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Tramway to Curzon HS2 ‘delayed four years’ by Curzon HS2

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The “£137 million” extension of the West Midlands Metro tramway to the proposed Curzon HS2 station and Birmingham ‘Eastside’ may not be operational until 2026, the BBC “understands“.

Laura Shoaf of TfWM on BBC Midlands Today, 14 Aug 2019

TfWM chief Laura Shoaf regrets a possible four-year delay in delivery of this boondoggle

‘Initially earmarked for a 2022 opening’, the extension might now have to be ‘built in two halves and connected in the middle once HS2 has built its station’.

Midland Metro Alliance, Metro routes

West Midlands Metro tramway, airport route (2003 version)

This potheaded scheme forms part of Transport for West Midlands’ bizarre plan to build a tramway from central Birmingham to Elmdon airport and the HS2 ‘interchange’ at Middle Beetroot Bickenhill, at a cost probably exceeding £1,000 million.

Borat, thumbs up


Written by beleben

August 15, 2019 at 6:54 am

Taking ownership of BRCW

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The Beleben blog’s claim that West Coast rail capacity out of London Euston could be doubled by using land earmarked for HS2 was ‘challenged’ by the twitter troll ‘@BRCWCo’ on 7 August.

This person alleged it was ‘the standard stop HS2 scam of double counting’ [?], ‘using 12 coach IEPs on commuter services’ [?], and ‘adding one coach to the current Pendolino’ [?].

@brcwco on twitter, bizarre interaction, 07 Aug 2019

At this point, it might be worth recalling that

  1. the HS2 land at Euston is intended to provide ‘extralong’ platforms for HS2 trains
  2. this land could be used to facilitate extralong platforms for longer West Coast trains, and reorganisation of existing platforms, instead
  3. the fast lines out of Euston are capable of supporting twelve intercity trains per hour, in and out
  4. with signalling renewal, these lines ought to be able to support more than twelve long-distance trains per hour.


  1. if there were twelve intercity departures in an hour, operated by 12-car IEP trains (for example), the total capacity would be in the region of 10,800 seats (i.e. 12 * 900)
  2. 10,800 is roughly double the figure for Euston’s ‘year 2014’ hourly long-distance capacity, as reported by the Department for Transport. (As previously discussed on the Beleben blog.)


'Grey fail'This piece of trolldom foundered on the usual lack of knowledge (for example, believing a 12-car IEP would only have a ‘9% increase in capacity’ over an eleven-car 589-seat Pendolino), combined with an abject failure to read what had actually been written.

Written by beleben

August 8, 2019 at 8:08 am

Posted in Birmingham, Bizarre, HS2

Midlanders mostly unenthused by HS2

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Jake Gyllenhaal shaking head (gif)A YouGov survey for ITV News Central has found that just 26 per cent of Midlanders are ‘supportive’ of HS2, and just 8 per cent describe themselves as ‘strong supporters’.

  • A majority in the region either oppose the scheme, or have no strong opinion.
  • 34% don’t believe phase one of HS2 (Euston to Birmingham and Armitage) will be completed, 33% think it will happen, and the rest (34%) don’t know.
  • The survey ‘involved 1,119 adults in the ITV News Central region who were quizzed between July 26 and 31, 2019’.

Written by beleben

August 1, 2019 at 8:05 am

Completer says no

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'Accurate information about HS2 is bad, m'kay?'

Allan Cook, the chairman of HS2 Ltd, has written to Bernadette Kelly, permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, to warn that the HS2 rail project cannot be completed for the official £56bn budget, the Financial Times reported. (Whether the missive also included information on what bears do in the woods, was not immediately clear.)

[HS2 cost overrun stretches to £30bn, review shows, Gill Plimmer and Jim Pickard, FT, 19 Jul 2019][…]

[One] person close to the project said the costs had increased because of a “combination of poor ground conditions found during the surveying work, the costs of engineering a railway to a very high specification, and the further additional costs of it being designed to run at even higher speeds than other comparable rail projects”.

Long ago, the Beleben blog pointed out that if a new north – south line were needed (it isn’t, at the moment), the lowest-cost and lowest-risk option would be to reactivate the largely-intact Great Central alignment between Ashendon, Rugby, and (south of) Leicester.

