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A proposal by Cross City Connect Limited for a private-sector reworking of the London end of the HS2 rail scheme was submitted to the Oakervee ‘independent review’ of the project, New Civil Engineer reported on 21 November.

Cross City Connect (TM) describes itself as “a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established to promote the planning, design, construction and operation of an alternative link into London for the planned HS2 project”.

It claims its idea of replacing the Old Oak to Euston section with twin 8-metre through tunnels across London linking to HS1, could work out cheaper for government than ‘HS2-to-Euston’, because of the ‘real estate opportunities’.

Cross City Connect would also allow a one-seat ride from Birmingham and Manchester to Paris (etc, zzz).

[‘CROSS CITY CONNECT (CCC)’, ’17 Nov 2016′ (page includes the video ‘An introduction to Cross City Connect’, dated Nov 2019], Buro Happold]

The founding parties are:

Mark Bostock, independent consultant and Chair of the SPV;
OTB Engineering Limited, civil and geotechnical engineering consultants
Salamanca Group LLP, a privately-held merchant banking business
Buro Happold Limited, an international, integrated engineering consultancy

The SPV is advised by the international law firm CMS.

Cross City Connect, proposed tunnel under London linking HS1 and |HS2

[Can Buro Happold cross city plan save HS2?, Tim Clark, NCE, 21 Nov, 2019]

The plan involves a vast tunnel beneath London from Old Oak Common in the West to Rainham in the East. Called Cross City Connect (CCC), the new 30km long, twin bore tunnel plan would also include new stations on the Southbank and potentially at Canary Wharf.

Cross City Connect Ltd, route interfaces

This scheme seems to exchange one set of intractable problems for another. Such as: when the “14” or “18” hourly HS2 trains arrive at Ebbsfleet after passing through the tunnel, what happens then?

Whether CCC could be implemented for ‘£10 billion’ must be open to serious doubt, especially when the size of the underground platforms needed at ‘South Bank Central’ and possibly two other locations is factored in.

Written by beleben

November 21, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

Mythter know-it-all

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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: #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' (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

Attached and unidentified

with one comment

On 2 October, Midlands Connect published a letter from Maria Machancoses to the Oakervee ‘independent’ review of HS2.

The letter mentions ‘attached summary reports and business cases for projects and initiatives’, but these are not enumerated, and it is unclear how many of them have been published.

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 01

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 02

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 03

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 04

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 05

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 06

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 07

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 08

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 09

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 10

Midlands Connect, HS2 Oakervee review submission letter online, page 11

Written by beleben

October 3, 2019 at 11:38 am

Now with added humbug

with one comment

Midlands Connect’s announcement of “new findings” that ’73 locations stand to benefit from High Speed Two released capacity’ was widely publicised across the HS2 blobosphere, with additional humbug being added in here and there.

For example, in their press release titled “HS2 Analysis reveals space for new commuter services”, the Derby and Nottingham local enterprise partnership D2N2 claimed, “HS2 will transfer long-distance journeys between London, Yorkshire and Scotland from the East Coast Main Line the new high-speed network, making new services from Nottingham to London Kings Cross via Grantham possible”.

This contradicts HS2 Ltd’s own presentation ⁠— in which there would be no Anglo-Scottish services on HS2’s eastern leg.

Derby and Nottingham local enterprise partnership D2N2, 'HS2 Analysis reveals space for new commuter services', 26 Sep 2019

The title “HS2 Analysis reveals space for new commuter services” was also a bit unfortunate, considering that local travellers between Nottingham and Derby would face longer commutes if HS2 were built.

This would be a result of trains having to detour to Toton, in order to serve the so-called East Midlands Hub high speed station.

If ‘express’ services were introduced from Toton HS2 southwards to Nottingham, that would reduce (rather than increase) space for local commuters.

HS2 Ltd statement about Toton local-journeys, Feb 2019

Another daft press release, from the Black Country local enterprise partnership, claimed HS2 would “create space for more trains between Black Country and Birmingham and less overcrowding for commuters“.

Of course, there is no credible evidence whatsoever for this claim. Actually, many Black Country commuters have to stand on their journey into Birmingham, because the main line railway through West Bromwich was turned into a rinky-dink tramway by West Midlands PTE (now TfWM). The railcars operating this route cannot be operated in multiple (in service) and they only have 54 seats (which is fewer than a double decker bus).

Written by beleben

September 27, 2019 at 11:03 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

Majuscular pseudo veracity revelation

with 3 comments

'Midlands Connect''Pravda'The true benefits of HS2 have been REVEALED for the first time today (26 Sep 2019), according to Midlands Connect.

