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Archive for July 2018

HS2 transport benefits are “inconsequential” to the West Midlands public

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In an unexpected and somewhat ratneresque development, the programme manager for the West Midlands Combined Authority’s “HS2 Growth Delivery team” has admitted that the supposed transport benefits of the HS2 high speed railway are inconsequential for the vast majority of people in Birmingham, the Black Country, Solihull, and Coventry.

Craig Wakeman: HS2 transport benefits are inconsequential to the vast majority of the people that live in the West Midlands Combined Authority

[What does High Speed Rail really mean to you?, Craig Wakeman, programme manager for the West Midlands Combined Authority’s HS2 Growth Delivery team, 30 July 2018]

When people think of HS2 they automatically think of the improvement it brings to people travelling to London, shorter travelling times and a big increase in the number of seats. In reality, these benefits are inconsequential to the vast majority of the four million people that live in the Combined Authority.

Four million people live in the Combined Authority area?

'2.8 million peple live in the WMCA area (2015)'

Anyway, according to Mr Wakeman, HS2’s benefits are

  • the “unlocking” of large areas of land for redevelopment in Bickenhill and around Curzon Street Station in Birmingham
  • the ‘creation of more than 100,000 new jobs’
  • ‘the National College for High Speed Rail, training 1,300 students annually once it is at full capacity’
  • ‘£1.2 billion of local transport connectivity investment by 2026, including Eastside and Brierley Hill tram extensions and seven ‘Sprint’ bus services carrying 23 million passengers a year’.

Where is the evidence that HS2 is a creator of 100,000 West Midlands jobs?

In its peak year, the construction of the line would briefly require about 25,000 workers in total (not just in the West Midlands). Around half, or more, of the construction and operating jobs seem likely to be taken by foreign workers.

Dependence of UK rail on EU labour

Greenfield development at Bickenhill. Is that a benefit, or periurban sprawl?

And how much land is there left to “unlock” around Curzon Street?

Most of the Eastside redevelopment was in hand well before HS2 – Millennium Point, the relocation of Birmingham City University (the polytechnic) and Matthew Boulton College.

Written by beleben

July 31, 2018 at 8:15 pm

Posted in HS2, Midland Metro, Politics

HS2 Bickenhill tramway costed at £872 million

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The meretricious extension of the West Midlands Metro tramway from Birmingham city centre to the Airport and the HS2 ‘Interchange’ station site at Middle Bickenhill is now costed at £872 million, according to the West Midlands Combined Authority. This sum is comprised of £137 million for the section from Corporation Street to Adderley Street, and £735 million for the rest.

Artist's impression of a West Midlands Metro tram in Digbeth

No buses operate over the proposed tram route to the airport, because of its indirectness and low demand, and fast trains from New Street to ‘Birmingham International’ (the airport station) take just 10 minutes. The National Express West Midlands X1 (former 900) buses are timed to reach the airport from central Birmingham in half an hour. Demand for travel from places such as Chelmsley Wood to the airport is low, as shown by the X12 bus running at 20-minute intervals, even at ‘peak’ time.

The airport tramway is part of the WMCA ‘HS2 Growth Strategy’, which has an estimated cost of £5.139 billion. This is additional to the cost of the “£55.7 billion” HS2 ‘Core Programme’, as are the HS2 expenditures of Network Rail and local authorities such as Cheshire East, Stoke, Sheffield, Greater Manchester, and Leeds.

Written by beleben

July 31, 2018 at 8:47 am

At sixes and sevens

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The latest muddled rebranding of West Midlands Transport seems destined to add to public confusion about who is responsible for transport services.

West Midlands Transport identity, 2018

Apparently, trains are supposed to be orange, but orange is the colour of the ‘Transport for West Midlands’ organisation. But the colour of, er, ‘West Midlands Transport’ is sort of purple. Or is that the colour of the trains?

'TfWM part of WMCA'

Orange Transport for West Midlands identity, 2018

Although operated by the same company, ‘West Midlands Trains’ (not the same thing as ‘West Midlands Rail’) are likely to have three different liveries – mainly purple, mainly orange, and mainly dark green – for no particular reason. But not teal. That’s for the ‘Rail Executive’.