Concept: Transfer Manchester -- London intercity trains from the West Coast route to a reactivated Great Central via a connection near Brinklow

[Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), 10 July 2019]

“I stand here to state confidently that the [HS2] budget is £55.7 billion and that the timetable is 2026 and 2033.”

HS2 technical director Andrew McNaughton said all cost estimates for HS2 were 'based on a worst credible case'  (Railnews, 30 October 2013)

HS2 technical director Andrew McNaughton said all cost estimates for HS2 were ‘based on a worst credible case’  (Railnews, 30 October 2013)


Written by beleben

July 20, 2019 at 8:58 am

Posted in Birmingham, HS2, London, Politics

Appetite is waning

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HS2 Ltd’s cancellation of the bid race for the £435m contract for Birmingham Curzon HS2 station is “the first signal that contractors’ appetite to take on high risk on big projects is waning after a wave of big write-downs across the sector” (Construction Enquirer reported).

A fresh invitation to bid ‘will now go out in early September, setting the procurement process back 10 months’.

Construction Enquirer, HS2 forced to rebid Curzon HS2 station, 11 Jul 2019

“£435 million”.

Some people may recall that just punching a hole in the roof of Birmingham New Street station, and some cosmetic cladding, plasterboard, and canvas over the structure, cost more than £600 million. Several years ago.

Written by beleben

July 12, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Birmingham, Bizarre

At least triple

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This morning, Midlands Connect ‘launched Midlands Rail Hub [MRH] plans for a £2 billion investment’ with a photocall at Birmingham’s Moor Street station.

twitter, @Modern_Railways, Midlands Rail Hub  photocall at Birmingham's Moor Street station

In a tweet thanking @railfuture, Midlands Connect said plans had been submitted to government.

twitter, @MidsConnect, Midlands Rail Hub plans submitted to government

This is curious, because in a freedom of information response dated 20 June 2019, Midlands Connect said MRH plans were still “in the course of preparation”.

Midlands Connect, 20 June 2019, MRH plans still 'in the course of preparation'

The MRH ‘summary report‘, published today, suggests that the idea of diverting some East Midlands trains into Moor Street station, via a north chord at Camp Hill, has been ‘unditched’, and is a key element of the scheme. Whether it is still intended for the west (Moseley) and north chords to meet in mid-air above the existing line, is not clear.

Midlands Rail Hub, interventions diagram, June 2019

One of the report’s twenty four pages is given over to a picture of Network Rail technicians carrying out electrification works, yet the MRH scheme does not appear to involve such works.

The MRH scheme does not appear to involve electrification works, Jun 2019 (pic: Network Rail)

In the West Midlands HS2 connectivity package, the Camp Hill chords were costed at £240 million.

In the West Midlands HS2 connectivity package, the Camp Hill chords were costed at £240 million

But in today’s MRH summary report, they are costed at £900 to £950 million.

In today's MRH summary report, the Camp Hill chords are costed at £900 to £950 million

So, the new official cost of the chords, is at least triple the previous estimate.

The document is very short on specifics, and Midlands Connect still hasn’t even selected a preferred option for reinstatement of direct trains between Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham (via a dive under, flyover or reversal at Nuneaton).

Written by beleben

June 26, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Best return is sixty quid

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In November 2018, the Beleben blog revealed that 99.5 per cent of the £12,000 raised from the sale of Midland Metro T69 trams went not to public funds, but to RBS bank. These trams were taken out of use after just 15 years’ service, or thereabouts, and somehow ended up as the property of RBS bank.

Following the intervention of the Information Commissioner’s Office, further information has emerged about the costs of the decommissioning of the T69s.

WMCA, costs following T69 tram decommissioning, 10 Apr 2019

In summary then (from what they have said),

  • West Midlands Combined Authority spent ~£130,000 moving and storing the decommissioned trams,
  • shelled out £4.7 million in lease payments on this scrap,
  • and ultimately received, er, £60 from RBS, when WMCA sold the trams for them at e-auction.

[Councillor Roger Lawrence, WMCA]

“After many years of service it’s sad the T69 trams are headed for the breakers yard, but in the absence of any buyers for them as a going concern this represents the best return for the council tax payer.”

Written by beleben

April 17, 2019 at 11:20 am