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Calling Captain Invisible

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Boris boondoggle The Emirates AirlineHS2 logoBoris boondoggle Garden BridgeThe flawed Borismaster bus

'The former Labour minister Margaret Hodge, whose review of the Garden Bridge project led to its abandonment, said she was shocked at how “irresponsible” Johnson was with public money. But during her review [of the Garden Bridge] she was also struck by the lack of scrutiny of his profligate spending decisions when mayor.'

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner in the race to become the UK’s next Prime Minister, has asked [former HS2 Ltd chairman ‘Captain Invisible‘] Douglas Oakervee to review the case for building the high speed rail line, the Birmingham Mail reported (17 June 2019).

[Tory leadership front-runner Boris Johnson has already set up a review of the HS2 high speed rail line, Jonathan Walker, Birmingham Mail, 17 JUN 2019]
[…]
But Mr Johnson, who has been a critic of HS2 in the past, also made it clear [at a private hustings in London for Conservative Party constituency ‘chairs’ over the weekend] that he would be reluctant to cancel the project outright.

He said: “I worry about cancelling a big national project of that scale without anything else to replace it.”

He floated the option of “re-profiling the spend” so that construction of the northern leg of HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme – a proposed rail line between Leeds and Manchester – become the top priority.

'Captain Invisible' [Doug Oakervee] replaced: Sir David Higgins named as new HS2 chief, Mark Leftly, The Independent, 25 Sep 2013

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Written by beleben

June 17, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Posted in Bizarre, HS2, Politics

What is the predicted demand for Euston commuter seats?

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Although ‘Figure 3’ of the July 2017 Strategic Case presented figures for the modelled peak hour supply of Euston commuter seats ‘with HS2’, there was no corresponding presentation of the anticipated demand for these seats.

Euston capacity, HS2 strategic case, July 2017

So what information is held by the Department for Transport regarding this demand?

DfT FoI response, April 2019, no information is held on forecast demand for Euston rail commuter seats

Written by beleben

May 22, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Posted in HS2, Politics

Les décennies de négligence

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Further cutbacks of classic railways in France could leave entire regions of the country ‘completely isolated’ (Railway Technology reported).

Extract from 'Saving Frances rural railways', 02 May 2019

[Saving France’s rural railways: is there a light at the end of the tunnel?]

[…] “Regional railways have been neglected for decades as the priority has been given to high-speed lines, and there is also a constant, important decline of regional lines,” explains Michel Quidort, a member of FNAUT’s National Board and president of the European Passengers’ Federation.

Extract from 'Saving Frances rural railways', 02 May 2019

Written by beleben

May 19, 2019 at 8:51 am

Posted in HS2, Politics

‘There should be no embarrassment’

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On 16 May, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published its report ‘Rethinking High Speed 2‘, which considered the business case for the railway, and followed up on its 2015 report ‘The Economics of High Speed 2’.

[House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, 16 May 2019]

As we concluded in our 2015 report Economics of High Speed 2, “there should be
no embarrassment in being prepared to revise the project: the objectives and
cost are too important.”

HS2 needs rethinking says Lords Economic Affairs Committee, 16 May 2019

[BBC News, 19 May 2019]

HS2 will not offer value for money and risks “short changing” the North of England, a group of peers has warned.

A report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee also said it was “far from convinced” the new high-speed railway will be built within the £55.7bn budget.

It said the project should not go ahead without a new assessment of its costs and benefits.

The government said it “fundamentally disagreed” with the report.

twitter, Nottingham MP @LilianGreenwood, HS2 would be transformative for our connectivity

4% of 'HS2 full network' transport user benefits would accrue to the East Midlands

Written by beleben

May 16, 2019 at 8:14 am

Posted in HS2, Planning, Politics

Doing any more

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'TfN has a Strategic plan?'Peter Hendy, Network Rail’s chairman and a board member of Transport for the North (TfN), credits TfN chair John Cridland as the “real hero” for turning ‘demands into a strategic plan’.

[The north is on track for a boom, says former London transport chief, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 8 May 2019]

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has said Crossrail 2 cannot move ahead before the one nailed-on infrastructure scheme for the next five years: the TransPennine upgrade, wholly northern, and, at nearly £3bn, the top project in Network Rail’s current funding round. Hendy denies it is a watered-down version of the promised rail work, despite the shelving of full electrification. The plans are as extensive as possible given the disruption further engineering work would spell for passengers, he says: “In five years, if we do any more we will destroy rail travel between Manchester and Leeds.”

“Do any more”, than what?

So far as can be ascertained, the ‘plan’ is to close the line east of Stalybridge for months on end, in order to, er, not gauge clear it, and not install electrification.

twitter, @tonyberkeley1, 'At an All party rail in the North meeting, Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, reminded the audience that the upgrade of the main transpennine route would involve complete closure for 39 weeks each year for 4 years. I wonder how many passengers have twigged this?'

Written by beleben

May 13, 2019 at 9:56 am

The state of things to come

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Kirkby station by Raymond Knapman, Creative Commons

twitter @WilliamBarter1, Northern rail investment like this, right now

Picture of Kirkby station by Raymond Knapman, Creative Commons, with impression of CAF diesel train instead of railbus

Borat, thumbs up

Written by beleben

May 8, 2019 at 10:53 am

Why all the short trains?

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In 2008, the Department for Transport approved the manufacture of 106 additional Alstom Pendolino vehicles for extra capacity on the intercity West Coast  (ICWC) franchise. These vehicles allowed the lengthening of 31 existing Class 390 trainsets from nine to eleven carriages, and creation of four additional eleven-carriage units.

At that time, there was an option for the Department to procure a further 42 vehicles, to allow the 21 remaining nine-carriage Pendolinos to be lengthened to eleven carriages.

However, this option was not taken up. As a result, in 2017, only four of the eleven peak-hour ICWC departures from Euston were ‘full length’ (i.e., making full use of the available platform expanse).

Information from DfT about intercity West Coast Euston train composition, 2018

So if there is a ‘looming intercity capacity crunch’ on the West Coast Main Line, why didn’t the Department opt to have all Pendolinos lengthened to 11 carriages?

The indications are that the Department deemed the forecast demand as insufficient to justify the investment.

Needless to say, increasing capacity by lengthening trains is vastly cheaper than building new lines.

Written by beleben

May 8, 2019 at 9:12 am

Posted in HS2, Politics