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Archive for June 2018

HS2 green corridor video is misinformation

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On 25 June, high speed rail minister Nusrat Munir Ul-Ghani and HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston were in Warwickshire to launch the ‘HS2 green corridor’ at Dale House Farm, but apparently ended up locked in the farm, awaiting a locksmith.

twitter @joerukin, Nusrat Ghani locked in farm

Despite her envelope difficulties, Ms Ghani managed to give an interview to ITV Central News, coming across as not having much interest in the environment.

[Warwick Courier, 25 Jun 2018]

[HS2 Ltd claims] the green corridor will result in over nine square kilometres of new native woodlands and habitats for species including bats, badgers and great crested newts.

But The Woodland Trust slammed the plans and said HS2 would devastate the environment. Luci Ryan, ecologist at the Woodland Trust said: “This is utter greenwash nonsense from an organisation trying to pretend that HS2 isn’t the most environmentally destructive infrastructure project this country has seen in decades.

“Some 98 beautiful, rare, irreplaceable ancient woods will be destroyed or damaged by this scheme. That’s 98 habitats and ecosystems that support a whole host of mammals, birds, invertebrates, fungi and plants.”

HS2 Ltd also added a curious and misinformational video about the green corridor to its Youtube channel, featuring a sort of computer-game landscape with mutant trees, and stripe-free badgers.

HS2 green corridor, mutant flora and fauna

The video claimed phase one would be open ‘by 2026’.

HS2 green corridor, phase one by 2026

Other oddities of the video included: no sign of any fencing off of the railway from the surrounding land, no sign of any service roads alongside the tracks, and no overhead line structures.

In some frames, the trains in the animation seem to have a pantograph ‘well’, but no pantograph. In other frames, there is a raised pantograph drawing maints ampères from completely invisible overhead line equipment.

HS2 green corridor panto mime, arrowed

Quite an achievement, considering the massive amounts of energy the trains would consume. According to KPMG, HS2 could increase the electricity requirement of GB rail by 40 to 67 per cent. The upstream capex required to provide this power is not on HS2’s books, but would have to be paid for somehow.

The HS2 is officially estimated to cost £55.7 billion, so the green(-wash) corridor just announced, would amount to ~0.01% of the total spend.

Written by beleben

June 26, 2018 at 8:14 am

Posted in HS2

Pitch and cell

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In an article by Perry Boeker and published on fuel cell company Ballard’s website, Jochen Steinbauer, Director of Platform and Business Development for alternative drive systems for regional trains at Siemens, shared his views on hydrogen train technology for rail applications.

[Ballard blog]

[JS:] First of all, from a global perspective, the U.K. is the most advanced with respect to hydrogen technology deployment. They have proclaimed that no diesel cars can enter certain cities. Plus they already announced that diesel powered vehicles will be completely prohibited by 2040, including trains.

'Interview with Siemens’ Jochen Steinbauer on Innovations in Fuel Cell Train Technology',,  2018-06-21

Written by beleben

June 25, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Transport

Midland Metro will become West Midlands Metro as services are taken over by Midland Metro

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'From Sunday June 24 [2018], the Midland Metro will become West Midlands Metro as services are taken over by Midland Metro'

It makes perfect sense in the twilight zone

Written by beleben

June 21, 2018 at 10:34 pm

Air ‘cleansed by diesel engines’

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WtfTom Stables, managing director of National Express West Midlands – “Birmingham’s leading bus company” – says “Buses are the solution to pollution”.

[National Express offering 24hrs free bus travel for every Birmingham passenger!, Neil Elkes, Birmingham Live, 20 Jun 2018]

The bus company has invested millions in cleaner engines, both buying new low emission vehicles and retro-fitting existing buses with devices to clean the exhaust fumes coming out.

It says the new exhaust systems make the air coming out of the tailpipe cleaner than the air that went in. Birmingham City Council has also invested in a new fleet of hydrogen fuelled buses which are cleaner and more efficient.

The air coming out of the bus tailpipe is cleaner than the air that went in?

Written by beleben

June 20, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Ave caramba

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High speed rail (Ave) accounts for 26 billion euro of ‘inappropriate’ expenditure of public funds in Spain over the period 1995 to 2016, according to a study published by the Association of Spanish Geographers.

El Pais infrastructure waste story, 19 Jun 2018, English language version

That would suggest that the programmed expenditure on Britain’s HS2 railway (€70++ billion) vastly exceeds the outlay on the Spanish Ave system (which is the second largest in the world).

El Pais infrastructure waste story, 19 Jun 2018, Spanish language version

Although shorter in route length, HS2 is a much bigger waste of money than Ave.

Written by beleben

June 20, 2018 at 11:27 am

Birmingham Clean Air Zone proposals fall short

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Drivers of the heaviest polluting cars face a charge of up to £10 per day to travel into Birmingham City Centre from 2020 under pollution-busting plans unveiled by council transport bosses, Birmingham Live reported.

[Details of clean air zone charge for Birmingham revealed and it’s not all bad for drivers, Neil Elkes, Birmingham Live, 19 Jun 2018]

Details emerged as the council announced a summer of consultation into its plans for a Clean Air Zone.

But, after much speculation, drivers whose cars meet the Euro 4 petrol standard – mostly vehicles made since 2006 – and Euro 6 diesel, mostly manufactured since 2015, will NOT have to pay.

However, the available documents published by Birmingham city council suggest that its preferred option for a so-called Clean Air Zone would not actually ‘bust’ pollution. The Zone would only apply to the area within the Middle Ring Road, and even within that zone, modelling suggests that ‘additional measures’ would be necessary to bring pollution within legal limits.

The notion that the CAZ-as-proposed is about ‘charging drivers of the heaviest polluting cars’ is fanciful. Because many recently manufactured Euro 6 diesels are themselves among the heaviest polluting cars.

Greenpeace Unearthed, 2018-03-02, 'Carmakers’ own tests show many of the newest diesels are still ‘dangerously’ polluting'

All in all, the currently ‘preferred’ CAZ looks like a rushed and amateurish response to the pollution challenge. Much more imagination is needed, but that seems to be in desperately short supply.

Written by beleben

June 19, 2018 at 10:13 am

Sum kind of overspend

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The “dysfunctional” HS2 high-speed rail company has pressed staff to falsify figures, mislead parliament and cover up “petrifying” overspends, according to claims reported in The Sunday Times.

[HS2 ‘covered up petrifying overspends’, Andrew Gilligan, The Sunday Times, 17 June 2018 (paywall)]

In documents seen by The Sunday Times, Doug Thornton, HS2’s former head of property, said the organisation put him under “tremendous pressure to accede to an enormous deceit” that the official budget for buying land and buildings was accurate.

As recounted by the story,

  • Mr Thornton and the former head of planning and performance, Andrew Bruce, departed HS2 in 2016, as the bill for phase one (London – West Midlands) reached a critical stage in parliament
  • both men have given evidence to the National Audit Office, which is investigating HS2’s land and property budget
  • HS2 Ltd maintains that buying the 11,000 properties needed to construct phase one would cost £2.8 billion, but Mr Bruce had calculations showing the sum could be around £4.7 billion.

At the time of writing, on his LinkedIn entry, it is stated that Mr Bruce “Developed the programme for the purchase of £4.8 Bn worth of land and property” for HS2 Ltd.

Andrew Bruce, formerly of HS2 Ltd, linkedin, extract

HS2, Estimate of expense, in parliament 2013 - 2014

Written by beleben

June 17, 2018 at 4:56 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2