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The ‘Greens4HS2’ misinformation campaign, part two

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The Greens4HS2 campaign is all about misinformation and greenwashing, as is demonstrated by the Twitter feed of group members such as Pete Johnson (@pedrojuk) and Adam Turner (@AdamWJT). Today (23 October 2021) Mr Turner tweeted that ‘apparently every intercity train moved across to HS2 would free up space for *two* new local services and/or more freight by rail’.

But actual evidence for HS2 allowing two ‘local’ stopping services to run in the place of ‘one intercity train moved to HS2’, is nowhere to be found.

Consider for example, the case of the two-track Birmingham to Coventry line, which is used by intercity trains to and from London Euston, and on which capacity is supposed to be freed up by HS2.

In the ‘scenarios’ put forward in the official West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy published in 2019 (when HS2 phase one was expected to open in 2026), it can be seen that it is not possible to double the stopping service. (It is possible to tweak the service level of individual stations, but of course such tweaking could be done now, and does not require the construction of HS2.)

Irrespective of HS2, there has to be a fast service between Birmingham New Street, Birmingham International, and Coventry, meaning in practice that it is not possible to double the stopping service.

If all fast passenger trains were removed from the line, it would be possible to run a frequent stopping service, but this would cause modal shift to car, and a reduction in passengers carried. That is because the fastest train journeys from Birmingham to Coventry would become much slower, while the new frequent stopping services would run largely empty. The housing density around stations on the Coventry line is too low to support a metro-style frequency.

These observations would also apply to other stretches of line supposedly freed up by HS2, such as Doncaster to Leeds, and Stoke-on-Trent to Manchester. The official forecasting models do not support the claim that HS2 would enable ‘one stopping train to be replaced by two or more stopping services’ on existing the rail network, which is presumably why Gareth Dennis and Greens4HS2 make no reference to PFM.

WMRIS, indicative Coventry rail paths with and without HS2

Written by beleben

October 23, 2021 at 3:13 pm

The ‘Greens4HS2’ misinformation campaign

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‘Greens for HS2’ (@Greens4HS2 on Twitter) describe themselves as a group of Green Party (of England and Wales: GPEW) members who think that green opposition to High Speed Two should be ‘changed’, because it is based on ‘misunderstandings about the benefits of HS2’ and ‘the role it can play as part of a zero-CO2 future’.

Most of the arguments put forward by Greens4HS2 originated outside of the group, and outside of GPEW itself. The influence of Gareth Dennis (who is not a Green party member) is particularly prevalent, as can be seen in the group’s newsletter for the Autumn 2021 party conference (below) where he has provided the line to take, and even its Rail Alphabet-based logo.

Greens4HS2 leaflet, October 2021 (first side)
Greens4HS2 leaflet, Oct 2021
Greens4HS2 leaflet, October 2021 (2nd side)

The main job of HS2, according to the newsletter (and Mr Dennis) is to ‘free up our congested rail network, making room for many more local and freight trains’, and it could play ‘a big part’ in ‘a low carbon future for transport’.

So, exactly where on the existing railway would HS2 enable ‘many more local and freight trains to run’? Greens4HS2 members have always been completely unable to provide quantification for any particular stretch of line.

The Solihull branch of GPEW is a particular hotbed of Greens4HS2 support, so one might expect them to be eager to detail the ‘HS2-enabled uplift’ in local and freight trains achievable on the existing Coventry to Birmingham line, which runs through the north of their borough. But all they have ever been able to do, is parrot the inanities of Mr Dennis.

Written by beleben

October 23, 2021 at 2:06 pm

Posted in HS2, misinformation

Significantly greater weakness

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Earlier this year, “MPs in Leeds City Region” were emphasising that the eastern leg of the HS2 railway had a ‘very high’ benefit cost ratio, ‘most significantly, greater than that of the Western leg’.

tweet from @richard_rail about the benefit cost ratio of the eastern leg of HS2, 29 May 2020

But according to Andrew Adonis, speaking in the House of Lords on 30 November 2020, the HS2 eastern leg has the “weakest” of the benefit cost ratios.

