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Greengauge HS2 landtake muddle

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In its 2018 investigation of property acquisition for the HS2 railway, the National Audit Office noted that about 70 square kilometres of land was needed for phase one.

NAO, HS2, land and property acquisition, 13 Sep 2018 (extract)

But according to Jim Steer’s Greengauge 21 blog (25 July 2013), the land needed would be 11.7 square kilometres.

GG21, HS2 land take, 25 Jul 2013

At least one of these estimates must be incorrect. So, who might be more reliable?

Jim has a track record of getting things wrong (see, for example, his early claims for the cost of HS2). In this case, his error seems to have been getting his designer to make up a fancy graphic, using figures from an unreliable blog.


Written by beleben

January 17, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Posted in HS2, Railways

This dreadful strategy

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On 15 January, the West Midlands Rail Executive published its ‘revolutionary‘ investment ‘strategy’ for the next 30 years.

twitter, @railleaders, 'A new 30 year plan for rail in the WestMidlands has been unveiled, taking advantages of the benefits of HS2'

[West Midlands Rail Executive]

In the short-term, this includes the return of passenger services and stations on the Camp Hill Line and Wolverhampton to Walsall line.

It also sets out a clear target to achieve regular high frequency services of two, four or six trains an hour at all stations, with busy urban stations receiving a service every ten minutes and quieter local stations at least every half hour during the day.

In the medium-term, the strategy builds on the benefits HS2 will bring to the region and supports the Midlands Rail Hub proposals being developed by Midlands Connect.
The Strategy has been drawn up by the WMRE in collaboration with Midlands Connect, the Department for Transport and the wider rail industry. It has been finalised following a period of public and stakeholder consultation.

The Strategy also commits to producing a supporting ‘Prospectus for Rail’, which will be published in 2019, setting out our overall ambitions for the revolution in rail services.

As with any ambitious plan, it is recognised that not all of the plans may end up being funded or delivered in practice. This particularly applies to the longer-term projects.

WMRE, 'West Midlands Rail revolution promised', 15 Jan 2019

Cornerstones of this dreadful ‘strategy’ include the impractical ‘Midlands Rail Hub’, and “making the most of capacity released by HS2”.

Q. So, in the West Midlands, what does ‘making the most of capacity released by HS2’, actually amount to?

A. According to the strategy’s “development scenarios” for the Coventry corridor (‘before’ and ‘after’ HS2 phase one), nothing very much at all.

As regular readers of this blog will know, HS2 could not release much capacity on the West Coast Main Line.

Rail Engineer, 'the capacity benefits of HS2'

After spending £27,000,000,000++ on HS2 phase one to, er, ‘release capacity’, stations like Stechford, Lea Hall, and Hampton-in-Arden would still have just two trains per hour to Birmingham.

Systra, West Midlands rail development-scenarios (extract), Coventry corridor, published 15 Jan 2019 (numbers in black squares are trains per hour)

Written by beleben

January 16, 2019 at 12:16 pm

People have only to look at Crossrail

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People have only to look at Crossrail to see that the government has a good recent track record in delivering major projects on time and on budget, transport secretary Chris Grayling declared, in the course of a ‘HS2 update‘ in the House of Commons chamber in July 2017.

Chris Grayling, 'People have only to look at Crossrail to see that the government has a good recent track record in delivering major projects on time and on budget'

The Guardian: 'Delayed Crossrail could cost nearly £3bn more than planned'

twitter, @TomBurridgebbc, 'Crossrail needs roughly an extra £1.5 billion and @TfLRail essentially admitting it won’t be ready before more than 1 yr late. This station in central London supposed to be open and operating this week. The delay to #Crossrail is an embarrassment for the Govt & the Mayor'

twitter, @simonharrisitv. 'Crossrail's unfinished Bond Street station'

twitter, @BBCTomEdwards, 'Documents released by Tfl of briefing on July 26th show Mayor told it was at “high risk” & options for partial / section opening “not feasible”.'


Written by beleben

December 11, 2018 at 10:50 am

Posted in London, Railways

Disappointed and dissatisfied

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‘Crucial plans to massively upgrade rail links for freight traffic’ across the North of England are set to be abandoned, leaving freight bosses “disappointed and dissatisfied”, The Yorkshire Post reported.

