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Adder nuff Midlands Connect capacity nonsense

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The 2+3 seat version of the 5-car Bombardier trainsets on order for the West Midlands franchise has a standard class seating capacity of ~426, giving a 10-car total of ~852, according to the Department for Transport

‘HS2 all the way’ is needed because is needed because ‘the 17:46 from Euston to Crewe [commuter train] has an average “load factor” (capacity) of 214%. Upgrading the WCML [West Coast Main Line] directly disrupts all of these passengers and thousands more for years and provides only minor improvements’, according to David Blackadder-Weinstein, from Midlands Connect.

twitter, @weinsteinlinder, 'Welcome aboard the country’s most overcrowded service. The 17:46 from Euston to Crewe has an average “load factor” (capacity) of 214%. Upgrading the WCML directly disrupts all of these passengers and thousands more for years and provides only minor improvements.'

This ‘214%’ figure comes from the Department for Transport’s ‘Rail passenger numbers and crowding on weekdays in major cities in England and Wales: 2018’ report, so it is historic, rather than current, data. This publication included a list of the 10 ‘busiest peak trains’ in England and Wales in autumn 2018, but noted ‘These trains make up a small fraction of all services and do not represent general conditions on the railway’.

The Beleben blog has pointed out that HS2 is simply not required to address commuter demand on the West Coast Main Line. All commuter demand into and out of Euston can be accommodated by using space-efficient rolling stock. This is the approach being adopted for the busiest commuter railways into London – on the former Southern and Eastern regions.

The 2+3 seat version of the 5-car Bombardier trainsets on order for the West Midlands franchise has a standard class seating capacity of ~426, giving a 10-car total of ~852. There seems to be no reason why a future ’17:46 to Crewe’ could not be operated with a train of this sort, given that (i) most platforms are already long enough, and (ii) platform lengthening is generally the lowest-cost way of increasing capacity.

Written by beleben

September 9, 2019 at 11:24 am

Posted in HS2, Railways

Northern powerhouse rail and commutability

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In June 2019, Boris Johnson ‘pledged‘ he would be the PM who builds ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’.

But is the ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ concept a good fit with travel patterns in the north of England, and the levels of transport demand seen there?

Some Northern England inter-city modal share comparisons, 2011 census, Alasdair Rae

The available information suggests that the spatial distribution of people — and the diffuse travel patterns — limit the role that rail could play in northern commuting. Spending £39 billion on ‘Northern powerhouse rail’ would be very unlikely to change that.

The best opportunities for rail would come from creating S-Bahn systems in Manchester and Leeds, but this would require the existing, NPR-focused, policy to be torn up.

NPR is supposed to enable people to ‘commute from one city to another’, but most people do not live in city centres.

Consider a more realistic inter-city commute, from Crosby (Merseyside) to Salford Quays (Greater Manchester) using existing rail, and new-build ‘HS3 Northern powerhouse rail’.

1. Crosby (Merseyside) to Salford Quays (Greater Manchester) using existing rail

Outbound commuting activity steps
1. Walk / bus to Crosby station.
2. Wait.
3. Train (Merseyrail) to Central station.
4. Walk to Lime Street station.
5. Wait.
6. Train to Eccles station.
7. Wait.
8. Tram to Salford Quays.
9. Walk to end destination.

Crosby to Salford Quays commute with the existing railway (base map: OpenStreetMap)

2. Crosby (Merseyside) to Salford Quays (Greater Manchester) using ‘Northern powerhouse rail’

(For the purposes of this comparison, it is assumed the Liverpool NPR station is at Lime Street, and the Manchester NPR station is at Piccadilly.)

Outbound commuting activity steps
1. Walk / bus to Crosby station.
2. Wait.
3. Train (Merseyrail) to Central station.
4. Walk to Lime Street station.
5. Wait.
6. Train (Npr) to Piccadilly station.
7. Wait.
8. Tram to Salford Quays.
9. Walk to end destination.

Crosby to Salford Quays commute with conceptual 'Northern powerhouse rail' (base map: OpenStreetMap)

It should be apparent that for journeys like this, Northern powerhouse rail would make very little difference to commutability.

Written by beleben

August 22, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Is Crossrail ‘complex’? It’s complicated

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Crossrail is not ‘complicated’, says Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild, but the complex nature of the project is ‘not lost‘ on him (according to ‘Rail’ magazine).

Crossrail is not complicated, says TfL's Mark Wild, but the complex nature of the project is not lost on him

But surely, if Mr Wild is saying ‘Crossrail is not complicated’, then the ‘complex nature of the project’ is ‘lost on him’?

dictionary.com, meaning of 'complicated'

Borat, thumbs up

Written by beleben

August 20, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Bizarre, London, Railways

Woodland of confusion

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The UK has roughly one million hectares of ancient woodland, according to an article attributed to Ian Walmsley (Modern Railways magazine, presumably August 2019).

