Archive for the ‘misinformation’ Category
The various ‘modelled train service specifications’ produced for HS2 have always been good for a laugh. In the latest version, the exposure of HS2 to unreliability from the legacy railway is increased further.
As can be seen from the extract below, Birmingham to Leeds HS2 services would use legacy track for some or all of the Yorkshire part of the journey, and stop en route at Sheffield Midland station. For some reason, those services are shown as being ‘Captive HS2 trains’.
By the look of the ‘service specification’, someone high up in Birmingham Airport needs to visit his mum in Leeds. But there are no bigwig family ties with Newcastle upon Tyne, or York, it seems.
Today, the government has published some information about its preferred route for ‘phase 2b’ of HS2 from ‘Crewe to Manchester’, and ‘the West Midlands to Leeds’, but many details are still lacking. There are a few minor changes to save money – such as not tunneling under East Midlands airport – but with the post-June 2016 devaluation of sterling by 15%-plus, the overall cost of HS2 must now be in the region of £65 billion.
Although the ‘case for HS2’ is built on egotism, delusion, and misinformation, not everything the government says about the project is untrue. For example, the claim that HS2 would be a ‘link between our major cities’ might be said to be true, according to a map created by the BBC. As can be seen from the map, HS2 would run “between” Derby and Nottingham, and “between” Sheffield and Doncaster. But HS2 trains to London from Leeds, and Manchester, would not stop at any city inbetween.
One of the most troubling aspects of the HS2 project has been the torrent of misinformation emanating from official sources. This has even included false statements by HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins to parliamentary committees.
In August 2016, a complaint was made to HS2 Ltd about misleading and inaccurate statements made by David Higgins and chief executive Simon Kirby. The complaint asked HS2 Ltd to withdraw the statements, and provide accurate information.
HS2 Ltd did not respond to the complaint until November. As can be seen, the company’s view seems to be that complaints can only be made about HS2 Ltd’s “service”. And, apparently, inaccurate and misleading statements made by the company chairman to parliamentary committees are not part of that “service”, so no complaint can be recorded.
[HS2 Ltd response to complaint, Nov 2016]
Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding. There was an error in sending the reply below to you which unfortunately was only picked up earlier this week. I note that you originally requested your email to be treated as a complaint. Please be advised that our complaints process covers the service that HS2 Ltd provides and we do not consider that your email request is a complaint about HS2 Ltd’s service. We have therefore treated your email as a general enquiry and our response follows.
The statements that you refer to made by David Higgins and Simon Kirby relate to the broader strategic context for high speed rail rather than a detailed plan for the operation of HS2.
The remainder of the response was “look over there” off-topic waffle:
[HS2 Ltd, Nov 2016]
The Strategic Case for HS2, published in October 2013, sets out how additional capacity will be created by building a new high speed railway line which will free space on the existing network. The “Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2”, published in November 2015, provides an update to some of the evidence set out in the 2013 Strategic Case. The supplementary report details that HS2 Phase One could increase the combined capacity for fast trains on HS2 and the West Coast fast lines into/from London Euston from 15tph to 23tph. In turn, increasing the number of outer suburban commuter trains on the fast lines would allow a more even stopping pattern on the WCML slow lines.
The findings of a study on whether strategic alternatives to HS2 could meet HS2’s strategic objectives of increasing capacity and improving connectivity were published in October 2013 in the “HS2 Strategic Alternatives” report. This work is summarised in Chapter 4 of the “Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2”. HS2 would provide a step change in route capacity by having a new dedicated high speed line which would allow crowding issues on the inter-city services on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to be solved for the long term. In both the AM and PM peak, HS2 offers the potential to operate around 60-70 per cent additional inter-city services. HS2 would also provide a step change in commuter capacity on the WCML. This is because capacity released by operating much of today’s inter-city services on dedicated high speed lines could allow the number of West Midlands franchise services in the AM peak to increase from 28 to 41. Table 3 shows the increase in the number of seats that could be provided in the scenarios with HS2 compared with the strategic alternatives.
Further information is available in the “Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2” which is can be found on the HS2 website via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-supplement-to-the-october-2013-strategic-case.
The Department for Transport have been notified of the situation, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens.
‘A new £20m train manufacturing plant in north west England has been unveiled by Alstom UK’.
But is it a train manufacturing plant, or a ‘technical centre’?
How much ‘train manufacturing plant’ would £20 million buy? Could one build and fit out something like Vulcan Foundry, for £20 million?
