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Where to start with this nonsense?

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twitter, @JohnMorrisHello, 'Excellent analysis of 'HS2 tosh' from Paul Bigland. If you prefer facts to assertions when it comes to HS2, you might want to read this. It demolishes the rather quirky claims made by an eminent professor.'

Following his assertion that Professor Dieter Helm should go talk to (unnamed) rail ‘experts’, the ‘official photographer’ for the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group blogged a bizarre ‘analysis’ which claimed Prof Helm ‘has no idea that we spent £9 billion upgrading the West Coast Main Line just 12 years ago’.

HSRILG official photographer's blog, '£9 bn spent upgrading the West Coast Main Line'

Actually, it seems likely that the Professor would have no idea that ‘we spent £9 billion upgrading the West Coast Main Line just 12 years ago’, because it’s (obviously) not true.

As the Department for Transport acknowledged, ‘the West Coast renewal and modernisation programme comprised £2.5 billion of infrastructure upgrades‘ (not £9 billion) and ‘£6.5 billion of infrastructure renewals’.

Campaign for Better Transport, West Coast main line, 'Capacity has been increased by up to three times on key routes'

Just £2.5 billion of infrastructure enhancements made possible a big increase in passenger numbers and freight traffic.

DfT, 'the West Coast renewal and modernisation programme comprised £2.5 billion of infrastructure upgrades and £6.5 billion of infrastructure renewals'

The official photographer then provided a link to Network Rail’s tragic ‘New Lines Programme’ (which claimed that the West Coast Main Line will be ‘full by 2020’, ‘there are no further enhancements that can be made to the existing route that could meet future demand’, and ‘a [£34 billion] high-speed line to Scotland more than pays for itself’).

Network Rail, 'The case for new lines', 'no further enhancements can be made'

Despite having provided a link to Network Rail’s claim that ‘there are no further enhancements that can be made to the existing route that could meet future demand’, the official photographer asserted that ‘No-one has claimed that existing lines can’t be upgraded’. Yes, they have. Network Rail have, as in, “there are no further enhancements that can be made to the existing route that could meet future demand”.

HSRILG official photographer, 'analysing' Roade trains

The official photographer also provided ‘a copy of actual train workings’ between ’07:00 and 08:00′ from ‘real time trains’ for Roade, ‘which is on the two track section of the West Coast Main line South of Rugby’. But inspection of the ‘copy of actual train workings’ revealed it showed trains using four tracks at Roade, not two, and over a time period of more than 60 minutes.

What this straw man nonsense was supposed to prove, is anyone’s guess. Obviously, the West Coast Main Line south of Rugby at 8am is not representative of Britain’s main line railways in terms of its capacity utilisation. What Professor Helm said about railway capacity and upgrading was, in essence, correct.

IMechE railway capacity report, 'While engineers and operators declare that the railway is capacity-constrained, tracks are empty most of the time.'

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Written by beleben

September 12, 2019 at 11:14 am

Posted in gibberish, HS2

Beleben visits some fake HS2 claims

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“Just outside Paddington” is a vast building site turning a run down industrial area and old railway depot into Old Oak HS2 railway station, according to the IanVisits blog (20 Aug 2019), which was given site access to take pictures of dumper trucks and rubble.

twitter, @ianvisits, 'Taking a look at HS2's huge Old Oak Common station' … Just outside Paddington is a vast building site - turning a run down industrial area and old railway depot into a major HS2 railway station.

According to the IV blogpost, “The biggest problem affecting the railways today is a lack of capacity to handle the surging numbers of people who want to travel by train. So something needs to be done. Yes, they could upgrade the existing lines, but that was tried with the West Coast Mainline Upgrade, and it delivered a fairly modest upgrade at a massive £14.5 billion cost.”

Ian Visits, 'the West Coast Mainline Upgrade delivered a fairly modest upgrade at a massive £14.5 billion cost'

The West Coast Route Modernisation did not cost £14.5 billion, and its upgrade component (£2.5 billion) enabled large increases in capacity (e.g., London to Manchester intercity went from one train per hour, to three).

DfT: WCML modernisation had an upgrade component of £2.5 billion

At Euston, “it’s about fixing the bottleneck on the approach to the station”, according to the IV blog.