Midlands Connect, 'hs2 released capacity research' news release (extract), 26 Sep 2019

[Midlands Connect, Thursday 26 September 2019 ]

True benefits of HS2 REVEALED for the first time; extra capacity would mean improved rail services for 73 stations on existing network

Revealed for the first time, 73 stations on the existing rail network stand to benefit from improved passenger services as a direct result of the capacity released by HS2, including 54 stations with no direct HS2 services;

Evidence submitted to the Oakervee HS2 Review by Midlands Connect;
High speed line will take long-distance rail journeys off the existing network, providing capacity for new routes, as well as faster and more frequent local and inter-regional services;
HS2 will create space for 576,000 extra seats per day on the high speed network, reducing overcrowding on existing lines;
Released capacity essential to deliver major regional transport plans Midlands Engine Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail;
HS2 frees up space for 144 extra freight trains per day, enough to transport over 2.5million more lorries’ worth of cargo on our railways each year.

HS2 will free up enough space on the existing railway network to improve rail services for 73 stations across the country, technical analysis by Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect has revealed for the first time.

The extra capacity provided by the new high speed line will create space on the existing network to introduce faster and more frequent services, reduce crowding and introduce new services between destinations that do no currently have a direct rail link.

Of the 73 locations that could benefit from HS2’s released capacity, 54 are stations not served by HS2 trains.

By moving long-distance traffic from our current rail infrastructure onto the new high speed line, HS2 will create the extra room needed to improve local and inter-regional services.

Meanwhile HS2 trains will be able to carry 576,000 people per day, reducing overcrowding on the existing network.

These benefits will be felt in dozens of villages, towns and cities across the country, including Coventry, Shrewsbury, Leicester, Leamington Spa, Nottingham, Newark, Newcastle and Macclesfield.

HS2’s capacity-releasing effects on the conventional network mean that Coventry will benefit from; new direct connections to and from Derby, Sheffield, York and Newcastle; more frequent services to and from Shrewsbury, Telford, Leamington Spa and along the Coventry-Birmingham commuter corridor; as well as enjoying less crowded trains on existing services to and from London.

Benefits will also spread to stations such as Lincoln, where additional capacity can be deployed to provide more frequent connections to and from Newark, Grantham, Stevenage and London. Passengers travelling to and from Milton Keynes via London, Manchester and the West Midlands will benefit from reduced crowding – these routes regularly offer standing room only, despite commuter passes costing upwards of £5,000 per year.

The increased capacity HS2 frees up on the traditional rail network also has massive implications for the rail freight industry. Space will be created for 144 extra freight trains per day, which could carry over 2.5 million lorries’ worth of cargo each year. Transporting freight by rail rather than on our roads produces 76 per cent less CO2[1].

The benefits of HS2 released capacity have been calculated using the projections outlined in local rail strategies, existing rail models and the Midlands Connect technical programme. It is operationally possible to achieve every single one of the benefits outlined in the analysis through changes to timetabling and services post-HS2.

Over the past twelve years, the number of journeys undertaken by train in the UK has more than doubled[2]. Government-sponsored studies suggest alternative upgrades on existing lines such as the West Coast Main Line would require 14 years’ worth of disruptive weekend closures[3], and would prove hugely expensive due to the proximity of existing settlements.

HS2 underpins transformational regional rail plans Midlands Engine Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail, both of which require the released capacity and new infrastructure it provides. Neither would be wholly technically or financially feasible should HS2 be cancelled.

Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine said:

“The benefits of HS2 will be felt by millions of people across the UK, including passengers that never set foot on a high speed train. Regional and local rail services are in desperate need of improvement and it’s time we face facts, without the space and flexibility created by HS2, the transformational change needed is not possible.

“It is the capacity released by the line – not just its speed – that will give the whole network a desperately needed overhaul. We haven’t built a new inter-city railway north of London in a century – piecemeal interventions will do no more than paper over the cracks of an overloaded, tired network. Left unchanged, these deficiencies will stifle growth and prosperity for decades to come. Our message to Government is clear; commit to HS2, commit to the regions you serve and give us a transport network fit for the future.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership commented:

“HS2 is not just about speed or getting to London more quickly, it is about bringing the Northern Powerhouse closer to the great cities of the Midlands. It will create more capacity for local services, the same way Northern Powerhouse Rail does for freight and local passengers across the Pennines.

“Connecting Britain will be a major factor in rebalancing the economy – new lines both to the north west from Birmingham and up the eastern side of the UK, will expand labour markets, grow jobs, helping the North and Midlands to become as prosperous and successful as London. New direct links from a city like Coventry to Sheffield, York and Newcastle, by upgrades to the existing network, demonstrate that even those who don’t use an HS2 service will still see the benefits.”

Tom Thackray, CBI Director of Infrastructure, said:

“The business message on HS2 is clear-cut – back it, build it, benefit from it. The first phase of HS2 has already led to record levels of investment in the West Midlands and created thousands of jobs.

“We firmly believe committing to HS2 in full will spur further investment, boost productivity and in turn bring huge benefits to the whole country.”

