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Summit must be done, part two

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Andy Burnham, 'Chester to Manchester rail journeys take longer than in 1962'

At last week’s transport ‘summit’, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham highlighted that a train journey between Chester and Manchester is now slower than in the 1960s, the Chester Chronicle reported.

[‘Manchester to Chester train journey slower than in 1962’, says Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, David Holmes, Chester Chronicle, 27 August 2017]

Speaking to political and business officials, Mr Burnham said: “It takes four minutes longer to travel by train from Manchester to Chester than it did in 1962.

“I think that pretty much makes for why we are here today.

[…] ITV Granada reporter Daniel Hewitt recently tested out public transport links between Manchester and Thornton Science Park near Ellesmere Port which received millions of pounds worth of investment as part of the Northern Powerhouse vision.

He found a 35-mile journey that would take 50 minutes by road can take almost two and a half hours by train.

An accompanying article on the ITV website stated: “There’s anger from businesses about how plans for the Northern Powerhouse are stalling at the starting gate. When it comes to public transport for example you can get from Manchester to London in two hours eight minutes.”

Andy Burnham, 'how much have your journey times changed'

[Reality Check: Does the North get a raw deal on rail?, BBC, 27 Aug 2017]

[Transport for Greater Manchester]’s analysis of historical train timetables show that in 1962 the fastest service from Chester to Manchester took 56 minutes, stopping at one station in between.

Today it takes 60 minutes but makes seven station stops.

By contrast, according to TfGM, the fastest journey from Manchester to London in 1962 was 220 minutes.

It is now 124 minutes, a reduction of nearly 44%.

On 28 August, the Guardian reported that trains connecting Britain’s major towns and cities are up to four times slower outside the south-east, ‘according to research’.

[British trains ‘up to four times slower outside the south-east’, PA, 28 Aug 2017]

Press Association analysis of the quickest possible trains on 19 routes found that services from London travel at average speeds of 65 – 93 mph, compared with 20 – 60 mph elsewhere.

The slowest route featured in the study was Liverpool Central to Chester, which takes 41 minutes to make the 14-mile journey (as the crow flies) at 20 mph.
[…]
Many of the slowest routes featured in the analysis, which featured trains operating on Fridays, are served only by trains with multiple stops.

Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool city region, claimed the figures highlighted the “investment deficit that is seriously undermining growth potential in the north”.

He said: “You simply cannot deliver a ‘northern powerhouse’ as long as the regions that delivered the industrial revolution are reliant on transport infrastructure that is operating on a 19th-century timetable.”

Luke Raikes, a senior research fellow at thinktank IPPR North, said slow journey times were “down to decades of underinvestment as the government has just responded to congestion problems in London”.

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Written by beleben

August 30, 2017 at 10:31 am

Reluctance to state

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Compared to conventional rail, high speed rail has lower capacity

What it says on the board

August 15’s blogpost on high speed line capacity was described as a “highly personal attack” on consultant William Barter (by Mr Barter).

twitter, @busandtrainpage

In a response posted on Twitter, Mr Barter stated that he was arguing that ‘conventional rail does not have a capacity advantage over high speed rail, not that high speed rail does have a capacity advantage over conventional rail’.

Bombardier high speed rail capacity evaluation report, 2011, Figure 3

But there seemed to be a strange reluctance to state whether or not high speed, on plain line sections, meant lower line capacity (the implication of ‘Figure 3’ in Bombardier’s 2011 report).

twitter, WilliamBarter1, status_898204008338292737_response

@williambarter1, twitter, 'minstel singing'

Written by beleben

August 22, 2017 at 9:05 am

Posted in HS2, Transport

Stop on a pause

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On a visit to Bristol Temple Meads, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond “repeatedly refused” to confirm that electrification of the Great Western Main Line into the station would ever happen, and appeared “to put a full stop on last year’s ‘pause’”.

[Chancellor Philip Hammond refuses to confirm electrification of rail line to Bristol will ever happen, Tristan Cork, Bristol Post, 30 May 2017]

In fact, when asked if it would ever happen, the Chancellor instead spoke of the wisdom of ‘re-engineering’ the £3 billion project so that Bristol would get at least some benefit from it, ‘without the costly infrastructure’.

Wales Online, July 2013

Written by beleben

May 30, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Posted in Politics, Transport

A trip aboard HS2

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HS2 step at platform, diagram

On 20 April an OJEU tender notice was issued for the ‘£2.75 billion, 60-train’ HS2 phase one rolling stock procurement. HS2 Ltd’s Pre-Qualification Technical Summary states its intention to procure “a single fleet of rolling stock that will be capable of operating on the HS2Network and the Conventional Rail Network (CRN), referred to as the ‘Conventional Compatible’ or ‘CC’ fleet”.

