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Archive for February 2022

Noise in the wrong direction

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Network Rail’s chief executive described the rhetoric that had developed around the government’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) as “profoundly unhelpful” and stated he had decided not to comment at the time of its publication in November 2021, as the “noise in the wrong direction” meant that a defence of it at that point was “no help” (New Civil Engineer reported).

“Chief executive Andrew Haines hit out at those who have complained that the IRP has failed to deliver and said that they have ‘lost the plot’ and are doing the industry a disservice in their complaints.

[…] Haines pointed to the work on the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) as an example. “When I joined Network Rail in three and a half years ago, TRU was a £3.5bn project and it is now closer to a £10bn project, not because of cost escalation, but because of scope change,” he explained. “It is now a fully electrified project, it is an ETCS [European Train Control System signally] project, it has now got key parts of IRP factored into it.”

Integrated Rail Plan opponents have ‘lost the plot’ says Network Rail boss

In the November 2021 IRP proposals, there was a much greater emphasis on upgrading existing track, with the proposed Eastern leg of HS2 curtailed, in favour of enhancements to the existing Midland and East Coast Main Lines.

But as recently as January 2020, Mr Haines was ‘warning’ that upgrading those very same lines, instead of building HS2, would lead to “30 years of disruption”. This ‘warning’ came in the guise of a deliberately leaked letter, based on figures created to support the government’s 2013 HS2 propaganda campaign.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines has warned that cancelling High Speed 2 (HS2) will lead to 30 years of disruption. A leaked letter from Haines to the Department for Transport (DFT) – first reported by the Mail Online’s financial division This is Money – warns of “significant” disruption if HS2 cash is reallocated to upgrading the existing network.

Scrapping HS2 will lead to 30 years of disruption, Network Rail chief warns

Written by beleben

February 6, 2022 at 3:46 pm

The unshared priority

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The Transport Select Committee’s call for written evidence about the government’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the North and Midlands apparently yielded a total of 95 submissions (although some contributors made more than one submission).

It was curious to see the Department for Transport’s own submission, belatedly making the case for doing less high speed rail.

[31.] “Significant criticism has been made of the Government’s decision not to include within the IRP a high-speed line between Bradford and Manchester, at an additional cost of around £18 billion. In the 2011 census, the working population of Bradford was 210,000 people. Of these,155,000 worked in Bradford itself, 27,500 in Leeds, and 13,400 in the rest of West Yorkshire. But only 650 people from Bradford (0.3%) worked in Manchester, of whom 105 travelled by train. Even if better rail links resulted in, say, a twenty-fold increase in commuting from Bradford to Manchester, this would still be only around 6 per cent of Bradford’s commuter population.”

DfT submission to the Transport Select Committee IRP inquiry | Jan 2022
Nomis travel to work data, 2011 census,  Bradford

[34.] “The Government notes that while political leaders in Leeds, Liverpool and Bradford criticised the IRP for not doing more high-speed rail, the leaders of smaller places – such as Rotherham, Wakefield and Doncaster – were more welcoming to the plan. It is also clear from opinion polling done after the publication of the IRP that the public in the North and Midlands does not share the priority given to high-speed rail by some stakeholders. By around six to one, people prioritise improvements to local rail and bus services over improvements to long-distance rail” (YouGov, 29 November 2021).

DfT submission to the Transport Select Committee IRP inquiry | Jan 2022

[51.] “[…] On NPR, the Government carefully examined the other options put forward by TfN, for full newbuild lines from Liverpool to Leeds via Manchester and Bradford. TfN’s preferred option represented poor value for money. It would have made Manchester – Leeds journeys only four minutes faster than the option chosen in the IRP, and cost an extra £18 billion.”

DfT submission to the Transport Select Committee IRP inquiry | Jan 2022

The problem, for the government, in deploying these sorts of arguments is that they are also valid against the sections of high speed railway which (it says) it remains committed to building — such as the western leg of HS2, and the ‘Manchester to Marsden’ remnant of ‘HS3’ Northern powerhouse rail.

Written by beleben

February 4, 2022 at 8:27 pm