beleben

die belebende Bedenkung

Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

HS2 chaos is one broken cable away

with one comment

Hundreds of delegates struggled to get home from the Labour party conference in Liverpool as trains to London were disrupted for a period on 26 September.

A ‘broken signal cable’ at Wembley meant no trains could operate between Watford and London Euston, with the knock-on effects emanating up to the Midlands and the North West.

Of course, signal cables are not the only items of railway equipment that can get broken or damaged. Trains can fail, rails can crack, and overhead power lines can be put out of action by balloons, trampolines, birds, malfunctioning pantographs, etc.

The amount of disruption which then ensues depends on various factors, such as where the fault happens, how well-prepared the operator is, and how much traffic depends on the route being open. Even on lightly trafficked routes, the disruption can be massive, if the operator is not well-prepared. In 2014, more than 1,200 Eurostar passengers were stranded for hours overnight near Lille on trains following an overhead cable problem, and were only able to complete their journey when diesel locos turned up to tow the stricken trains to their destinations.

A single broken cable on HS2 could throw rail services to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield into chaos (map: wikipedia)

If you were designing a railway network for resilience, you probably wouldn’t want to use the same line to link a country’s capital to its second, third and fourth largest metropolitan areas, and load it with 18 trains an hour, running at 360 km/h. But the government’s proposed HS2 railway would (supposedly) do just that.

Channelling all premier intercity traffic to and from the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire onto a single pair of tracks between Water Orton and London would bring chaos one broken cable, or cracked rail, away.

In the event of such HS2 disruption, say 25 km out of London, the legacy West Coast Main Line would be of very limited help. The government’s intention is reconfigure the WMCL for more commuter services, and reduce the capacity at Euston from 18 to 13 platforms. The idea that the WCML could be instantly switched back into a full-service intercity railway when HS2 is disrupted, is a fantasy.

Implementing HS2 means reducing West Coast Main Line intercity capacity, and reducing classic platforms at Euston from 18 to 13

Advertisements

Written by beleben

September 28, 2018 at 11:04 am

Posted in HS2, London, Planning, Politics

Living in Leeds City

leave a comment »

Having previously failed to acknowledge a FoI request for information about figures in their ‘Northern powerhouse rail booklet’, Transport for the North have belatedly provided a response.

[Response from TfN, September 2018]

I apologise for the delay in responding. Having regard to the duty to provide advice and assistance, I enclose a summary in respect of the Northern Powerhouse Rail (“NPR”) Booklet which in Figure 1 shows the present fastest time between Leeds and Newcastle as 87 minutes and the Transport for the North “(TFN”) fastest aspirational time as 60 minutes. The NPR Booklet on the TfN website has now been amended to provide the correct interpretation.
[…] I refer to your request for information held by TfN about the data and calculations underlying the diagram on page 4 of the booklet. Apart from the information supplied in the above summary, I consider that the information you have requested is exempt under Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that the information is held by TFN with a view to its publication at some future date, the information was already held with a view to such publication at the time when your request for information was made, and it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure.

The statement that “The NPR Booklet on the TfN website has now been amended to provide the correct interpretation” was more than a little baffling, because page four of the ‘FINAL‘ version, online at the time of writing, refers to the ‘number of people within reach of 4 or more city regions’. (In case TfN remove this document, it is reproduced below.)

Northern powerhouse rail booklet, ‘FINAL’ version

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'FINAL' version, page 1

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'FINAL' version, page 2

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'FINAL' version, page 3

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'FINAL' version, page 4

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'FINAL' version, page 5

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'FINAL' version, page 6

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'FINAL' version, page 7

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'FINAL' version, page 8


 
 
The Beleben blog has found out (not from TfN) that there are (at least) two versions of the booklet online at the time of writing. The ‘edit‘ version has a page four with different text, and was presumably created following the FoI request.

Northern powerhouse rail booklet, ‘edit’ version, page four

TfN Northern Powerhouse Rail booklet, 'edit' version, page 4

How much more sense does the ‘edit’ version make?

[Revise in light of Analysis document provided by TfN] On page six, it says one of the benefits of NPR is ‘three million’ more people brought within 90 minutes of Manchester airport. But according to page four, it is ‘seven million’, not three.