[Andrew Adonis | House of Lords | High Speed Rail (West Midlands–Crewe) Bill | Volume 808: debated on Monday 30 November 2020]

“[…] The situation, which is well known in the Department for Transport and among those with whom I speak, is as follows. Dominic Cummings tried to cancel HS2. To be blunt, he does not much like Governments of any form doing big projects, but he certainly does not like big state projects of this kind. He wrestled very hard with the Prime Minister after the last election to get him to cancel HS2 outright. The Prime Minister believes in big infrastructure projects. When I was Transport Secretary, I had big discussions with him. There are many things he has no fixed belief on, but he has been prepared to commit to big transport infrastructure projects that will connect the country. He was persuaded of the case for HS2, and when the decision had to be made in February about going ahead with the first phase of HS2, from London to Birmingham, he gave that commitment. What then happened was that Dominic Cummings moved on to the eastern leg, because the weakest of the BCRs — benefit to cost ratios — is for the eastern leg. The reason the weakest BCR is for the eastern leg is very straightforward: the cities served in the east of the country are smaller than those in the west. But we are supposed to be about levelling up. That is the whole philosophy of the Government. So the fact that the BCRs are lower for the east is not a reason for not proceeding with HS2 East; it is an essential reason for proceeding.” […]

Written by beleben

December 2, 2020 at 4:32 pm

How much HS2 ‘released capacity’ is fake?

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‘Independent rail planning consultant’ William Barter has been working with High Speed Two bosses to explain ‘why Milton Keynes needs HS2’, the MK Citizen reported on 23 June.

twitter_HS2ltd, 'Transferring inter-city passengers to #HS2 enables more services on the existing network, which could provide #LondonEuston with a 76% increase in peak-hour commuter seats. Rail expert  @WilliamBarter1  spoke from #MiltonKeynes about how commuters will benefit from more capacity.'

This working together included Mr Barter speaking about rail capacity in a a 94-second HS2 Ltd Youtube video filmed at Milton Keynes Central station.

In the video, Mr Barter said “Released capacity is the space that’s left on the railway once the non-stop trains transfer to HS2 and the opportunity then comes to refill that space with trains that do stop at stations”.

Department for Transport, May 2019 northbound peak pm service pattern on the West Coast Main Line

At this point, it might be worth having a look at the May 2019 peak hourly pm service pattern on the West Coast Main Line (above) and comparing it with the future ‘released capacity’ scenario in the April 2020 HS2 phase one full business case (below).

Department for Transport, northbound peak pm service pattern on the West Coast Main with HS2 phase one (April 2020 phase one full business case)

As can be seen, the fast train offer from London to Milton Keynes Central in the April 2020 released capacity scenario is not much different from that of May 2019.

  • The total number of MK trains in the April 2020 released capacity scenario is twelve, of which seven could be described as ‘fast’.
  • In the May 2019 timetable, there were ten trains, of which seven were fast.

What is notably different in the April 2020 released capacity scenario, is the increased number of trains serving places like Tring and Hemel. But this increase seems to be happening largely on the relief lines, which are not normally used by the intercity trains that HS2 would allegedly replace. So, how much of the ‘increased commuter provision’ for Tring, Hemel, etc, is really a by-product of HS2?

In the considered view of the Beleben blog, the increase in Dacorum service, etc, is dependent on unadvertised interventions on the WCML itself. And little, if anything, to do with HS2.

When asked which future passenger (and freight) trains would use the relief lines, the Department for Transport refuses to say. Which is interesting, to say the least.

