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Archive for the ‘HS2’ Category

Don’t turn back on clanger

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In December 2015, the Beleben blog pointed out that the design of HS2 and its dead-end station in Manchester made the proposed railway entirely unsuited to improving Northern connectivity.

Beleben blog, Manchester Piccadilly HS2 dead end, 2015-12-01

Two and a half years later, Manchester politicians Andy Burnham and Richard Leese have discovered the Piccadilly ‘dead end’, but not the other shortcomings of HS2 and George Osborne’s “Northern powerhouse rail” (NPR). In July 2018, they launched the ‘No turning back’ campaign to get the government to pay for a ‘Tunnel Connector’ and subterranean station for NPR at Manchester Piccadilly.

According to the ‘No turning back’ campaign, this station would cost “£1.2 billion extra” and “double the output of Greater Manchester to around £132 billion by 2050″.

No turning back NPR 'pledge card'

Of course, since there is no route defined for a transpennine NPR line, there is no way Andy and Richard could have the foggiest idea of whether the extra cost of a subterranean NPR station would be £1.2 billion, £2.2 billion, or £3.3 billion. Their support for NPR shows they have fundamentally misunderstood the nature of railway investment needed in Greater Manchester and the north of England.


[The Government isn’t listening to the North | Its plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail do not meet the needs of the region, Andy Burnham, Sir Richard Leese, July 17 2018, The Times]

This summer is proving to be a hot but frustrating one for the millions of northerners who rely on our trains.

Hot on the heels of the botched new rail timetable, we learned that electrification will be further delayed until the end of the year.

When Chris Grayling failed to show at the Northern Transport Summit in Manchester, the timing could not have been worse. Or more telling. The North is simply not his priority.

It is four years since George Osborne came to Manchester and promised a Northern Powerhouse. The big promises haven’t been delivered and questions are being asked about the Government’s commitment to it.

Delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail, aligned to maximise the benefits of HS2, is the litmus test for whether this Government will live up to its promise of providing much needed investment to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality. If we make the right investment choices now, the opportunity is immense.

Northern Powerhouse Rail has the potential to add £100 billion a year to economic output and create 850,000 jobs in the North. The North already has a fantastic industrial base, with huge potential for advanced manufacturing, energy and renewable investment, health innovation and digitisation. It will mean 1.3 million people will be within one hour of the four biggest Northern Cities. Today this figure is 10,000.

It will connect people to places, improve global links to Manchester Airport, driving international investment. Northern Powerhouse Rail will be the backbone of a Northern economy, driving growth and opportunity.

In Greater Manchester, Manchester Piccadilly station is the cross-roads of the North. We need it to be a transport super hub to serve the whole of the North, with an underground Northern Powerhouse Rail station as part of a new, world-class station. Providing better, faster east-west journeys for everyone in the North, unleashing inclusive growth from harnessing improved connectivity.

The Government’s preferred option is a Dead End at the heart of Northern Powerhouse Rail – above ground trains turning back and reversing down a line they just rolled in on, before moving on to their next destination. A Dead End at the heart of Northern Powerhouse Rail will delay journeys, limit capacity and stunt economic growth.

Last month we set the Government a challenge; prove you mean business by committing to delivering the best possible Northern Powerhouse Rail solution, confirming it is the next infrastructure priority after High-Speed 2.

The Government isn’t listening, which is why we are launching a campaign, ‘No Turning Back’, to get the best possible deal for the North.

We stand alongside our fellow northern colleagues fighting for what is so clearly right for the North.

Bradford must get a new through railway station in Bradford city centre as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Liverpool must be fully connected to new rail lines both East-West between Liverpool, Manchester and across the North of England. Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and Hull are making strong cases to Government as well, and they must get the right level of support from Government to ensure they get Northern Powerhouse Rail right for their city regions.

The North is standing together, and its voice will be heard. We say to the Government there can be no turning back on the promises of transformational investment. No turning back on developing a Northern economic powerhouse. No turning back from the North. No turning back at Manchester.

If this Government is serious about the North, it must commit to delivering the best possible Northern Powerhouse Rail solution as soon as possible. Build it once, build it right for the North.


Written by beleben

September 11, 2018 at 10:42 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Hue and croy

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There are almost as many rail passengers passing through East Croydon as on all the inter-city journeys to the north of London put together, according to Angie Doll, of Network Rail, and this section of railway also has more train movements than anywhere else in Britain, making it a major factor in delays and disruption to services.

But Network Rail is looking to upgrade the existing infrastructure to provide extra capacity, through its ‘Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme’, rather than create a new railway. According to the company’s John Halsall, “Redeveloping [i.e. upgrading] the railway through Croydon is the only practical way to further improve the reliability of services on the Brighton Main Line”.

Network Rail, East Croydon busier than-wcml

Conversely, north of the Thames, as a result of the HS2 project, capacity can be expected to decrease on the West Coast Main Line, with the number of Euston classic platforms falling from 18 to 13, and a less homogeneous service on the fast lines.

