beleben

die belebende Bedenkung

Archive for the ‘High speed rail’ Category

The low-down on HS2 value

with 3 comments

According to its April 2020 phase one Final Business Case [FBC], High Speed Two offers ‘value for the taxpayer under all but the most extreme scenarios’.

But what kind of ‘value for the taxpayer’?

Forecast benefit cost of the Y network, DfT HS2 phase two economic case, July 2017, Figure 7

In July 2017, the Department for Transport claimed that the full HS2 Y network had a ‘68% chance of having a benefit cost ratio (BCR) above 2’ and a ‘92% chance of a BCR above 1.5’.

[HS2 Phase Two Economic Case | July 2017][…]

Phases 2a and 2b demonstrate high value for money, contributing to a full network BCR of 2.3 with WEIs and 1.9 excluding WEIs.

The Department’s value for money framework (2015) stated that in ‘standard cases’, a BCR of between 1.0 and 1.5 would indicate ‘Low’ value for money (VfM), a BCR between 1.5 and 2.0 would indicate ‘Medium’ VfM, and a BCR between 2.0 and 4.0 would indicate ‘High’ VfM.

DfT VfM framework, 2015, category definitions

[DfT value for money framework]

“[…] However it may be more appropriate to report a hybrid category (e.g. ‘Medium-High’) in cases where it is likely and reasonable to believe, that a proposal may fall into another category, based on analysis using ‘switching values’.”

In the April 2020 FBC the updated benefit-cost ratio for phase one (and for phase one-plus-2b taken together) was 1.2, when wider economic impacts (WEIs) are included. For the larger Y network (phase-one-plus-phase-2a-and-2b), the figure was 1.49, including WEIs.

HS2 phase one full business case, 15 April 2020, Table 2.1

On closer examination, the gulf between the ‘July 2017’ and ‘April 2020’ BCRs turns out to be even wider. One of the changes made for the FBC was that “spend up to the end of 2019 has been treated as sunk and excluded […] except for purchase costs on land and property that could be recoverable were HS2 not to go ahead“.

www.parliament.uk, written question on HS2 sunk costs, House of Lords, 2020-04-22

On 6 May, the government stated that had the ‘newly-declared-sunk’ costs not been excluded in the FBC,

  • the BCR for phase one would have been 0.8 without WEIs, and 1.0 with WEIs [i.e., ‘Poor’ value for money]
  • the Y network BCR would have been 1.1 without WEIs, and 1.3 with WEIs [‘Low’ value for money].

From the start, the Beleben blog has taken the view that the economic case for HS2 has been fabricated and manipulated to serve the political purpose of keeping the project going. This has been borne out by events.

BBC News, 27 Aug 2019, 'Ministers know HS2 was over budget years ago'

Manipulation of the economic case is still happening, and if anything, the HS2 project is becoming less, rather than more, transparent.

Written by beleben

May 15, 2020 at 11:31 am

Deep concerns over objectivity

leave a comment »

What appear to be more emanations of HS2 Ltd’s war on transparency are mentioned in an article by Stuart Spray on the Byline Times website.

According to the article, Mr Spray is an investigative environmental journalist and a fully paid-up member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), who graduated with an MA in investigative broadcast journalism in 2019.

[Why is HS2’s Press Office Blocking a Journalist from Doing their Job? | Stuart Spray | 17 April 2020]

For the past three weeks, I have been in regular contact with HS2’s press office requesting comments, statements and evidence in support of some of its ‘innovative’ approaches to wildlife management. But it appears that it has had enough of my line of questioning.

Two days ago, following a seemingly innocuous request for a comment regarding nesting birds in an ancient woodland which is currently in the process of being felled, a member of the press team told me that “for this information, I’d recommend contacting our Helpdesk or FOI [Freedom of Information] team. Our press office is for accredited journalists only”.

In a follow-up email to one of Byline Times’ executive editors, the press team clarified its position, explaining that it had “deep concerns” over my “objectivity as a journalist” and questioned my “motives for asking the questions in the first place”. They referred to my apparent support for the naturalist Chris Packham and Extinction Rebellion (XR) on social media.

Written by beleben

April 17, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Posted in High speed rail

HS2 ignorance is grand

with one comment

According to HS2 Ltd, “there are suggestions to upgrade existing routes, like the Grand Central route between the Midlands and London. The Government is investing £40bn in the existing network, but this cannot provide all the additional capacity required for the future.”

hs2ltd-there-are-proposals-to-upgrade-existing-routes-like-the-grand-central

So, people are expected to believe the Grand Central [sic] is part of the “existing network”, which the government “is investing £40bn in”.