DfT confirmation of fewer (not more) trains on WCML South, in HS2 scenarios

Having just appeared banging on about released capacity benefits in a HS2 propaganda video, Mr Barter then popped up in the July 2020 edition of ‘Modern Railways’ magazine to, er, cast doubt on the rationale for, and feasibility of, the WCML service pattern in HS2’s April 2020 full business case.

twitter, @Modern_Railways proclaim the July 2020 edition

Written by beleben

July 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Posted in HS2, misinformation

Taking stock of technical illiteracy

with 2 comments

As a result of a recent freedom of information request to HS2 Ltd, the company has quietly taken chairman Allan Cook’s original HS2 ‘stocktake’ report offline, and replaced it with a supposedly ‘corrected’ version.

hs2-extract-from-foi-response-dec2019-drafting-error-in-aug2019-stocktake

The ‘corrected version’ of the report bears the same date as the original (i.e., ‘August 2019’), and makes no reference to being a revised version of an earlier document. The only public admission that it is a revision, is made in a footnote on the gov.uk ‘Guidance‘ page.

gov.uk HS2 Ltd chairman's stocktake august 2019 guidance page, modified 04 Dec 2019

According to HS2 Ltd, the embarrassing statement

[Allan Cook HS2 stocktake, original version, now taken offline]

‘Each intercity train removed releases capacity for 11 new fast commuter or freight trains, by reducing the disparity in speed between different services’

was a “drafting error”.

Allan Cook HS2 stocktake (original version, now taken offline): 'Each intercity train removed releases capacity for 11 new fast commuter or freight trains, by reducing the disparity in speed between different services'

Allan Cook HS2 stocktake (original version, now taken offline): ‘Each intercity train removed releases capacity for 11 new fast commuter or freight trains, by reducing the disparity in speed between different services’

Written by beleben

December 6, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Posted in Bizarre, HS2, misinformation

Mythter know-it-all

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HS2 offers ‘the same capacity as a ten-lane motorway in normal use’ and could deliver ‘more efficient use of three of the UK’s main railway lines’, Jim Steer’s High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group claimed on 11 November, in a tweet promoting an ‘independent review of the carbon case for HS2′.

twitter, @RailLeaders, '#HS2 will have the same capacity as a ten-lane motorway in normal use and will also deliver more efficient use of three of the UK’s main railway lines. Read more in our latest report written by @safemyth: https://rail-leaders.com/publications/hs2-towards-a-zero-carbon-future/ #GoHS2GoGreen #HS2AllTheWay'

[HSRILG, 11 Nov 2019]

HS2 will have the same capacity as a ten-lane motorway in normal use and will also deliver more efficient use of three of the UK’s main railway lines. Read more in our latest report written by @safemyth […]

“Read more in our latest report.”

So this supposedly ‘independent’ HS2 carbon review (‘HS2 – towards a zero carbon future’) by Raiph (a.k.a. Ralph) Smyth, is actually a report written for the High Speed Rail leaders lobbying group.

twitter, @njak_100, 'Excellent sustainability report on #HS2 out today. This table highlights DfT's conservative modal shift targets vs OECD figure for *actual* modal shift achieved by completed European HSR schemes. Full report at https://bit.ly/2pRTG4P' (11 Nov 2019)

As such, the misleading and inaccurate statements packing out Mr Smyth’s report should come as no surprise. Consider, for example, his ‘Figure 9’, the ‘Comparison of high-speed rail modal shift’, which is intended to ‘suggest’ that HS2’s forecasts of transfers from car and aviation are way too low.

The fact is, the vast majority of HS2 travel would be conducted within a radius of ~300 km of London, and for journeys within this zone, aviation’s share of journeys is already effectively nil. So with HS2, there is no possibility of anything like an overall 30% shift from air to high speed rail. Obviously, HS2 is mainly about (i) shift from classic rail, and (ii) new journeys.

