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Leaders in flapdoodle

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The “High Speed Rail Industry Leaders” group started out as part of Jim Steer’s “not for profit” Greengauge 21 lobbying operation, but now has a separate website and identity, with no visible claim that it is ‘not for profit’.

On 9 April, HSRILG, or Jim, organised a photo opportunity at Crewe station, to publicise their / his new report on the ‘benefits of HS2 phase 2a (Lichfield to Crewe) and the Crewe hub’.

Who were the 'industry leaders' who turned out for the Crewe photo opp? (Jim's at the back) [twitter @BBCRadioStoke]

The report, preposterously titled “Fast-tracking Prosperity in the North West and Midlands”, claimed that “The idea that part of the planned second phase of HS2 could be delivered six years earlier, to become Phase 2a, was first suggested by HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir David Higgins in March 2014.”

But the January 2014 report “The Case for Crewe’s Network Rail Station Relocation and Opportunities for HS2” – produced by Steer Davies Gleave – claimed that “early delivery of Crewe to Lichfield would increase overall benefits and deliver significant early benefits to the North West.”

Steer Davies Gleave, 'The Case for Crewe Station Relocation, 2014'

So why is David Higgins being credited with the idea of ‘Phase 2a’, when he didn’t come up with it? After all, there is no sign of him having exhibited any original thinking during his time as HS2 chairman or Network Rail chief executive.

It could be that Jim, HS2 Ltd, and Network Rail want to ‘forget’ the January 2014 SDG report, which disparaged the existing Crewe station, and ‘made the case’ for its replacement by a hub station on a new site to the south.

Having U-turned on retaining the existing station,

  • ‘the economic appraisal of the works needed at Crewe station to form the Hub show cost benefit ratios in the range 3.2:1 to 4.1:1’
  • and the ‘combination of Phase 2a and Crewe Hub is likely to have a benefit: cost ratio of over 2:1’,

according to HSRILG / Jim.

[HSRIL Phase 2a Benefits report, April 2018]

[…] The economic appraisal of the works needed at Crewe station to form the Hub show cost benefit ratios in the range 3.2:1 to 4.1:1 – a good economic case. While no economic appraisal of the combination of Phase 2a and Crewe Hub has been published, it is likely overall to have a good economic case (a benefit: cost ratio of over 2:1).

As usual, actual evidence for these claims is nowhere to be seen.

Table 2 of the government’s March 2018 Crewe hub consultation response “presents the indicative benefits of splitting and joining one train per hour at Crewe and including a service to Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield”, for which the ‘incremental benefit cost ratio with wider impacts from 2027’ is stated as 4.1.

That is not the same thing as saying “The economic appraisal of the works needed at Crewe station to form the Hub show cost benefit ratios in the range 3.2:1 to 4.1:1”.

The costs of the ‘works needed at Crewe station to form the Hub’ would depend on what the ‘hub’ is. Those costs seem to be mostly outside the HS2 budget, and the Department for Transport has refused to release any information.

[HSRIL Phase 2a Benefits report, April 2018]

The redevelopment needed at Crewe station is complex. The availability of alternative routes and tracks through the station area will help minimise disruption to existing services while the works are carried out. Network Rail can point to having overcome similar challenges in its rebuild of Reading station completed in 2017.

In 2008 Network Rail announced a ‘£400 million’ regeneration of Reading station, but on completion in 2014 the cost had increased to £897 million. Implementing the full monty Crewe HS2 hub, including a connection to the Davenport Green high speed line, would be a bigger project than Reading, but its costs are invisible in terms of the “£55.7 billion” PR claims.

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Written by beleben

April 10, 2018 at 1:08 pm

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