beleben

die belebende Bedenkung

Archive for the ‘Public transport’ Category

Going for cold on Crossrail 2

leave a comment »

London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that the capital’s transport network will ‘grind to a halt’ under the “unbearable strain” of millions more passengers, unless the government agrees to co-fund the £30 billion (?) Crossrail 2.

What might have prompted that ‘warning’?

[Sadiq Khan: London’s transport network will grind to halt amid ‘unbearable strain’ without Crossrail 2,  PIPPA CRERAR, Evening Standard, 8 Feb 2017]

It comes as Government insiders revealed concerns about stumping up almost half of the current £32 billion cost, with one claiming ministers were “going cold” on the idea.

But the immediate ‘strain’ for Transport for London is an overall fares income ‘down £90 million due to lower passenger volumes’, according to Greater London Assembly Conservatives.

Big-business pressure group London First claimed that Crossrail 2 could be built for

Big-business pressure group London First claimed that Crossrail 2 could be built for “£12 billion”

In the view of the Beleben blog, Crossrail 2, in its present form, is a vanity project, and should not be built.

The full economic case has been kept from the public, but the available summary information indicates that Crossrail 2’s benefit-cost and other metrics are not particularly impressive.

Obviously, transport congestion in central London is not limited to Crossrail 2’s south-west-to-north-east axis. It requires a holistic approach.

On-street trams could relieve the Underground in central London and provide quicker journeys in many cases

On-street trams could relieve the London Underground – and provide quicker journeys, in many cases

With further automation and platform screens, the capacity of existing Underground lines could be increased substantially. And for many journeys in central London, new on-street light rail would be quicker than the tube.

London Crossrail 2 as proposed in 2015

London Crossrail 2 as proposed in 2015

Is Crossrail 2 a housing scheme masquerading as an 'essential' transport scheme?

Written by beleben

February 9, 2017 at 11:36 am

From clumsy to lacklustre

leave a comment »

Leeds City station from the west

When the Leeds NGT ‘clumsybus’ scheme was cancelled last year, the government agreed the city could keep the £173m allocated for the trolleybus to spend on ‘other transport improvements’. On 26 January, transport secretary Chris Grayling MP told business leaders at the Leeds Chamber Annual Dinner that the money “will make a real difference to transport in this city”.

But how is the money to be spent? At the moment, there does not seem to be any public explanation, but there are uncosted plans for new railway stations at ‘Leeds Airport parkway’ (somewhere on the Leeds to Harrogate railway), Thorpe Park, and the White Rose Shopping Centre.

Would these stations “make a real difference to transport” in Leeds? According to a 2014 Atkins report, the proposed station site at the White Rose Centre

[New Railway Stations in North and West Yorkshire Feasibility Study for West Yorkshire Combined Authority]

was felt to be unsuitable due to the changes which would be needed to the track and signalling equipment. The site is located on a curve with a high line speed and a high degree of cant. Constructing a station at this location would be costly.

The site is also relatively close to Leeds City Centre which means that the
impact of stopping services in this area would be detrimental to journey
times for existing passengers and line capacity is already constrained. Morley
and Cottingley stations are both less than 1.5 km either side of the
White Rose Centre.

The Atkins claim that ‘new stations close to Leeds City Centre would be detrimental to journey times for existing passengers’ would probably hold true if re-worded: ‘new stations would be detrimental to journey times for existing passengers’. One could make a perfectly good case for building new stations in the city centre ‘corona’, for example, at Marsh Lane, and Armley.

The indications are that a Leeds Bradford Airport parkway station would make next to no difference to traffic congestion. So what is the value for money, compared to just running a better bus service from the city centre to the airport?

One of the biggest obstacles to the creation of an S-bahn-type rapid transit in Leeds is the planned HS2 terminus just south of City station. If built, it would probably prevent four-tracking of the railway out of Leeds towards Neville Hill.

A Leeds S-Bahn-type rapid transit could re-use the abandoned Farnley viaduct in Holbeck

A Leeds S-Bahn-type rapid transit could re-use the abandoned Farnley viaduct in Holbeck

Written by beleben

January 27, 2017 at 1:01 pm

The tramway in Stephenson Place

with one comment

With its abrupt bend at the foot of a steep gradient, the Midland Metro in Birmingham’s Stephenson Place must be one of the most hazardous sections of track in Great Britain. This month has seen the posting of wardens in hi-vis at the top and bottom of the incline, apparently to try to manage pedestrian flow in the busiest times of the Christmas period.