Ian Visits, 'Building not just more platforms for HS2, but critically, the extra tunnels for those trains to use shifts intercity services to the HS2 line, releasing lots of capacity in the old tunnels for suburban services.If that doesn’t sound too important, then where’s the UK’s most congested train… it’s the 17:46 out of Euston which carries more than twice the number of passengers that it’s designed for.'

[Taking a look at HS2’s huge Old Oak Common station, Ian Visits blog, 20 Aug 2019]

The station has enough platforms, but not enough railway tracks to get in and out, so trains have to wait for space in the tunnels to get into the station. And back out again. That’s a huge impediment to increasing the numbers of trains that commuters from North London and beyond can use.

Building not just more platforms for HS2, but critically, the extra tunnels for those trains to use shifts intercity services to the HS2 line, releasing lots of capacity in the old tunnels for suburban services.If that doesn’t sound too important, then where’s the UK’s most congested train… it’s the 17:46 out of Euston which carries more than twice the number of passengers that it’s designed for. When completed, HS2 is expected to more than double the number of seats out of Euston station during peak hours.

Actually, constructing HS2 into Euston appears to require a permanent reduction in classic capacity into the station. There is no sign of a “releasing lots of capacity in the old tunnels for suburban services”.

HS2 Ltd, changes to Euston approach tracks

Crowding on Euston commuter trains is not a problem best addressed by spending £60 to £105 (?) billion on HS2. The first go-to should be the use of space efficient rolling stock, as on Thameslink and Greater Anglia. If the 17:46 out of Euston in 2018 had been operated by a 10-carriage Greater Anglia ‘Aventra’, what would the load factor have been ?

Greater Anglia, new commuter trains

[Taking a look at HS2’s huge Old Oak Common station, Ian Visits blog, 20 Aug 2019]

It’s been badly branded as a high-speed line — derided as shaving a few insignificant minutes off trips for rich businessmen. No one ever seems to complain about making it easier for families visiting each other, it’s always the rich business men.

The HS2 business case is built around time savings for business users, and a supposed shortage of capacity in the peaks. How many families travel by rail, in the peaks, to visit each other?

Written by beleben

August 20, 2019 at 10:50 am

Doubling down on Doncaster drivel

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There are 1720 peak seats per hour for rail travel between Doncaster and Leeds. After HS2 opens in 2033, this is expected to MORE THAN DOUBLE to 4860 seats/hour, according to ‘Rail’ magazine fantasist and NCHSR lecturer Gareth Dennis.

twitter, @GarethDennis, 'For example, there are 1720 peak seats/hr between Doncaster and Leeds. After HS2 opens in 2033, this is expected to MORE THAN DOUBLE to 4860 seats/hr.'

This claim appears to be based on a tweet from HS2 Ltd, which stated that the evening rush hour seated capacity on the ‘Doncaster corridor’ would increase from 1,720 in 2017, to 4,860 ‘with HS2’.

twitter, @HS2ltd, evening rush hour seated capacity on the 'Doncaster corridor' would increase from 1,720 in 2017 to 4,860 'with HS2'

Contrary to what was claimed by Mr Dennis, rush hour seated capacity between Doncaster and Leeds is not expected to MORE THAN DOUBLE to 4860 seats per hour with HS2. Because HS2 trains could not stop at Doncaster, the line would not go to Doncaster, and there is no HS2 station planned for Doncaster.

DfT breakdown of 'Doncaster corridor' classic services in 2017, and 'with HS2'

Mr Dennis has taken an absurd Department for Transport claim about ‘Doncaster corridor’ capacity (tweeted by HS2 Ltd) and made it his own, by claiming the so-called ‘capacity between Doncaster and Leeds’ includes (obviously non-existent) Leeds to Doncaster HS2 trains.

What a load of claptrap

Written by beleben

August 18, 2019 at 4:02 pm

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

‘Rail’ readers kept in the dark by fake ‘tweet check’ service

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failogoThe Beleben blog claim that ‘capacity out of Euston on the West Coast Main Line could be increased by simply introducing new rolling stock’ was ‘featured’ in ‘Rail’ magazine’s ‘tweet check service’ on 31 July.

[Tweet Check, Rail magazine, 31 July 2019]

Tweet Check
RAIL’s new service aims to answer your questions, debunk the myths, and get to the unvarnished truth behind some of the most common claims and queries we spot on social media.

