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Bombast and the bailout

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Christmas in November

Christmas came early for Stagecoach and Virgin on 29 November, when the Department for Transport announced secretary of state Chris Grayling’s ‘new strategic vision‘ for railways.

gov.uk, strategic vision for rail, 29 Nov 2017

The announcement was bundled with a government bailout for (Stagecoach) Virgin Trains East Coast, the operator of nearly all long distance services out of Kings Cross since 2015.

Investment bank Liberum believes the risk of Stagecoach defaulting on the franchise has been ‘removed’ – perhaps not surprisingly, given that inconvenient back-loaded payment obligations which won VTEC the franchise competition seem to have been ‘disappeared’. In GB rail, ‘competition for the market’ seems to amount to which bidder has the rosiest spectacles, or the best cock and bull story.

East Coast bailout story in the Guardian, 29 Nov 2017

ITV News at 6.30 pm did not mention the bailout, and mainstream media coverage was distracted by the guff about ‘reversing Beeching’.

Daily Express 'reversing Beeching' twaddle, 29 November 2017

Stagecoach East Coast bailout story, Financial Times 29 Nov 2017

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Written by beleben

November 30, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Get trucks off rail

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@Andrew_Adonis, get trucks off rail

@Andrew_Adonis, lorry platooning likely soon

Written by beleben

November 26, 2017 at 10:38 am

HS1 and Kentish tourism

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The economic impact that High Speed 1 has had on Kent’s tourism economy ‘has been revealed for the first time in a report independently produced by Visit Kent and tourism economists Destination Research Ltd’.

HS1 website with Kentish tourism story, on 20 Sep 2017

But what role did HS1 Ltd play in commissioning and funding the ‘tourism impact study’? And how plausible are its findings?

[‘HS1 adds £72 million to Kent economy in 2016 as leisure journeys increase nine-fold’, HS1 Ltd news, 15 Sep 2017]

[…] Almost three quarters (73%) of tourism businesses in Kent believe that leisure tourism in the county has increased as a result of HS1. Over half (54%) believe that HS1 has specifically benefitted their own business. 94% of these tourism businesses said that they had benefited because of HS1’s high speed connections, with 80% saying that HS1 has helped attract visitors from further afield.

Almost a third (30%) of tourists said they were influenced in their decision to visit Kent by the presence of the HS1 service. Almost half (47%) of all visitors to Kent who travelled by rail did so via the HS1 service.

Interviews for the study seem to have been mainly conducted in places served by HS1 trains, rather than across Kent as a whole. Another oddity is the distribution of interviews in particular locations.

HS1 tourism impact study 2017, interviewees, extract

All in all, the report’s plausibility looks suspect. It is difficult to make sense of the claim that “only a proportion of journeys made on HS1 infrastructure were on HS1 trains, and not on regular (or classic) rail stock”. Because the only passenger trains using ‘HS1 infrastructure’ are (a) Eurostar (which mostly don’t stop in Kent), and (b) ‘Javelin’.  No classic passenger trains circulate on HS1.

hs1ltd-leisure-journeys-2017-extract

Written by beleben

September 20, 2017 at 8:00 am

Crewe to be ‘HS2 central hub’

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Malcolm Smith, ‘director of international masterplanner Arup’, said ‘Crewe will be a different place in 10 years, reinvigorated by HS2 and the town’s status renewed as the central hub of the national rail network’ (reported Place North West).

Crewe will be the busiest stop on the HS2 railway, according to Cheshire East council leader Rachel Bailey

Crewe will be the ‘busiest stop on the HS2 railway’, according to Cheshire East council leader Rachel Bailey (reported Place North West)

Written by beleben

March 16, 2017 at 11:49 am

Posted in gibberish, Politics

HS2 and West Coast passenger capacity

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On 29 April 2014, Robert Goodwill MP ‘answered’ the question ‘What is the percentage increase in capacity on the West Coast Main Line from HS2’, by not answering the question.

Robert Goodwill avoided answering a parliamentary question about West Coast Main Line rail capacity after HS2

As can be seen from HS2 director Andrew McNaughton’s February 2015 diagram (below), HS2 would not allow any more trains to run on the West Coast Main Line. And in HS2 Ltd’s vision, West Coast intercity and commuter trains would have pretty much the same maximum capacity as they do now.

