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Archive for October 2018

Most transparent shortcomings

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According to West Midlands mayor Andy Street’s “Renewal Plan“, he aims, or aimed, to be the ‘most transparent mayor’ in Britain.

andystreet-btmtm

But at the time of writing, the “Mayor’s Expenses” page on the website of the West Midlands Combined Authority gives no information about mayoral expenditure. Nor does there seem to be any diary of Andy’s past or future meetings, etc, on the site.

WMCA, Mayor Andy Street's expenses page, at 16 Oct 2018

Unfortunately, these transparency shortcomings extend well beyond the mayor’s office, to the Combined Authority itself.

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Written by beleben

October 19, 2018 at 11:08 am

HS2 benchmarking mysteries

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For a variety of reasons, Britain’s HS2 high-speed rail line ‘will cost taxpayers 25 per cent more than similar schemes in other countries’, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, focused on phase 2 of the project, that has been kept secret from Lord Berkeley and the public for the past two years (source: Financial Times, 18 October).

'HS2 will cost 25% more than schemes abroad, says hidden report', Financial Times, 18 Oct 2018

[From the FT article, by Jim Pickard and Gill Plimmer]

HS2 will have 25 stations — far more than equivalent schemes abroad — and they are more likely to be in city centres.

Moreover, the 10-year hiatus between the UK’s first high-speed line and HS2 meant that the UK did not have the “base, industry and knowledge”, according to one person who has seen the report, to deliver the project easily.

The FT story is a bit baffling.

HS1 cost benchmarked against 6 other high speed lines, 2009

According to HS2 Ltd’s David Higgins, HS2 was expected to cost 15 per cent more than HS1 (which itself was far more expensive than other high speed lines).

HS2 benchmarking in 'HS2 Plus' report

Written by beleben

October 19, 2018 at 9:29 am

Posted in HS2

£24 billion is not enough

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Transport for the North ‘today released its latest research into the boost Northern powerhouse rail could give local economies’, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Tim Wood with Chris Grayling MP

[Liverpool Echo, 17 Oct 2018]

[Tim Wood, programme director at Transport for the North,] said the National Infrastructure Commission had positively assessed the plans.

He said: £24bn is their estimate [of the cost of Northern powerhouse rail]. We know it will cost a little bit more than that.

Liverpool Echo, Liverpool NPR could take decades, 16 Jan 2018

'New rail line means better job prospects - if you are willing to commute for up to three hours a day', Ian Johnson, Newcastle Chronicle, 17 Oct 2018

Written by beleben

October 17, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Never mind local transport, let’s build boondoggles

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twitter, @Clinnick1, 'An idea of how bad public transport is in Peterborough. My train arrived from York at 0718, and will get to London around ten minutes before I arrive in the office today'

Liverpool Echo, 21-minute Northern powerhouse rail story, 17 Oct 2018

Written by beleben

October 17, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Leonie du bois abattu

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HS2 phase 2b lumberjacks On 11 October, HS2 Ltd published the working draft environmental statement and equality impact assessment for phase 2b of its proposed high speed railway.

Responding to the publication of the draft environmental statement for phase 2b, Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said: “We were braced for bad news but this is far worse than we were expecting. At least 19 ancient woods will be lost, almost double our estimate. This is significant permanent loss and the figure is only going to go up as HS2’s review of woods not listed on the Ancient Woodland Inventory progresses.”

Even before the publication of the environmental draft, it was clear that the negative impacts of building phase 2b would be far-reaching and wide-ranging.

[HS2: Jobs, wildlife and mental health will all suffer, says report, West Bridgford Wire, 11 Oct 2018]

A report by HS2 has found:

1,000 jobs would be lost or displaced

91 percent of the wildlife on the Toton Sidings site would be completely destroyed by the construction of high speed line.

It is clear that HS2 would damage the natural environmentA52 would need to be moved 25 metres to the south, with roadwork taking two years, it was also revealed.

In Ratcliffe on Soar, Toton, Stapleford and Long Eaton, 183 houses, 52 commercial properties and 18 other buildings would have to be demolished.

The scale of the construction could adversely affect the health and wellbeing of residents, and people’s mental health in the area, the report found.
[…]
Leonie Dubois, HS2’s head of consultation and engagement, said: “HS2 is coming to the East Midlands and the region will reap significant benefits as a result.”
[…]
Councillor Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council and chairman of the East Midlands HS2 Strategic Board, said: “The public consultation launched by HS2 Ltd today (October 11) is an important stage in the development of the project, and we want to make sure that the concerns of local people are heard.”

Written by beleben

October 12, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

HS2 Birmingham stations ‘to open in 2026’

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The latest official visualisations for the proposed HS2 stations in Birmingham and Middle Bickenhill were launched at the Library of Birmingham on 9 October. According to HS2 Ltd, the two stations will open in 2026, ‘along with the rest of Phase One’.

The company says it is ‘seeking feedback’ from the public about the designs, but has public opinion ever played much of a role in the development of megaprojects in Britain?

twitter_HS2ltd_status_1049555156419969025

A few years ago, when Network Rail ‘consulted’ before the £600 million revamp of New Street station, the faults in their design were pointed out to them. Of course, Network Rail took not a blind bit of notice, and lo and behold, the redeveloped station is a complete mess. It’s so bad, that Cross Country Trains advise people to avoid changing trains there, if they can.

XC Trains, avoid changing at Birmingham New Street

Anyway, the HS2 Curzon terminus, designed by WSP and Grimshaw Architects, would be ‘Britain’s first new intercity station since the nineteenth century’.

Apart from, Bristol Parkway, Birmingham International, East Midlands Parkway, and Ebbsfleet (?).

The old Curzon Street station closed in 1966 (HS2 Ltd tweeted on 17 September).

twitter, @HS2ltd, Curzon Street station closed in 1966

Actually, Curzon Street was retained by British Rail into the 1970s. At the time of writing, the Getty Images site has a picture of the interior, ‘dated’ 21 October 1967, a year after it “closed”.

Arup-designed Bickenhill HS2 station, visualisation of exterior, 9 Oct 2018

In its well-balanced report on the new stations, ITV Central News asked Mike Lyons of HS2 Ltd about the cost of Curzon Street. He declined to give any figure.

And Liam Byrne MP tweeted he would be ‘campaigning for the station to include the greatest science museum in Britain’ (?).

twitter, @LiamByrneMP, HS2 station designs look like a traditional railway shed

It’s important to remember that HS2 is a hugely expensive, environmentally damaging, and entirely unnecessary project. The existing West Coast and Chiltern railways can meet all foreseeable capacity requirements, including the Department for Transport’s “Higher Growth” scenario.

Written by beleben

October 10, 2018 at 9:30 am

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

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‘Midlands Connect’, whose honcho principal is a Spanish lady called Maria Machancoses, is ‘supporting’ a bid for a Talgo [HS2] train plant in Chesterfield, which (it claimed) would create ‘thousands of jobs’.

www.midlandsconnect.uk, umbraco login

More details (it claimed) were available at https://bit.ly/2OcKtic, but at the time of writing, that link was just a login page for Midlands Connect’s content management.

twitter, @MidsConnect, Chesterfield Talgo, thousands of jobs

Should Midlands Connect be getting involved in things like this? How is it part of its remit?

twitter, @BBCChrisD

Is no-one willing, or able, to rein in Maria?

Written by beleben

October 9, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Posted in HS2, Politics