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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’.


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

Diminutive flows, enormous expenditure

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The use of generalised load factors on railways which serve multiple destinations ‘is not fit for purpose and doesn’t reflect the travel conditions that passengers actually experience’, according to page 13 of the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group report ‘Why Britain Needs HS2′.

But page 12 of the very same report includes a diagram, produced by Atkins in 2003, intended to support high speed rail. This shows Atkins’ forecast of the number of daily rail trips on north south routes in 2031 and, er, the generalised load factors.

HSRILG, Why HS2 report, July 2019, Figure 8

As for Atkins’ forecast of daily trips into Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, the volumes are, in essence, chicken feed.  This might explain the Labour party’s opposition to HS2, until Andrew Adonis got involved.

Written by beleben

July 15, 2019 at 11:45 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Over and above

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From a passenger crowding point of view, the additional capacity provided by HS2 on the West Coast Main Line appears to be over and above what is required to meet capacity pressures for several decades, according to the House of Commons Library HS2 briefing paper written by Andrew Haylen (20 June 2019).

'High Speed 2: the business case, costs and spending', 20 June 2019 (cover of)

[High Speed 2: the business case, costs and spending, House of Commons Library, June 20, 2019][…]

The analysis in the paper shows that much of the capacity constraints on the network, from a passenger crowding point of view, only occur during the peak periods of the day and on confined parts of the network. During most other periods of the day, trains are travelling at less than half of their capacity.
While the [Atkins] strategic alternatives to Phase 1 [“P1”] do not provide this same step-change, the increase will be enough to ensure that there is sufficient capacity on the network during the busiest periods of the day. They can also be delivered at a much lower cost, and in the case of the West Coast Main Line constraints, they can be addressed for between 20 and 25% of the cost of HS2.

Some have questioned whether it makes sense for such a surplus of capacity to be delivered on one part of the network when other sections remain capacity constrained, particularly the lateral connections in the North of England as observed by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

Mr Haylen notes ‘There is a great deal of ambiguity as to how much HS2 will cost’.

HS2, formal and derived cost estimates, House of Commons Library, 21 June 2019

[House of Commons Library, High Speed 2: the business case, costs and spending, Published Thursday, June 20, 2019][…]

A large part of this confusion lies in the fact that very few estimates of the costs have been published. A comprehensive breakdown of the costs for the full Y-network of HS2 has not been published since 2013.

Various estimates of costs get circulated in the public domain, most notably the £55.7 billion for the full Y-Network. It is important to note that this is not a cost estimate, but rather a funding envelope. The former is an estimate of how much needs to be spent, the latter relates to what is available to spend. There have only been three estimates published by DfT and HS2 Ltd for the cost of the full Y network and account for the infrastructure and rolling stock costs:

• The first estimates for the costs of HS2 were published in the February 2011 HS2 Economic Case. The Phase 1 costs were estimated to be £19.6 billion (2009 prices), with the full Y network estimated at £37.5 billion.

• For the January 2012 economic case update, the cost of the full Y-network HS2 was estimated at £40.8 billion (2011 prices).

• In 2013 the total cost of the cost of the full Y-network HS2 was estimated at £50.1 billion, 94 including £42.6 billion for construction and £7.5 billion for rolling stock (in 2011 prices).

The official HS2 cost estimates do not include the bill for Davenport Green (‘Manchester Airport’) station, upgrading the existing line north of Sheffield Midland (for Birmingham – Sheffield – Leeds HS2 trains), or redevelopment of Crewe station as a full HS2 hub, etc.

Written by beleben

June 24, 2019 at 9:09 am

Don’t touch that jar

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In a letter to New Civil Engineer magazine, former High Speed 2 technical director Andrew McNaughton has hit back at those calling for the speed of HS2 to be slashed, claiming that doing so would only have a “small effect” on cost, but would be a “major dis-benefit” to passengers.

[Ex-HS2 technical director ‘sets record straight’ on speed, Katherine Smale, NCE, 11 June, 2019]

Last February National Infrastructure Committee commissioner and economist Bridget Rosewell said “she had never understood why” the new high speed line was looking to run trains at 360km/h and the additional cost that incurred.

But in a letter to New Civil Engineer, McNaughton – who stepped down from the role last year after having held the post since the project’s inception – said that the current design speed had been meticulously calculated to provide the “best balance” between cost and passenger journey times.

Um, thanks for that bonkers ‘insight’, Prof. And very well done for making sure no-one is spending the ‘massive amount’ of ‘HS2 contingency’.

NCE, 'HS2 chief engineer rails against construction inefficiency' | 21 May, 2013 | By Alexandra Wynne

Written by beleben

June 12, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

More technical illiteracy from Midlands Connect

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In their response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs report ‘Rethinking HS2’, Midlands Connect claimed: “Speed is fundamental to increasing capacity. Slowing the new railway down will limit its capacity, ability to support faster and more efficient trains, and its attractiveness as an environmentally-friendly alternative to domestic air and car travel.”

