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Ambition to meltdown

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May 21 saw “one of the most ambitious attempts to recast the UK’s national rail timetable for several decades”, go into meltdown.

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The May 20 timetable was intended to exploit “the planned completion of major infrastructure enhancements, including the Thameslink Programme in southeast England and electrification in the northwest”.

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[‘Too much, too quickly’, Railway Gazette, 4 June 2018]

The root cause of the [Northern franchise] disruption has been a shortage of suitably trained drivers able to deliver the new timetable over revised infrastructure. So acute is the shortage that Northern has reportedly been routinely terminating trains part way through their journey as existing drivers reach the limit of their route knowledge. […]

Railway Gazette understands that the principal cause of the driver shortage is a late request from Network Rail, in its System Operator role, for Northern to withdraw its May 20 timetable and resubmit it with changes. Behind this change request was the late completion of electrification and resignalling of the Preston – Blackpool route, and continuing delay to the electrification work between Manchester and Preston via Bolton.
[…]
Northern’s service delivery efforts have been further hampered by the refusal of drivers’ union ASLEF to enter into a new Rest Day Working agreement, which would resolve many of the immediate staffing issues and allow Northern to move ahead more quickly with training programmes.
[…]
When the Ordsall Chord opened in December last year, it was heralded as a ‘missing link’ in rail connectivity between Manchester’s two principal stations, Piccadilly and Victoria. Yet in practice, opening of the short south-to-east curve has only served to expose the fragility of the rest of the double-track corridor through Manchester Piccadilly and south towards the city’s airport, which is among the most intensively used sections of the national network.

Apparently, train operators and Network Rail must shoulder responsibility, but not the transport secretary Chris Grayling.

[Chris Grayling says rail industry ‘has failed passengers’, BBC, 30 May 2018]

[…] Chris Grayling wrote to MPs over the “wholly unsatisfactory” service on Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern.

GTR said it expected disruption to ease “over the coming month” and Northern said it has commissioned a report to “ensure lessons are learned”.

Mr Grayling said: “The way timetabling is done has to change.”

The transport secretary also criticised Network Rail, saying it “cannot cope” with the workload, and its performance was “simply unacceptable”.

He added: “We were aware there might be some disruption in the early stages of any new timetable change but the scale of the problem has far outstripped any expectation.”

He said he was now in “regular contact” with Network Rail and rail companies to deal with the issues quickly. […]

Northern rail, temporary timetable announcement

No train by ArrivaThe Northern meltdown has exposed the communication and operational dysfunctionality of the current industry structure, and the inadequacy of the ‘franchising process’. In essence, Northern got to run trains in the northwest not by demonstrating excellence, but through a secretive process, in which it impressed a few civil servants.

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Written by beleben

June 4, 2018 at 11:58 am

Information causes confusion

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Information causes confusion and information is bad, m'kay?

In a response published on the What Do They Know website, HS2 Ltd stated its reasons for refusing to release correspondence between the company and the Department for Transport about the concept of terminating the high speed line at Old Oak Common instead of Euston.

HS2 FOI18-1976, Response, page 1

HS2 FOI18-1976 Response, page 2

HS2 FOI18-1976, Response, page 3

[HS2 Ltd]

It is also contrary to the public interest to disclose information reflecting possibilities considered before a decision has been made, as such disclosure would be likely to lead to confusion and ill-informed debate.

“Confusion”?

[HS2 Ltd]
There is a public interest in favour of ensuring that a public authority does not have to expend resources on explaining and justifying information on possibilities. Therefore public officials require a thinking space in which to appraise and assess all available options before making public announcements.

The exemption requires that the qualified person for the public authority must give their reasonable opinion that the exemption is required. In the case of HS2 Ltd, our qualified person is our Chief Executive Officer and he has confirmed that in his reasonable opinion section 36(2) [of FOIA 2000] is engaged.

Heaven forfend that a public authority might have to ‘expend resources on explaining and justifying information on possibilities’, eh?

Written by beleben

April 21, 2018 at 8:28 am

Posted in HS2, London

Heathrow Crossrail to have premium fares

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In a press release dated 16 March 2018 and titled “Mayor of London announces TfL fares will apply to Elizabeth line”, mayor Sadiq Kahn was ‘delighted to announce that the cost of travelling on the Elizabeth Line [Crossrail 1] in Zones 1 – 6 will be the same price as a similar journey on the tube – fulfilling a key manifesto pledge’.

The press release then went on say that journeys to Heathrow Airport on Crossrail 1 would not be the same price as by Underground.

In other words, the title of the article, and the prominent mayoral quote, are directly at odds with what is actually intended.

Transport for London press release, 'Mayor of London announces TfL fares will apply to Elizabeth line', 16 Mar 2018

Written by beleben

March 19, 2018 at 11:58 am

Lendlease first option

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The Bree Louise after closure

David Higgins’ old company Lendlease has been given ‘first option’ to buy the entire 21.8 hectare Euston HS2 site, the Camden New Journal reported.

[HS2 and the great £4bn property bonanza, Tom Foot, CNJ, 1 March 2018]

[…] in terms of a contract agreed behind closed doors in April last year, and so far unannounced to the public – the company will be offered first chance to buy its finished project.

A HS2 spokesman said: “Land has not been sold to Lendlease yet and we will only sell if we are happy with the proposed development. They have first right to buy, but no guarantee that we will sell.”

[…] The firm beat King’s Cross developer Argent, Canary Wharf and US property giant MTR to win the Euston contract in what HS2 describes as an “anonymised” bidding process.

Written by beleben

March 2, 2018 at 9:18 am

Posted in HS2, London, Politics

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