Archive for the ‘Leeds’ Category
When the Leeds NGT ‘clumsybus’ scheme was cancelled last year, the government agreed the city could keep the £173m allocated for the trolleybus to spend on ‘other transport improvements’. On 26 January, transport secretary Chris Grayling MP told business leaders at the Leeds Chamber Annual Dinner that the money “will make a real difference to transport in this city”.
But how is the money to be spent? At the moment, there does not seem to be any public explanation, but there are uncosted plans for new railway stations at ‘Leeds Airport parkway’ (somewhere on the Leeds to Harrogate railway), Thorpe Park, and the White Rose Shopping Centre.
Would these stations “make a real difference to transport” in Leeds? According to a 2014 Atkins report, the proposed station site at the White Rose Centre
[New Railway Stations in North and West Yorkshire Feasibility Study for West Yorkshire Combined Authority]
was felt to be unsuitable due to the changes which would be needed to the track and signalling equipment. The site is located on a curve with a high line speed and a high degree of cant. Constructing a station at this location would be costly.
The site is also relatively close to Leeds City Centre which means that the
impact of stopping services in this area would be detrimental to journey
times for existing passengers and line capacity is already constrained. Morley
and Cottingley stations are both less than 1.5 km either side of the
White Rose Centre.
The Atkins claim that ‘new stations close to Leeds City Centre would be detrimental to journey times for existing passengers’ would probably hold true if re-worded: ‘new stations would be detrimental to journey times for existing passengers’. One could make a perfectly good case for building new stations in the city centre ‘corona’, for example, at Marsh Lane, and Armley.
The indications are that a Leeds Bradford Airport parkway station would make next to no difference to traffic congestion. So what is the value for money, compared to just running a better bus service from the city centre to the airport?
One of the biggest obstacles to the creation of an S-bahn-type rapid transit in Leeds is the planned HS2 terminus just south of City station. If built, it would probably prevent four-tracking of the railway out of Leeds towards Neville Hill.
According to the publicity for today’s Bauer ‘National Rail Conference’ – titled “The North: Leading The Way” – a world class rail service has been promised to the north of England.
Opening the conference, at a hotel in Manchester, Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne reportedly claimed that “Britain runs on rails”.
But to what extent does Britain – and the north of England – really ‘run on rail’?
Government data suggests that Great Britain, as a whole, could not realistically be said to run on rail. And in the north of England, due to a number of factors, use of rail is below the national average. In cities like Sheffield and Hull, local rail’s market share is close to zero, and there is no likelihood of that changing.
In other parts of the north, such as West Yorkshire, there would be the possibility of significantly increasing the use of local rail, but there are many obstacles. One of the issues is that trains just do not run anything like often enough, to be of much use.
Sadly, solutions to such problems are very unlikely to emerge from today’s conference in Manchester. Its focus seems to be on vanity projects, such as ‘HS3’.
In July 2016, Leeds Chamber of Commerce released their report on ‘Maximising the Potential of the Yorkshire Hub and South Bank Leeds’.
President, Leeds Chamber of Commerce]
HS2 is now only part, albeit a major one, of the Yorkshire Hub story and to maximise the impact for jobs and growth we need to look at these projects as a set of integrated transport schemes that will help to achieve our long held aspirations for better connectivity. It is also vital to plan now, in advance of construction starting on HS2 and HS3, to ensure the city is ‘HS ready’ with connecting infrastructure considered, development opportunities showcased and delivery mechanisms explored.
HS2 Ltd ignored the exhortation – in the Chamber’s 2015 report – that the HS2 station in Leeds should be comprised of through platforms. In its July 2016 report, the Chamber proposed that there should be both the dead-end terminus recommended by David Higgins, and a link into the classic lines approching City station from the west. This ‘NPR Southeastern approach’ would allow HS2 services to stop at Leeds City, and then continue to the north east.
HS2 Ltd’s revised eastern leg planning is currently based on separate trains serving Leeds, Sheffield, and North East England. Routeing London to Newcastle-upon-Tyne HS2 trains via Leeds City and the ‘NPR southeastern approach’, would not make much sense. Who would the clientele be?
The NPR southeastern approach would also not allow a through Sheffield – Wakefield – Leeds – Bradford ‘Northern Powerhouse’ service, for example. Wakefield would not be served at all, and trains would have to reverse at Leeds station.
For a large fee, perhaps Arup could ‘help’, by proposing a Manchester-style 180-degree underground loop, like they put forward to the National Infrastructure Commission.
In July 2012 Justine Greening, transport secretary in the coalition government, said that the Leeds NGT trolleybus scheme would make “public transport in Leeds more accessible and attractive than ever before”.
