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Archive for September 2019

Now with added humbug

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Midlands Connect’s announcement of “new findings” that ’73 locations stand to benefit from High Speed Two released capacity’ was widely publicised across the HS2 blobosphere, with additional humbug being added in here and there.

For example, in their press release titled “HS2 Analysis reveals space for new commuter services”, the Derby and Nottingham local enterprise partnership D2N2 claimed, “HS2 will transfer long-distance journeys between London, Yorkshire and Scotland from the East Coast Main Line the new high-speed network, making new services from Nottingham to London Kings Cross via Grantham possible”.

This contradicts HS2 Ltd’s own presentation ⁠— in which there would be no Anglo-Scottish services on HS2’s eastern leg.

Derby and Nottingham local enterprise partnership D2N2, 'HS2 Analysis reveals space for new commuter services', 26 Sep 2019

The title “HS2 Analysis reveals space for new commuter services” was also a bit unfortunate, considering that local travellers between Nottingham and Derby would face longer commutes if HS2 were built.

This would be a result of trains having to detour to Toton, in order to serve the so-called East Midlands Hub high speed station.

If ‘express’ services were introduced from Toton HS2 southwards to Nottingham, that would reduce (rather than increase) space for local commuters.

HS2 Ltd statement about Toton local-journeys, Feb 2019

Another daft press release, from the Black Country local enterprise partnership, claimed HS2 would “create space for more trains between Black Country and Birmingham and less overcrowding for commuters“.

Of course, there is no credible evidence whatsoever for this claim. Actually, many Black Country commuters have to stand on their journey into Birmingham, because the main line railway through West Bromwich was turned into a rinky-dink tramway by West Midlands PTE (now TfWM). The railcars operating this route cannot be operated in multiple (in service) and they only have 54 seats (which is fewer than a double decker bus).

Written by beleben

September 27, 2019 at 11:03 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

Midlands Connect released capacity ‘analysis’ is unreleased

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On 2 August 2019 David Blackadder-Weinstein of Midlands Connect announced that they would be providing ‘Joe-proof’ numbers of the extra trains that could run on the Midland, West Coast, and East Coast railways, as a result of HS2 ‘released capacity’.

twitter, @belebenso, 'Note @midsconnect strange reluctance to quantify #hs2 capacity release on existing main lines'

But at the time of writing, Mr Blackadder-Weinstein still appears unable or unwilling to produce this information. It is notably absent from today’s Midlands Connect’s ‘released capacity’ news release.

Why won’t Midlands Connect release the ‘technical analysis’ that supposedly validates today’s ‘released capacity’ news release, or the text of their submission to the Oakervee ‘independent review of HS2’?

twitter, @James_Bovill (of @midsconnect), 'Our release doesn't mention publishing research, that is how a reporter has chosen to describe it. Findings based on existing rail strategies, rail models & our technical programme. HS2 is supportive. And it does include relief on WCML MML & ECML as map/table shows'

Midlands Connect, 'Released capacity post HS2' diagram, 26 Sep 2019

Written by beleben

September 26, 2019 at 2:06 pm

Posted in HS2

Majuscular pseudo veracity revelation

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'Midlands Connect''Pravda'The true benefits of HS2 have been REVEALED for the first time today (26 Sep 2019), according to Midlands Connect.

Midlands Connect, 'hs2 released capacity research' news release (extract), 26 Sep 2019

[Midlands Connect, Thursday 26 September 2019 ]

True benefits of HS2 REVEALED for the first time; extra capacity would mean improved rail services for 73 stations on existing network

Revealed for the first time, 73 stations on the existing rail network stand to benefit from improved passenger services as a direct result of the capacity released by HS2, including 54 stations with no direct HS2 services;

Evidence submitted to the Oakervee HS2 Review by Midlands Connect;
High speed line will take long-distance rail journeys off the existing network, providing capacity for new routes, as well as faster and more frequent local and inter-regional services;
HS2 will create space for 576,000 extra seats per day on the high speed network, reducing overcrowding on existing lines;
Released capacity essential to deliver major regional transport plans Midlands Engine Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail;
HS2 frees up space for 144 extra freight trains per day, enough to transport over 2.5million more lorries’ worth of cargo on our railways each year.

HS2 will free up enough space on the existing railway network to improve rail services for 73 stations across the country, technical analysis by Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect has revealed for the first time.

The extra capacity provided by the new high speed line will create space on the existing network to introduce faster and more frequent services, reduce crowding and introduce new services between destinations that do no currently have a direct rail link.