West Midlands Rail

West Midlands Rail Executive

West Midlands Trains

West Midlands Rail, predominately purple

twitter @samjessupdesign, some West Midlands Rail trains to be orange but others purple

Buses operated by different companies in competition with each other, with different fare structures, are supposed to be repainted red, as if they were London buses, um, except in Coventry, where the National Express West Midlands buses are supposed to remain skyish blue (?).

The ‘network identity’ is so dysfunctional that the same bus operator cannot even manage to give a unique identifying number to each of its services.

Two number sixes and two number sevens

Besides the proliferation of expenditure and public confusion, another problem with the boneheaded rebrand is the environmental waste from discarded vinyls, paint remover, etc. There are thousands of vehicles and pieces of street furniture, etc, with legacy branding, so the cackhandery is deplorable.

Written by beleben

July 29, 2018 at 11:53 am

Posted in Birmingham

From failing to failed

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High speed train wreckBritain’s HS2 high-speed railway project has cost taxpayers £4.1 billion even before construction has started, the Financial Times reported.

[HS2 costs taxpayers £4.1bn before work even begins, Gill Plimmer, FT, 27 July 2018 (paywall)]

Martin Blaiklock, an infrastructure consultant, said the £4 bn represented around 8 – 10 per cent of estimated project costs, which he said was “somewhat high” for this stage of project planning, indicating that the final project cost would be “rather higher than expected”.
The costs come amid a wave of departures from the organisation, with a third of the board leaving in the past year, including the chairman David Higgins, finance director Steve Allen and non-executive director Lord Adonis, a leading driver of the project since its inception.
The Treasury’s own Infrastructure and Projects Authority has given HS2 an “amber/red” rating for each of the past six years — meaning there is a “high risk” of it not delivering value for money. A confidential report commissioned by the IPA and released in December 2016 also warned that costs were likely to end between 20 and 60 per cent over HS2’s £56 bn budget and that it would be “classified as ‘failed’ by any internationally recognised definition”.

So Andrew Adonis has ‘made off’, it seems. Why would that be?

'The sectetary of state is not available'

Written by beleben

July 29, 2018 at 9:23 am

Posted in High speed rail

Layout of the Camp Hill chords

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In February 2018, West Midlands mayor Andy Street outlined revised plans for a restored local service on Birmingham’s Camp Hill railway, to better connect the suburbs of Moseley and Kings Heath with the city centre. In the initial phase, the difficult-to-construct Camp Hill chords would not be needed, as trains would run into and out of New Street station.

Midlands Connect Rail Hub flagship

But in a later phase, following construction of the chords, the Camp Hill local service would be re-routed into Birmingham Moor Street, as part of the ‘Midlands Rail Hub’, the “flagship plan to future-proof the Midlands’ rail network for generations to come”.

Layout of the Camp Hill chords, as envisaged by Network Rail

In the view of the Beleben blog, the practicality of the design for the Camp Hill chords favoured by Midlands Connect must be in doubt. If they actually could be built, what would they look like? Unsurprisingly, there are no scale diagrams, and no artists’ impressions. Like the ‘Piccadilly platforms 15 and 16’ in Manchester, the Midlands Rail Hub appears to be an expensive and ineffectual scheme, which ought not to go ahead (and probably will not go ahead).

Written by beleben

July 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

Posted in Birmingham, Transport

Not his specialist subject

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Not a specialist

Written by beleben

July 25, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Politics, Transport

Evolution to greater prominence

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‘The Network West Midlands brand is widely recognised, but will evolve to greater prominence across all public transport modes, complementing the strong individual brands that will continue to exist.’ So claimed Transport for West Midlands.

West Midlands bus alliance, Network West Midlands identity

How will it evolve to greater prominence, if a new ‘West Midlands Transport’ brand is being introduced?

West Midlands Rail purple train

Written by beleben

July 25, 2018 at 11:48 am