die belebende Bedenkung

Archive for the ‘HS2’ Category

Reluctance to state

leave a comment »

Compared to conventional rail, high speed rail has lower capacity

What it says on the board

August 15’s blogpost on high speed line capacity was described as a “highly personal attack” on consultant William Barter (by Mr Barter).

twitter, @busandtrainpage

In a response posted on Twitter, Mr Barter stated that he was arguing that ‘conventional rail does not have a capacity advantage over high speed rail, not that high speed rail does have a capacity advantage over conventional rail’.

Bombardier high speed rail capacity evaluation report, 2011, Figure 3

But there seemed to be a strange reluctance to state whether or not high speed, on plain line sections, meant lower line capacity (the implication of ‘Figure 3’ in Bombardier’s 2011 report).

twitter, WilliamBarter1, status_898204008338292737_response

@williambarter1, twitter, 'minstel singing'

Written by beleben

August 22, 2017 at 9:05 am

Posted in HS2, Transport

Recommendations without evidence

leave a comment »

Research from Transform Scotland and supported by Virgin Trains shows that a ‘shift from air to rail has cut carbon in the Scotland – London travel market’.

'Green Journey to Growth', Transform Scotland, page 1

'Green Journey to Growth', Transform Scotland, page 2

'Green Journey to Growth', Transform Scotland, page 3

'Green Journey to Growth', Transform Scotland, page 4

'Green Journey to Growth', Transform Scotland, page 5

'Green Journey to Growth', Transform Scotland, page 7

'Green Journey to Growth', Transform Scotland, page 8

Since the emissions arising from travel between London and Scotland’s central belt are a vanishingly small proportion of the UK total, one might wonder how important these ‘findings’ were.

That is, if the report actually bothered to explain how any of its conclusions and ‘recommendations’ were arrived at.

But there is no way of checking the figures, and no information on the number of flights in 2005 and 2015, or the types of aircraft used, or the total train energy kWh for a London – Glasgow journey, etc.

Written by beleben

August 21, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Will high scam

with 6 comments

twitter_WilliamBarter1, 'Conventional rail might match the capacity of a high speed line with rigid separation'

With [1] “rigid segregation” (?) conventional rail might match the capacity of a high speed line, according to HS2 ‘evangelist’ William Barter. But [2] it would cost nearly as much, and only provide [3] a fraction of the benefits.

But where is the evidence for statements [1], [2] and [3]?

Où? Wo? ¿Dónde?

Bombardier capacity evaluation for HS2 Ltd, 2011, 'Figure 3'

Consider claim [1]. According to Bombardier, the line capacity of high speed rail is lower, not higher, than conventional speed rail.

Mr Barter’s response to the Bombardier diagram was to pretty much ignore its whole point, and claim that headway on plain line rarely, if ever, presents the binding constraint on rail capacity.

@williambarter1, twitter, 'Headway on plain line rarely, if ever, presents the binding constraint on rail capacity'

But high speed trains don’t travel into or out of terminals at ‘high speed’, and can’t change tracks at high speed (turnouts are limited to circa 230 km/h). So where could Mr Barter’s capacity advantage come from?

The answer is, there is no capacity advantage. As the Bombardier diagram shows, there is a capacity disadvantage, which comes from running at very high speed, on plain line.

Written by beleben

August 15, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Congestion or bust

with one comment

£4.4 billion has been “secured” by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to improve connections to HS2. The high speed line “will put even more pressure on the road network” according to West Midlands mayor Andy Street, but he has a plan to “bust” congestion., 'Mayor launches action plan to tackle traffic congestion'

Part of that plan appears to involve the appointment from next month of Anne Shaw as WMCA ‘director of network resilience’. Currently Birmingham city council’s assistant director for transportation and connectivity, Ms Shaw “has 26 years’ experience working closely with many of the partners and stakeholders involved in the region’s transport”.

The press release reads as if current and past measures to tackle congestion have not worked, because of a “lack of coordination”. Which would tend to suggest that previous years of “working closely with partners and stakeholders”, have not worked.

Of how the effectiveness of the congestion busting action plan would be monitored or measured, there is no clue.

