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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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The case for Midland Main Line electrification

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At the time of writing, Network Rail’s website states that, by 2020, the Midland Main Line will be electrified [from Bedford to Sheffield and Corby] and [its] rail bottlenecks removed, improving capacity.

www_networkrail_co_uk_midland-main-line-improvement-programme, viewed June 2015

Network Rail’s information on the Midland Main Line improvement programme, viewed June 2015

According to Network Rail, the benefits of electrification are:

[Network Rail]

More capacity for passenger and freight traffic to keep pace with the growing demand for rail.

Improved reliability and performance as we modernise the route using state-of-the-art technology.

Longer, faster and quieter trains and quicker journeys.

Environmentally friendly – greener trains mean the carbon footprint is reduced by up to 11,000 tonnes, equivalent to annual greenhouse gas emissions from 1,828 passenger vehicles.

Stimulating and supporting economic growth as we connect the region’s biggest economies.

However, as with the Great Western, there is very little quantitative information available about Midland electrification, and it does not seem to have been thought through properly. The scheme does not include the Dudding Hill route, the Erewash Valley line, or north of Sheffield, so the freight benefits look minimal.

Currently, there is very little passenger traffic north of Bedford. And in the future, the government’s ‘intention’ is that most or all long distance passengers between London, the East Midlands, and South Yorkshire would be carried by the HS2 Y network. For face-saving reasons, as with HS1, a future government would probably bankroll operation of HS2, with guaranteed long-term subsidies for the operator.

Electrification of the Midland would only make sense, if much more intensive use could be made of the line. Unfortunately, there is no sign of any strategy to allow that to happen. Apart from HS2, one of the biggest obstacles to efficient use of the Midland, is the botched redevelopment of London’s St Pancras terminus. Just four platforms are now available for MML intercity trains there, and there is no obvious way of adding more.

Written by beleben

June 24, 2015 at 9:15 am

Posted in HS1, HS2, Railways

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The perfect curve from ticketing to toilets

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Good design? The DRMM website homepage, 24 Mar 2015

Sadie Morgan, of dRMM de Rijke Marsh Morgan Architects, has been appointed ‘chair’ of the HS2 Design Panel.

[Sadie Morgan to chair HS2 Design Panel, Enda Mullen, Birmingham Post online, 24 March 2015]

[…] She said: “The fact I am an architect gives me a good oversight – because this role is all-encompassing, from ticketing to toilets.

[…] Ms Morgan’s appointment coincides with the publication of HS2’s Design Vision document, which aims to provide a framework going forward to engineering, architectural and design teams.

[…] “We have to make sure everything works intuitively and well for everyone and all elements are fit for purpose but sensitive to context.

“The overriding feature is what good design looks like.

What good design looks like, seems to depend on who is doing the looking. HS2’s Head of Architecture, Laura Kidd, has some strange ideas on the topic. She was involved with the design of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1), which resulted in ‘Tesco value viaducts’, and carbuncles such as Stratford International station.

What good design looks like? HS1 Stratford International railway station

What good design looks like? HS1 Stratford International railway station

Siobhan Sharpe of Perfect Curve

Written by beleben

March 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Posted in HS1, HS2

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To Pendolino, and back

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In 2012, HS2 chief engineer Prof Andrew McNaughton explained to a trade magazine how his new railway would allow the existing West Coast tracks to run a much better commuter service.

[Andrew McNaughton, quoted in The Engineer, 28 May 2012]

‘If you stand on Milton Keynes platform during morning peak [now], you’ll see lots of Pendolino trains but they don’t stop; they’re all full of people going to Manchester. In 2025, when HS2 opens, they’re gone. Trains will stop at Milton Keynes every 10 minutes.’

And on 11 February 2015, he offered a few comments at the High Speed Rail Bill Committee.

