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Calling Captain Invisible

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Boris boondoggle The Emirates AirlineHS2 logoBoris boondoggle Garden BridgeThe flawed Borismaster bus

'The former Labour minister Margaret Hodge, whose review of the Garden Bridge project led to its abandonment, said she was shocked at how “irresponsible” Johnson was with public money. But during her review [of the Garden Bridge] she was also struck by the lack of scrutiny of his profligate spending decisions when mayor.'

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner in the race to become the UK’s next Prime Minister, has asked [former HS2 Ltd chairman ‘Captain Invisible‘] Douglas Oakervee to review the case for building the high speed rail line, the Birmingham Mail reported (17 June 2019).

[Tory leadership front-runner Boris Johnson has already set up a review of the HS2 high speed rail line, Jonathan Walker, Birmingham Mail, 17 JUN 2019]
But Mr Johnson, who has been a critic of HS2 in the past, also made it clear [at a private hustings in London for Conservative Party constituency ‘chairs’ over the weekend] that he would be reluctant to cancel the project outright.

He said: “I worry about cancelling a big national project of that scale without anything else to replace it.”

He floated the option of “re-profiling the spend” so that construction of the northern leg of HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme – a proposed rail line between Leeds and Manchester – become the top priority.

'Captain Invisible' [Doug Oakervee] replaced: Sir David Higgins named as new HS2 chief, Mark Leftly, The Independent, 25 Sep 2013


Written by beleben

June 17, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Posted in Bizarre, HS2, Politics

When the going gets stuffed

with 2 comments

Billy Ocean, 'Go and get stuffed'

Britain’s West Coast Main Line is absolutely stuffed, at peak time it is basically the busiest conventional rail corridor in the world (claimed Jon Stone, Europe Correspondent at the @Independent [7 June 2019]).

But he doesn’t have any data to back that claim up, though [NCHSR lecturer] ‘Gareth Dennis may be able to help’.

twitter, @joncstone, West Coast Main Line is stuffed at peak time, 07 Jun 2019

According to Mr Dennis, passenger crowding data on the DfT website shows that suburban crowding into all north-facing London stations is “pretty dreadful, which will be helped from Day 1 of HS2 Phase 1 opening”.

But the DfT figures do not show that north-facing suburban crowding is ‘pretty dreadful’, compared to other lines.

Nor do they show that the West Coast Main Line at peak time is ‘basically the busiest conventional rail corridor in the world’.

In the Table ‘RAI0215’, peak am crowding on a typical autumn weekday in 2017, Mr Dennis highlighted the “Passengers standing” for Thameslink, Great Northern, and West Midlands Trains.

But ‘passengers standing’ is not the same thing as ‘overcrowding’. Obviously, standees make up a high proportion of the ‘official’ (non-overcrowded) capacity on many commuter routes, e.g., Thameslink and London Overground.

A somewhat more relevant measure would be the ‘Passengers in excess of capacity’ (PiXC) metric. For West Midlands Trains, the RAI0215 morning PiXC figure in 2017 was 7%, and for Thameslink, 0%.

So, to reduce Euston outer suburban PiXC to zero (and save £60 billion by not building HS2), run 12-car Thameslink-type trains out of Euston.

twitter, @joncstone, 'From now on I’ll be writing a fortnightly column on transport policy for @Independent, by the way'

Written by beleben

June 10, 2019 at 10:02 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

More technical illiteracy from Midlands Connect

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In their response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs report ‘Rethinking HS2’, Midlands Connect claimed: “Speed is fundamental to increasing capacity. Slowing the new railway down will limit its capacity, ability to support faster and more efficient trains, and its attractiveness as an environmentally-friendly alternative to domestic air and car travel.”

Midlands Connect: 'Speed is fundamental to increasing capacity. Slowing the new railway down will limit its capacity, ability to support faster and more efficient trains, and its attractiveness as an environmentally-friendly alternative to domestic air and car travel. '

Obviously, Midlands Connect don’t understand the relationship between train speed, signalling, and capacity.

Bombardier, HS2 capacity evaluation, 2011, figure three

Yet they’re supposed to be in charge of developing the West Midlands rail network (!)

Written by beleben

May 16, 2019 at 4:04 pm

It’s totes unknown

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Borat thumbs up

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, the company responsible for developing and promoting the UK’s new high speed rail network, holds no information about transfer times between platforms at London Euston and London St Pancras; Bickenhill HS2 and Birmingham International; Birmingham Curzon Street and Birmingham New Street; Toton HS2 and Nottingham; or Toton HS2 and Derby (according to the company’s April 2019 response to a freedom of information request).


