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Archive for the ‘High speed rail’ Category

‘Defaffinating’ northern rail

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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.

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Written by beleben

August 26, 2019 at 9:12 am

Northern powerhouse rail and commutability

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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

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

Make Central Great at the Common

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Reactivating the Great Central route to Rugby and Leicester with new connections to the West Coast and Midland Main lines would be much cheaper, less disruptive, and greener than building HS2. But how could trains from ‘GCR2’ be accommodated in London?

The Old Oak site intended for HS2 has room for a 12-platform long distance station, as can be seen by HS2 Ltd’s visualisation of the footprint of a twelve platform HS2 terminus station at Old Oak.

Old Oak, footprint of a 12 platform long distance station (HS2 Ltd, 2016)

A new long-distance (non-HS2) station at Old Oak could be built with through tracks to Paddington, but how many trains could continue to Paddington would depend on Crossrail enabling vacation of more surface platforms there. At present, Crossrail is being planned as a lop-sided project, with more services operating in east London, than in the west.

Written by beleben

August 16, 2019 at 10:51 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Woodland of confusion

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The UK has roughly one million hectares of ancient woodland, according to an article attributed to Ian Walmsley (Modern Railways magazine, presumably August 2019).

The UK has roughly 1 million hectares of ancient woodland, according to an article attributed to Ian Walmsley of Modern Railways magazine

But according to the Woodland Trust (2000), the figure is more like 309,000 hectares (excluding Northern Ireland).

No doubt a fair bit of the remaining ancient woodland must be in Scotland. Figures for how much there is in England, do not seem to be readily available.

The Woodland Trust (2000), there around 309,000 ha of ancient woodland in Great Britain

Written by beleben

August 16, 2019 at 8:11 am

Midlanders mostly unenthused by HS2

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Jake Gyllenhaal shaking head (gif)A YouGov survey for ITV News Central has found that just 26 per cent of Midlanders are ‘supportive’ of HS2, and just 8 per cent describe themselves as ‘strong supporters’.

  • A majority in the region either oppose the scheme, or have no strong opinion.
  • 34% don’t believe phase one of HS2 (Euston to Birmingham and Armitage) will be completed, 33% think it will happen, and the rest (34%) don’t know.
  • The survey ‘involved 1,119 adults in the ITV News Central region who were quizzed between July 26 and 31, 2019’.

Written by beleben

August 1, 2019 at 8:05 am

Cross country counts

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Alleged train operator XC Trains Limited has waded into the high speed rail debate, claiming that the HS2 would ‘relieve the Cross Country network’.

twitter_CrossCountryUK_status_1150345885840072706

Surely, the quickest and best way to bring ‘relief’ to users of the Cross Country rail network, would be to have some company other than XC Trains Limited, operating the service.

Trustpilot, XC trains, reviews, extract

[Rail magazine, 10 July 2019]

A petition has been sent to Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright calling for stored High Speed Trains to be used by CrossCountry.
[…]
In the House of Commons on June 24, Layla Moran (Liberal Democrat, Oxford West and Abingdon) asked what assessment had been made of the potential merits of introducing high-speed trains on XC services serving Oxford, to increase capacity.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones replied: “The Department is aware that additional capacity is needed on CrossCountry routes, including Oxford. The Department is working with the operator to introduce extra rolling stock into CrossCountry. This remains a priority for the Department as we consider successor franchise arrangements when the current franchise ends.”

However, sources within the rail industry suggest using HSTs is not a simple solution, as some believe.

One XC source told RAIL: “We cannot use the GWR power cars without the Automatic Train Protection being removed, as none of our drivers are trained on it. Until that changes, and the Direct Award is sorted out, there’ll be no change. We do need more stock, though!”

“The Department is working with the operator”. To not get disused trains sitting in sidings, into use, apparently.

Interesting that that the “privatised railway”, in the form of XC Trains, can’t manage to [not] do anything by itself.

Written by beleben

July 15, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2