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Noise in the wrong direction

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Network Rail’s chief executive described the rhetoric that had developed around the government’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) as “profoundly unhelpful” and stated he had decided not to comment at the time of its publication in November 2021, as the “noise in the wrong direction” meant that a defence of it at that point was “no help” (New Civil Engineer reported).

“Chief executive Andrew Haines hit out at those who have complained that the IRP has failed to deliver and said that they have ‘lost the plot’ and are doing the industry a disservice in their complaints.

[…] Haines pointed to the work on the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) as an example. “When I joined Network Rail in three and a half years ago, TRU was a £3.5bn project and it is now closer to a £10bn project, not because of cost escalation, but because of scope change,” he explained. “It is now a fully electrified project, it is an ETCS [European Train Control System signally] project, it has now got key parts of IRP factored into it.”

Integrated Rail Plan opponents have ‘lost the plot’ says Network Rail boss
04 FEB, 2022 BY CLAIRE SMITH | NCE

In the November 2021 IRP proposals, there was a much greater emphasis on upgrading existing track, with the proposed Eastern leg of HS2 curtailed, in favour of enhancements to the existing Midland and East Coast Main Lines.

But as recently as January 2020, Mr Haines was ‘warning’ that upgrading those very same lines, instead of building HS2, would lead to “30 years of disruption”. This ‘warning’ came in the guise of a deliberately leaked letter, based on figures created to support the government’s 2013 HS2 propaganda campaign.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines has warned that cancelling High Speed 2 (HS2) will lead to 30 years of disruption. A leaked letter from Haines to the Department for Transport (DFT) – first reported by the Mail Online’s financial division This is Money – warns of “significant” disruption if HS2 cash is reallocated to upgrading the existing network.

Scrapping HS2 will lead to 30 years of disruption, Network Rail chief warns
30 JAN, 2020 BY ROB HORGAN | NCE

Written by beleben

February 6, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Anyone with answers

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In December 2021 the House of Commons Transport Select Committee (TSC) announced an inquiry into the government’s ‘Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands’ (IRP) and solicited ‘anyone with answers’ to submit written evidence, to be received by 24 January 2022.

“The Committee is interested in the implications of the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the economy and rail capacity and connectivity. We are particularly interested in receiving written evidence that addresses:

* “The contribution that the IRP will make to rail capacity and connectivity for (a) passengers and (b) freight in (i) the Midlands and the North and (ii) the UK
* Whether and how the IRP will “level up” communities in the Midlands and the North
* How the IRP will affect rail infrastructure and services outside the Midlands and the North
* The challenges to central Government, Great British Railways, regional and local authorities, transport bodies and other stakeholders in delivering the IRP
* How the rail schemes in the IRP will integrate and interact with HS2
* How the rail improvement schemes in the IRP were selected, and whether those selections represent equity between and within regions
* Whether the IRP represents value for money for UK taxpayers”.

TSC | IRP Inquiry | December 2021

A problem which would appear to face anyone trying to submit worthwhile evidence to the TSC inquiry is the dearth of substantive information available about the IRP, HS2 phase two, travel demand, and what “levelling up” even means.

twitter, @CommonsTrans, '3 days left to submit to our inquiry'

For some reason the Department for Transport decided to delay publishing (incomplete) background information about the IRP, and HS2 phase two updates, until the preannounced closing date for submissions to the TSC inquiry (24 January 2022).

The TSC then changed the closing date for submissions to 27 January. How much difference that makes to the quality of the inquiry, remains to be seen.

Written by beleben

January 28, 2022 at 9:26 pm

Random access muddlery

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Tom Forth’s dotty map shows how, if delivered in full, the HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail projects “would make huge areas of the North West, Midlands, South East and even South-West more accessible to northerners”. On the map, “Black dots show areas that are quicker by train, and orange show those quicker by car”. That’s according to Kieren Williams (writing for Reach plc’s Mirror Online, 8 November 2021).

However, Mr Williams’ interpretation of the map is not correct. What the map is actually purporting to show, is the journey time from Leeds City railway station to other railway stations around the country, by train and by car. That is not the same thing at all as showing ‘areas which are quicker by train’ or ‘areas which are quicker by car’.

The map is not showing, or comparing, door to door journey times by mode. It is showing, or purportedly showing, railway station to railway station journey times. Or more precisely, Leeds City railway station, to other railway station, journey times.

Even the station journey times by rail are problematic. No definitive journey times or frequencies are available for Northern Powerhouse Rail, so it is not clear how it is possible to calculate a NPR journey time from Leeds City station to Neston station, for example.

Mirror Online, 'Incredible graphic'

Written by beleben

November 9, 2021 at 4:30 pm

Pulling your (eastern) leg

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High Speed Two is a project built on lies, delusion, and wishful thinking. But mostly, just on lies, as is so amply demonstrated by the deplorable (and publicly-funded) ‘HS2 East’ campaign.

One of their latest claims is that ‘delivering’ the eastern leg of HS2 ‘could’ add nearly 70,000 trips between Leeds and London every day. Though, actually, this ‘could’ happen, in much the same way as Nottingham county council leader Kay Cutts ‘could’ be the first astronaut to walk on Mars.

HS2 East Prospectus, v1-0, 'HS2 could add 70,000 trips between London and Leedsdaily'

‘Adding 70,000 trips per day’, would mean adding about 25 million per year. To put that in context, in the year 2013 / 2014, there were about 1.8 million rail passenger journeys between Leeds and London, according to the HS2 Ltd South Yorkshire Report.

In the year 2013 / 2014, there were about 1.8 million rail journeys between Leeds and London, according to the HS2 Ltd South Yorkshire Report

twitter,  @Transport_Nottm, '#HS2East delivers benefits to a region larger than #London or the entire economy on Denmark[.] An additional £4.2b of economic output would seen across the East Midlands, North West and Yorkshire'

Written by beleben

July 9, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Posted in gibberish, Leeds

Fight for the cause

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On 21 February 2020, the government announced that its ‘integrated rail plan for the Midlands and the north’ would be ‘informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission’.

The Commission launched a ‘call for evidence’ from ‘stakeholders’, and on 28 May, as part of that process, Hilary Benn MP and ten other northern politicians wrote a joint letter to ‘grumpy grandpa’ NIC chairman John Armitt (reproduced below).

Letter from Hilary Benn MP and ten other northern politicians to John Armitt, 29 May 2020, page 1

Letter from Hilary Benn MP and ten other northern politicians to John Armitt, 29 May 2020, page 2

twitter, @Richard_rail, 'Claims from MPs in Leeds City Region regarding #HS2 and its BCR and how it's more beneficial than Manchester. What happened to the plans for a joined up North fighting for the same cause?'

'Fight,  fight, fight, fight, fight for this cause'

Needless to say, the ‘Benn letter’ is a farrago of nonsense from start to finish. For example, its claim that ‘the eastern leg of HS2 has a benefit cost ratio of 5.6 compared to 2.6 for the western leg’ comes from a July 2011 report created by Arup for the ‘High Speed Rail Eastern Network Partnership’ (i.e., a lobbying group).

www.parliament.uk, written question on HS2 sunk costs, House of Lords, 2020-04-22

Written by beleben

May 29, 2020 at 8:29 pm

Posted in HS2, Leeds, Manchester

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.

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