Of the 73 locations that could benefit from HS2’s released capacity, 54 are stations not served by HS2 trains.

By moving long-distance traffic from our current rail infrastructure onto the new high speed line, HS2 will create the extra room needed to improve local and inter-regional services.

Meanwhile HS2 trains will be able to carry 576,000 people per day, reducing overcrowding on the existing network.

These benefits will be felt in dozens of villages, towns and cities across the country, including Coventry, Shrewsbury, Leicester, Leamington Spa, Nottingham, Newark, Newcastle and Macclesfield.

HS2’s capacity-releasing effects on the conventional network mean that Coventry will benefit from; new direct connections to and from Derby, Sheffield, York and Newcastle; more frequent services to and from Shrewsbury, Telford, Leamington Spa and along the Coventry-Birmingham commuter corridor; as well as enjoying less crowded trains on existing services to and from London.

Benefits will also spread to stations such as Lincoln, where additional capacity can be deployed to provide more frequent connections to and from Newark, Grantham, Stevenage and London. Passengers travelling to and from Milton Keynes via London, Manchester and the West Midlands will benefit from reduced crowding – these routes regularly offer standing room only, despite commuter passes costing upwards of £5,000 per year.

The increased capacity HS2 frees up on the traditional rail network also has massive implications for the rail freight industry. Space will be created for 144 extra freight trains per day, which could carry over 2.5 million lorries’ worth of cargo each year. Transporting freight by rail rather than on our roads produces 76 per cent less CO2[1].

The benefits of HS2 released capacity have been calculated using the projections outlined in local rail strategies, existing rail models and the Midlands Connect technical programme. It is operationally possible to achieve every single one of the benefits outlined in the analysis through changes to timetabling and services post-HS2.

Over the past twelve years, the number of journeys undertaken by train in the UK has more than doubled[2]. Government-sponsored studies suggest alternative upgrades on existing lines such as the West Coast Main Line would require 14 years’ worth of disruptive weekend closures[3], and would prove hugely expensive due to the proximity of existing settlements.

HS2 underpins transformational regional rail plans Midlands Engine Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail, both of which require the released capacity and new infrastructure it provides. Neither would be wholly technically or financially feasible should HS2 be cancelled.

Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine said:

“The benefits of HS2 will be felt by millions of people across the UK, including passengers that never set foot on a high speed train. Regional and local rail services are in desperate need of improvement and it’s time we face facts, without the space and flexibility created by HS2, the transformational change needed is not possible.

“It is the capacity released by the line – not just its speed – that will give the whole network a desperately needed overhaul. We haven’t built a new inter-city railway north of London in a century – piecemeal interventions will do no more than paper over the cracks of an overloaded, tired network. Left unchanged, these deficiencies will stifle growth and prosperity for decades to come. Our message to Government is clear; commit to HS2, commit to the regions you serve and give us a transport network fit for the future.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership commented:

“HS2 is not just about speed or getting to London more quickly, it is about bringing the Northern Powerhouse closer to the great cities of the Midlands. It will create more capacity for local services, the same way Northern Powerhouse Rail does for freight and local passengers across the Pennines.

“Connecting Britain will be a major factor in rebalancing the economy – new lines both to the north west from Birmingham and up the eastern side of the UK, will expand labour markets, grow jobs, helping the North and Midlands to become as prosperous and successful as London. New direct links from a city like Coventry to Sheffield, York and Newcastle, by upgrades to the existing network, demonstrate that even those who don’t use an HS2 service will still see the benefits.”

Tom Thackray, CBI Director of Infrastructure, said:

“The business message on HS2 is clear-cut – back it, build it, benefit from it. The first phase of HS2 has already led to record levels of investment in the West Midlands and created thousands of jobs.

“We firmly believe committing to HS2 in full will spur further investment, boost productivity and in turn bring huge benefits to the whole country.”

Lindsay Durham, head of rail strategy at Freightliner added:

“Our biggest challenge is success and that means trying to get more capacity to move more trains. Businesses are asking us all the time to move more of their materials by train, they want to reduce their carbon footprint, and actually moving freight by rail uses 76% less carbon compared with the equivalent road movement.”