Joe Rukin
26 April 2019

Dear J Rukin,

Thank you for your information request of 25 March. Your request has been considered under the Freedom of Information 2000 (“the FOIA”).

In your email you requested the following information:

Please provide me with the transfer times you expect between the station
platforms which passengers would be expected to take following to
completion of HS2, noting the the £55.7bn funding envelope for HS2. I wish
to be very specific that you should not include any assumptions that there
would be any additional expenditure on transport infrastructure outside
the £55.7bn HS2 budget envelope.

* London Euston to London St Pancras
* Birmingham Interchange to Birmingham International
* Birmingham Curzon Street to Birmingham New Street
* Toton to Nottingham
* Toton to Derby


Under the FOIA you have the right to:
• know whether we hold the information you requested
• be provided with that information (subject to any exemptions under the Act which may apply).

We hold no information in respect of this request.

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited is the company responsible for developing and
promoting the UK’s new high speed rail network.

Birmingham City Council (, Transport for London
(, Nottingham City Council
( and Derby City Council
( may be able to assist you, specifically point-to-point journey times by available modes of transport. Other online resources such as journey planners could also assist you in identifying this information.

Right to Review
If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request or with the
decisions made in relation to your request, you may complain in writing to HS2 Ltd at the address below. Please also see attached details of HS2 Ltd’s complaints procedure and your right to complain to the Information Commissioner.

Please remember to quote reference number FOI19-3165 in any future communication relating to this request.

Yours sincerely

Alistair Hobbs
Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser
High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Your right to complain to HS2 Ltd and the Information Commissioner

You have the right to complain to HS2 Ltd within two calendar months of the date of this letter about the way in which your request for information was handled and/or about the
decision not to disclose all or part of the information requested.
Your complaint will be acknowledged and you will be advised of a target date by which to
expect a response. Initially your complaint will be re-considered by the official who dealt with
your request for information. If, after careful consideration, that official decides that 
his/her decision was correct, your complaint will automatically be referred to a senior independent
official who will conduct a further review. You will be advised of the outcome of your complaint and if a decision is taken to disclose information originally withheld this will be done as soon as possible.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Written by beleben

May 14, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

The state of things to come

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Kirkby station by Raymond Knapman, Creative Commons

twitter @WilliamBarter1, Northern rail investment like this, right now

Picture of Kirkby station by Raymond Knapman, Creative Commons, with impression of CAF diesel train instead of railbus

Borat, thumbs up

Written by beleben

May 8, 2019 at 10:53 am

What should happen to ‘HS2 college’?

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The failing National College for High Speed Rail is consulting on ditching its name, the Guardian reported on April 30.

[Engineering college for HS2 ditches ‘high speed’ from its name, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 30 Apr 2019]

When the government decided to fund an institution to lure engineering students to learn everything needed for HS2, it might have seemed a name with cachet. But 18 months since opening its doors and having struggled to attract entrants, the National College for High Speed Rail has decided to ditch the words “high-speed rail”.

With the second phase of the HS2 network yet to be confirmed, and Conservative leadership hopefuls discussing axing the entire scheme, the college has launched a consultation over a new name: the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure.

Board minutes from December [2018] said several members saw the name as a “limiting factor” for the college, which was set up across two campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster with help from various national and regional government bodies, including the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd.

The college was reported in October to have signed up just 96 students for the year, although it aims to be taking on 1,200 a year by 2022.

NCHSR, consultation on proposed name change

Surely the best course of action would be to wind up NCHSR, and divide its assets between established further education colleges in the Birmingham and South Yorkshire areas.

Written by beleben

May 2, 2019 at 8:37 am

Absurdity writ large

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‘Northern powerhouse rail’ would mean “a greater number of people living within sensible distances of their jobs, fuelling productivity and economic growth”, according to the Confederation of British Industry twitter feed.

twitter, @CBItweets, 'Northern powerhouse rail will mean a greater number of people living within sensible distances of their jobs'

Eh? Wasn’t Northern powerhouse rail intended to allow ‘people living in Bradford to commute to work in Manchester’ (etc)?

Meaning the ‘idea’ behind NPR is more like the antithesis of having a greater number of people living within “sensible distances of their jobs”.

twitter, @CBItweets, '#NorthernPowerhouseRail will mean shorter journey times and a greater number of people living within sensible distances of their jobs, fuelling #productivity and economic #growth. But it's NOT possible without HS2!'

Obviously, the whole NPR concept is unworkable fantasy, and has nothing to do with local transport in the north. 

Why is the CBI putting out this drivel, and why is it reminiscent of the misinformation put out a few years ago by the Westbourne ‘Campaign for High Speed Rail’?

@dplarge, head of infrastructure, @CBItweets

Written by beleben

March 17, 2019 at 9:47 am