No evidence is offered by Mr Smyth for the claim that HS2 would provide ‘the same capacity as a ten-lane motorway in normal use’ or ‘deliver more efficient use of three of the UK’s main railway lines’. He has not explained what the terms “in normal use” and “more efficient use” are supposed to mean. The Department for Transport has confirmed that the modelled post-HS2 use of the West Coast Main Line South involves fewer (not more) trains operating. This is an inevitable consequence of the HS2 idea of turning the WCML fast lines into a mixed-traffic railway.

DfT confirmation of fewer (not more) trains on WCML South in the modelled HS2 scenarios

Mr Smyth’s report presents HS2 as ‘essential for meeting a legally binding target of net zero carbon emissions’ by 2050. Needless to say, it would not be possible for HS2 to be carbon neutral by 2050, and it is not clear why ‘zero carbon electricity’ would be available to HS2 but not to alternative modes, such as other railways, road coaches, and private automobiles.

Even if the embedded carbon from constructing HS2 were considered as zero, the scheme would still not make any sense from an environmental standpoint, because the cost per-avoided-tonne of carbon would be gargantuan.

 

Written by beleben

November 12, 2019 at 12:32 pm

HS2’s daft plan to knock out Overground capacity

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In a propaganda video posted on twitter, HS2 Ltd claimed its high speed line would improve air quality and ‘help reduce carbon emissions’ by enabling modal shift of freight from road to rail.

HS2 propaganda video grab, freight loco and lorries

hs2-spin-video-freight-air-quality-sep2019

However, HS2 Ltd have admitted in carbon information paper E10, and other documents, that building and operating HS2 would result in a net increase in carbon emissions over the 120-year appraisal period.

Extract from HS2 carbon information paper E10 showing net increase in carbon from building and operating HS2

Running more daytime freight trains over the southern West Coast Main Line and London Overground, as proposed by HS2, is a particularly daft idea. For example, routeing more freight trains over London Overground tracks would reduce the frequency and capacity of the Overground, thereby leading to increased motor traffic, GHG and NOx emissions in the capital. The Class 66 loco used in HS2’s video is a particularly nasty emitter of two-stroke diesel pollution, which could be retired if HS2 were replaced by a programme of electrification of key links, such as Felixstowe to Nuneaton.

HS2 proposals for WCML railfreight would knock out Overground capacity in London

Written by beleben

September 18, 2019 at 11:46 am

Posted in HS2, misinformation

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

What are the decongestion benefits of HS2?

with 3 comments

The official documentation for the proposed HS2 railway does not seem to make much mention of ‘decongestion’ as a benefit of the scheme. Where the word does occur, it tends to be in the context of the supposed road, rather than rail, decongestion effects.

However, some supporters of HS2 are claiming the scheme would ‘decongest the existing rail network’.

What is patently lacking, is any meaningful definition of ‘decongestion’, or evidence of how that would take place.

twitter, @WhatTrainToday,

Consider, for example, the idea that ‘HS2 is decongestive’ because ‘each express train on the existing West Coast line eats up 3 to 6 stopping paths’.

In fact, ‘express trains’ out of Euston run on their own separate tracks, and have done for decades. The idea that removing one of those express trains, would allow 3 to 6 stopping trains to run in its place, is laughable.

 

Written by beleben

November 6, 2018 at 1:12 pm

Posted in HS2, misinformation

Brushed with oil, dusted with powder

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Stephen Sutcliffe, Head of Northern Powerhouse Rail Development at Transport for the North (TfN) has, apparently, been ‘outlining the benefits’ of NPR at a rail conference today.

twitter, @ProjectAdam1, 'Listening to Steve Sutcliffe from @Transport4North outlining the benefits of #NPR 1.3m people within 60 mins of 4 economic centres, an increase in £100bn GVA... a must for the north of England'

This “NPR brings 1.3 million people in the north within 60 minutes of 4 economic centres” malarkey. What does it mean? How would it be possible?

When asked to provide details, TfN go all evasive. Because what they are offering, is snake oil, and monkey dust.

Written by beleben

October 4, 2018 at 12:08 pm