[1] DfT Rail Freight Strategy: September 2016.



twitter, David Blackadder-Weinstein (@weinsteinlinder), '#HS2releasedcapacity to all those saying “spend the money on the existing network” #HS2 is an upgrade of the existing network! More frequent, reliable trains to 73 stations [|] 144 more freight trains a day [|] Network cheaper to maintain due to fewer fast heavy trains [|]  #HS2alltheway'

Written by beleben

September 26, 2019 at 10:54 am

Posted in Birmingham, Bizarre, HS2

The misinformation never stops

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In HS2 Ltd chairman Allan Cook’s ‘stocktake report’, it was finally admitted that the high speed rail project’s fictitious funding envelope and opening dates were unrealistic. ‘Target delivery’ of phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds is ‘likely’ to move from 2033 to between 2035 and 2040, according to Mr Cook.

Allan Cook HS2 stocktake report: 'each intercity train removed from the classic network releases capacity for 11 new commuter fast or freight trains'

However, the ‘stocktake’ report saw the debut of assorted pieces of new misinformation, such as the claim that ‘each intercity train removed from the classic network releases capacity for eleven new commuter fast or freight trains’.

HS2 Ltd chairman Allan Cook

And on 17 September, HS2 Ltd retweeted earlier misinformation about Leeds and Manchester rail capacity, contradicting the Allan Cook ‘stocktake’ report, by giving 2033 as the phase 2b opening year.

twitter, High Speed Two phase 2b opening date shown as 2033 in @HS2ltd tweet of 17 Sep 2019

According to this tweet, in Manchester and Leeds alone, ‘local commuters would see the number of rush hour seats more than doubled’.

“Rush hour seats” to where, “more than doubled”?

For Leeds, the year 2017 evening peak hour ‘Doncaster corridor’ capacity was given by the Department for Transport as 1,718 seats (rounded to 1,720 in the tweet). For the ‘year 2033 with HS2’ scenario, the corresponding capacity would be 4,862 (rounded to 4,860 in the tweet).

'Doncaster corridor' peak hour seats in 2017 (above) and '2033 with HS2' (below), as given by the Department for Transport

However, no fewer than 2,750 of the 4,860 ‘Doncaster corridor’ seats that “local commuters” would “see”, would not be for them. They would be for ‘extreme commuters’ on HS2 trains, and these would not and could not serve Doncaster, or any place between Leeds and Doncaster.

The increase in ‘year 2033 With HS2’ seats for local commuters in HS2 Ltd’s tweet comes not from HS2 ‘released capacity’, but from running bigger trains in existing paths. For example, the Doncaster service changes from a 4-carriage Class 321 train in 2017, to a 9-car Class 331 train in the 2033 scenario.

On the western leg of HS2, the situation is much the same. In the official Manchester ‘year 2033 With HS2’ peak-hour scenario, the number of classic trains operating on the ‘Crewe / Stoke corridor’ is shown as falling by one, compared with 2017. And not, ‘increasing by eleven’, as Mr Cook might have people believe.

Written by beleben

September 20, 2019 at 9:04 am

Posted in HS2

HS2’s daft plan to knock out Overground capacity

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In a propaganda video posted on twitter, HS2 Ltd claimed its high speed line would improve air quality and ‘help reduce carbon emissions’ by enabling modal shift of freight from road to rail.

HS2 propaganda video grab, freight loco and lorries


However, HS2 Ltd have admitted in carbon information paper E10, and other documents, that building and operating HS2 would result in a net increase in carbon emissions over the 120-year appraisal period.

Extract from HS2 carbon information paper E10 showing net increase in carbon from building and operating HS2

Running more daytime freight trains over the southern West Coast Main Line and London Overground, as proposed by HS2, is a particularly daft idea. For example, routeing more freight trains over London Overground tracks would reduce the frequency and capacity of the Overground, thereby leading to increased motor traffic, GHG and NOx emissions in the capital. The Class 66 loco used in HS2’s video is a particularly nasty emitter of two-stroke diesel pollution, which could be retired if HS2 were replaced by a programme of electrification of key links, such as Felixstowe to Nuneaton.

HS2 proposals for WCML railfreight would knock out Overground capacity in London

Written by beleben

September 18, 2019 at 11:46 am

Posted in HS2, misinformation

Blackadding a step-change in capacity between Reading and Birmingham

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By not taking long distance rinky-dink trains off the existing railway between Reading and Birmingham, HS2 would release capacity between Reading and Birmingham, for more passengers. Apparently.

twitter, @weinsteinlinder, 'Late morning on a Tuesday from Reading to Brum & Manc. No cancellations, no delays. But no spare seats! Reading has just been upgraded to increase capacity.  If only we had a plan to build a new railway that could create a step change in national rail capacity? #HS2alltheway #HS2'

Written by beleben

September 18, 2019 at 9:08 am

Posted in Birmingham, HS2

Fab to meet Doug

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‘Independent HS2 review’ chief Douglas Oakervee told Michael Fabricant he is ‘quite open to considering alternative routes for HS2 as well as its possible cancellation’, the Lichfield MP claimed.

twitter, @Mike_Fabricant (11 Sep 2019), 'Two very interesting meetings yesterday in London regarding the future of HS2.'

