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A trip aboard HS2

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HS2 step at platform, diagram

On 20 April an OJEU tender notice was issued for the ‘£2.75 billion, 60-train’ HS2 phase one rolling stock procurement. HS2 Ltd’s Pre-Qualification Technical Summary states its intention to procure “a single fleet of rolling stock that will be capable of operating on the HS2Network and the Conventional Rail Network (CRN), referred to as the ‘Conventional Compatible’ or ‘CC’ fleet”.

A perusal of the PQTS seems to confirm the view that the rolling stock specifications are as muddled as the rest of the project, but HS2 Ltd do not intend to change them in any substantive way.

[HS2 Ltd]

This PQTS is a precursor to the full Train Technical Specification (TTS) which will be provided with the Invitation to Tender. The requirements of this PQTS will be incorporated into the TTS along with other more detailed performance and functional requirements. Note that the TTS will supersede and replace the PQTS. HS2 Ltd does not intend to change in any substantive way the requirements set out in this PQTS. However, HS2 Ltd reserves its right to do so and will identify any such changes in the TTS in due course.

Contrary to all the accessibility hype, the PQTS suggests that there is little to no intention to provide ‘step free access’ between all stations served by HS2 trains. Even on the handful of stations on the captive network (“HS2 Platforms”), ‘step free’ access would involve negotiating, er, steps.

[HS2 Ltd]
The maximum vertical step between the deployed Moveable Step and an HS2 Platform shall be +20/-0mm except under Exceptional PTI Conditions.
Rationale: The maximum single step negotiable, unaided, by 98% of wheelchair users is +20mm; higher steps are negotiable but with decreasing success rates.

[…] The maximum vertical step between the deployed Moveable Step and an HS2 Platform shall be +30/-10mm under all conditions including Exceptional PTI Conditions. The TMM and HS2 will agree the Exceptional PTI Conditions, which are expected to include rarely-experienced vehicle conditions such as deflated suspension or Exceptional Payload.

[…] The maximum horizontal gap between the deployed Moveable Step and an HS2 Platform shall be 30mm.

[…] When deployed, the Moveable Step shall have a minimum horizontal surface depth (perpendicular to the bodyside) of 240mm

[…] The maximum vertical distance between the Moveable Step and the floor of the vestibule shall be 30mm.

Wouldn’t vertical discontinuities of those sizes, on a pavement of the public highway, be considered as “trip hazards”?

Does the claim of HS2 'step free access' match the reality?

Does the claim of HS2 ‘step free access’ match the reality?

The technical standards which HS2 is being designed to are obsolescent and inappropriate. For example, the train crashworthiness is based on a low-speed ‘level crossing’ collision with a heavy goods vehicle (which would be much lighter than the train), yet there would be no level crossings on HS2.

Survivability in realistic crash scenarios at actual HS2 operating speeds, is not considered at all.

 

 

Written by beleben

April 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm

More concentration in London

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Construction of the HS2 Y network would result in a migration of corporate decision-making away from the north of England, and increased concentration of managerial jobs in London, if French microeconomic research is to be believed. The findings, by Pauline Charnoz, Claire Lelarge and Corentin Trevien, are to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference in Bristol in April 2017.

HS2 could further concentrate corporate decision making in London

Written by beleben

April 11, 2017 at 11:51 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2

Exports on their mind

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The United Kingdom’s expertise in high speed rail, should be seen as a ‘potential export sector’, according to the ‘High Speed Rail Leaders’ industry lobby group.

'Potential export sector?' 'Potential export sector?'

[HSRILG response to the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, April 2017]

[…] In order to take advantage of these opportunities [in the high value growth sector in the global growth area of high speed rail] we should explore the creation of a “HS2 International” which brings together HSR delivery businesses and the government-owned client body HS2 Ltd to create a public-private partnership to market the UK skill base and experience abroad, offering a whole exportable package to potential customers.

How much credible domestic expertise the UK can present in overseas rail markets, must be open to question. If such expertise existed, then why are large parts of the GB railway network operated by foreign companies, such as Deutsche Bahn, MTR (Hong Kong), and SNCF? And why is virtually all new passenger rolling stock imported?

