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Adonis released capacity delusion

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HS2 released capacity “transforms commuter services into Euston, Birmingham, Manchester & Leeds, and [offers] more capacity for railfreight”, according to HS2 ‘grandaddy’ Andrew Adonis.

twitter, @Andrew_Adonis, 'Released capacity transforms commuter services into Euston, Birmingham, Manchester & Leeds, and more capacity for railfreight'

As the Beleben blog has pointed out on several occasions, HS2 ‘released capacity’ claims are mostly bunkum.

‘Multimodal’ railfreight from the southern West Coast Main Line generally ends taking – not ‘releasing’ – capacity on London Overground tracks like the North London Line.

HS2 would reduce the number of classic intercity trains between Birmingham New Street and Euston from three per hour, to two. The idea that this would ‘transform’ commuter capacity between Birmingham and Coventry, is laughable.

If there really were a need to ‘transform’ commuter capacity between Birmingham and Coventry, this could be done just by lengthening platforms to take 12-car (instead of the current 4-car) trains.

Spot the 'transformative' released capacity


Written by beleben

July 17, 2017 at 11:53 am

Going for cold on Crossrail 2

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London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that the capital’s transport network will ‘grind to a halt’ under the “unbearable strain” of millions more passengers, unless the government agrees to co-fund the £30 billion (?) Crossrail 2.

What might have prompted that ‘warning’?

[Sadiq Khan: London’s transport network will grind to halt amid ‘unbearable strain’ without Crossrail 2,  PIPPA CRERAR, Evening Standard, 8 Feb 2017]

It comes as Government insiders revealed concerns about stumping up almost half of the current £32 billion cost, with one claiming ministers were “going cold” on the idea.

But the immediate ‘strain’ for Transport for London is an overall fares income ‘down £90 million due to lower passenger volumes’, according to Greater London Assembly Conservatives.

Big-business pressure group London First claimed that Crossrail 2 could be built for

Big-business pressure group London First claimed that Crossrail 2 could be built for “£12 billion”

In the view of the Beleben blog, Crossrail 2, in its present form, is a vanity project, and should not be built.

The full economic case has been kept from the public, but the available summary information indicates that Crossrail 2’s benefit-cost and other metrics are not particularly impressive.

Obviously, transport congestion in central London is not limited to Crossrail 2’s south-west-to-north-east axis. It requires a holistic approach.

On-street trams could relieve the Underground in central London and provide quicker journeys in many cases

On-street trams could relieve the London Underground – and provide quicker journeys, in many cases

With further automation and platform screens, the capacity of existing Underground lines could be increased substantially. And for many journeys in central London, new on-street light rail would be quicker than the tube.

London Crossrail 2 as proposed in 2015

London Crossrail 2 as proposed in 2015

Is Crossrail 2 a housing scheme masquerading as an 'essential' transport scheme?

Written by beleben

February 9, 2017 at 11:36 am

Barking in suspense

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(What is left of) Network Rail’s electrification of the Great Western main line is supposed to offer ‘improved resilience and reliability’.

But the video for another project – the Gospel Oak to Barking scheme in north London – appears to show it has been designed with non-independent location of the overhead lines.

Screengrab from Network Rail, Gospel Oak Barking electrification video, showing tension-located overhead lines

Written by beleben

November 11, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Posted in London, Railways

Central Willesden optioneering

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Re-routeing the London Underground Central Line to Willesden, via Old Oak, would improve the substandard connections in that part of west London. With platform screens and automation, the train frequency on the city section of the Central Line could be increased to around 40 per hour.

'Higher capacity' Central Line Willesden - Stratford concept

‘Higher capacity’ Central Line Willesden – Stratford concept

The suburban sections of the Central Line in the east and the west might be better developed as parts of other railways.

  • The section to the west of Acton could become part of a tram-train linking Old Oak, Ruislip, and Uxbridge.
  • The eastern suburban stretch of the Central Line, which was at one time intended to form part of a Chelsea – Hackney tube, could become part of a ‘national rail’ route to Stansted airport, or ‘Crossrail_X2’.

Written by beleben

October 25, 2016 at 11:23 am

Posted in London, Planning

Our daft scheme is better than your flawed scheme

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On 11 October, the House of Lords HS2 LWM committee were advised of the demerits of the flawed ‘Euston Express’ concept for accommodating high speed trains at Euston, by advocates of the flawed HS2 Ltd concept for accommodating high speed trains at Euston.

According to James Strachan QC, Department for Transport Counsel, ‘Euston Express train service options would be very limited, comprising, say, Birmingham / Manchester and Scotland or else the other destinations, but not both’.

[James Strachan QC] 123. […]You could either have a very limited 200-metre-long classic compatible service, with less capacity than the current West Coast Main Line – the benefits wouldn’t actually then justify the cost of the tunnel – or a five-to-six-platform station, which would incur most of the  property demolition, an adverse environmental effect and cost,for a much reduced HS2 train station to Euston.