[HS2: Michael meets Douglas Oakervee of the Oakervee Review | On 10th September 2019 ]

Michael Fabricant today (10th September) met privately with Douglas Oakervee, Chairman of the Oakervee Review into HS2 and, in a separate meeting, Andrew Gilligan, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Transport at Number 10 Downing Street.

Commenting on the meetings, Michael says “Doug Oakervee and I discussed the scope of the review and he said he is quite open to considering alternative routes for HS2 as well as its possible cancellation.

“I told him that the original Arup proposal would have used an existing transport corridor, the M40 motorway, which would have been cheaper and been less environmentally damaging. It would also have connected HS2 directly with the continent as well as with Heathrow and, possibly, directly into Birmingham New Street Station instead of Curzon Street. HS2 does none of this. By crashing through previously untainted countryside, it is destroying natural habitats and ancient woodlands.

“Doug agreed that a holistic approach to the railway system is required and one that integrates properly with Network Rail. He told me there was little or no liaison with Network Rail when HS2 was designed. I hope his official recommendations will reflect the need to change the route and will not simply trim down the existing route.”

In a letter to Michael Fabricant sent earlier in September, Douglas Oakervee says of HS2: “We intend to use all existing evidence on the project and consider its benefits and impacts; affordability and efficiency; deliverability; and scope and phasing, including its relationship with Northern Powerhouse Rail and other rail projects in the North of England and Midlands.”

Michael also met Andrew Gilligan: “Andrew is highly sceptical about HS2 and has written with his views in the Sunday Times and elsewhere. We had a far reaching discussion regarding HS2. He agrees with me. The current route is disconnected from other modes of transport, far too expensive, and untennable in its present form.

“The next few months will be very interesting and I look forward to reading the Oakervee Review when it is published. I hope I wont be disappointed.”

The Oakervee Review will make its initial report before the end of the year.

The Guardian, 'We must invest in high-speed rail or new motorways, warns HS2 chairman' (Doug Oakervee), George Bradshaw address, 22 Oct 2013

Written by beleben

September 13, 2019 at 9:41 am

Posted in HS2

Where to start with this nonsense?

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twitter, @JohnMorrisHello, 'Excellent analysis of 'HS2 tosh' from Paul Bigland. If you prefer facts to assertions when it comes to HS2, you might want to read this. It demolishes the rather quirky claims made by an eminent professor.'

Following his assertion that Professor Dieter Helm should go talk to (unnamed) rail ‘experts’, the ‘official photographer’ for the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group blogged a bizarre ‘analysis’ which claimed Prof Helm ‘has no idea that we spent £9 billion upgrading the West Coast Main Line just 12 years ago’.

HSRILG official photographer's blog, '£9 bn spent upgrading the West Coast Main Line'

Actually, it seems likely that the Professor would have no idea that ‘we spent £9 billion upgrading the West Coast Main Line just 12 years ago’, because it’s (obviously) not true.

As the Department for Transport acknowledged, ‘the West Coast renewal and modernisation programme comprised £2.5 billion of infrastructure upgrades‘ (not £9 billion) and ‘£6.5 billion of infrastructure renewals’.

Campaign for Better Transport, West Coast main line, 'Capacity has been increased by up to three times on key routes'

Just £2.5 billion of infrastructure enhancements made possible a big increase in passenger numbers and freight traffic.

DfT, 'the West Coast renewal and modernisation programme comprised £2.5 billion of infrastructure upgrades and £6.5 billion of infrastructure renewals'

The official photographer then provided a link to Network Rail’s tragic ‘New Lines Programme’ (which claimed that the West Coast Main Line will be ‘full by 2020’, ‘there are no further enhancements that can be made to the existing route that could meet future demand’, and ‘a [£34 billion] high-speed line to Scotland more than pays for itself’).