[Andrew McNaughton at the High Speed Rail Bill Committee, 11 Feb]

When HS2 is in operation, then the long distance services, the HS2 Services, run off their platforms, there will be less of the [Euston] classic platforms left. But, they are now being used for these new services, which don’t take so long to turn around. A train from Glasgow spends 40 minutes being cleaned, victualled, watered, before it disappears off north again. So, it uses a platform for a very long time. A commuter train from Milton Keynes comes in, decants everybody, puts more people on, disappears off in five or six minutes. So, the mix of train services does affect the number of platforms you need, as well.

Andrew McNaughton, 'released capacity', Feb 2015

But the Professor’s presentation did not show Fast-commuter trains starting from Milton Keynes, and running into London; it showed them starting at places like Birmingham and Glasgow, and calling at Milton Keynes, en route. Because travel-to-London demand from points north of Milton Keynes is much lower, that service pattern is unlikely to be very efficient. A more cost-effective approach would be to run pure commuter services, perhaps by connecting Milton Keynes into the Midland Main Line.

HS2 Ltd want classic services to occupy less Euston platform space by replacing current long distance trains with pseudo-commuter ones serving the ‘long-distance’ market, running beyond the normal commuter threshold (Northants). Are Class 350 trains really suitable for journeys of 300 km or more?

DfT explanation of Euston fast and relief lines capacity pre-and-post-HS2, 2014

In a further bizarre twist, the Department for Transport seem to want some commuter services to switch from Desiro to Pendolino, and then back again [see table above].

Written by beleben

March 19, 2015 at 11:49 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS1

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On track to dissemble

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Need to carry more passengers between London and Manchester? Make the platforms longer, or build new platforms and connect them into the existing lines

Need to carry more passengers between London and Manchester? Why not just make the platforms longer at intermediate stations served by intercity trains. In London and Manchester, build new platforms, and connect them into the existing lines – saving tens of billions

Much of the content in the Department for Transport’s latest attempt to justify the HS2 railway, On Track (March 2015), seems to be aimed at obscuring the key issues.

‘HS1 has attracted over £10 billion of private sector investment around station sites.’

Is that true? How much development has there been in Ashford, Ebbsfleet and Stratford, as a result of HS1?

The post-Olympic regeneration underperformance around Stratford led Mayor Boris Johnson to alter the TfL travel zone boundary, to try to boost business interest.

And most of the development at Kings Cross cannot be attributed to HS1; as in other parts of central London, the land would have been redeveloped anyway.

‘Yet it is still quicker to travel from London to the continent than it is to travel from London to Manchester or from Birmingham to Leeds.’

Given that Lille is nearer to London than is Manchester, it might not be too surprising to find that the rail journey takes less time.

But in fact, it doesn’t take less time overall, because most people travelling to Lille have to present themselves at St Pancras at least 30 minutes before the train leaves. Even the expense-account contingent have to be there 10 minutes before. And the Manchester service is much more frequent, further reducing the at-station element of the journey.

‘For example, on the London Midland network we recently invested in 10 additional four-car trains, upgraded the existing fleet to be capable of 110mph running and lengthened peak trains from 8 to 12 carriages where possible.’

The London Midland services still waste capacity, because of their lower top speed (compared to the intercity Pendolinos). And in the peak, most of them are not 12 carriages long.

December 2014: only a third of London Midland Euston weekday evening peak departures were 'full length' (12 carriages)

December 2014: only a third of London Midland Euston weekday evening peak departures were ‘full length’ (12 carriages)

‘Yet despite a £9 billion upgrade completed less than a decade ago, parts of the [West Coast] line are effectively full in terms of trains, and many are full to overflowing at the busiest times of day.’

The latest available statistics suggest most of the trains aren’t full in the peak hours. And there was no £9 billion upgrade.

Written by beleben

March 13, 2015 at 11:22 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2

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Some sort of advantage

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For passengers, bus priority measures such as bus-only lanes are a godsend, making it much easier for bus companies to provide quick and reliable journeys. It makes sense that bus passengers should enjoy some sort of advantage over motorists, wrote Gavin Booth, director of Bus Users Scotland.

