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Archive for the ‘High speed rail’ Category

Consigned to history

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A Virgin West Coast trainVirgin Trains has “consigned Friday afternoon peak restrictions from London Euston to history, enabling thousands of people to start the weekend earlier, for less”, the company announced on November 1.

The existence of the peak restrictions played a huge part in the so-called ‘capacity case for high speed rail’, so by abolishing the restrictions, one of the last remnants of the HS2 capacity case has also been consigned to history.

[Virgin Trains]

Restrictions will be removed permanently from 2 November 2018, following a 13 week trial that has also helped dramatically reduce congestion on key evening services.

During the trial, the popular 19:00 London Euston to Manchester service saw the average maximum number of passengers fall by 61%. Normally this would be the first service available for passengers with off-peak tickets. Similar benefits were seen on the West Midlands route where the average maximum number of passengers on the 19:03 London Euston to Birmingham New Street fell by 75%.

'Virgin Trains scraps Friday afternoon peak restrictions', 01 Nov 2018

In the complete absence of any better ‘story’, the government’s West Coast Demand and Capacity Pressures (DaCP) report had to focus on the remote possibility of future crowding in the evening, created and driven by peak restrictions. DaCP was a ‘supplement’ to HS2’s October 2013 Strategic Case, but did not appear until November 2015, which might indicate the difficulty in coming up with a case for spending tens of billions of pounds on something that is not needed.

DaCP doom-mongered what ‘might’ happen, if Euston’s intercity service in the year 2033 / 2034 was like the service in 2014 – i.e., with peak restrictions until 7pm, and with just 9 trains leaving between 7pm and 8pm. Plainly an absurd and artificial scenario, concocted just for HS2 propaganda purposes.

DfT, West Coast DaCP report, Nov 2015 extract, ICWC evening crowding

With a sensible ticketing policy, available paths taken up, and the right rolling stock, all forecast demand, and more, could be accommodated using the existing infrastructure, without building a single yard of HS2.

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Written by beleben

November 1, 2018 at 8:13 pm

Parkway is the right way, says John Armitt

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Infrastructure is for the public, not engineers. But “the public” don’t know what’s best for them, as evidenced by their rejection of an ‘Ashford parkway’ high speed station, their dislike of HS2, and their support for rail renationalisation (apparently).

[Sir John Armitt: “Infrastructure is not for engineers. It’s by engineers, for the public”, Sebastian Whale, The House magazine, 18th October 2018]

“Infrastructure is not for engineers. It’s by engineers, for the public,” he explains. The public pays for the projects, he adds, but generally speaking “they’re not treated as seriously as a stakeholder or the rest of the industry”. This failure to earn public buy-in on projects must be addressed, he argues, which in turn would make politicians’ lives easier.

twitter, @railindustry |  Sir John Armitt, Chairman, NatInfraCom: 'If high-speed rail does not go north of Birmingham, then I would argue there's not much point.'

[JA:] “It shouldn’t be the government ministers, it should be the profession, it should be the industry. Engineers should accept this is very much part of their role, to get out there and not hide behind their computer,” he says.
[…]
Armitt also suggests there should be a change in approach when it comes to city centre regeneration. Citing the example of the redeveloped Birmingham New Street Station, he asks whether the money would have been better placed being put into a new station on the edge of the city.

He experienced this first hand with High Speed 1, when local people called for a train station in central Ashford through which the Eurostar would pass, as opposed to one on the outskirts. “Fine, that’s what they got. But it added several hundred million pounds to the cost of the project,” he says.

Mr Armitt was engaged by the Labour party to conduct an ‘infrastructure review‘, but disagrees with its flagship policy of rail renationalisation (which is supported, it seems, by a majority of Conservative voters).

[The House magazine]

The Labour party has been clear of its intentions to nationalise rail, water and parts of the energy sector. Armitt, who is speaking more in a personal capacity, is sceptical about taking these industries back into public ownership.

The first challenge, he says, is finding the money to “pay a fair price”. Despite changing ownership, the “people running those businesses are essentially going to be the same”, he says. “Again, I think the issue here is we’re more than happy to trust Marks and Spencer and Safeway and Tesco with the provision of the thing most fundamental to us, which is food. Why can’t we create an environment in which we’re equally trusting of private sector companies to provide us with those key utilities?” he asks.

Written by beleben

October 23, 2018 at 8:51 am

£24 billion is not enough

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Transport for the North ‘today released its latest research into the boost Northern powerhouse rail could give local economies’, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Tim Wood with Chris Grayling MP

[Liverpool Echo, 17 Oct 2018]

[Tim Wood, programme director at Transport for the North,] said the National Infrastructure Commission had positively assessed the plans.

He said: £24bn is their estimate [of the cost of Northern powerhouse rail]. We know it will cost a little bit more than that.