Network Rail, 'The case for new lines', 'no further enhancements can be made'

Despite having provided a link to Network Rail’s claim that ‘there are no further enhancements that can be made to the existing route that could meet future demand’, the official photographer asserted that ‘No-one has claimed that existing lines can’t be upgraded’. Yes, they have. Network Rail have, as in, “there are no further enhancements that can be made to the existing route that could meet future demand”.

HSRILG official photographer, 'analysing' Roade trains

The official photographer also provided ‘a copy of actual train workings’ between ’07:00 and 08:00′ from ‘real time trains’ for Roade, ‘which is on the two track section of the West Coast Main line South of Rugby’. But inspection of the ‘copy of actual train workings’ revealed it showed trains using four tracks at Roade, not two, and over a time period of more than 60 minutes.

What this straw man nonsense was supposed to prove, is anyone’s guess. Obviously, the West Coast Main Line south of Rugby at 8am is not representative of Britain’s main line railways in terms of its capacity utilisation. What Professor Helm said about railway capacity and upgrading was, in essence, correct.

IMechE railway capacity report, 'While engineers and operators declare that the railway is capacity-constrained, tracks are empty most of the time.'

Written by beleben

September 12, 2019 at 11:14 am

Posted in gibberish, HS2

Go talk to rail capacity ‘experts’

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Professor Dieter Helm, author of a readable thoughtpiece about HS2 and high speed rail, has been admonished by NCHSR lecturer Mr Gareth Dennis, and advised by the ‘official photographer’ for the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group to ‘talk to rail capacity experts’.

twitter, @Dieter_Helm, 'Regulation Network - HS2: a conclusion in search of a rationale' (and selected replies)

But which ‘experts’?

The former HS2 chairman David Higgins?

On 17 November 2014, HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins told the House of Commons transport committee that 'a railway line where trains travel at 220 miles an hour as opposed to 120 miles an hour clearly has nearly twice the capacity because you can have twice as many trains on it. Once we started talking about capacity, then people started to get it.'

The current chairman Allan Cook?

HS2 Ltd, Cook stocktake report, 'Each intercity train removed releases capacity for 11 new fast commuter or freight trains,
by reducing the disparity in speed between different services. The most efficient use of capacity is where all trains operate at the same speed – as is the case on HS1 and traffic on a managed motorway.'

Mr Gareth Dennis?

The benefits of HS2 could be transformational for Retford, according to the 'Permanent Rail Engineering' (Gareth Dennis) twitter

Or Jim Steer?

Greengauge 21 (Jim Steer) on Euston capacity

Written by beleben

September 9, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Posted in HS2

Adder nuff Midlands Connect capacity nonsense

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The 2+3 seat version of the 5-car Bombardier trainsets on order for the West Midlands franchise has a standard class seating capacity of ~426, giving a 10-car total of ~852, according to the Department for Transport

‘HS2 all the way’ is needed because is needed because ‘the 17:46 from Euston to Crewe [commuter train] has an average “load factor” (capacity) of 214%. Upgrading the WCML [West Coast Main Line] directly disrupts all of these passengers and thousands more for years and provides only minor improvements’, according to David Blackadder-Weinstein, from Midlands Connect.

twitter, @weinsteinlinder, 'Welcome aboard the country’s most overcrowded service. The 17:46 from Euston to Crewe has an average “load factor” (capacity) of 214%. Upgrading the WCML directly disrupts all of these passengers and thousands more for years and provides only minor improvements.'

This ‘214%’ figure comes from the Department for Transport’s ‘Rail passenger numbers and crowding on weekdays in major cities in England and Wales: 2018’ report, so it is historic, rather than current, data. This publication included a list of the 10 ‘busiest peak trains’ in England and Wales in autumn 2018, but noted ‘These trains make up a small fraction of all services and do not represent general conditions on the railway’.

The Beleben blog has pointed out that HS2 is simply not required to address commuter demand on the West Coast Main Line. All commuter demand into and out of Euston can be accommodated by using space-efficient rolling stock. This is the approach being adopted for the busiest commuter railways into London – on the former Southern and Eastern regions.

The 2+3 seat version of the 5-car Bombardier trainsets on order for the West Midlands franchise has a standard class seating capacity of ~426, giving a 10-car total of ~852. There seems to be no reason why a future ’17:46 to Crewe’ could not be operated with a train of this sort, given that (i) most platforms are already long enough, and (ii) platform lengthening is generally the lowest-cost way of increasing capacity.

Written by beleben

September 9, 2019 at 11:24 am

Posted in HS2, Railways