[Getting rid of bus lanes isn’t the answer to traffic congestion, Citymetric, January 28, 2015]

But not everybody agrees. Liverpool City Council recently abandoned all but four of its 26 bus lanes; and other UK cities are reported to be considering following Liverpool’s lead. In Belfast, ex-mayors have queued up to show support for a change in the system after reports of traffic bottlenecks and bus lanes lying empty.

Yet removing bus lanes entirely could be a recipe for disaster. “Freeing” important corridors for all traffic will only entice more cars into already congested town and city centres, which will adversely affect the environment and character of these places. A modern double-deck bus offers more than 70 seats, in a vehicle with a footprint little larger than three or four cars – cars that, at peak times, often only have a single occupant. It makes sense that the bus passengers should enjoy some sort of advantage.

Does it make sense? In a first-world metropolis with limited road space and sharply peaked travel flows, a certain amount of traffic congestion is virtually inevitable. Mr Booth has made the common errors of comparing full-occupancy buses against ‘single occupancy’ cars, and assuming that the relevant footprint is the roadspace occupied by (i.e. beneath) each vehicle.

For cars and buses, the relevant metrics are the actual (observed) occupancies, and the total roadspace attributable to each traveller. The average occupancy of a bus in Britain is 9 passengers. In many cases, the per capita roadspace used by bus-lane travellers is far higher than that of car users in other lanes. In Birmingham, the former Tyburn Road bus lane was a good example of the problem. It increased both aggregate journey times and automotive pollution.

The same considerations also apply to rail systems, such as the HS2 scheme. Although a full length HS2 train could carry 1,100 people in its 400-metre length, its per-capita dynamic land occupation would be ~120 square metres, so not much different to motorists on a highway.

Written by beleben

February 4, 2015 at 12:58 pm

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More muddle and contradiction

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On 13 January 2015, HS2 Ltd chief David Higgins told the Lords Economic Affairs Committee [video, 15:47:30] that he “did not believe” that cutting the HS2 design operating speed by 50 km/h would save a “huge amount of money”, and dismissed the idea that that such a reduction would reduce costs by “9 per cent”.

But according to his own HS2 Plus (March 2014) report, HS2 is estimated to cost ‘15% more than HS1’, because of its ‘higher capability’. That differential must be largely speed-driven, because HS1 is already signalled for 20 trains per hour. The maximum capacity of a full-length HS2 and HS1 train should be the same (the new Class 374 Eurostar trains seat about 900 passengers).

David Higgins 'HS2 Plus' report: 'HS2 15% more expensive than HS1' because of its 'higher capability'

In his appearance before the Committee, Mr Higgins also implied that Eurostar trains could travel faster on the French side of the Channel. But so far as can be ascertained, the maximum linespeed in the Nord Pas de Calais is the same as in Kent.

Written by beleben

February 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Posted in HS1, HS2

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The trick they got

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Pages 16 and 17 of the December 2014 issue of Railnews were given over to a feature celebrating twenty years of Eurostar, the cross-Channel passenger rail service.

'Railnews', Dec 2014, 20 years of Eurostar (extract)

The feature claimed that Eurostar chairman Guillaume Pepy had said the Channel Tunnel traffic forecasts had been talked up in order to gain political support for the project. (Although the tunnel itself was funded by private investors, the government ended up putting several billion pounds into railfreight facilities, Eurostar, and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.)

Written by beleben

December 9, 2014 at 11:30 am

Posted in HS1, HS2, Politics

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Jo, Christine and Neil

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Against wind, for hot airChristine Emmett, Neil Masom and Baroness Jo Valentine have been appointed non-executive directors of HS2 Ltd by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, the company announced.

