die belebende Bedenkung

Archive for the ‘High speed rail’ Category

Ave caramba

leave a comment »

High speed rail (Ave) accounts for 26 billion euro of ‘inappropriate’ expenditure of public funds in Spain over the period 1995 to 2016, according to a study published by the Association of Spanish Geographers.

El Pais infrastructure waste story, 19 Jun 2018, English language version

That would suggest that the programmed expenditure on Britain’s HS2 railway (€70++ billion) vastly exceeds the outlay on the Spanish Ave system (which is the second largest in the world).

El Pais infrastructure waste story, 19 Jun 2018, Spanish language version

Although shorter in route length, HS2 is a much bigger waste of money than Ave.


Written by beleben

June 20, 2018 at 11:27 am

Sum kind of overspend

with one comment

The “dysfunctional” HS2 high-speed rail company has pressed staff to falsify figures, mislead parliament and cover up “petrifying” overspends, according to claims reported in The Sunday Times.

[HS2 ‘covered up petrifying overspends’, Andrew Gilligan, The Sunday Times, 17 June 2018 (paywall)]

In documents seen by The Sunday Times, Doug Thornton, HS2’s former head of property, said the organisation put him under “tremendous pressure to accede to an enormous deceit” that the official budget for buying land and buildings was accurate.

As recounted by the story,

  • Mr Thornton and the former head of planning and performance, Andrew Bruce, departed HS2 in 2016, as the bill for phase one (London – West Midlands) reached a critical stage in parliament
  • both men have given evidence to the National Audit Office, which is investigating HS2’s land and property budget
  • HS2 Ltd maintains that buying the 11,000 properties needed to construct phase one would cost £2.8 billion, but Mr Bruce had calculations showing the sum could be around £4.7 billion.

At the time of writing, on his LinkedIn entry, it is stated that Mr Bruce “Developed the programme for the purchase of £4.8 Bn worth of land and property” for HS2 Ltd.

Andrew Bruce, formerly of HS2 Ltd, linkedin, extract

HS2, Estimate of expense, in parliament 2013 - 2014

Written by beleben

June 17, 2018 at 4:56 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Elevated risk means increased cost

leave a comment »

Elevated risk means increased costMultiple sources close to the HS2 project have confirmed that ‘interim costs’ for main civil works for phase one submitted by contractors are currently above HS2 Ltd’s target cost of £6.6 billion (New Civil Engineer reported).

[HS2 civil works £1bn above target cost, Katherine Smale, NCE, 12 June 2018]

While one source said that the collective price was coming in at “around £1.2bn” over budget, another said that some bids were “as much as 30% to 40% higher” than their individual target price.

As a result, NCE understands that the notice to proceed has been pushed back from November until February 2019 with one source claiming that they had been told to “go away and sharpen their pencils” to cut costs.

[…] However, a HS2 spokesperson said that the project “remains on track, and within [the] original cost package”.

Last month, NCE’s sister publication Ground Engineering reported how the cost of delivering HS2 could rise sharply as a result of the use of target cost contracts without geotechnical baseline reports (GBRs).

[HS2 price hike warning over rejection of risk allocation tool, Ground Engineering, 3 MAY, 2018, BY CLAIRE SMITH]

[…] “HS2 has not got enough data to be able to get the work to target cost,” [an engineer who has worked closely on the project] told GE. “When you look at the availability and quality of the ground investigation data, in some areas it is good but in other there is none and there is a risk associated with that. Contractors will price according to this risk and so the target cost will go up.

[…] “Some will say that the technical standards are too onerous but it is the risk allocation that is the problem. HS2 choosing not to use GBRs places all of the risk on the contractor and infrastructure owners should take some of the risk.”

He told GE that a number of consultants were asked to develop GBR 0 by HS2 ahead of the hybrid bill. “GBR 0 does not exist in any guidelines for use of GBRs and was a concept developed by HS2,” he said. “It is essentially a GBR nothing.”

Written by beleben

June 13, 2018 at 8:10 am

HS2 East Midlands proposals get even worse

leave a comment »

twitter, @StevePField, 'Five years of talking to @hs2ltd about impacts of #HS2 at Hardwick Hall appear to have resulted in even worse proposals once road realignments and construction compounds are included'

twitter, @BBCChrisD, 'New maps published [on 4 June 2018] give more detail as to how we might get to the #HS2 station at Toton. 'Detailed design' of the station is 'still ongoing', HS2 says

Written by beleben

June 5, 2018 at 10:18 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Faster than sensible

with 3 comments

Italy’s transport ministry and railway safety agency have rejected plans by infrastructure manager Rfi to increase maximum linespeed on high speed tracks from 300 km/h to 350 km/h. The story was covered by la Repubblica on 28 May (in Italian).

