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Archive for July 2020

Back to the further

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On 28 November 2011 the government announced that prime minister David Cameron had given approval for a number of infrastructure projects, including electrifying the Transpennine North (TPN) railway between Manchester and Leeds, starting in 2012., 'PM approves major infrastructure works', 2011-11-28

On 23 July 2020, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced

  • “most” of TPN “will be electrified”, and “our ambition is to go further”
  • “the establishment of a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council dedicated to accelerating vital infrastructure projects and better connecting communities across the North’s towns and cities”.


Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

This feels like a gear change from the government in the delivery of transport improvements in the North of England and I welcome the new drive that the Transport Secretary is bringing to this.

People here deserve a modern, reliable public transport system and it is my hope that the Northern Transport Acceleration Council will bring forward the day when that is a reality. It is crucial that the council listens to the voice of the North and is accountable to people here through their elected politicians and bodies such as Transport for the North.

The additional funding for the Transpennine route upgrade is a welcome sign of intent from the government. The North has long argued for the existing scheme to be upgraded to bring the full range of passenger and freight benefits and we are glad that the government has listened to this. But it is important to be clear that upgrading the existing railway between Manchester and Leeds does not diminish the need for a new line in Northern Powerhouse Rail nor does it solve the capacity issues in central Manchester which require a separate solution.

Borat, thumbs up

Written by beleben

July 23, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Politics, Railways

The compellingly poor case for HS2

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Yesterday (20 July 2020), the Department for Transport published the High Speed 2 (HS2) Phase One: accounting officer assessments from the period March to December 2019.

This follows the recommendation of the House of Commons public accounts committee, in its report ‘High Speed 2: Spring 2020 update’ (17 May 2020) that, “The Department must publish the summaries of its Accounting Officer assessments for all projects and programmes in line with HM Treasury guidance, including those already made and future assessments on High Speed Two.”

Department for Transport, HS2 phase one, accounting officer assessment of 23 July 2019, VfM (extract)

[Department for Transport, HS2 phase one, accounting officer assessment of 23 July 2019, VfM (extract)]

The value-for-money case for the HS2 programme compared against alternative schemes remained compelling. For Phase One in isolation, measuring cost to go against the funding envelope produced a BCR of between 0.9 and 1.0 including WEIs; this is considered ‘poor’ value for money.

However, the enabling nature of the Phase One scheme means that the value for money position for the ‘Full Y’ HS2 scheme remained intact.

Despite this, the value for money category fell to ‘low’ (BCR of 1.3 including WEIs).

'Bernadette Kelly became Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport on 18 April 2017'

Official Parliamentary Portrait of Nusrat Ul-Ghani, who was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport from 9 January 2018 to 13 February 2020

Written by beleben

July 21, 2020 at 11:56 am

Posted in HS2

HS2 is shovel reddy

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twitter, @GreenRupertRead, 'The official Infrastucture & Projects Authority, hardly a hot bed of pro-XR radicals, have just issued a report that damns HS2. For the first time, they have moved it into the worst category, “red”. Of schemes that are now unaffordable.'

Infrastructure and Projects Authority HS2 project rating update

Infrastructure and Projects Authority, meaning of a 'red' rating

Shovelling cash cartoon gif

Written by beleben

July 12, 2020 at 7:57 pm

Posted in HS2

Wide does he bother

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In his propaganda video for HS2 Ltd filmed at Milton Keynes Central station, ‘independent rail planning consultant’ William Barter raised the prospect of having to ‘widen’ the West Coast Main Line, if HS2 were not built.

He also claimed that ‘most of the trains on this line are running to the length that the stations can deal with’.

Which is, of course, complete nonsense.

The facts are,

  • ‘most of the trains on this line’ are not ‘running to the length that the stations can deal with’,
  • the capacity of the West Coast Main Line can be vastly increased,
  • and there is no sign of any need for fifth and sixth track plainline north of Watford.

In the Department for Transport’s ‘Maximising WCML capacity without HS2’, the end-state ‘smart-upgrade’ one-way WCML capacity is given as 27,800 passengers per hour, which is considerably higher than the HS2-phase-one-plus-WCML capacity in HS2’s July 2017 economic case.

DfT 'Maximising WCML capacity without HS2' vs Fig 3 from the HS2 July 2017 economic case

If anything, in the view of the Beleben blog, the “27,800” figure is an underestimate of what the WCML should be able to achieve.