[Green light for Leeds trolleybus, Department for Transport and Justine Greening, July 2012]
[JG:] …and I know trolleybuses will be transformational for growth and jobs in West Yorkshire.
But on 12 May 2016, the Department for Transport (DfT) issued a statement saying the scheme was “not suitable for development“.
What a shame that so much money has been spent on this ‘transformational’ boondoggle.
In the National Infrastructure Commission ‘High Speed North’ report, Andrew Adonis stated that “connectivity between the northern cities should be improved in stages, by kick‑starting HS3, integrating it with HS2 and planning for the redevelopment of the North’s gateway stations”.
The report attempted to redefine ‘HS3’ as “a vision for a network of transformed inter‑city rail links… which can meet the aspirations of the northern city regions for shorter journey times, and for increased capacity and frequencies”.
However, those “aspirations” make no sense, and the proposed HS2 infrastructure is the biggest encumbrance to improving rail connectivity in northern England.
Northern transport planning is being distorted and encumbered by the political need to integrate high speed infrastructure with regional rail. The design of the western leg of HS2 is not suited to improving northern connectivity, and there is no cost-effective way of adapting it.
A ‘high speed’ journey from Manchester to Liverpool using the HS2 infrastructure would take about the same time as a trip on the Chat Moss line. The dead-end Manchester Piccadilly HS2 station was not designed to facilitate fast Transpennine journeys, so the National Infrastructure Commission funded Arup to produce ‘fruitcake’ proposals for underground loops under Manchester, to make HS3 track ‘point the right way’.
The design of the eastern leg of HS2 is likewise unsuited to improving northern connectivity, and there is no cost-effective way of adapting it. The costs of connecting HS2 to the classic rail tracks at Meadowhall, or elsewhere, is unknown.
What is known, is that “Leeds Mk2” high speed station was designed as a dead-end, with no capacity provision for any regional or Transpennine traffic.
There is no guarantee that investing billions in infrastructure will help the North of England, Transport for the North (TfN) ‘chair’ John Cridland, told the BBC.
[Northern Powerhouse ‘a leap of faith’, Roger Harrabin, BBC,
22 February 2016]
But former CBI chief told the BBC that people should take a “leap of faith” on new roads and railways.
He said he believed reducing journey times between northern cities would improve the economy.
But critics say the money might be better spent on training and skills – or on transport within cities.
Mr Cridland’s quango is due to publish its first report soon.
The chancellor’s advisory National Infrastructure Commission also will make recommendations on Northern transport.
The bodies have been considering transport options such as a motorway running under the Peak District from Sheffield to Manchester, or an HS3 rail link between Leeds and Manchester.
But Anne Robinson, from Friends of the Peak District, told BBC News: “These are just pie-in-the-sky schemes. We haven’t been given the slightest shred of evidence that they will do any good.”
She warned that the motorway scheme – running more than 30 miles underground – would cost a fortune, as well as creating congestion in roads at either end of the tunnel and potentially disrupting the ecology of the Peaks National Park.
Mr Cridland said ambitious infrastructure should be on the agenda: “I’m not claiming there is perfect science here”.
Obviously, with schemes like
HS3 TransNorth Northern powerhouse rail in favour, the potential for nugatory expenditure, and environmental degradation, is enormous. TfN urgently needs to get independent advice.
The siting of Curzon Street and Bickenhill stations suggests that Birmingham Chamber of Commerce do not see a need for a high speed station to be be well integrated with the existing rail network.
But West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce seems to have a somewhat different view. It wants redevelopment of the existing Leeds City station to accommodate HS2 (instead of building a separate terminus at New Lane), and extensive modifications to the classic railway network in the locality.
[WNY Chamber position paper, July 2015]
[…] In late 2014, Chancellor Osborne announced plans for HS3 (now TransNorth rail) as a solution for east-west rail connectivity (Liverpool to Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle via Manchester and/or Leeds) – this brings with it additional implications for Leeds’ city centre station and presents further opportunities to rethink its location and approaches.
[…] As highlighted by Sir David Higgins (March 2014), any [West Yorkshire] high speed station must be fully integrated with the existing rail network to ensure the benefits of HS2 and TransNorth are spread throughout the sub-region.
WNY Chamber seems to have ‘borrowed’ proposals such as the Aire valley rail link from HSUK‘s Yorkshire Rail strategy, but judging by ‘Figure 6’ above, it seems to be less concerned about connectivities outside of Leeds itself.
Obviously, the development favoured by WNY Chamber would involve extensive disruption to the existing rail network. The claim that building HS2 would be ‘less disruptive than upgrading the existing railway’, does not have a factual basis.