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HS2 offers ‘the same capacity as a ten-lane motorway in normal use’ and could deliver ‘more efficient use of three of the UK’s main railway lines’, Jim Steer’s High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group claimed on 11 November, in a tweet promoting an ‘independent review of the carbon case for HS2′.

twitter, @RailLeaders, '#HS2 will have the same capacity as a ten-lane motorway in normal use and will also deliver more efficient use of three of the UK’s main railway lines. Read more in our latest report written by @safemyth: https://rail-leaders.com/publications/hs2-towards-a-zero-carbon-future/ #GoHS2GoGreen #HS2AllTheWay'

[HSRILG, 11 Nov 2019]

HS2 will have the same capacity as a ten-lane motorway in normal use and will also deliver more efficient use of three of the UK’s main railway lines. Read more in our latest report written by @safemyth […]

“Read more in our latest report.”

So this supposedly ‘independent’ HS2 carbon review (‘HS2 – towards a zero carbon future’) by Raiph (a.k.a. Ralph) Smyth, is actually a report written for the High Speed Rail leaders lobbying group.

twitter, @njak_100, 'Excellent sustainability report on #HS2 out today. This table highlights DfT's conservative modal shift targets vs OECD figure for *actual* modal shift achieved by completed European HSR schemes. Full report at https://bit.ly/2pRTG4P' (11 Nov 2019)

As such, the misleading and inaccurate statements packing out Mr Smyth’s report should come as no surprise. Consider, for example, his ‘Figure 9’, the ‘Comparison of high-speed rail modal shift’, which is intended to ‘suggest’ that HS2’s forecasts of transfers from car and aviation are way too low.

The fact is, the vast majority of HS2 travel would be conducted within a radius of ~300 km of London, and for journeys within this zone, aviation’s share of journeys is already effectively nil. So with HS2, there is no possibility of anything like an overall 30% shift from air to high speed rail. Obviously, HS2 is mainly about (i) shift from classic rail, and (ii) new journeys.

No evidence is offered by Mr Smyth for the claim that HS2 would provide ‘the same capacity as a ten-lane motorway in normal use’ or ‘deliver more efficient use of three of the UK’s main railway lines’. He has not explained what the terms “in normal use” and “more efficient use” are supposed to mean. The Department for Transport has confirmed that the modelled post-HS2 use of the West Coast Main Line South involves fewer (not more) trains operating. This is an inevitable consequence of the HS2 idea of turning the WCML fast lines into a mixed-traffic railway.

DfT confirmation of fewer (not more) trains on WCML South in the modelled HS2 scenarios

Mr Smyth’s report presents HS2 as ‘essential for meeting a legally binding target of net zero carbon emissions’ by 2050. Needless to say, it would not be possible for HS2 to be carbon neutral by 2050, and it is not clear why ‘zero carbon electricity’ would be available to HS2 but not to alternative modes, such as other railways, road coaches, and private automobiles.

Even if the embedded carbon from constructing HS2 were considered as zero, the scheme would still not make any sense from an environmental standpoint, because the cost per-avoided-tonne of carbon would be gargantuan.

 

Written by beleben

November 12, 2019 at 12:32 pm

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