On page four, it is stated that NPR would bring 200,000 more people within 60 minutes of Newcastle upon Tyne. How?

Newcastle’s only NPR connection with the rest of the network would be to Leeds, ’60 minutes’ away (by NPR). As the within-60-minutes-reach measurement is calculated from people’s place of residence, that would, at best, mean that ‘200,000 people’ were living in Leeds railway station.


‘Analysis supporting the Northern powerhouse rail booklet on the TfN website’ (supplied by TfN)

Analysis supporting the Northern powerhouse rail booklet on the TfN website, August 2018, page 1

Analysis supporting the Northern powerhouse rail booklet on the TfN website, August 2018, page 2

Analysis supporting the Northern powerhouse rail booklet on the TfN website, NPR Accessibility, August 2018, page 3

Written by beleben

September 13, 2018 at 8:37 am

The people within reach

with one comment

The whole of page four of Transport for the North’s Northern powerhouse rail booklet is given over to a diagram of how it would supposedly change the ‘number of people within reach of four or more city regions’.

But it is not clear how these figures were arrived at, and they do not appear to make sense.

Northern powerhouse rail booklet, people within reach of 4 or more city regions

Does Transport for the North have an explanation of the diagram?

Judging by their complete lack of response, it would appear that they don’t.

Written by beleben

September 5, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Planning, Politics, Railways

Rabbit hutch science

with one comment

twitter, @Andrew_Adonis, 'How Singapore deals with housing shortage - the state builds & builds .... it’s not rocket science'

Written by beleben

December 4, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Planning, Politics

Plummeting from infinity

with 3 comments

In October 2009, Network Rail described the benefit-cost ratio for electrification of the Midland Main Line as “effectively infinite“.

On 16 July 2012, the coalition announced £4.2 billion for new rail schemes, including electrification of the Midland Main Line from Bedford to Sheffield, Nottingham and Corby.

In July 2015, the then-rail-minister Claire Perry MP said that ‘initial work’ considering the overall MML upgrade, “including electrification and other works indicates that for options which retain or improve fast intercity rolling stock, on all MML services the benefit cost ratio (BCR) would be in a range between 4.7 and 7.2 dependent on train length and train type.”

On 13 September 2016, the Beleben blog stated, “It is difficult to see how Midland electrification, in its present form, could ever be value for money. It might make sense if it were designed to cater for railfreight, and future passenger journeys from the West Riding and D2N2 to London. The government’s current intention is for such journeys to be transferred to the eastern leg of HS2.

In a Commons debate on 7 November 2016, Nigel Mills MP (Amber Valley) spoke of the “strong” benefit cost ratio for Midland electrification. Nicky Morgan MP (Loughborough) said, “The point I will come on to in a moment is that [the Midland electrification and HS2] schemes go together”. She invited rail minister Paul Maynard “to address the benefit-cost ratio”.

But in his waffle-prone contribution to the debate, Mr Maynard kept schtum about benefit-cost.

On 19 July 2017, transport secretary Chris Grayling cancelled the North-of-Kettering [NoK] element of the programme. In October 2017, he gave ‘new’ figures stating NoK had a net present value of -£129 million and a BCR of 0.77.

Midland Main Line appraisal, Oct 2017, Chris Grayling’s figures
Option Capacity
programme &
full
electrification
Incremental
electrification
north of
Kettering
Capacity
programme &
electrification
to Corby
NPV (£m, 2010 PV) 209 -129 337
BCR 1.21 0.77 1.78

Those bewildered by these ‘bad numbers’ included shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood.

Plummeting MML electrification VfM 'raises more questions than it answers' - @liliangreenwood

The Beleben blog can reveal that the cryptic clue to the ‘mystery of the plunging BCR’ lies in the seemingly-innocuous statement, “All three scenarios take account of the assumed impact of HS2 Phase 2 on the Midland Main Line upgrade programme.

Chris Grayling, updated MML electrification VfM takes account of HS2

According to a ‘sensitive’ document created for the Department for Transport in 2016, “the introduction of HS2 Phase 2 would have a material impact on the value-for-money of the Midland Mainline Upgrade Programme, reducing the BCR from 9.4 to 1.2” (i.e., low value for money).