Of course, the “very limited 200-metre-long classic compatible service” mentioned by Mr Strachan, is actually the official HS2 Ltd proposition for trains from London to the busiest Country HS2 destinations – Birmingham and Manchester – during most of the day.

Mr Strachan claimed that the benefits of the Euston Express tunnel works ‘wouldn’t justify their cost’. But far more trains would use those tunnels, than would use the ridiculous, and hugely expensive, HS2 Ltd tunnels proposed in south Manchester.

Written by beleben

October 24, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Posted in London, Politics

West Coast commuter capacity discrepancies

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According to the Department for Transport, the November 2015 technical annex to the HS2 Strategic Case showed that ‘infrastructure investment contained within the [Atkins] Strategic Alternative only allows a 4.7 per cent increase in [London Midland] morning peak capacity into Euston over and above running all of today’s services with 12-cars’.

Reference London Midland capacity scenario Number of LM services Standard class seats Standard class capacity
i No HS2, Dec 2014 28 (stated by DfT) 15132 (stated by DfT) 20234 (stated by DfT)
ii No HS2, All 12-carriage 28 (stated by DfT) 19344 (stated by DfT), 20412 (arithmetic*) 25884 (stated by DfT)
iii With Atkins “Strategic” Alternative and No HS2 30 (stated by DfT) 20580 (stated by DfT), 21870 (arithmetic*) 27120 (stated by DfT)
iv With HS2 41 (stated by DfT) 30330 (stated by DfT), 29889 (arithmetic*) 41103 (stated by DfT)
v No HS2,
No classic lineside works,
Run 12 trains in the three peak hours
36 (see discussion below) 26244 (arithmetic*)
* = assuming 243 Standard Class seats in a 4-car Class 350/2 unit, i.e. 729 seats in a 12-car train


  • the figures given do not seem to match those from publicly available train data,
  • the Department does not include First Class in its assessment of commuter capacity,
  • the ‘Strategic Alternative’ is a “straw man” proposal, commissioned by the government purely to bolster the case for HS2. Much better “alternatives” could be, and have been, designed.

The technical annex also claimed that, with HS2 Phase One, route capacity released from running fewer inter-city services on the West Coast Main Line would allow the number of London Midland morning peak arrivals to increase from 28 to 41.

But how dependent is London Midland capacity on HS2? The company’s December 2015 – May 2016 timetable showed that, in the three hour weekday morning peak,

  • only seven Commuter trains arrived at Euston between between 07:01 and 08:00, thirteen arrived between 08:01 and 09:00, and eight arrived between 09:01 and 10:00; and
  • most were ‘Commuter Slow’ — running on the slow lines not used by inter-city trains.
Dec 2015 – May 2016 timetable (weekday)
Time of arrival at Euston Between
07:01 – 08:00
08:01 – 09:00
09:01 – 10:00
Quantum of London Midland trains 7 13 8

If thirteen London Midland commuter trains can be accommodated between 8am and 9am, what would be the difficulty in accommodating twelve between 7am and 8am, or between 9am and 10am? Many ‘flexitime’ workers would use shoulder peak services, if cheaper fares were on offer.

Written by beleben

April 25, 2016 at 10:37 am

Posted in HS2, London

Now is the time

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Andrew Adonis: “Not enough people pay enough attention to interchanges”With London Crossrail 1’s tunnels and interchanges at the fit-out stage, now is the time for National Infrastructure Commission chairman Andrew Adonis to fret about their design, apparently.

[Crossrail interchanges are not good enough, says Lord Adonis, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 12 April 2016 ]

Passengers face long walks between trains, with poor links to tube network likely to offset faster journey times, says infrastructure chief

[…] “The interchanges are not great. There are going to be a lot of passengers walking a long way to change between trains – and they are very long trains,” Lord Adonis said of Crossrail, speaking at an infrastructure conference in London.

The former transport secretary, who held office in the last Labour government when Crossrail was officially announced in 2009, said: “I tried as a minister at the last minute to unpick this, but it was too late.”

Very high speed rail was launched by Mr Adonis in 2009, but evidently not enough time has yet passed for him to have noticed that his dead-end Birmingham HS2 station would be sited hundreds of yards from the main station, at New Street.

So, the sentence “Not enough people pay enough attention to interchanges”, includes, it seems, the chancellor, the prime minister, and the NIC chairman.

Needless to say, HS2, ‘HS3’, and Crossrail 2 are replete with conceptual and design flaws.

David Begg, Lord Adonis, Jim Steer, Patrick McLoughlin, David Higgins, HS2 trainspotting

Written by beleben

April 13, 2016 at 9:19 am

Posted in HS2, London, Railways, Transport