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Tom has left the building

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'HS2 exit' by Beleben

Former Tony Blair spin doctor Tom Kelly has left High Speed 2 Ltd after over five and a half years, New Civil Engineer revealed on 14 August (then took the story offline, and then put it back again).

Mr Kelly, who utterly failed to turn public opinion on HS2, is understood to have left HS2 Ltd at the start of August. The company ‘has lined up Aileen Thompson as Kelly’s replacement’.

[HS2 director for stakeholder engagement exits, Tim Clark, NCE, 15 Aug, 2019]

Kelly’s departure also comes weeks after the departure of HS2’s phase one managing director Jim Crawford.
Earlier this month the Serious Fraud Office also launched a call for evidence regarding whether HS2 had breached the law relating to the acquisition of properties along the route.


Written by beleben

August 15, 2019 at 8:31 am

Allegedly ‘full’ railway has room for ‘more seats and more frequent services’ (shocker)

leave a comment », 'West Coast marks new partnership model for rail', 14 Aug 2019

Homer hedge

Written by beleben

August 14, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Posted in HS2, Politics, Railways

Midlanders mostly unenthused by HS2

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Jake Gyllenhaal shaking head (gif)A YouGov survey for ITV News Central has found that just 26 per cent of Midlanders are ‘supportive’ of HS2, and just 8 per cent describe themselves as ‘strong supporters’.

  • A majority in the region either oppose the scheme, or have no strong opinion.
  • 34% don’t believe phase one of HS2 (Euston to Birmingham and Armitage) will be completed, 33% think it will happen, and the rest (34%) don’t know.
  • The survey ‘involved 1,119 adults in the ITV News Central region who were quizzed between July 26 and 31, 2019’.

Written by beleben

August 1, 2019 at 8:05 am

HS2 station is a waste of space, says Andy Burnham

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Mancunian metro-mayor and HS2 supporter Andy Burnham has attacked HS2 Ltd’s plans for a ‘surface’ high speed station at Manchester Piccadilly, at an IPPR North event on the future of rail services. Apparently, he wants a ‘Stuttgart 21‘ type arrangement at Piccadilly, to free up space for real-estate development.

twitter, @dneuerer, '#Stuttgart21 wird für die #Bahn wohl zum Finanzdesaster'

[Manchester is so congested, so manic, the mayor reckons we need an underground tube system, Jennifer Williams, MEN, 19 JUL 2019]

Adding that in Manchester rail bosses only want to do so ‘because they can’, he added: “What right has the rail industry got to come here and take all the land away around our train station just because they can, because it’s cheaper?”
Instead, he said, HS2 – which will need to be tunnelled under parts of Manchester anyway – should be linked up with HS3, also known as Northern Powerhouse Rail, and into a wider underground network.

“That for me is now what Manchester needs,” he said, rather than a ‘cut price’ option, adding that he ‘struggles to come to any conclusion that it needs something other than underground’.

“To do all this on the surface won’t make sense, otherwise you turn most[*] of Manchester into a railway station” […]

[* The Guardian’s account of this speech says “half of central Manchester”.]

Andy Burnham: HS2 a 'poor deal for most of the region's taxpayers', MEN, 4 Feb 2014

Written by beleben

July 22, 2019 at 8:42 am

Posted in Manchester, Politics

Completer says no

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'Accurate information about HS2 is bad, m'kay?'

Allan Cook, the chairman of HS2 Ltd, has written to Bernadette Kelly, permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, to warn that the HS2 rail project cannot be completed for the official £56bn budget, the Financial Times reported. (Whether the missive also included information on what bears do in the woods, was not immediately clear.)

[HS2 cost overrun stretches to £30bn, review shows, Gill Plimmer and Jim Pickard, FT, 19 Jul 2019][…]

[One] person close to the project said the costs had increased because of a “combination of poor ground conditions found during the surveying work, the costs of engineering a railway to a very high specification, and the further additional costs of it being designed to run at even higher speeds than other comparable rail projects”.

Long ago, the Beleben blog pointed out that if a new north – south line were needed (it isn’t, at the moment), the lowest-cost and lowest-risk option would be to reactivate the largely-intact Great Central alignment between Ashendon, Rugby, and (south of) Leicester.

Concept: Transfer Manchester -- London intercity trains from the West Coast route to a reactivated Great Central via a connection near Brinklow

[Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), 10 July 2019]

“I stand here to state confidently that the [HS2] budget is £55.7 billion and that the timetable is 2026 and 2033.”