Midlands Connect: 'Speed is fundamental to increasing capacity. Slowing the new railway down will limit its capacity, ability to support faster and more efficient trains, and its attractiveness as an environmentally-friendly alternative to domestic air and car travel. '

Obviously, Midlands Connect don’t understand the relationship between train speed, signalling, and capacity.

Bombardier, HS2 capacity evaluation, 2011, figure three

Yet they’re supposed to be in charge of developing the West Midlands rail network (!)

Written by beleben

May 16, 2019 at 4:04 pm

Doing any more

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'TfN has a Strategic plan?'Peter Hendy, Network Rail’s chairman and a board member of Transport for the North (TfN), credits TfN chair John Cridland as the “real hero” for turning ‘demands into a strategic plan’.

[The north is on track for a boom, says former London transport chief, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 8 May 2019]

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has said Crossrail 2 cannot move ahead before the one nailed-on infrastructure scheme for the next five years: the TransPennine upgrade, wholly northern, and, at nearly £3bn, the top project in Network Rail’s current funding round. Hendy denies it is a watered-down version of the promised rail work, despite the shelving of full electrification. The plans are as extensive as possible given the disruption further engineering work would spell for passengers, he says: “In five years, if we do any more we will destroy rail travel between Manchester and Leeds.”

“Do any more”, than what?

So far as can be ascertained, the ‘plan’ is to close the line east of Stalybridge for months on end, in order to, er, not gauge clear it, and not install electrification.

twitter, @tonyberkeley1, 'At an All party rail in the North meeting, Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, reminded the audience that the upgrade of the main transpennine route would involve complete closure for 39 weeks each year for 4 years. I wonder how many passengers have twigged this?'

Written by beleben

May 13, 2019 at 9:56 am

The state of things to come

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Kirkby station by Raymond Knapman, Creative Commons

twitter @WilliamBarter1, Northern rail investment like this, right now

Picture of Kirkby station by Raymond Knapman, Creative Commons, with impression of CAF diesel train instead of railbus

Borat, thumbs up

Written by beleben

May 8, 2019 at 10:53 am

What should happen to ‘HS2 college’?

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The failing National College for High Speed Rail is consulting on ditching its name, the Guardian reported on April 30.

[Engineering college for HS2 ditches ‘high speed’ from its name, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 30 Apr 2019]

When the government decided to fund an institution to lure engineering students to learn everything needed for HS2, it might have seemed a name with cachet. But 18 months since opening its doors and having struggled to attract entrants, the National College for High Speed Rail has decided to ditch the words “high-speed rail”.

With the second phase of the HS2 network yet to be confirmed, and Conservative leadership hopefuls discussing axing the entire scheme, the college has launched a consultation over a new name: the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure.

Board minutes from December [2018] said several members saw the name as a “limiting factor” for the college, which was set up across two campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster with help from various national and regional government bodies, including the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd.

The college was reported in October to have signed up just 96 students for the year, although it aims to be taking on 1,200 a year by 2022.

NCHSR, consultation on proposed name change

Surely the best course of action would be to wind up NCHSR, and divide its assets between established further education colleges in the Birmingham and South Yorkshire areas.

Written by beleben

May 2, 2019 at 8:37 am

We puff you longtime

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Transport for the North chief John Cridland admitted that there was ‘no guarantee’ that investing billions in transport infrastructure would benefit the north of England. But that was three years ago, and since then, Transport for the North have done ‘significant work’ – including with Friends of the Earth – according to PR man Robin Miller-Stott.

twitter, @rmillerstott, TfN have done 'work'

What exactly was this ‘work’? And how could it possibly prove that TfN’s stupid wishlist would actually benefit the north?

Surely its massive road-building programme, and ‘Northern powerhouse rail’, make TfN the ‘Enemies of the Earth’.

In essence, Northern powerhouse rail is about

  • enabling long-distance commuting, (e.g. between Leeds and Newcastle,)
  • for very small numbers of people,
  • at enormous cost.

Although TfN are refusing to provide any details of their proposed new-build high speed lines from Liverpool to HS2, and from Manchester to Leeds, it’s hard to see how they could be anything other than an environmental horror show. The greenhouse gas emissions involved in building mile after mile of Pennine tunnels to pointlessly replicate the (lightly-used) Calder Valley line, must be enormous.

On 22 March, the ‘Campaign for Better Transport’ published a laughable puff piece by Bridget Fox, called ‘How will Transport for the North’s bold vision impact the environment?’. But nowhere in the article, was that question answered.

Campaign for Better Transport, TfN puff piece, 22 Mar 2019

Shades of the ‘Right Lines Charter’, all over again.

Why is the Campaign for Better Transport sucking up to Transport for the North?

Written by beleben

April 25, 2019 at 8:54 am