Written by beleben

December 11, 2019 at 5:16 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Many weaknesses and huge opposition

leave a comment »

There is “little public support for but huge opposition against HS2”, according to  Professor Roderick Smith, who has become “increasingly concerned about the sub-optimal ways in which [the project] has evolved”.

roderick-smith-how-to-rescue-britains-hs2-project-28nov2019

[How to rescue Britain’s HS2 project, Professor Roderick Smith, IRJ, 28 Nov 2019]

[…] My suggestions imply criticism of the engineering staff of HS2. I know many of them well and I am aware that many are concerned by the weaknesses of the present design. They feel constrained by orders from above, but from whom the orders originate it is not clear.

Written by beleben

November 29, 2019 at 9:40 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

No opportunity to influence

leave a comment »

twitter, @tonyberkeley1, 2 Nov 2019, 'My role as dep chair of the Oakervee Report on HS2 finished yesterday.   Report not finished and no opportunity to influence conclusions.  We are told that, when completed by Doug O and the DfT secretariat, it will be locked into the DfT vaults for the new S of S to publish.'

Written by beleben

November 2, 2019 at 2:22 pm

‘Defaffinating’ northern rail

with one comment

Although it is not true to say that rail lines on the prime routes are already dominant in those transport corridors, concentration on expanding the existing large traffic flows, such as London – Birmingham, London – Manchester, London – Leeds, etc will not achieve a major modal shift – mainly because rail already has a significant slice of the market on those routes which, by themselves, do not constitute the majority of passenger travel in the UK (noted Professor Roger Kemp in his paper ‘Scope for reduction in transport CO2 emissions by modal shift’).

However, this idea of “expanding the existing large traffic flows” lies at the heart of the proposed HS2 railway. Another fundamental problem with HS2 is its inability to free up (or create) more capacity for local travel in conurbations like Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and Nottingham.

Roger Kemp. 'Scope for reduction in transport CO2', Manchester - Leeds example

‘Northern powerhouse rail’ is supposed to reduce the rail journey time between Manchester and Leeds by spending billions of pounds on a new line, but as Professor Kemp noted, the existing weekday service is four ‘reasonably fast’ trains per hour.

The problem is generally not the in-vehicle time on the intercity portion of such trips, but the ‘faff’ and unreliability associated with real point-to-point travel, which doesn’t start and finish at big-city ‘hauptbahnhof’ stations.

Sadly, these facts are completely lost on many northern and London politicians, and public sector bodies like Transport for the North.

Written by beleben

August 26, 2019 at 9:12 am

Northern powerhouse rail and commutability

with 3 comments

In June 2019, Boris Johnson ‘pledged‘ he would be the PM who builds ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’.

But is the ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ concept a good fit with travel patterns in the north of England, and the levels of transport demand seen there?

Some Northern England inter-city modal share comparisons, 2011 census, Alasdair Rae

The available information suggests that the spatial distribution of people — and the diffuse travel patterns — limit the role that rail could play in northern commuting. Spending £39 billion on ‘Northern powerhouse rail’ would be very unlikely to change that.

The best opportunities for rail would come from creating S-Bahn systems in Manchester and Leeds, but this would require the existing, NPR-focused, policy to be torn up.

NPR is supposed to enable people to ‘commute from one city to another’, but most people do not live in city centres.

Consider a more realistic inter-city commute, from Crosby (Merseyside) to Salford Quays (Greater Manchester) using existing rail, and new-build ‘HS3 Northern powerhouse rail’.

1. Crosby (Merseyside) to Salford Quays (Greater Manchester) using existing rail

Outbound commuting activity steps
1. Walk / bus to Crosby station.
2. Wait.
3. Train (Merseyrail) to Central station.
4. Walk to Lime Street station.
5. Wait.
6. Train to Eccles station.
7. Wait.
8. Tram to Salford Quays.
9. Walk to end destination.

Crosby to Salford Quays commute with the existing railway (base map: OpenStreetMap)

2. Crosby (Merseyside) to Salford Quays (Greater Manchester) using ‘Northern powerhouse rail’

(For the purposes of this comparison, it is assumed the Liverpool NPR station is at Lime Street, and the Manchester NPR station is at Piccadilly.)

Outbound commuting activity steps
1. Walk / bus to Crosby station.
2. Wait.
3. Train (Merseyrail) to Central station.
4. Walk to Lime Street station.
5. Wait.
6. Train (Npr) to Piccadilly station.
7. Wait.
8. Tram to Salford Quays.
9. Walk to end destination.

Crosby to Salford Quays commute with conceptual 'Northern powerhouse rail' (base map: OpenStreetMap)

It should be apparent that for journeys like this, Northern powerhouse rail would make very little difference to commutability.

Written by beleben

August 22, 2019 at 3:37 pm