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Payneful delusions

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Financial Times writer Sebastian Payne is chuffed Boris Johnson has promised an ‘evidence-based’ review of HS2. ‘Because all the facts explain why Britain needs a major new railway to tackle our choked-up network. It’s all about capacity, not speed.’

twitter, @SebastianEPayne, I'm chuffed @BorisJohnson has promised an evidence-based review of HS2. Because all the facts explain why Britain needs a major new railway to tackle our choked-up network. It's all about capacity, not speed.

However, Mr Payne’s column doesn’t seem to contain many ‘facts’, and it’s highly unlikely that Boris Johnson is interested in conducting an independent ‘evidence’-based review of HS2.

Simply because, Boris loves boondoggles. Like the ‘Thames garden bridge’, Boris estuary airport, Greenwich cable car, ‘bridge to France’ (etc).

[In Birmingham, HS2 offers hope coming down the tracks | Sebastian Payne | FT Opinion | 17 Jul 2019]

The West Coast mainline is Europe’s most congested route. When HS2 is finished, 35,000 seats will be available every hour out of the capital — triple the current level. The project will free up the existing lines for more services to other towns.

The ‘West Coast main line is the most congested railway in Europe’? By what definition?

It’s probably not even the ‘most congested railway in Middlesex’.

The Great Western Main Line

HS2 will ‘free up existing lines for more services to other towns’?

Which ‘other towns’?

[SP:] Andrew Adonis devised the plan as Labour transport secretary. If HS2 is scrapped, he warns, money will not magically appear elsewhere. “Instead, we will have to upgrade the existing Victorian railway lines between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds to meet a growing transport capacity crisis.” Such improvements would be just as costly but deliver far fewer gains, he argues.

Since when has Andrew Adonis been an authority on railway capacity?

Why should his opinions be considered authoritative, given that there is zero evidence for a ‘growing transport capacity crisis‘, or for ‘upgrading existing lines costing as much as HS2’?

In the comments section beneath his article, Mr Payne claimed, “You can’t build more capacity on the West Coast mainline without causing huge disruption to an already-jammed up railway.”

This is nonsense. For example, intercity and commuter capacity out of Euston has been (and can be further) increased by nothing more than introducing new rolling stock (in much the same way as on other lines such as East Coast, Thameslink, etc).

In his column, Mr Payne claims Washwood Heath ‘once was home to van maker LDV and train builders Metro-Cammell, both of whom went bust in the noughties’.

[In Birmingham, HS2 offers hope coming down the tracks | Sebastian Payne | FT Opinion | 16 Jul 2019]

After 15 years of scant opportunities, 500 high-quality jobs will be created when the [HS2] train depot and control centre rises from the wasteland here.

Metro-Cammell did not ‘go bust in the noughties’. Its owner, French conglomerate Alstom, decided to close the factory down.

Whether 500 high-quality jobs would be created by HS2 in Washwood Heath depends on whether carriage cleaning, security guarding, etc, are categorised as ‘high quality’.

Network Rail are planning to vastly reduce the number of ‘roles’ in signalling across the country, so why Mr Payne thinks HS2 creating such jobs in Washwood Heath should be some sort of policy imperative, is not readily apparent.

Written by beleben

July 17, 2019 at 8:38 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

2 Responses

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  1. Wednesday (17th) fire & hiatus at Waterloo highlights what we REALLY need – a resilient & flexible railway.

    In this case

    1) The facility to terminate and turn-back Windsor Line trains at Clapham Junction
    2) The Northern line extended further from Battersea to Clapham Junction (largely under (or on) existing railway land), with an intermediate station connected to both Queenstown Road and Battersea Park
    3) A new tunnelled mainline route from Battersea to Bermondsey, releasing land/platforms at Victoria and London Bridge, with stations at Nine Elms, Vauxhall (with exit for Lambeth Bridge) Waterloo & Blackfriars (from each end of station) London Bridge & Cannon Street (as Waterloo) and Tower Bridge. At least 2 stations to have 4 platforms.
    4) Bike hire (free trips) from Waterloo to Victoria or Vauxhall and v v to cater for the displaced trips
    5) Use the 6 track viaduct from Clapham Junction to Wandsworth Town to carry 6 complete tracks and extend Overground services from Clapham Junction to Wimbledon via East Putney with 2 new upper level platforms at Wandsworth Town

    As for the West Coast Main Line a set of connections at Old Oak Common (or Wembley) with the 1906 high speed railway route to Birmingham restored or completed to the originally planned 4 tracks will deliver the facility to close all or part of the Main Lines to Birmingham via Oxford, Bicester, and Milton Keynes, and Termini at Euston or Paddington to enable long line closures (2 of 4 tracks), or manage disruption with re.-routed passengers or trains.


    July 17, 2019 at 5:44 pm

  2. At last! How refreshing to have some commonsense refutation of the previously unhindered nonsense about the ‘need’ for this grotesquely expensive white elephant.

    Ian McFee

    July 21, 2019 at 10:25 am

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