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TfWM bus competition conundrum

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In 2011, the Competition Commission announced that the UK local bus market was not competitive enough, with little in-the-market competition. Local transport authorities, were being asked to consider “partnerships” with new operators to increase bus competition in their local areas, the BBC reported.

BBC News story, 'GB local bus market not competitive', 20 Dec 2011 (abridged)

Fast forward to 2018, and the Transport for West Midlands local transport authority is developing partnerships to reduce bus competition in its local area.

TfWM, 'first West Midlands Transport branded buses in operation'

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Written by beleben

September 20, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Posted in Politics, Transport

Living in Leeds City

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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? 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.

Also 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

More #londoninfra please

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twitter @ANJones_Planner, '@JoJohnsonUK Transport Minister reviewing that #HS2 will connect the UK’s major city economies; to enable London’s growth to support all UK. So more #londoninfra schemes to be confirmed? To unlock accessibility, access to talent and future housing delivery? Time for #crossrail2'

To paraphrase, #HS2 is #Londoninfra, and people all over the UK need to cough up for Crossrail 2, which is needed asap, so that London can er, support, the rest of the UK outside London.

Written by beleben

September 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Posted in London, Politics

East Coast vindication massage

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The House of Commons transport committee report into the demise of Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), published today, seems to vindicate what trade journalists were saying, according to Nick Kingsley, managing editor of the Railway Gazette.

twitter, @njak_100, 'Transport Committee report into the demise of Virgin Trains East Coast seems to vindicate what trade journalists were saying and contradict most of the rambling on Twitter. I'm shocked!'

Apple thinking face emojiBut what were ‘trade journalists’ saying at the time it became known that VTEC was failing, and does it accord with the findings in the transport committee report? There must be some libraries which have back copies of ‘Rail’, ‘Railway Magazine’, ‘Modern Railways’, etc. For instance, didn’t Nigel Harris, of ‘Rail’ magazine, claim that VTEC’s failure was, in essence, down to Network Rail’s failure to deliver ‘promised upgrades’?

Beleben blog, 17 May 2018, Vtec got their figures wrong

twitter, @rail (Nigel Harris), drawing erroneous conclusions

[Transport Select Committee, Sep 2018]

35. Sir Richard Branson’s comments in January 2018 left the initial impression that the delay to assumed infrastructure enhancements contributed to the early termination of this franchise. We conclude that Network Rail do not bear any responsibility for the early termination of this franchise. To date, Network Rail have provided all the infrastructure upgrades that it had formally committed to when this franchise was let. A series of other upgrades were assumed to occur by the DfT and VTEC to deliver an enhanced timetable from 2019 onward; though there was no formal funding commitment to these upgrades when the franchise was let.

twitter, @rail, critics start with hatred of Branson

Transport Select Committee, VTEC failure primarily down to VTEC, 12 Sep 2018

So, for accurate research, analysis, and comment on VTEC, HS2, and other debacles, support the Beleben blog. You know it makes sense.

Written by beleben

September 12, 2018 at 11:34 am

Posted in Politics, Railways

Hue and croy

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There are almost as many rail passengers passing through East Croydon as on all the inter-city journeys to the north of London put together, according to Angie Doll, of Network Rail, and this section of railway also has more train movements than anywhere else in Britain, making it a major factor in delays and disruption to services.

But Network Rail is looking to upgrade the existing infrastructure to provide extra capacity, through its ‘Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme’, rather than create a new railway. According to the company’s John Halsall, “Redeveloping [i.e. upgrading] the railway through Croydon is the only practical way to further improve the reliability of services on the Brighton Main Line”.

Network Rail, East Croydon busier than-wcml

Conversely, north of the Thames, as a result of the HS2 project, capacity can be expected to decrease on the West Coast Main Line, with the number of Euston classic platforms falling from 18 to 13, and a less homogeneous service on the fast lines.

How HS2 would reduce the number of classic platforms at Euston

Written by beleben

September 10, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Posted in HS2, Politics, Railways

The people within reach

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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

Miles and miles behind

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The UK rail industry is “miles and miles behind” and has become “welfare-dependent” on public funding, according to Mark Phillips, chief executive of the Rail Safety and Standards Board.

[Network Rail looks to save money by ditching EU standards, Josh Spero, Financial Times, 24 Aug 2018]

He said the structure of the industry, with its five- to seven-year franchises, discouraged long-term planning and investment: “People are only interested in the here and now. They’re not inclined to invest for the long term because they might not be there in the long term.”

Luisa Moisio, director of research and development at the RSSB, called the industry’s structural incentives “quite perverse”, pointing to the train operators’ refusal to adopt technology which would improve braking in the event of leaves on the line because they received payments from Network Rail for such delays.

'Network rail looks to save by ditching EU standards

Written by beleben

September 4, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Politics, Railways