The decision was guided by concerns about safety (in particular, flying ballast), upgrade costs, possible increases in maintenance costs for the infrastructure and energy system, and lack of evidence that greater speed would provide greater punctuality.

It might be worth bearing in mind that many of the trains operating on the Italian high speed network are limited to 250 km/h in normal service, for example, the Nuovo Pendolino units ordered by private operator NTV.

The difference in speed between a 350 km/h train and a 250 km/h Nuovo Pendolino would have potential implications for capacity. In the UK, the capacity of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is more limited by the botched design at St Pancras, than the speed differential between Eurostar and Javelin trainsets, but to be frank, HS1 is a bit of a dog’s dinner from start to finish.


Written by beleben

June 1, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Posted in High speed rail

West Coast capacity uncrunched

with one comment

According to the Department for Transport, the ‘scale of growth’ on the West Coast Main Line between 2008 and 2015 means that “two thirds of the additional inter-city seat capacity provided by the decade-long upgrade is already being utilised”.

What this statement means is not clear, because the total ‘seat capacity provided by the upgrade’, is difficult to establish. A substantial amount of ‘seat capacity’ has come from increasing the number of carriages, or the number of seats on trains, rather than from infrastructure interventions.

  • In 2008, the DfT contracted with Alstom for four new Pendolino 11-car trains (44 carriages) and extension of 31 existing units from nine to eleven carriages (62 carriages).
  • In 2015, 21 nine-car Pendolinos had one of their 1st class carriages converted to standard class (creating a net increase of 2,100 seats).

What is clear, is that significant capacity potential out of Euston remains untapped (without recourse to ‘old-school’ infrastructure improvements, or ‘Digital Railway’).

Consider Figure 3 of the July 2017 Strategic Case for HS2, which gave the ‘current’ intercity West Coast peak hour (5pm – 6pm) capacity out of Euston as 5,700 seats.

Euston rail capacity, July 2017 Strategic Case for HS2

Apparently, seven out of eleven intercity departures in that hour were ‘short trains’, mostly nine-car Pendolinos. The Department for Transport decided against lengthening all Pendolino trainsets to eleven carriages, which suggests that forecast demand did not support the expenditure.

The cost of adding capacity by lengthening short trains, or using higher capacity rolling stock, is, in general, far cheaper than building new lines.

On the Great Western and East Coast lines, the introduction of more space-optimised rolling stock has supported a 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, without platform lengthening, or the need for significant lineside interventions.

‘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

Written by beleben

May 29, 2018 at 9:50 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Working at breakneck speed

leave a comment »

Another Barry White facepalm momentTransport for the North is aiming to take ‘a fresh approach to transport’ in its forthcoming plan for transport in northern England, chief executive Barry White told the All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group on May 15.

[Railway Gazette, 18 May 2018]

A particular focus is on developing a transport network which would support ‘employment liquidity’, defined as making it easier for people to change jobs and lowering the risk of trying out new opportunities. White said London very successfully provides this liquidity, but in the north of England poor connectivity means people often feel they would need to move house to accept a job in another town, which creates a barrier that is holding back both employees and employers.

Mr White said TfN was ‘working at breakneck speed’ to prepare a high level plan for the cost, scope and business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail which will be submitted to the Secretary of State at the end of this year.

When one is not enough


He stressed these would be ‘high level concepts rather than detailed route options’. Speed is not an end in itself, White emphasised, and is often used in public discussion as a proxy for frequency and capacity. If you are going to build extra capacity, it makes sense to build for speed too, he believes.

The Beleben blog was under the impression that (absurd) ‘high level concepts’ have been in existence for years. In fact, they predate Transport for the North itself. So what this ‘breakneck speed’ cobblers is all about, is anyone’s guess.

Equally perplexing is the ’employment liquidity’ shizzle, which, apparently, was dreamt up after the TfN Strategic Transport Plan was closed to public consultation.

‘Employment liquidity’, for whom?

Written by beleben

May 20, 2018 at 11:09 am