HS2 technical director Andrew McNaughton said all cost estimates for HS2 were 'based on a worst credible case'  (Railnews, 30 October 2013)

HS2 technical director Andrew McNaughton said all cost estimates for HS2 were ‘based on a worst credible case’  (Railnews, 30 October 2013)


Written by beleben

July 20, 2019 at 8:58 am

Posted in Birmingham, HS2, London, Politics

At least triple

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This morning, Midlands Connect ‘launched Midlands Rail Hub [MRH] plans for a £2 billion investment’ with a photocall at Birmingham’s Moor Street station.

twitter, @Modern_Railways, Midlands Rail Hub  photocall at Birmingham's Moor Street station

In a tweet thanking @railfuture, Midlands Connect said plans had been submitted to government.

twitter, @MidsConnect, Midlands Rail Hub plans submitted to government

This is curious, because in a freedom of information response dated 20 June 2019, Midlands Connect said MRH plans were still “in the course of preparation”.

Midlands Connect, 20 June 2019, MRH plans still 'in the course of preparation'

The MRH ‘summary report‘, published today, suggests that the idea of diverting some East Midlands trains into Moor Street station, via a north chord at Camp Hill, has been ‘unditched’, and is a key element of the scheme. Whether it is still intended for the west (Moseley) and north chords to meet in mid-air above the existing line, is not clear.

Midlands Rail Hub, interventions diagram, June 2019

One of the report’s twenty four pages is given over to a picture of Network Rail technicians carrying out electrification works, yet the MRH scheme does not appear to involve such works.

The MRH scheme does not appear to involve electrification works, Jun 2019 (pic: Network Rail)

In the West Midlands HS2 connectivity package, the Camp Hill chords were costed at £240 million.

In the West Midlands HS2 connectivity package, the Camp Hill chords were costed at £240 million

But in today’s MRH summary report, they are costed at £900 to £950 million.

In today's MRH summary report, the Camp Hill chords are costed at £900 to £950 million

So, the new official cost of the chords, is at least triple the previous estimate.

The document is very short on specifics, and Midlands Connect still hasn’t even selected a preferred option for reinstatement of direct trains between Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham (via a dive under, flyover or reversal at Nuneaton).

Written by beleben

June 26, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Over and above

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From a passenger crowding point of view, the additional capacity provided by HS2 on the West Coast Main Line appears to be over and above what is required to meet capacity pressures for several decades, according to the House of Commons Library HS2 briefing paper written by Andrew Haylen (20 June 2019).

'High Speed 2: the business case, costs and spending', 20 June 2019 (cover of)

[High Speed 2: the business case, costs and spending, House of Commons Library, June 20, 2019][…]

The analysis in the paper shows that much of the capacity constraints on the network, from a passenger crowding point of view, only occur during the peak periods of the day and on confined parts of the network. During most other periods of the day, trains are travelling at less than half of their capacity.
While the [Atkins] strategic alternatives to Phase 1 [“P1”] do not provide this same step-change, the increase will be enough to ensure that there is sufficient capacity on the network during the busiest periods of the day. They can also be delivered at a much lower cost, and in the case of the West Coast Main Line constraints, they can be addressed for between 20 and 25% of the cost of HS2.

Some have questioned whether it makes sense for such a surplus of capacity to be delivered on one part of the network when other sections remain capacity constrained, particularly the lateral connections in the North of England as observed by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

Mr Haylen notes ‘There is a great deal of ambiguity as to how much HS2 will cost’.

HS2, formal and derived cost estimates, House of Commons Library, 21 June 2019

[House of Commons Library, High Speed 2: the business case, costs and spending, Published Thursday, June 20, 2019][…]

A large part of this confusion lies in the fact that very few estimates of the costs have been published. A comprehensive breakdown of the costs for the full Y-network of HS2 has not been published since 2013.

Various estimates of costs get circulated in the public domain, most notably the £55.7 billion for the full Y-Network. It is important to note that this is not a cost estimate, but rather a funding envelope. The former is an estimate of how much needs to be spent, the latter relates to what is available to spend. There have only been three estimates published by DfT and HS2 Ltd for the cost of the full Y network and account for the infrastructure and rolling stock costs:

• The first estimates for the costs of HS2 were published in the February 2011 HS2 Economic Case. The Phase 1 costs were estimated to be £19.6 billion (2009 prices), with the full Y network estimated at £37.5 billion.

• For the January 2012 economic case update, the cost of the full Y-network HS2 was estimated at £40.8 billion (2011 prices).

• In 2013 the total cost of the cost of the full Y-network HS2 was estimated at £50.1 billion, 94 including £42.6 billion for construction and £7.5 billion for rolling stock (in 2011 prices).

The official HS2 cost estimates do not include the bill for Davenport Green (‘Manchester Airport’) station, upgrading the existing line north of Sheffield Midland (for Birmingham – Sheffield – Leeds HS2 trains), or redevelopment of Crewe station as a full HS2 hub, etc.

Written by beleben

June 24, 2019 at 9:09 am