[HS2 Ltd, 20 October 2014]

Commenting, HS2 Ltd Chairman David Higgins said:

“Delivering HS2 will be as complex as it will be significant for the country. We therefore need Board Members who understand the technical, financial and community issues that will confront us. Jo, Christine and Neil, working with the existing Members of the Board, will bring the cumulative experience we need for the massive task we face. I am delighted to welcome them to the Board.”

Neil Masom said: “I am extremely pleased to have been invited by the Secretary of State to join HS2’s board. It is an extremely exciting project that has huge potential to act as a catalyst to boost British industry and create new economic opportunities. Coming from north west England I think High Speed Two’s arrival is a fantastic opportunity for the region.”

Christine Emmett said: “Having worked at British Rail and been involved with the Channel Tunnel project much of my working life has been rail-focused, so naturally I am greatly looking forward to joining HS2. It is a fantastic project that carries Britain’s railways into the 21st century with confidence and optimism.”

Baroness Jo Valentine said: “HS2 is a hugely important and exciting project that holds out the prospect of recasting the economic geography of Britain. I am delighted to take up this new position on HS2 Ltd’s Board as we work towards securing its full potential for the country.”

On her website, Ms Emmett trumpets her involvement with the disastrous pseudo-privatisation of British Rail, and the equally lamentable Channel Tunnel project.

[Christine Emmett website]

Christine has had extensive experience advising on major infrastructure, new hospitals and transport. She was responsible for expenditure of £450 million on the Channel Tunnel project and was Commercial Director for the British Rail privatisation unit. She has been a Non Executive Director of 2 large health trusts. She started her career as a buyer with Marks and Spencer.

As a county councillor she has the Health portfolio and is chair of the Health and Well Being Board. Christine stood in the recent parliamentary by-election at Corby and East Northamptonshire.

‘My political priorities include:

Tackling rural poverty
Protecting our green belt
Creating a sound economy, with low tax and individual business freedom
Renegotiation of the EU relationship
Equipping the military to the highest standards
Maximising education opportunities
Managing immigration
Investing in infrastructure
Sentencing that does what it says’

“Christine has great experience of business, in the public and private sector and how this relates to government. She is a gifted communicator and has an appealing character. We should jump at the chance to have such a high quality experienced individual… I recommend her without reservation.”

Rt. Hon William Hague MP First Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Christine’s previous political achievements include:

Parliamentary candidate in the 2012 Corby by-election
Working with No 10 and the Cabinet Office on increasing awareness of public appointments
Member of William Hague’s Northern Transport Commission
Board member of Conservative Cooperative movement
Recruited over 100 members to a business club
Advised Chris Grayling and John Redwood on economy and transport
Successful campaigner across the country

Baroness Valentine’s London First is one of the big-business special interest outfits lobbying for the hugely flawed Crossrail 2, and against re-allocating roadspace to London cyclists.

Chris Heaton-Harris (‏@chhcalling): Disappointed with HS2 announcement. Simply don't believe Govt/Dept of Transport can deliver value for money on such big contracts.

Written by beleben

October 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Posted in HS1, HS2, Politics

Reckless belief in HS2

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Ukip‘s 2010 manifesto, described as drivel by party leader Nigel Farage in January 2014, called for three high speed rail lines to be built across Britain. In September 2014, Ukip opened its conference in Doncaster with a pledge to scrap the HS2 project.

Following the defection of Mark Reckless from the Conservative party to Ukip, the Rochester and Strood by-election is set for 20 November, the Telegraph reported. In April 2014, while still a Conservative, Mr Reckless spoke approvingly of HS2, and a full monty HS2 – HS1 connection, in the House of Commons High Speed Rail bill debate.

Mr Reckless said he had “no answer from opponents of HS2 who claim that only London will benefit and the north will be harmed by cutting the journey time from Manchester to London from just over two hours to just over one hour. If they truly believe that, why don’t they campaign to double the minimum journey time to over four hours, or have a man walk in front of the trains with a red flag, to really get the economy going?”

Predicted growth of London population, in HS2 Ltd diagram

Written by beleben

October 14, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2

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