Updated appraisal of the MML upgrade for the Department for Transport in 2016

In other words, contrary to the claims of Nicky Morgan, and the hopes of Lilian Greenwood, the Midland electrification and HS2 certainly do not “go together”.

As the Beleben blog stated in September 2016, the case for Midland electrification is completely undermined by HS2. Actually, HS2’s deleterious effects could be expected to impact other enhancement projects, such those backed by the ‘Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities‘ for the East Coast Main Line.

If HS2 were built, the government could not allow competition for long distance passengers with classic rail (which would have lower costs). The political embarrassment from such passengers choosing to keep using the existing railway would be immense.

So, what lies behind HS2 phase 2? On the evidence available, it is not a transport project, but a London real-estate project, ‘needed’ to justify the land grab (for over-platform development) at Euston. The ‘imperative’ of the Camden land-grab would also explain the government’s determination to avoid having Old Oak Common as its HS2 terminus.

De-scoped Midland Main Line electrification is a consequence of the government's obsession with its £60+ billion HS2 vanity project (picture: Network Rail)

Written by beleben

November 13, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Planning, Railways

Nobody expects the Grayling inquisition

with one comment

Chris Grayling (author: Chris-McAndrew)

Nobody was ever planning to electrify the railway to Scarborough, secretary of state Chris Grayling told the Commons transport select committee on 16 October, as he extolled the virtues of ‘hybrid’ and hydrogen powered trains.

Andrew Jones MP (author: Chris McAndrew), Wikimedia

[At the transport select committee]

[Chris Grayling:] In East Anglia, all the cross-country routes will be operated by hybrid trains shortly. They offer a huge amount of flexibility. To take one example, on the trans-Pennine route hybrid trains are essential to continuing the service from Scarborough to Manchester airport. As you start to electrify the route, you have the flexibility to run electric trains over the parts that are electrified and, in this particular case, diesel on the parts that are not. Nobody was ever planning to electrify to Scarborough. It gives you flexibility that you do not otherwise have. Today, we are in the world of diesel-electric; it will soon be battery-electric, and it will be hydrogen-electric. It gives much greater flexibility to use trains in different ways around the network.

In its report (March 2015) to the then-secretary of state Patrick McLoughlin, the ‘North of England Electrification Task Force’ (chaired by Andrew Jones MP)

  • listed the Scarborough line as a ‘Tier 2 priority’,
  • stated that bi-mode / hybrid trains were “widely viewed as an unnecessarily complex and costly solution which may not be appropriate for many of the services we have been considering.”

Northern Sparks report (2015), diagram 6.3

'Northern Sparks report', 2015

Written by beleben

October 27, 2017 at 8:46 am

Posted in Planning, Politics, Railways

Lost in the scrum

with 3 comments

HS2 arrives at Euston

HS2 executives have warned that journey time savings from the “£55.7 billion” high speed railway would be “lost in the scrum of passengers, queues and poor onward connections” at Euston station, unless the “£30 billion” Crossrail 2 is built.

[HS2 warns it will not ‘work properly’ without Crossrail 2, Gill Plimmer and Jim Pickard, Financial Times, 25 Sep 2017 (paywall)]

Euston is already severely overcrowded and currently handles more than double its supposed 20m passenger-a-year capacity. With HS2, more than 10 high-speed trains an hour, each carrying up to 1,000 passengers, could cause a huge crunch.

“We are dependent on Crossrail 2 for the train line to work properly at Euston,” said one senior person at HS2.

[…] modelling by TfL shows that — without Crossrail 2 — more than 17 Underground stations would “buckle” under crowding pressures from HS2.

A case of ‘One vanity project demands another’, perhaps. The entire economic case for Crossrail 2 remains under a cloak of secrecy.

Greater London Authority refusal to provide Crossrail 2 business case info, July 2017

If HS2 cannot “work properly” without Crossrail 2, why didn’t HS2 Ltd include statements to that effect, in its economic case?

Written by beleben

September 25, 2017 at 11:10 am

Posted in HS2, Planning, Politics