Mad claims

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Since the opening of the Camp de Tarragona – Barcelona section 10 years ago, 85.5 million passengers have travelled on the Madrid – Barcelona AVE high-speed rail. Considering the impact on climate change, pollution and accident rates it can be estimated that €1.3 billion has been saved during the 10 years of the high-speed line’s operation. The environment has been spared 4.2 million tonnes of CO2 [sic], which in energy consumption is equal to almost 1 million tonnes of oil [Global Rail Review reported on 21 February].

grr-mad-barca-ave-21feb2018

However, no source was given for any of these claims. The idea that the environment has been ‘spared’ 4.2 million tonnes of CO2 looks fanciful in the extreme, given the massive greenhouse gas emissions associated with building the line.

Frontier, Atkins, ITS ex post economic evaluation of Mad - Barca AVE, 2011

Written by beleben

March 16, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Emerging baloney research

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The economy of northern England is set for a £15 billion boost if a Northern powerhouse rail station is built in Bradford city centre, according to a report commissioned from Genecon by Bradford city council.

Apparently.

West Yorks Combined Authority, 'North’s economy set for £15 bn boost from Bradford city centre station on Northern Powerhouse Rail', 14 March 2018

Although the report’s claims have been publicised on the West Yorkshire combined authority and Bradford council websites, there seems to be no way of actually consulting the report itself.

Bradford Council, Northern economy set for £15 bn boost, 14 March 2018

Written by beleben

March 14, 2018 at 2:47 pm