Written by beleben

August 4, 2017 at 9:35 am

Posted in HS2, Planning, Politics

On the back of a funding envelope

leave a comment »

Letter from Lord Berkeley to transport secretary Chris Grayling, 31 July 2017, page 01

Letter from Lord Berkeley to transport secretary Chris Grayling, 31 July 2017, page 01

Letter from Lord Berkeley to transport secretary Chris Grayling, 31 July 2017, page 02

'HS2 is on time and on budget' (via @johnsensible)

Written by beleben

August 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

What is the HS2 Wider Programme?

with 4 comments

Chris Grayling has been accused of “hiding” details of the budgets and timescales for HS2 from an official document amid rising concerns about the cost of the project (reported

[Chris Grayling accused of ‘hiding’ details of HS2 budgets, Dean Kirby, The i News, 28 July 2017]

The 196-page Development Agreement between the Transport Secretary and HS2 Ltd drawn up in 2014 and updated earlier this month sets out how the project will be managed and delivered. But key pages in the document including the “baseline delivery schedule” and the “cost model” for the first phase of the scheme have been redacted, along with an annex of “budget envelopes” and “target prices”. Even the definition of the term “budget envelope” has also been redacted.

HS2 Development Agreement July 2017, 'Core and Wider programmes'

The July 2017 Agreement states that the HS2 ‘Core Programme‘ means “the High Speed 2 project (comprised of Phase One, Phase 2a and Phase 2b) for the design, procurement, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance of a new Railway, and includes all the work and functions to be carried out by HS2 Ltd in accordance with this Agreement, and any reference to the ‘Core Programme’ includes a reference to a part thereof. The Core Programme will deliver the benefits set out in the Business Case.”

But it states that “the SoS has initiated a wider programme (the ‘Wider Programme‘) to ensure that HS2 Ltd helps to deliver the government’s objectives for growth and regeneration. The Wider Programme will deliver benefits beyond those set out in the Business Case.”

The official £55.7 billion cost of HS2 refers to the Core Programme, but the costs of the Wider Programme – whatever that is – do not appear to have any numbers attached.

In the view of the Beleben blog, the cost of the so-called Core Programme looks likely to exceed £55.7 billion, for a number of reasons, with Mr Grayling’s penchant for ‘financialisation’ having the potential to add billions to the expenditure.

Coming clean about the cost, before substantive construction has commenced, might well lead to public and political pressure to cancel the entire project. It seems likely that the disclosure policy for cost escalations would be to ‘drip-feed’, and defer for as long as possible.

Financialisation can add billions to public expenditure

Financialisation, for example private-finance-initiative schemes, can add billions to public expenditure

Written by beleben

July 31, 2017 at 9:54 am

Posted in HS2, Politics

People in orange

leave a comment »

The UK’s “full-to-capacity railway infrastructure” is a problem that “we cannot build our way out of – we have to innovate our way out of”, according to Network Rail Digital Railway group managing director David Waboso (quoted by

[‘Our systems are at capacity; we cannot build our way out – we must innovate’ – Digital Railway chief, Sam Trendall,, 20 July 2017]

[…] “A lot of our systems are at capacity. We cannot speed more trains through Manchester, London, or Leeds,” Waboso said. “We cannot build our way out of this – and HS2 or a Crossrail are once-in-a-generation projects.

“We need to innovate our way out of it.”
“We have an army of people in orange crawling over the infrastructure,” he added. “We have to really challenge ourselves – is that really necessary?”


On a visit to Manchester last week, transport secretary Chris Grayling said the railway between Leeds and Manchester is ‘unlikely to be fully electrified’, and he was ‘reviewing a plan to build two platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station to cope with extra trains‘.

[Leeds to Manchester railway unlikely to be fully electrified, says Chris Grayling, Andy Bounds, FT, 21 July 2017]

Rail improvements the government has previously deemed vital to its Northern Powerhouse plan to tackle the north-south divide may not go ahead, the transport secretary said on Friday.
He said that instead trains that could switch between electric and diesel power, called bi-mode locomotives, were likely to operate on the Leeds to Manchester route.
Mr Grayling said he had ordered Network Rail, owner of the rail infrastructure, to review plans to build two platforms as part of a £600m “Northern Hub” plan that includes connecting Victoria and Piccadilly stations in Manchester.
Mr Grayling said: “I want them [Network Rail] to see if it is question of additional platforms or whether they can do something with digital technology that actually increases capacity.”

Whether ‘Northern Hub Two Extra Platforms’ or ‘Digital Railway’ are a real solution to the conflicting movements and flat junctions in Manchester, is questionable. The definitive solution would probably entail a Leipzig-style underground connection between Victoria and Piccadilly (in other words, a 21st century version of the 1970s Picc-Vic scheme), but no Northern politicians seem to be interested.

Written by beleben

July 25, 2017 at 10:23 am

Posted in HS2, Politics, Railways