[French train firm unveils plans for £20m plant in north-west England, Graham Ruddick, The Guardian, 7 Oct 2016]
Alstom has confirmed it will bid to build the trains for HS2 and unveiled plans for double-decker carriages. It is also bidding for the New Tube for London contract, which is worth up to £2.5bn and involves designing and building 250 next-generation trains for the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City lines in London.
[Alstom UK and Ireland managing director] Nick Crossfield said that even if the government scrapped HS2, which is estimated to cost more than £40bn, it “would not change the investment perspective for us here in the UK because there is a very significant and healthy domestic rolling stock market”.
Nonetheless, Crossfield said HS2 is a “very significant opportunity” for Alstom, with the company eyeing up the contracts to build rolling stock and infrastructure for the network. He said it was “too early to say” whether the trains would be built in the UK if Alstom won the contract, but some work is likely to be conducted in Widnes. The company employs 32,000 people around the world, including 3,200 at 12 UK sites.
The High speed Rail Industry Leaders Group has released an ‘independent report‘ claiming that Britain will forgo nearly 27,000 jobs by the end of the decade if it does not press ahead with the HS2 rail project, The Times reported (19 September 2016).
But, the “independent report” is the work of Albion Economics – which is run by Leo Eyles, an “associate director” of the high speed rail lobbying company Greengauge 21.
HSRILG was set up by Greengauge 21, and seems to be run by Jim Steer as a for-profit business, charging foreign rail and civil engineering contractors, and Network Rail and HS2 Ltd, for membership.
As might be expected, the jobs report is extremely short on detail, and contains no verifiable figures. It eschews discussion of the cost-per-job of HS2, or the opportunity employment costs (which are enormous).
Given its dependence on foreign contractors and labour, there is no doubt that HS2 would a very expensive way of creating a small number of UK jobs.
One of the most active purveyors of HS2 misinformation is the ‘High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group’, which was set up by Greengauge 21. A recent example of HSRILG nonsense was: ‘British companies won 95% of contracts on Crossrail, the same can happen with HS2.’
On its website, Crossrail Ltd does claim ‘that 95% of contracts have been awarded to companies based within the UK’.
But what does it mean?
So far as can be established, it doesn’t mean anything. In a December 2014 freedom of information response, Crossrail stated that it ‘does not hold information relating to UK spend’.
We hold information relating to the location of our tier 1 contractors, however we do not hold records of payments between businesses in our supply chain beyond the first tier.
Freedom of Information Officer
Crossrail | 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5LQ
It should be obvious that the UK share of Crossrail spend – or HS2 – could not be anything like 95%.
HSRILG has various classes of membership. Most of its ‘full members’ are foreign contractors, but the ‘affiliates’ are UK public sector bodies – HS2 Ltd, Transport Scotland, Network Rail, and Birmingham city council.
So the misinformation put out by HSRILG, is bankrolled by public funds.
Rail Central, a ‘rail-connected freight terminal’ proposed by Ashfield Land and sited near the West Coast Main Line between Milton Malsor and Blisworth, could be ‘a base for high speed freight trains formed of converted Intercity 125 HSTs’, according to a Railnews report. The developers are hoping to have Rail Central “operational by 2019 or 2020”.
[Strategic railfreight interchange debate ignites, Railnews, 2 June 2016]
Rail Central’s Nick Gallop told Railnews it was the developer’s intention to connect with the up and down lines on both the loop and the main line, which would open the door to express freight trains consisting of converted Intercity 125 sets. Mr Gallop said that he was in discussion with Porterbrook on the potential costs.
When asked what Network Rail and franchisees would think of Rail Central, Mr Gallop said: “Rail Central is being encouraged by Network Rail to develop these proposals and more detail will follow. Ashfield Land could pay for the route enhancements over and above their requirements in exchange for a Track Access Agreement guaranteeing them paths for Rail Central’s customers.”
Is Network Rail really ‘encouraging’ this crazy scheme? Rail Central is the type of project which might arise on the West Coast Main Line as a result of HS2 being built. In HS2 phase one, the West Coast Fast lines south of Rugby would see reduced numbers of passenger trains (but the Northampton loop might see more).
The idea of there being a market for Intercity 125 sets converted to “express freight trains” sounds highly improbable. And according to the local Stop Rail Central Action Group, the developers are circumventing local planning laws by labelling the scheme as a Nationally Strategic Infrastructure Project “when in reality it is just another logistics park with some limited capability to accept rail freight”.