Andrew McNaughton West Coast and HS2 capacity slides, 2015

According to Andrew McNaughton's presentation, WCML fast line train path utilisation would fall, not rise

Furthermore, the HS2 project entails reducing West Coast Main Line tracks into, and platforms at, Euston. How that is compatible with ‘increasing West Coast capacity’, has never been explained.

According to Prof McNaughton’s slides, WCML combined train paths would increase from 23 to 23, making the percentage increase 0%.

Written by beleben

October 16, 2016 at 11:55 am

Posted in gibberish, HS2

High speed rail versus ‘Victorian infrastructure’

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Did someone claim 'Victorian infrastructure' capacity is outperformed by 'the start of the art'?

In his speech to the 2016 Conservative conference, transport secretary Chris Grayling said that HS2 is “about a new, 21st century, Elizabethan era for our railways, not going back to the Victorian one”.

And at the Transport Times HS2 conference on 12 October 2016, he said HS2 is needed “So that in 2033, we no longer have a rail network with a Victorian heart, but a network with an Elizabethan heart, able to deliver everything we expect of a 21st century transport system“.

[Chris Grayling, Transport Times conference, 12 Oct 2016]

A national transport artery as important as the West Coast Main Line still suffers from the need for freight, local and intercity trains to be carried on the same two tracks.

The fast trains catch up with the slow trains and are unable to get past, chug along behind.

So, imagine what Britain in 2033 would look like without HS2.

The forecasters tell us that Britain’s population will have hit 72 million.

Rail journeys will have risen by a further 40%.

And rail freight will have doubled once more.

Yet in that future without HS2 we’d still be relying on a rail network whose central components are in places nearly 200 years old, built to compete with the stagecoach and the horse-drawn canal barge, and for a population almost 5 times smaller.

Mr Grayling’s speeches are good examples of ‘post-factual politics’.

  • The West Coast Main Line trunk between London and Rugby has four tracks. So, on its busiest section, the need for ‘freight, local and intercity trains to be carried on the same two tracks’ does not exist.
  • The vast majority of Britain’s rail travel takes place on so-called ‘Victorian infrastructure’, and there is no possibility of HS2 ever changing that. In Kent, it appears that around 95% of rail journeys do not involve HS1.
  • The problem of ‘fast trains catching up with the slow trains and being unable to get past’ is more of a limitation for the twin-track HS1, than the ‘Victorian’ West Coast Main Line (because of a mismatch between the maximum speeds of domestic HS1 and Eurostar trains). Such freight as exists on HS1 is generally limited to night-time, when no passenger trains run.

gov.uk, 'transport secretary Chris Grayling says the case for HS2 is strong' (speech extract), 12 Oct 2016

@HitachiRailEU, Chris Grayling at the Transport Times HS2 conference, 12 Oct 2016

Written by beleben

October 14, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Posted in gibberish, HS2

What is ‘a legacy of high-speed rail-building skills’?

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HS2 Y-network map showing separate Sheffield serviceForeign construction companies chasing nearly £9 billion of HS2 contracts have ‘been warned by the government that unless they create thousands of local jobs and invest in a legacy of high-speed rail-building skills they will not be welcome in Britain’, The Times reported.

[Create jobs or miss out on HS2, foreign engineers told, Robert Lea, The Times, 13 Oct 2016]

The country’s biggest infrastructure bidding competition, for seven packages of civil engineering work between London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street to build the first phase of HS2, starts today, with nine international consortiums submitting final bids. Each is led or significantly influenced by groups from overseas.

This sounds like a load of old nonsense. What exactly is ‘a legacy of high-speed rail-building skills’?

By its nature, construction work tends to be temporary. Roads such as the M25, and railways like the Great Western, and Crossrail, were built by workers from overseas prepared to move with, and live on, the job. It seems likely that HS2 would be highly reliant on such workers.

Most of the remaining GB train-building industry closed down in the 1980s, and over the last few years, billions of pounds worth of train contracts have been handed out to the likes of Siemens and Stadler, without any requirement to ‘create thousands of local jobs’, or a ‘legacy of skills’. So why is this suddenly going to be a requirement for HS2?

Written by beleben

October 13, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Posted in gibberish, HS2

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