‘Rail’ magazine picked on a tweet by Dr Richard Wellings of the Institute of Economic Affairs, which had linked to the claim on the Beleben blog.

Despite the origin of the claim being clearly identifiable, ‘Rail’ misattributed it to Dr Wellings, thereby suggesting that the magazine doesn’t quite understand how twitter works.

(On twitter, people can link to external content which they may or may not have written, and with which they may or may not agree.)

twitter, @Clinnick1, 'Absolutely one for @paul_rail and @RAIL's TweetCheck column. What bilge. #HS2'

[Tweet Check, Rail magazine, 31 July 2019]

Tweet Check

RAIL’s verdict: Richard Wellings, Deputy Director, Academic and Research at the Institute of Economic Affairs, and long-time HS2 sceptic, caused a storm on Twitter on July 21 with his assertion that capacity out of Euston on the West Coast Main Line can be increased by simply introducing new rolling stock, with no need to build HS2. With the WCML by most measures deemed to be the busiest mixed-use railway in Europe, Twitter users responded by telling Wellings to “come back when you’ve done your homework”, while pointing out that even if you could run longer or higher-capacity passenger trains, it would do nothing to release much-needed freight paths.

It would seem that when ‘Rail’ magazine do a ‘tweet check’, that may not mean they are ‘checking facts’, or ‘debunking myths’.

In this case, they were plainly not interested in trying to establish whether the tweet was factually accurate or not. The content of their ‘tweet check’ kept readers in the dark, and amounted to nothing more than excerpts from twitter reactions which happened to align with the magazine’s editorial viewpoint.

Nigel Harris on BBC Inside Out West Midlands, broadcast 6 March 2017

‘Rail magazine’ editor Nigel Harris helped instigate the astroturf ‘Campaign for High Speed Rail’ ran by London PR company Westbourne (now Cicero Communications)

The Beleben blog has certainly done its homework, and on 21 July, republished a table showing that intercity capacity out of Euston could be increased by 36%, without significant infrastructure changes.

[Beleben blog, 21 July 2019]

On the Great Western and East Coast railways, the introduction of more space-optimised rolling stock has supported an intercity capacity increase of 28% to 40%, according to IEP train manufacturer Hitachi.

On intercity West Coast, the use of space-optimised rolling stock would allow a ~36% increase in seated capacity in the peak, without the need for platform lengthening, or significant lineside interventions.

It’s no secret that a 260-metre (10-car) IEP train, or Stadler ‘Flirt 200’, could seat around 715 passengers. So, such trains would be compatible with existing platform lengths on West Coast, and the resulting increase in seats in the high pm peak would be around 36%, compared to the ‘current’ seats in the July 2017 HS2 strategic case.

‘Long distance’ services in
5pm – 6pm peak hour out of Euston (with 11 of 15 fast paths allocated to intercity)
‘Current’ seats
(HS2 July 2017
Strategic Case)
Seating with
26 metre carriages
using full
platform length
1 Birmingham New Street 470a 715d
2 Birmingham New Street 470a 715d
3 Glasgow 591b 715d
4 Glasgow 591b 715d
5 Holyhead 512c 630e
6 Lancaster 470a 715d
7 Liverpool 591b 715d
8 Liverpool 470a 715d
9 Manchester 591b 715d
10 Manchester 470a 715d
11 Manchester 470a 715d
Total 5696 7780
a = Pendolino 9-car | b = Pendolino 11-car | c = Voyager 2 * 5-car | d = IEP 10-car | e = IEP 2 * 5-car
Figures sourced from the Department for Transport

Obviously, much the same reasoning can be applied to increasing commuter capacity out of Euston, comparing ’12-car Class 350′ against ’10-car Class 730′, or variants of the ’12-car Class 700′ with different seating configurations.

As for the ‘much-needed freight paths’ – mentioned in the ‘verdict’ – the last time the Beleben blog checked, it turned out that half of those on the West Coast route were not used.

Of course, there would be no ‘released capacity’ from HS2 on the cross-London tracks (such as the North London line) traversed by West Coast railfreight. The development of capacity on more suitable through routes — such as Felixstowe to Nuneaton — would cost less than 5% of HS2, yet allow far bigger goods volumes to be transported overall.

Other [curious and contradictory] responses to the original tweet came from @WilliamBarter1 and @WickendenGraham.