How HS2 would reduce the number of classic platforms at Euston

Written by beleben

September 10, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Posted in HS2, Politics, Railways

Bearing the responsibility

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The Independent, 14 May 2017, 'Three in four people believe the NHS is in poor condition, ORB poll shows'

'Public would rather spend £56 billion HS2 fund on NHS, Telegraph poll finds', The Telegraph, 8 Sep 2018, ratherspend

Written by beleben

September 10, 2018 at 9:17 am

Posted in HS2

Capacity with minimal disruption

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Is there an alternative to HS2 which would add ‘significantly more capacity to our railways’, which would ‘cost less’ and ’cause less disruption’?

twitter @LondonDynaslow, 'LOL at the #HS2 bot @Beeron1030'

Actually, there are numerous ways to ‘add significant capacity’ at much lower cost and with much less disruption, and many of these have been described on the Beleben blog.

For example, if 26-metre long carriages can get into Bristol Temple Meads, Newcastle, and York, there would be no reason why they couldn’t get into Birmingham New Street. On intercity West Coast out of Euston, the use of space-optimised rolling stock would allow a ~36% increase in peak capacity, without platform lengthening, or significant lineside interventions.

‘Long distance’ services in
5pm – 6pm peak hour out of Euston (with 11 of 15 fast paths allocated to intercity)
‘Current’ seats
(HS2 July 2017
Strategic Case)
Seating with
26 metre carriages
using full
platform length
1 Birmingham New Street 470a 715d
2 Birmingham New Street 470a 715d
3 Glasgow 591b 715d
4 Glasgow 591b 715d
5 Holyhead 512c 630e
6 Lancaster 470a 715d
7 Liverpool 591b 715d
8 Liverpool 470a 715d
9 Manchester 591b 715d
10 Manchester 470a 715d
11 Manchester 470a 715d
Total 5696 7780
a = Pendolino 9-car | b = Pendolino 11-car | c = Voyager 2 * 5-car | d = IEP 10-car | e = IEP 2 * 5-car
Figures sourced from the Department for Transport

Written by beleben

September 6, 2018 at 10:10 am

Posted in HS2

Alan provides a lead

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The consistently-critical Taxpayers’ Alliance, which opposes the HS2 high speed rail scheme, has launched a competition inviting suggestions for an alternative way of spending £56 billion – not necessarily on railways, Railnews reported.

[Railnews, HS2 ‘delayed’, while critics plan alternative transport schemes, 3 Sep 2018]

The [Taxpayers] Alliance says: “The Great British Transport Competition is asking all interested parties from across the UK to submit ideas for transport infrastructure projects. Entries will be judged by an expert panel, including qualified surveyors, politicians and rail industry experts. The winning bids will be professionally costed and presented to ministers.”

Railnews-hs2-delayed-3 sep 2018

Michael Byng and Tony Berkeley judging a Taxpayers Alliance transport competition, must be nudging a ’10’ on the HS2 weird-o-meter. But can the Railnews former editorial director, Alan Marshall, get the needle up to ’11’?

Burton Green parish council, Councillor Alan Marshall

Um, el once, no problemo.

Burton Green parish council, minutes-19 Jan 2018, extract

Written by beleben

September 3, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Posted in HS2

Chrissing with confidence

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The delay in opening London’s Crossrail 1, announced today, will disappoint thousands of commuters but could also spell more trouble for cash-strapped Transport for London, which faces a near-£1 billion deficit, the Guardian reported.

[London Crossrail opening postponed until autumn next year, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 31 Aug 2018]

Andrew Adonis, the former chair of the national infrastructure commission, said: “It’s clearly a further massive catastrophe for Chris Grayling, who didn’t say a word in public about the scale of the crisis. He himself moved Sir Terry Morgan to be chair of HS2 and that was soon after Andrew Wolstenholme, the chief executive, left.

“The biggest infrastructure project in Europe, in a state of crisis, lost both its leaders with Grayling being awol throughout. To me it’s utterly inexplicable. How can it give anyone confidence that HS2 will be delivered?

Lord Adonis said the full scale of the problems had yet to emerge, with the industry talking of major issues with signalling systems, and predicted the opening could now be delayed until 2020.


Written by beleben

August 31, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Dive into HS2

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Who really has an interest in controlling the costs of HS2? Top management know that the more junior staff are paid, the easier it is to justify their own salaries. The more that is spent with suppliers, the bigger the overall budget, and again the more important their own jobs appear (according to SpendMatters UK/Europe).

[HS2 Rail Procurement Challenges – It’s Complicated!, SpendMatters, 21 Aug 2018]

Let’s get somewhat controversial for a moment. In a country where rough sleeping and use of food banks is growing, hospital waiting lists are lengthening, people are defending themselves in courts (badly) because legal aid has been slashed, HS2 is a luxury that we can’t afford. It increasingly just looks like a huge pile of cash spread out for the rail and construction industry to dive into. Here you go, help yourselves!


Written by beleben

August 21, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Posted in HS2, Politics