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Connecting Leeds HS2 through Manchester

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Extending the hugely expensive HS2 railway from Manchester to Leeds instead of building its eastern leg via Toton is being ‘considered’ as part of the government’s review of the scheme, The Sunday Times reported (October 13 2019).

No shqet sherlök, as they say in Albania.

twitter, @DavidCollinsST, 'This will be controversial in Leeds, Yorkshire and generally East of England; HS2 Leeds route could go via Manchester to save £10bn'

[HS2 Leeds route could go via Manchester to save £10bn, David Collins, Northern Correspondent, The Sunday Times | October 13 2019]

A plan for direct train links between Manchester and Leeds is being considered as part of the government’s review of the £88bn HS2 high-speed rail project.

Trains from London would run through Birmingham to Manchester and then to Leeds, creating a journey time between Manchester and Leeds of just 20 minutes. The average now is 1hr 11 min.

The plan is an alternative to the proposed HS2 route, which splits into east and west legs after Birmingham. The eastern line, which goes to Leeds via Toton, a new station between Nottingham and Derby, is at risk of being dropped, saving up to £10bn. […] {Rest of story is paywalled}

The headline says “to save £10bn”, yet the story beneath it says “up to £10bn“.

But who actually has a credible costing for the HS2 eastern leg via Toton, or for a new transpennine line to allow travel between Manchester and Leeds in “20 minutes”? The ‘Northern powerhouse rail’ aspiration was for Manchester to Leeds in thirty minutes, not twenty.

[The case for new lines, Network Rail, 2009]

Connecting Leeds through Manchester has a large incremental cost and does not provide a significant journey time benefit over the London-Leeds direct service on the East Coast Main Line[.]

Most likely, the idea of routeing London to Leeds trains via Manchester is part of a wider package of de-scoping, as a sort of last-ditch alternative to scrapping the entire HS2 project.

Cancellation of the eastern leg would reduce the size of the HS2 station(s) needed in London, and the number of trains circulating. At present, the Bickenhill to London stretch is supposed to accommodate 17 high speed trains per hour in each direction (which is not achieved anywhere in the world).

With fewer trains running on HS2 and East Coast passengers staying on the East Coast Main Line, the case for building the Old Oak to Euston section would diminish further.

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Written by beleben

October 13, 2019 at 2:23 pm

Posted in HS2, Leeds, Manchester

‘Defaffinating’ northern rail

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Although it is not true to say that rail lines on the prime routes are already dominant in those transport corridors, concentration on expanding the existing large traffic flows, such as London – Birmingham, London – Manchester, London – Leeds, etc will not achieve a major modal shift – mainly because rail already has a significant slice of the market on those routes which, by themselves, do not constitute the majority of passenger travel in the UK (noted Professor Roger Kemp in his paper ‘Scope for reduction in transport CO2 emissions by modal shift’).

However, this idea of “expanding the existing large traffic flows” lies at the heart of the proposed HS2 railway. Another fundamental problem with HS2 is its inability to free up (or create) more capacity for local travel in conurbations like Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and Nottingham.

Roger Kemp. 'Scope for reduction in transport CO2', Manchester - Leeds example

‘Northern powerhouse rail’ is supposed to reduce the rail journey time between Manchester and Leeds by spending billions of pounds on a new line, but as Professor Kemp noted, the existing weekday service is four ‘reasonably fast’ trains per hour.

The problem is generally not the in-vehicle time on the intercity portion of such trips, but the ‘faff’ and unreliability associated with real point-to-point travel, which doesn’t start and finish at big-city ‘hauptbahnhof’ stations.

Sadly, these facts are completely lost on many northern and London politicians, and public sector bodies like Transport for the North.

Written by beleben

August 26, 2019 at 9:12 am

Doubling down on Doncaster drivel

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There are 1720 peak seats per hour for rail travel between Doncaster and Leeds. After HS2 opens in 2033, this is expected to MORE THAN DOUBLE to 4860 seats/hour, according to ‘Rail’ magazine fantasist and NCHSR lecturer Gareth Dennis.

twitter, @GarethDennis, 'For example, there are 1720 peak seats/hr between Doncaster and Leeds. After HS2 opens in 2033, this is expected to MORE THAN DOUBLE to 4860 seats/hr.'

This claim appears to be based on a tweet from HS2 Ltd, which stated that the evening rush hour seated capacity on the ‘Doncaster corridor’ would increase from 1,720 in 2017, to 4,860 ‘with HS2’.

twitter, @HS2ltd, evening rush hour seated capacity on the 'Doncaster corridor' would increase from 1,720 in 2017 to 4,860 'with HS2'

Contrary to what was claimed by Mr Dennis, rush hour seated capacity between Doncaster and Leeds is not expected to MORE THAN DOUBLE to 4860 seats per hour with HS2. Because HS2 trains could not stop at Doncaster, the line would not go to Doncaster, and there is no HS2 station planned for Doncaster.

DfT breakdown of 'Doncaster corridor' classic services in 2017, and 'with HS2'

Mr Dennis has taken an absurd Department for Transport claim about ‘Doncaster corridor’ capacity (tweeted by HS2 Ltd) and made it his own, by claiming the so-called ‘capacity between Doncaster and Leeds’ includes (obviously non-existent) Leeds to Doncaster HS2 trains.