@WilliamBarter1 queried how Thameslink-style rolling stock would increase capacity, when it ‘has fewer seats per train than existing’ [?].

twitter, @WilliamBarter1, 'How do you work that one out, Richard, when the new Thameslink-style rolling stock suggested would fewer seats per train than existing?'

While @WickendenGraham thought you would get extra seats, but there’d be no toilets [?].

twitter, @WickendenGraham, 'This is the same person who has previously suggested that the trains used on Thameslink services (class 700) should be used instead of the current WCML trains. A big problem with that is that although your get an extra 67 seats there'd be no loos.'

Needless to say,

  • the distance from Bedford to London (served by Thameslink trains) is not all that different from Milton Keynes to London (served by West Coast commuter trains). So why would Thameslink-style trains not be suitable for Euston commuters?
  • Thameslink trains do have toilets
  • 12-car Thameslink trains have more usable interior space than 12-car Class 350 ones used on West Coast
  • different versions of the same new train can have different internal layouts and amenities
  • the exact seated and overall capacity of a Thameslink-style train would depend on the selected internal layout.

Written by beleben

August 2, 2019 at 11:18 am

Posted in gibberish, HS2

Tom and his issues

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Those who would simply switch out the budget from HS2 have little to say on how to solve the issues that it’s needed to fix, wrote ex-researcher-for-Phillip-Blond-Respublica and Labour politics numpty Tom Follett.

[Tom Follett, Citymetric, 26 July 2019]

Namely, more people travelling between Birmingham and the North; freeing-up space for manufacturers to import materials and export goods along existing lines; and relieving the unreliable and congested West Coast artery.
[…]
Whether HS2 is technically the cheapest way to achieve the goals is a fair question. Endless reviews return the same conclusion: it is cheaper to build from new in the fields than pouring concrete around the current route, the most intensively used in Europe, while it’s still running.

Like his former boss Phillip Blond, Mr Follett hasn’t the foggiest idea about the relative costs of new and upgraded rail infrastructure, or the ‘need’ for HS2.

Phillip Blond: 'The cost of the twenty miles more link to Liverpool is between £1.5 and 2.5 billion'.

The cost of a twenty miles more HS2 railway to Liverpool is not going to be “£1.5 to £2.5 billion”. And to cater for ‘more people travelling between Birmingham and the North’ by rail, there is no sign of much need to go ‘pouring concrete around the current route’.

Many of the current services between the Midlands and the northwest, and the Midlands and the northeast, are provided by rinky-dink toytown trains, just four or five cars long. As the 2007 Invensys ‘transport capacity research paper’ concluded, train lengthening is almost always the most cost-effective starting point for capacity uplift.

Invensys transport capacity research paper, extract, Nov 2007

All the evidence suggests that building HS2 is a very poor way of enabling more railfreight. For example, ‘manufacturers’ mostly ‘import materials’ through places which aren’t on the West Coast Main Line (like Felixstowe, Teesport, and Immingham) and whose railways are in poor condition. In many cases goods trains have to traverse busy Overground tracks in London, and these would certainly not be capacity-relieved by HS2.

Written by beleben

July 29, 2019 at 8:13 am

Posted in gibberish, HS2

Nought out of ten

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One reason Richard Fisher, owner of Ten Transport Consultancy Ltd, can’t wait for HS2 to be built is that he can’t wait for the day when he’s not following mixed traffic at walking pace [on the railway] between Coventry and Birmingham!

twitter, @RichRichbaboon, 'One reason I can’t wait for HS2 to be built is that I can’t wait for the day when I’m not following mixed traffic at walking pace between Coventry and Birmingham!'

It looks like Mr Fisher will be in for a very long wait. Because HS2 would not eliminate mixed traffic on the railway between Coventry and Birmingham.

SLC Rail, Coventry - Birmingham timetable structure in 2013

If HS2 were built, the legacy two-track line via Stechford and Hampton in Arden would still need to accommodate fast and stopping passenger services, as well as freight.

High Speed Two would release virtually no capacity between Birmingham New Street, Birmingham International, and Coventry.

Even if it were possible, removing fast trains from the classic line would not be a desirable objective.

Centro, Coventry line HS2 connectivity, 2014

‘Eliminating mixed traffic’ would mean anyone travelling between Coventry and Birmingham having to endure a somewhat tedious ride on the stopping trains.

Written by beleben

May 31, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Posted in gibberish, HS2