Written by beleben

April 11, 2017 at 10:54 am

Obfuscation of HS2 demand forecasts is not in the public interest

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In 2010 there were around 60,000 Virgin Trains West Coast ‘long distance’ passenger journeys each day on the section of the line south of Rugby, according to the April 2012 HS2 Demand and Appraisal report. There were only around 5,000 VTWC journeys to and from Liverpool, and 10,000 from Manchester.

HS2 London West Midlands MVA demand and appraisal report, April 2012, figure 3.3, extract

Assuming 18 VTWC trains each day into Liverpool and 47 into Manchester, would suggest an average year-2010 trainload of around 139 (Liverpool) and 107 (Manchester)

But HS2

  • is “expected to carry over 300,000 people every day” – with ~250,000 of those journeys involving the trunk between Birmingham interchange (Bickenhill) and London
  • ‘would – in the year 2036 – attract
    • two thirds of passengers who would otherwise travel on the West Coast Main Line,
    • one third of those who would otherwise travel on the Midland Main Line, and
    • half of those who would otherwise use the East Coast Main Line.’

How these forecasts were arrived at, has never been explained, and the figures look dubious. It cannot be in the public interest for HS2 Ltd to refuse to provide details about current and forecast travel demand.

Written by beleben

April 6, 2017 at 11:11 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Stand down or be kicked off

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Not the CH2M logo

CH2M chief executive Jacqueline Hinman has written to HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins to “formally advise him of their withdrawal of interest” in the Phase 2b development partner contract, the Daily Mirror reported today.

According to the Financial Times (28 March), CH2M had been told “that they either stand down or they will be kicked off. It is going to happen this week.”

[‘HS2 engineering firm pulls out a month after being handed £170m deal’, Daily Mirror, 29 March]

Lib Dem transport spokesperson Jenny Randerson said: “The Government have made a clear error by not undertaking a thorough or proper process.
[…]
“Liberal Democrats have been calling for greater transparency in terms of how much the project is going to cost. We also need to know who will be carrying it out – the government have serious questions to answer about how this all happened. It is total chaos.”

Written by beleben

March 29, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Yesterday’s solutions and today’s fantasies

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The tram, the bus, park and ride – these are all potentially yesterday’s solutions to yesterday’s opportunities. City and business leaders today should be thinking about the world in 20 years’ time, when the HS2 network is completed, according to KPMG’s Richard Threlfall.

'Northern strategy must embrace the future', Richard Threlfall, KPMG

‘Northern strategy must embrace the future’, KPMG, December 2016

[Richard Threlfall, 16 December 2016]

High speed rail will conquer the inter-urban market, potentially obliterating domestic aviation. Autonomous vehicles will provide the connections into that network, from the smallest rural hamlet, the remote suburb, or the city-centre transport interchange.

[…] By the end of [2017] Transport for the North should have brought forward a strategy for HS3, which I hope will distinguish the creation of a new high speed inter-city network for the Northern Powerhouse from the upgrading of lines to strengthen commuter flows. I would like to see a dedicated city centre to city centre network, tunneled where necessary, and using a next generation technology such as that being developed by Hyperloop in the US.

But according to global VP of business development at Hyperloop One, Alan James – who previously headed the UK Ultraspeed maglev effort –  hyperloop ‘would be a cheaper and faster alternative to HS2’.

[London to Manchester in 18 minutes? The Hyperloop may be heading to the UK, Oliver Franklin-Wallis, Wired,  5 September 2016]

Hyperloop One told WIRED it has held conversations with the government and private companies about potential UK routes and “there’s been quite a strong response” from the government. UK government representatives also attended Hyperloop One’s much-publicised propulsion test in Nevada, in May 2016.

'An Italian rapper, a hangman's noose and a $250m lawsuit: the chaotic race to build Elon Musk's hyperloop', Wired, 6 Oct 2016

Written by beleben

March 20, 2017 at 10:31 am

HS3 and the new uneconomics

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‘Unlike the Tories, the Labour party is committed to delivering the west – east rail link connecting the great cities of the north’.

'Unlike the Tories, Labour is committed to delivering the west - east rail link'

‘Unlike the Tories, Labour is committed to delivering the west – east rail link’

But what exactly is Labour’s “west – east rail link”? Is it ‘HS3’?

RMT union leader Mick Cash likened HS3 to a costly vanity project

RMT union leader Mick Cash likened HS3 to a costly vanity project

Written by beleben

February 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Posted in High speed rail