What a load of claptrap

Written by beleben

August 18, 2019 at 4:02 pm

A classic example of a politically-led project

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Transport for The North’s ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ is a classic example of a politically-led project in which rational considerations have been over-ridden, according to rail consultant Paul Salveson.

Paul Salveson, HS2, should it survive?, 16 Jan 2019

Written by beleben

January 21, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Posted in HS2, Leeds, Manchester, Politics

HS2 is not about Leeds rail capacity

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Members of Leeds city council’s executive committee have claimed the main reason for HS2 is to increase capacity on the rail network, the Yorkshire Post reported.

[HS2 ‘about capacity, not speed’ say Leeds council chiefs, Richard Beecham, Yorkshire Post, 17 October 2018]

The council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, transport and planning, Richard Lewis, said: “In 2011, (then-transport secretary) Philip Hammond talked about the network and how it would create better links. “I feel frustrated that the debate has since become a narrow one about high speed technology. It’s about rail capacity and that is what is important for this city.”

The idea that HS2 is about ‘Leeds rail capacity’, ‘West Yorkshire rail capacity’, or ‘solving rail gridlock’, is nonsensical. Rail capacity across northern England is restricted by short trains, substandard signalling, and poor track layouts. Building HS2 would address none of these issues.

West Yorkshire Railplan 7, Figure 10

Network Rail, Northern RUS, May 2011, year 2024 train formation assumptions, Leeds routes

Written by beleben

October 22, 2018 at 9:49 am

Posted in Leeds, Politics, Railways

Northern powerhouse rail and labour mobility

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[From Five facts about the Randstad and Rhine-Ruhr, with comparison to the Northern Powerhouse, Paul Swinney | Centre for Cities | 1 June 2016]

An argument often put forward about both the Randstad and Rhine-Ruhr is that their transport links allow people to live in one city but work in another, suggesting that there would be benefits for the North of England in strengthening transport links between cities. But the data suggests that people don’t use the transport links in this way.

The travel patterns across all three areas, appear to suggest that if a worker wants to live in a city, they will mostly choose to live in the city that they work within. Otherwise they will choose to live in the countryside surrounding the city they work in, rather than another city.

Centre for Cities, distribution of Greater Manchester High Skill Commuting

[Paul Swinney]

The speeds achieved by intercity rail connections between the cities of the Randstad and Rhine-Ruhr are not a great deal quicker than between cities in the Northern Powerhouse.

Written by beleben

September 21, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Leeds, Manchester, Railways

This level of ambition

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On 13 September, BBC News and its Look North tv show reported on the modernisation of the 69 km Transpennine North railway between Leeds, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Stalybridge, and Manchester.

[TransPennine £2.9bn rail upgrade will cause ‘major disruption’, BBC News website, 13 Sep 2018]

Passengers on TransPennine trains will face five years of major disruption during a planned £2.9bn upgrade of the route, a leaked letter has revealed.

The letter from Network Rail to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said there would be line closures for 39 weeks a year from 2020 until 2024.
[…]
The letter from Rob McIntosh at Network Rail, says the route is “a Victorian construction that passes through the heart of the Pennines with its inherently challenging topography”.

The minister is warned that access to the many tunnels and bridges along the routes “will be limited and difficult”.

Mr McIntosh says: “This level of ambition cannot be delivered without significant disruption during the course of the works.”

Leaked letter about the scheme (via @joepike, twitter)

Leaked letter about the scheme (via @joepike, twitter)

But the ‘level of ambition’ for the TPN upgrade, is yet to be disclosed. Although the line ‘will be electrified’, according to reporter Spencer Stokes, that might just mean from Leeds to Huddersfield (27 km). In that case, all trains would have to be bi-mode or diesel, to move between Stalybridge and Huddersfield (29 km).

BBC Look North, Transpennine rail modernisation story, 13 Sep 2018

Surely, there would be little to no point in such ‘Cispennine electrification’.

BBC Look North, Transpennine rail modernisation story, 13 Sep 2018

Chris Grayling: 'We will be creating a mainly 4 track railway', Bradford Telegraph and Argus, 12 Sep 2018

[Telegraph & Argus, 12 Sep 2018]

The programme of work for the Transpennine route includes:

renewal of equipment that is contributing to poor performance;

introducing electrification between Leeds and Huddersfield and Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria;

reinstating four tracks between Huddersfield and Ravensthorpe, near Dewsbury;

introducing digital signalling between Cottingley (in south-west Leeds) and Stalybridge;

line speed improvements between Manchester and Stalybridge, Morley and Ulleskelf to York;

increasing capacity at Leeds and Calder Valley stations and enhancing Huddersfield and Stalybridge stations.

Whatever the level of ambition, upgrading the TPN route would be far less disruptive than building a new line from scratch across the Pennines (‘Northern powerhouse rail’). For NPR, everything would have to be brought to and from site by road, meaning tens of thousands of HGV movements.

So why not scrap the ‘plan’ for NPR, and use some of that money for a proper upgrade of the Calder Valley and Transpennine North lines, including full electrification?

BBC Look North, Transpennine rail modernisation story, 13 Sep 2018, reporter Spencer Stokes at Huddersfield station

If a 35 minute journey time between Manchester and Leeds is achievable from a capability uplift on the existing line, why would anyone, apart from deluded wonks and nutjobs, support NPR?

Written by beleben

September 14, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Leeds, Manchester, Railways