Written by beleben

July 10, 2020 at 11:06 am

Posted in HS2

Pulling your (eastern) leg

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High Speed Two is a project built on lies, delusion, and wishful thinking. But mostly, just on lies, as is so amply demonstrated by the deplorable (and publicly-funded) ‘HS2 East’ campaign.

One of their latest claims is that ‘delivering’ the eastern leg of HS2 ‘could’ add nearly 70,000 trips between Leeds and London every day. Though, actually, this ‘could’ happen, in much the same way as Nottingham county council leader Kay Cutts ‘could’ be the first astronaut to walk on Mars.

HS2 East Prospectus, v1-0, 'HS2 could add 70,000 trips between London and Leedsdaily'

‘Adding 70,000 trips per day’, would mean adding about 25 million per year. To put that in context, in the year 2013 / 2014, there were about 1.8 million rail passenger journeys between Leeds and London, according to the HS2 Ltd South Yorkshire Report.

In the year 2013 / 2014, there were about 1.8 million rail journeys between Leeds and London, according to the HS2 Ltd South Yorkshire Report

twitter,  @Transport_Nottm, '#HS2East delivers benefits to a region larger than #London or the entire economy on Denmark[.] An additional £4.2b of economic output would seen across the East Midlands, North West and Yorkshire'

Written by beleben

July 9, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Posted in gibberish, Leeds

Apparently now accepted

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On 22 January 2020 the Beleben blog noted that by measures such as operating more ‘full length’ trains, taking up unused paths in the shoulder peak, and using high capacity rolling stock, capacity on the busiest section of the West Coast Main Line could be massively increased.

Beleben blog, The capacity case for not building HS2 (extract)

The Department for Transport (DfT) apparently now accepts that the Beleben blog’s analysis was correct.

DfT, 'Maximising capacity without HS2'

Macca, thumbs up

Written by beleben

July 8, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Posted in HS2

How much HS2 ‘released capacity’ is fake?

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‘Independent rail planning consultant’ William Barter has been working with High Speed Two bosses to explain ‘why Milton Keynes needs HS2’, the MK Citizen reported on 23 June.

twitter_HS2ltd, 'Transferring inter-city passengers to #HS2 enables more services on the existing network, which could provide #LondonEuston with a 76% increase in peak-hour commuter seats. Rail expert  @WilliamBarter1  spoke from #MiltonKeynes about how commuters will benefit from more capacity.'

This working together included Mr Barter speaking about rail capacity in a a 94-second HS2 Ltd Youtube video filmed at Milton Keynes Central station.

In the video, Mr Barter said “Released capacity is the space that’s left on the railway once the non-stop trains transfer to HS2 and the opportunity then comes to refill that space with trains that do stop at stations”.

Department for Transport, May 2019 northbound peak pm service pattern on the West Coast Main Line

At this point, it might be worth having a look at the May 2019 peak hourly pm service pattern on the West Coast Main Line (above) and comparing it with the future ‘released capacity’ scenario in the April 2020 HS2 phase one full business case (below).

Department for Transport, northbound peak pm service pattern on the West Coast Main with HS2 phase one (April 2020 phase one full business case)

As can be seen, the fast train offer from London to Milton Keynes Central in the April 2020 released capacity scenario is not much different from that of May 2019.

  • The total number of MK trains in the April 2020 released capacity scenario is twelve, of which seven could be described as ‘fast’.
  • In the May 2019 timetable, there were ten trains, of which seven were fast.

What is notably different in the April 2020 released capacity scenario, is the increased number of trains serving places like Tring and Hemel. But this increase seems to be happening largely on the relief lines, which are not normally used by the intercity trains that HS2 would allegedly replace. So, how much of the ‘increased commuter provision’ for Tring, Hemel, etc, is really a by-product of HS2?

In the considered view of the Beleben blog, the increase in Dacorum service, etc, is dependent on unadvertised interventions on the WCML itself. And little, if anything, to do with HS2.

When asked which future passenger (and freight) trains would use the relief lines, the Department for Transport refuses to say. Which is interesting, to say the least.

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

Having just appeared banging on about released capacity benefits in a HS2 propaganda video, Mr Barter then popped up in the July 2020 edition of ‘Modern Railways’ magazine to, er, cast doubt on the rationale for, and feasibility of, the WCML service pattern in HS2’s April 2020 full business case.

twitter, @Modern_Railways proclaim the July 2020 edition

Written by beleben

July 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Posted in HS2, misinformation