Street warden at top of Stephenson Place, December 2016

Street warden at top of Stephenson Place, December 2016

The curve at Stephenson Place is potentially as hazardous as the one at Sandilands on Croydon Tramlink, where a derailment on 9 November of a tram travelling at excess speed resulted in deaths and serious injuries. The Croydon derailment, which received extensive press coverage, is the subject of an investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

Street warden at bottom of Stephenson Place, December 2016

Street warden at bottom of Stephenson Place, December 2016. The CAF trams used on Midland Metro are fitted with various types of glazing made in France, Spain, and the Czech Republic

In the view of the Beleben blog, there are questions to be asked about the crashworthiness of the vehicles used on Tramlink, and other GB systems.

Written by beleben

December 7, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Misinformation is not a service

with 2 comments

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.

Statement made by HS2 chairman David Higgins to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee

Statement made by David Higgins to the Commons Transport Select Committee

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.

HS2 Ltd's Beth West stands in front of HS2 Ltd's 'culture'

Written by beleben

November 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Northern rail delusions

leave a comment »

According to the publicity for today’s Bauer ‘National Rail Conference’ – titled “The North: Leading The Way” – a world class rail service has been promised to the north of England.

Bauer national rail conference, 1 Nov 2016, website

Opening the conference, at a hotel in Manchester, Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne reportedly claimed that “Britain runs on rails”.

Twitter, @anderberg66:  'Britain runs on rails' says Mark Carne when opening the 2016 Bauer 'national rail conference'

But to what extent does Britain – and the north of England – really ‘run on rail’?

Rail journeys in England, 2014 statistics (gov.uk)

Government data suggests that Great Britain, as a whole, could not realistically be said to run on rail. And in the north of England, due to a number of factors, use of rail is below the national average. In cities like Sheffield and Hull, local rail’s market share is close to zero, and there is no likelihood of that changing.

In other parts of the north, such as West Yorkshire, there would be the possibility of significantly increasing the use of local rail, but there are many obstacles. One of the issues is that trains just do not run anything like often enough, to be of much use.

Sadly, solutions to such problems are very unlikely to emerge from today’s conference in Manchester. Its focus seems to be on vanity projects, such as ‘HS3’.

Written by beleben

November 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm

The sensitivity of St Pancras

with one comment

The Department for Transport has released some information on the repartition of commuter and long distance traffic on the East Coast and Midland routes into London, the Beleben blog can reveal.

London arrivals on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines, 2011 - 2013 (Source: DfT)

London arrivals on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines, 2011 – 2013 (Source: DfT)

[DfT, Dec 2014]

[…] The information that is being released is provided in the [above] table, showing 3 hour and 1 hour morning peak arrivals into London on franchised long distance and suburban services on the Midland Mainline and the East Coast Mainline. DfT does not hold passenger loading data for open access operators.

The Department has determined that information showing loadings on London Midland services at Euston, and showing off-peak arrivals and peak and off-peak departures on the Midland Mainline and East Coast Mainline cannot be disclosed. It is being withheld under the exemption in Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Exemption 43(2) applies because the Department in conjunction with the train operators consider these data to be commercially sensitive. In applying this exemption we have had to balance the public interest in withholding the information against the public interest in disclosure.

Written by beleben

December 17, 2014 at 11:42 am

A magic wand and a big bag of cash

leave a comment »

HS2 Trainspotting

HS2 Trainspotting

The new Shadow transport secretary, Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, is the “proud” son of a railwayman and is “hugely alert to the importance of rail”. But he believes too many of his predecessors have focused on train users commuting into London. He pointed out only 5% of commutes are by train, but 78% of people get to work by car.

[“Labour car war is over- New transport chief’s vow to help road users”, Jason Beattie, Daily Mirror, 2 Dec 2014]

“I want to be a ­Transport Secretary not a train-spotter and there have been too many ­train-spotters in the job. When people demonise the motorist it’s ­offensive. […]”

He added: “I haven’t got a magic wand and a big bag of cash but there are things you can do. You can do more co-ordination in terms of street works, better management. At the moment nobody runs the road network.”

Written by beleben

December 13, 2014 at 11:44 am