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HS1 and Kentish tourism

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The economic impact that High Speed 1 has had on Kent’s tourism economy ‘has been revealed for the first time in a report independently produced by Visit Kent and tourism economists Destination Research Ltd’.

HS1 website with Kentish tourism story, on 20 Sep 2017

But what role did HS1 Ltd play in commissioning and funding the ‘tourism impact study’? And how plausible are its findings?

[‘HS1 adds £72 million to Kent economy in 2016 as leisure journeys increase nine-fold’, HS1 Ltd news, 15 Sep 2017]

[…] Almost three quarters (73%) of tourism businesses in Kent believe that leisure tourism in the county has increased as a result of HS1. Over half (54%) believe that HS1 has specifically benefitted their own business. 94% of these tourism businesses said that they had benefited because of HS1’s high speed connections, with 80% saying that HS1 has helped attract visitors from further afield.

Almost a third (30%) of tourists said they were influenced in their decision to visit Kent by the presence of the HS1 service. Almost half (47%) of all visitors to Kent who travelled by rail did so via the HS1 service.

Interviews for the study seem to have been mainly conducted in places served by HS1 trains, rather than across Kent as a whole. Another oddity is the distribution of interviews in particular locations.

HS1 tourism impact study 2017, interviewees, extract

All in all, the report’s plausibility looks suspect. It is difficult to make sense of the claim that “only a proportion of journeys made on HS1 infrastructure were on HS1 trains, and not on regular (or classic) rail stock”. Because the only passenger trains using ‘HS1 infrastructure’ are (a) Eurostar (which mostly don’t stop in Kent), and (b) ‘Javelin’.  No classic passenger trains circulate on HS1.



Written by beleben

September 20, 2017 at 8:00 am

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

Going loco for Toto at lo-lo

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HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins has a ‘vision’ of people travelling to a new city around Toton parkway, at budget airline-style ‘lo-lo’ prices.

[‘Next arrival on the HS2 line: a brand new city’, Mark Hookham, The Sunday Times, 12 Feb 2017]

“Check every Eurostar — it’s always packed. You know why Eurostar is packed? It’s because it’s run on a Ryanair/ easyJet model,” he said.

However, the vision is not shared by Toton’s MP, Anna Soubry.

Anna Soubry MP described David Higgin's Toton 'vision' as irresponsible nonsense

Anna Soubry MP described David Higgin’s Toton ‘vision’ as irresponsible nonsense

Is Eurostar always “packed”?

And is it run anything like a low-cost airline?

The Eurostar service depends on billions of pounds of dedicated high-cost infrastructure (i.e. HS1, the Channel Tunnel, and LGV Nord), which means that commercial ‘low-cost’ operation is not possible.

Although Eurostar managed to take a large part of the Paris and Brussels travel market from airlines, that was only possible because of public subsidies running into billions of pounds.

Eurostar's £2 billion losses reported in the Daily Express, 2010

Eurostar had to be bailed out by the British government

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Mr Higgins predicted that a new city coud be built around the Toton HS2 station.

[‘Next arrival on the HS2 line: a brand new city’, The Sunday Times]

[David Higgins:] “You’ve got two big cities either side of it [Toton HS2]. You’ve got a big university within a very short distance. It will be well under an hour to both London and Leeds. So this is a city.”

Were HS2 to offer travel to ‘a new city’ at Toton at ‘lo-lo prices’ – assuming space for a city could be found – there would be a need for enormous subsidies, to cover HS2’s high fixed infrastructure costs.

Written by beleben

February 13, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Posted in HS1, HS2, Politics

Eurostar, terrorism, and Brexit

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Cross-channel train operator Eurostar is looking to reduce headcount as it struggles with weak demand on its services in the wake of deadly terrorist attacks in France and Belgium.

[Eurostar aims to cut 80 jobs as traffic suffers after attacks, Reuters, 18 Oct 2016]

The company could not confirm British media reports saying Eurostar would cut two daily trains to Paris and one to Brussels when it unveils its 2017 timetables in December, the spokeswoman said.

“Nothing has been finalised yet,” she said. “We’re looking at all the different options.”

“But we are offering voluntary redundancies, that’s true. We are looking at cutting 80 jobs this year,” she added.

Eurostar introduced new, bigger trains last year, with more seats, which means the reduced number of services may not have an impact on the total seat capacity between London and the continent, British newspaper the Independent said last week.

In July, the train operator, majority-owned by France’s SNCF, reported a 3 percent drop in passenger numbers in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, while revenue fell 10 percent.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has also taken its toll, Eurostar has said.

On 13 May 2009 the European Commission approved £5.169 billion of “one-time” UK state aid ‘for the high-speed rail link service between London and the Channel as well as the restructuring of Eurostar’. Despite that massive bailout, and the ‘restructuring’ of track access charges, there must be increased doubts about whether Eurostar, in its present form, is what accountants call ‘a going concern’.

