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Billions more for HS2

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On 26 November, Construction News reported that HS2’s chief executive Mark Thurston had said the government will not give the project any more money despite its current cost gap.

Yet, just a few days later, the Sunday Times claimed that the government had been planning to extend HS2 to Liverpool, at a cost of £7 billion.

Sunday Times story about extending HS2 to Liverpool

The current “£55.7 billion” budget of the HS2 ‘core programme’ does not include the funds needed for the Manchester airport (Davenport Green) station, the “HS2 hub” at Crewe, and ‘growth strategies’ for the East Midlands, Leeds, Birmingham, etc.

The HS2 growth strategy for the West Midlands alone was costed at £4.4 billion

Evidence from other rail megaprojects, and the history of HS2 to date, suggests that the Y network cannot be built as planned, unless much more public money is made available. When the ‘wider programme’ and things like sterling devaluation are factored in, HS2 looks more like a £100 billion project, than a £56 billion one.

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Written by beleben

December 12, 2018 at 12:47 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Feed in fully

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Stephen Colbert Eating PopcornSubmission of the doolally ‘£35bn Northern Powerhouse Rail strategic business plan’ is being delayed until next year to allow it to be “fine-tuned”, according to New Civil Engineer.

[Exclusive | TfN postpones Northern Powerhouse Rail plans | BY KATHERINE SMALE | 10 DECEMBER, 2018][…]

It had been due to be handed into transport secretary Chris Grayling by the end of December.

But Transport for the North said following discussions with its members, a decision had been made “to make space for further fine-tuning” which would allow its members to “feed-in fully and have chance to digest all the details”.
[…]
The delay follows an announcement in September this year that the High Speed 2 phase 2b hybrid Bill was being delayed to ensure plans for the NPR scheme were incorporated into its design.
[…]
The rail project will connect Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield and is the third project on the list of projected infrastructure spends over the next 20 years in the National Infrastructure Commission’s National Infrastructure Assessment.

twitter, @Philip_Blond, 'the cost of twenty miles more of HS2 to Liverpool is between £1.5 and 2.5 billion'

twitter, @helenpidd, picture of a page from the Sunday Times, 9 Dec 2018, featuring stories about railways in northern England

Written by beleben

December 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Get a grip, says HS2 drip

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High speed rail ‘afictionado’ Andrew Adonis is worried that HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston “isn’t gripping things”.

twitter, @Andrew_Adonis, 'This is really silly - high-speed trains that win’t go high speed - & makes me worry that Mark Thurston at HS2 isn’t gripping things. The way you deal with excessive costs is to get costs under control, not to decimate the project!'

Written by beleben

November 22, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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.

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

Written by beleben

October 17, 2018 at 12:16 pm