Liverpool Echo, Liverpool NPR could take decades, 16 Jan 2018

'New rail line means better job prospects - if you are willing to commute for up to three hours a day', Ian Johnson, Newcastle Chronicle, 17 Oct 2018

Written by beleben

October 17, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Never mind local transport, let’s build boondoggles

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twitter, @Clinnick1, 'An idea of how bad public transport is in Peterborough. My train arrived from York at 0718, and will get to London around ten minutes before I arrive in the office today'

Liverpool Echo, 21-minute Northern powerhouse rail story, 17 Oct 2018

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October 17, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Leonie du bois abattu

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HS2 phase 2b lumberjacks On 11 October, HS2 Ltd published the working draft environmental statement and equality impact assessment for phase 2b of its proposed high speed railway.

Responding to the publication of the draft environmental statement for phase 2b, Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said: “We were braced for bad news but this is far worse than we were expecting. At least 19 ancient woods will be lost, almost double our estimate. This is significant permanent loss and the figure is only going to go up as HS2’s review of woods not listed on the Ancient Woodland Inventory progresses.”

Even before the publication of the environmental draft, it was clear that the negative impacts of building phase 2b would be far-reaching and wide-ranging.

[HS2: Jobs, wildlife and mental health will all suffer, says report, West Bridgford Wire, 11 Oct 2018]

A report by HS2 has found:

1,000 jobs would be lost or displaced

91 percent of the wildlife on the Toton Sidings site would be completely destroyed by the construction of high speed line.

It is clear that HS2 would damage the natural environmentA52 would need to be moved 25 metres to the south, with roadwork taking two years, it was also revealed.

In Ratcliffe on Soar, Toton, Stapleford and Long Eaton, 183 houses, 52 commercial properties and 18 other buildings would have to be demolished.

The scale of the construction could adversely affect the health and wellbeing of residents, and people’s mental health in the area, the report found.
[…]
Leonie Dubois, HS2’s head of consultation and engagement, said: “HS2 is coming to the East Midlands and the region will reap significant benefits as a result.”
[…]
Councillor Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council and chairman of the East Midlands HS2 Strategic Board, said: “The public consultation launched by HS2 Ltd today (October 11) is an important stage in the development of the project, and we want to make sure that the concerns of local people are heard.”

Written by beleben

October 12, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

HS2 Birmingham stations ‘to open in 2026’

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The latest official visualisations for the proposed HS2 stations in Birmingham and Middle Bickenhill were launched at the Library of Birmingham on 9 October. According to HS2 Ltd, the two stations will open in 2026, ‘along with the rest of Phase One’.

The company says it is ‘seeking feedback’ from the public about the designs, but has public opinion ever played much of a role in the development of megaprojects in Britain?

twitter_HS2ltd_status_1049555156419969025

A few years ago, when Network Rail ‘consulted’ before the £600 million revamp of New Street station, the faults in their design were pointed out to them. Of course, Network Rail took not a blind bit of notice, and lo and behold, the redeveloped station is a complete mess. It’s so bad, that Cross Country Trains advise people to avoid changing trains there, if they can.

XC Trains, avoid changing at Birmingham New Street

Anyway, the HS2 Curzon terminus, designed by WSP and Grimshaw Architects, would be ‘Britain’s first new intercity station since the nineteenth century’.

Apart from, Bristol Parkway, Birmingham International, East Midlands Parkway, and Ebbsfleet (?).

The old Curzon Street station closed in 1966 (HS2 Ltd tweeted on 17 September).

twitter, @HS2ltd, Curzon Street station closed in 1966

Actually, Curzon Street was retained by British Rail into the 1970s. At the time of writing, the Getty Images site has a picture of the interior, ‘dated’ 21 October 1967, a year after it “closed”.

Arup-designed Bickenhill HS2 station, visualisation of exterior, 9 Oct 2018

In its well-balanced report on the new stations, ITV Central News asked Mike Lyons of HS2 Ltd about the cost of Curzon Street. He declined to give any figure.

And Liam Byrne MP tweeted he would be ‘campaigning for the station to include the greatest science museum in Britain’ (?).

twitter, @LiamByrneMP, HS2 station designs look like a traditional railway shed

It’s important to remember that HS2 is a hugely expensive, environmentally damaging, and entirely unnecessary project. The existing West Coast and Chiltern railways can meet all foreseeable capacity requirements, including the Department for Transport’s “Higher Growth” scenario.

Written by beleben

October 10, 2018 at 9:30 am

Theresa May on the ‘reason’ for HS2

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‘The reason HS2 is being developed is because we need to increase the capacity on the Western main line‘, prime minister Theresa May told Joe Pike, of ITV Calendar, a few days ago.

twitter @joepike, in an ITV interview with PM Theresa May, she claimed HS2 was needed for capacity

Actually, the Western main line is one of several around London, where capacity is being increased by bringing in new rolling stock.

GWR commuter train

On the Greater Anglia franchise, new trains are expected to boost ‘commuter seating’ by 22 to 45 per cent.

Greater Anglia franchise, seating increase from new trains

If this approach works for the former Western, Eastern, and Southern regions, why is HS2 needed to relieve the West Coast Main Line?

Written by beleben

October 7, 2018 at 11:11 am