In a 2012 court case, it was admitted that 'Eurostar International Ltd was loss-making for more or less all of its existence'

Written by beleben

October 18, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2

Still feel good

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The Treasury would probably like you to believe that the government’s sale of Eurostar last year was a marvellous result for the taxpayer, wrote James Moore.

[The Government needs to work on its sums when selling off state assets, James Moore, The Independent, 20 January 2016]

[…] Last March it agreed to offload the state’s 40 per cent stake for £585m. A further £172m was brought in through the redemption of preference shares, netting £757m for the cash-strapped Exchequer.

But here’s the first problem: the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) believes that sum represents only a fraction of the taxpayer’s investment in the business and the high-speed rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel (known as HS1). The National Audit Office says UK taxpayers have spent £3bn on these services.

[…] That could only be considered a good return by people who’d put money into the banking industry before the financial crisis struck. Still feel good about the forthcoming high-speed rail link between London, Birmingham and the North (HS2)?

Written by beleben

January 20, 2016 at 11:37 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2

Javelins between Eurostars

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In a Rail Engineer article, HS2 Ltd’s Andrew McNaughton explained how the Channel Tunnel Rail Link’s operating model depended on inefficient capacity utilisation.

[HS2 – The story so far, Nigel Wordsworth, The Rail Engineer, 9 Nov 2015]

[AMcN:] “You can smuggle Javelins between Eurostars because there aren’t many Eurostars, there are big gaps in the service and it’s a very short distance,” explained Andrew. “You’ve only got from Ebbsfleet to Ashford that they have to get along where they’re going slower than Eurostars. The route out to Ebbsfleet is only 230km/h so they’re basically running at the same speed as the Eurostars out through the London tunnels. The faster bit of the route is only between Ebbsfleet and Ashford.”

Unexplained comment deletions on

Unexplained comment deletions on The Rail Engineer story ‘HS2 the story so far’

Written by beleben

November 10, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Posted in HS1, HS2

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What were the objectives of HS1?

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In 2012 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee criticised the Department for Transport’s failure to evaluate the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (High Speed 1). Last week, the ‘First interim evaluation’ of the railway was finally published on the Department’s website (Atkins main report | Atkins appendices | Oxera peer review).

[Atkins HS1 First interim evaluation (extract), published on 15 October 2015]

[…] HS1 is a large and complex investment in transport infrastructure so careful specification of what was being evaluated and the counterfactual with which it should be compared was an essential first step in this evaluation. […]

The HS1 Scheme was defined to include:

* A new 109km high speed line connecting St Pancras International in London to the Channel Tunnel at Ashford in Kent (Section 1 opened September 2003; Section 2 opened November 2007);

* New / improved high quality station environments at St Pancras, Stratford, Ebbsfleet, and Ashford, with additional parking and retail provision;

* Re-routing of Eurostar services to the Continent via the new high speed line, instead of utilising existing routes from Waterloo to the Channel Tunnel. This includes an additional stop at Ebbsfleet; and relocation of the international London Eurostar terminus from Waterloo to St Pancras;

* Domestic high speed trains (Class 395) and high speed services to North and East Kent, with associated premium fares;

* A major revision of the Southeastern timetable (December 2009) relating to the classic network (Mainline and Metro Services), and increased fares across the Southeastern network; and

* New high speed rail freight capacity between London and North and South Kent.

As the main aim of this evaluation was to measure the value for money of the investment in HS1 the counterfactual was defined as a hypothetical scenario where no alternative investment to HS1 was made to deliver the objectives for the scheme. This counterfactual was developed for the purposes of this evaluation, and does not necessarily correspond to the counterfactual as understood when the decision to invest in High Speed 1 was made. It has been applied consistently to the assessment of Transport User Benefits, Wider Economic Impacts and Regeneration Benefits. This could be considered an unrealistic assumption; however it was adopted to ensure that the evaluation included the full costs and benefits of HS1. If the assumption had been made that some “do minimum” type investment would have been made in rail capacity along the corridor served by HS1 then the costs taken into account would have been reduced by the cost of this alternative investment, and the benefits taken into account would have been reduced by the benefit of this hypothetical alternative to HS1.

But what exactly were “the objectives for the scheme”? The report doesn’t appear to say. The objectives, such as they were, seem to have been formed after the decision to build had been taken.

Atkins HS1 October 2015 evaluation report: 'The comparison of estimated monetary values of the costs and benefits of the scheme over the appraisal period provides a central case BCR of less than 1'

Atkins HS1 October 2015 evaluation report: ‘The comparison of estimated monetary values of the costs and benefits of the scheme over the appraisal period provides a central case BCR of less than 1’

What the report does say, is that the HS1 project has a computed ‘central case’ net present value of minus £5.9 billion, with ‘wider impacts’ excluded. Including WEI, the computed NPV is -£4.57 billion.

Written by beleben

October 18, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2

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