Lindsay Durham, head of rail strategy at Freightliner added:

“Our biggest challenge is success and that means trying to get more capacity to move more trains. Businesses are asking us all the time to move more of their materials by train, they want to reduce their carbon footprint, and actually moving freight by rail uses 76% less carbon compared with the equivalent road movement.”


[1] DfT Rail Freight Strategy: September 2016.



twitter, David Blackadder-Weinstein (@weinsteinlinder), '#HS2releasedcapacity to all those saying “spend the money on the existing network” #HS2 is an upgrade of the existing network! More frequent, reliable trains to 73 stations [|] 144 more freight trains a day [|] Network cheaper to maintain due to fewer fast heavy trains [|]  #HS2alltheway'

Written by beleben

September 26, 2019 at 10:54 am

Posted in Birmingham, Bizarre, HS2

Seniority complex

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On 22 August a frail-looking Doug Oakervee, chairman of the ‘independent’ HS2 review, was taken to Birmingham to hear from local bigwigs and special interests. ITV Central News reporter Mark Gough attempted to interview him outside UCE, but Mr Oakervee was ushered away by a ‘minder’. (Hopefully a minder, that is.)

Reporter Mark Gough, 'Independent' HS2 reviewer Doug Oakervee and 'minder' outside Birmingham UCE (ITV Central News, 22 Aug 2019)

Mr Oakervee was apparently pushed out as chairman of HS2 Ltd a few years ago, because he was considered no longer to be up to the job. Heaven knows what inspired Boris Johnson to install him as chairman of this ‘review’, and all that that entails (like having to listen to Maria Machancoses, head of Midlands Connect).

Maria Machancoses (ITV Central News, 22 Aug 2019)

Written by beleben

August 23, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Birmingham, Bizarre, HS2

Is Crossrail ‘complex’? It’s complicated

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Crossrail is not ‘complicated’, says Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild, but the complex nature of the project is ‘not lost‘ on him (according to ‘Rail’ magazine).

Crossrail is not complicated, says TfL's Mark Wild, but the complex nature of the project is not lost on him

But surely, if Mr Wild is saying ‘Crossrail is not complicated’, then the ‘complex nature of the project’ is ‘lost on him’?, meaning of 'complicated'

Borat, thumbs up

Written by beleben

August 20, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Bizarre, London, Railways

Tom has left the building

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'HS2 exit' by Beleben

Former Tony Blair spin doctor Tom Kelly has left High Speed 2 Ltd after over five and a half years, New Civil Engineer revealed on 14 August (then took the story offline, and then put it back again).

Mr Kelly, who utterly failed to turn public opinion on HS2, is understood to have left HS2 Ltd at the start of August. The company ‘has lined up Aileen Thompson as Kelly’s replacement’.

[HS2 director for stakeholder engagement exits, Tim Clark, NCE, 15 Aug, 2019]

Kelly’s departure also comes weeks after the departure of HS2’s phase one managing director Jim Crawford.
Earlier this month the Serious Fraud Office also launched a call for evidence regarding whether HS2 had breached the law relating to the acquisition of properties along the route.

Written by beleben

August 15, 2019 at 8:31 am

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

Burnham Piccadilly bust-up threatens HS2 eastern leg

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HS2 East campaign IDDuring a “heated” behind-closed doors meeting of Transport for the North’s board in Leeds on 31 July, Manc metro mayor Andy Burnham “refused to back the decision to allow work to continue on HS2 based on the current design, which would allow the line to connect to NPR at six touch points across the North”.

[Exclusive: Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s bid for £6bn underground station could delay arrival of high speed rail in the North, Rob Parsons, Yorkshire Post, 9 August 2019]

TfN’s chairman John Cridland was forced to withdraw his officers’ recommendations and the matter will be discussed again at the next TfN board meeting in September.
It is now feared that a lack of agreement may potentially delay the Government’s plans for HS2 to be extended from the Midlands to Leeds and Manchester under Phase 2b of the controversial project, though TfN insists its work is not holding HS2 up.

The current plan is for the legislation to be placed before the Commons in June 2020, based on having a surface station at Piccadilly and an extra HS2 platform at Leeds station instead of a proposed ‘touchpoint’ south of the city where the two high speed lines would intersect.

Any major changes to the Bill would have to come via an ‘additional provision’ (AP), which takes months to prepare and develop.

A confidential TfN document seen by The Yorkshire Post says that a decision later than Summer 2019 “may not leave sufficient time” to develop an AP, potentially meaning the main HS2 Bill can’t be placed by June and jeopardising the promised arrival of the line in the North by 2033. […]

With Mr Burnham wanting through underground platforms at Piccadilly and prime minister Boris Johnson having talked up a new high speed line between Manchester and Leeds, it seems that the eastern leg of HS2 is losing support.

Written by beleben

August 12, 2019 at 9:25 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2