Northern powerhouse rail director Tim Wood and transport secretary Chris Grayling

[EXCLUSIVE: Anger as plans to electrify north’s freight network are scrapped | Mark Casci | Yorkshire Post | Thursday 06 December 2018]

Officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) have let freight bosses know that they will only put forward plans to electrify the route between Leeds and Manchester for passenger trains, with plans to apply the same improvements to freight trains set to be scrapped for the foreseeable future.

The recommendation – given by the DfT’s internal Board Investment and Commercial Committee to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling – comes after more than two years of campaigning by the freight industry.

On September 18, the Beleben blog pointed out that de-scoping Transpennine North electrification down to a ‘Cispennine’ scheme between Leeds and Huddersfield, made no sense.

Money which could be spent on electrifying the Standedge and Calder Valley railways, and fixing bottlenecks in Manchester, is being squandered on HS2, and the equally absurd ‘Northern powerhouse rail’ project.

twitter, @MarkCasci, "Here we go... electrification of the Leeds to Manchester rail route will NOT cover freight. How many millions will this cost the North's economy?"

Written by beleben

December 7, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Freight, HS2, Railways, Transport

And then there were three

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Until 14 December, Transport for West Midlands are ‘seeking feedback’ on plans for ‘new’ stations at Hazelwell, Kings Heath, and Moseley, on the Camp Hill line. These stations would be built in much the same locations as the original ones, closed as an economy measure during World War 2.

TfWM, Camp Hill stations engagement, 2018

TfWM’s consultation document says that a restored local train service on the Camp Hill line would

* widen the choice of transport options and decrease reliance on cars
* reduce congestion on the A435 Alcester Road and surrounding routes
* decrease air and noise pollution from traffic congestion
* address long journey times into central Birmingham, and
* improve capacity to bring goods and services in and out of the area.

However, TfWM are not consulting on the train service, only on the design of the three stations (as plans for a station at Balsall Heath have disappeared, without explanation).

As the revived Camp Hill stopping service would run just twice an hour, to and from Birmingham New Street station, it is hard to see how there could be much impact on road congestion or pollution.

TfWM plans three new stations on the Camp Hill line

Ambitions for a more practical service, into Birmingham’s Moor Street station, appear to be going nowhere, perhaps because the proposed Camp Hill chords at Bordesley have not been thought through properly. It seems safe to assume that the bus (National Express WM #50) will remain the most relevant public transport mode on the Moseley Road corridor, for the foreseeable future.

Judging from the artists’ impressions, the chosen station designs leave a lot to be desired. For example, the canopies over part of the platforms would be supported by poles on the platforms themselves, creating a sort of obstacle course for people getting on and off.

Lacklustre stations, and a mediocre train service. Why does it have to be like this?

A few years ago, West Midlands councillors were vociferous in their demands that all local rail stations should have ticket offices 'manned' during service hours. But in the new stations consultation document, there seems to be no sign of any ticket offices

At least TfWM do not seem to be frothing at the mouth about the idea of trees on railway property, unlike sections of the ‘enthusiast’ press.

TfWM impression of Moseley station, 2018

Written by beleben

November 22, 2018 at 11:50 am

Not in Newton Aycliffe

twitter, @TurnipRail, IEP made in Japan label


Because screwdriving is not making.

Written by beleben

November 21, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Politics, Railways

Rebrand and relief

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Much of HS2 phase 2b could support intra-northern journeys like Sheffield to York. Politicians could just rebrand it as Northern Powerhouse Rail and still get capacity relief at key hubs, which is the main priority, according to rail editor Nick Kingsley.

@twitter, njak_100, 'Much of #HS2 Phase 2b can support intra-northern journeys like Sheffield to York. Politicians could just rebrand it as Northern Powerhouse Rail and still get capacity relief at key hubs, which is main priority.'

But how could there be ‘capacity relief at key hubs’? In phase 2b of HS2, high speed trains from London would run into the existing stations at Sheffield and York.

HS2 phase two route map (2018)

For HS2 trains to run between the existing stations at Sheffield and York, they would have to use the existing two-track line through Meadowhall. Furthermore, to re-join the HS2 line, they would need a new junction, which is not included in the £55.7 billion HS2 budget.

The approach tracks to Sheffield Midland from the north

Written by beleben

October 30, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Politics, Railways