The UK has roughly 1 million hectares of ancient woodland, according to an article attributed to Ian Walmsley of Modern Railways magazine

But according to the Woodland Trust (2000), the figure is more like 309,000 hectares (excluding Northern Ireland).

No doubt a fair bit of the remaining ancient woodland must be in Scotland. Figures for how much there is in England, do not seem to be readily available.

The Woodland Trust (2000), there around 309,000 ha of ancient woodland in Great Britain

Written by beleben

August 16, 2019 at 8:11 am

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

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gov.uk, '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

Acton and inaction

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The ‘Great North Rail Project’ has brought Acton Grange junction ‘up to modern standards’ to ‘improve reliability on a route used by 260 trains each day’ (apparently).

twitter, @TheGNRP, 'We’ve brought #ActonGrange junction up to modern standards to improve reliability across this vital junction on the West Coast main line - used by 260 trains  each day

“Modern standards”?

From the photos in the GNRP tweet, it would appear that the overhead lines are just as vulnerable to failure propagation after the junction ‘has been brought up to modern standards’, as they were before.

If HS2 were cancelled, resources could be switched to fixing things like this, thereby making the whole railway much more reliable.

Written by beleben

August 5, 2019 at 9:52 am

Posted in Planning, Railways

That pesky Victorian wiring

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twitter, @WesleyTaylor2, 'Chaos with yet another de-wirement on the ECML today. Do we spend billions patching up a Victorian railway for sub optimal gains, or do we build a brand new purpose built mainline with huge capacity gains and without the inherent flaws of existing lines?'

 

Written by beleben

July 24, 2019 at 7:44 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2, Railways

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

How much latent capacity

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Virgin Trains, the operator of intercity trains from London to major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Preston and Glasgow, recorded 39.5 million journeys over the last year (2018/2019), compared to 14 million in 1997, when it took over the West Coast route. Based on the last six years of growth, passenger journeys would reach 55 million in 2026, ‘when HS2 is due to open’, if growth were unconstrained.

This announcement came as a new report by Campaign for Better Transport [CBT], Transformation of the West Coast Mainline, found that upgrades to the service, including the Virgin High Frequency timetable, had led to 7 million fewer car journeys a year between London and Manchester (etc).

'Virgin Trains on course for 50m passengers ahead of HS2 after breaking new records'

The increase from 14 million to a possible 50+ million annual ‘intercity’ passengers is an indicator of how much latent capacity there was — and is — on the West Coast tracks. HS2 is not mentioned in the main text of the CBT report, and available information suggests that it is not required to meet foreseeable future demand, even in the Department for Transport’s so-called Higher Growth scenario.

As an aside, there must be a question mark over the CBT claim that the enhanced West Coast service has led to ‘7 million fewer car journeys a year between London and Manchester’.

How was that number arrived at? Are there even 7 million rail journeys a year — in total — between those two cities?

Written by beleben

April 5, 2019 at 10:13 am

Posted in Politics, Railways

People’s rail versus vanity rail

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The government’s planned HS2 high-speed railway would make the UK even more divided and should be cancelled in favour of boosting services in the less well-off parts of the country, the New Economics Foundation said, in a report published on 20 March.

'HS2 would widen UK north-south divide and should be axed, says report', The Guardian, 19 Mar 2019

The report, which was commissioned by Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, was also covered by The Times.

The Times, 'HS2 will deepen regional divide as north loses out'

And the Daily Express.

Daily Express, New Economics Foundation HS2 story, March 2019

The analysis looks strong on the big-picture issues, but there is the odd blooper / WTF (for example, on page 14, it says “the capacity of Pendolino Class 390 trains is around 390”).

[A RAIL NETWORK FOR EVERYONE | PROBING HS2 AND ITS ALTERNATIVES, NEW ECONOMICS FOUNDATION, 20 Mar 2019]
[…]
Following a shambolic 18 months on the railways, with disastrous timetable
changes, the wrong kind of weather, and the cancellation of planned
electrification schemes, the government has launched a ‘root and branch’ review.
However, the review is missing some key roots and branches, two of them being HS2 and the latest package of maintenance and upgrades agreed with Network Rail. These have been deemed out of scope but should be included.

There are two fundamental problems with the railways in the UK that, in the interests of ensuring immediate and long-term value for public money, need
addressing before the much-needed major investment is committed. The first is the absence of an overarching rail or transport strategy, which leaves HS2 looking like the solution to a problem that has not yet been defined. It is what many in the rail industry call an engineering-led project rather than something that enjoys strong strategic or economic justification. The second fundamental problem is the chaotic ownership and management structures that will almost certainly lead to the squandering of investment capital.

Written by beleben

March 20, 2019 at 11:41 am

Posted in HS2, Politics, Railways