A perusal of the PQTS seems to confirm the view that the rolling stock specifications are as muddled as the rest of the project, but HS2 Ltd do not intend to change them in any substantive way.

[HS2 Ltd]

This PQTS is a precursor to the full Train Technical Specification (TTS) which will be provided with the Invitation to Tender. The requirements of this PQTS will be incorporated into the TTS along with other more detailed performance and functional requirements. Note that the TTS will supersede and replace the PQTS. HS2 Ltd does not intend to change in any substantive way the requirements set out in this PQTS. However, HS2 Ltd reserves its right to do so and will identify any such changes in the TTS in due course.

Contrary to all the accessibility hype, the PQTS suggests that there is little to no intention to provide ‘step free access’ between all stations served by HS2 trains. Even on the handful of stations on the captive network (“HS2 Platforms”), ‘step free’ access would involve negotiating, er, steps.

[HS2 Ltd]
The maximum vertical step between the deployed Moveable Step and an HS2 Platform shall be +20/-0mm except under Exceptional PTI Conditions.
Rationale: The maximum single step negotiable, unaided, by 98% of wheelchair users is +20mm; higher steps are negotiable but with decreasing success rates.

[…] The maximum vertical step between the deployed Moveable Step and an HS2 Platform shall be +30/-10mm under all conditions including Exceptional PTI Conditions. The TMM and HS2 will agree the Exceptional PTI Conditions, which are expected to include rarely-experienced vehicle conditions such as deflated suspension or Exceptional Payload.

[…] The maximum horizontal gap between the deployed Moveable Step and an HS2 Platform shall be 30mm.

[…] When deployed, the Moveable Step shall have a minimum horizontal surface depth (perpendicular to the bodyside) of 240mm

[…] The maximum vertical distance between the Moveable Step and the floor of the vestibule shall be 30mm.

Wouldn’t vertical discontinuities of those sizes, on a pavement of the public highway, be considered as “trip hazards”?

Does the claim of HS2 'step free access' match the reality?

Does the claim of HS2 ‘step free access’ match the reality?

The technical standards which HS2 is being designed to are obsolescent and inappropriate. For example, the train crashworthiness is based on a low-speed ‘level crossing’ collision with a heavy goods vehicle (which would be much lighter than the train), yet there would be no level crossings on HS2.

Survivability in realistic crash scenarios at actual HS2 operating speeds, is not considered at all.

 

 

Written by beleben

April 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Behind the idea

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Momentum is gathering behind the idea of including Bradford on a high-speed line between Manchester and Leeds, according to the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has commissioned Arup to investigate the options.

[‘Plans to transform Bradford Forster Square station remain on track’, Claire Wilde, T&A, 6 Feb 2017]

The T&A has found out that the possible options being explored include:

* A through line for Bradford city centre for the first time in its history;

* Bringing the high-speed line underneath the existing city, using tunnels, cuttings, or both;

* A new underground high-speed platform built beneath Bradford Interchange;

* Possible pedestrian subways linking this to Bradford Forster Square station.

[…] The feasibility study will be fed back to working group Transport for the North (TfN) which has been given £60 million of Government funding to draw up proposals for a high-speed link between Leeds and Manchester, which is now called Northern Powerhouse Rail.

If the government cannot fund the electrification of the Selby to Hull railway, what are the chances of a new ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ line being built between Manchester and Leeds, via Bradford?

Bradford, OpenStreetMap

Before the construction of the Broadway development, there would have been the possibility of an affordable heavy rail link across Bradford city centre. However, the council and Integrated Transport Authority, failed to protect an alignment.

Bradford's Forster Square and Exchange stations (1947)

In 1947 Bradford’s Forster Square and Exchange stations were closer together than they are now

Written by beleben

February 7, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Way we won’t

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HS2 provides a “real opportunity to take Northern Powerhouse Rail forward” in that “we” will be able to “use some parts” of that network [HS2] to help us improve connections across the north, according to Transport for the North chief David Brown.

[‘Vital transport links closer to being a reality’, RTM, Jan 2017]

The new and improved northern rail network cradling and interfacing with a fast HS2 rail link is exactly what is needed to provide the capacity and connectivity the north needs to grow and develop its full potential. Working in cohesion, the services will together deliver our vision of city to city links, both east-west and north-south, effectively mobilising one of the most powerful workforces in the UK.

“Exactly what is needed”?

There is no way that rail, or road, development could ‘mobilise’ disparate workforces in cities like Liverpool and Newcastle upon Tyne, into a single so-called ‘Northern powerhouse’. They are simply too far apart.

And there is no way that HS2 – a ‘transport for London’ project – could play a significant role in northern connectivity.

HS2 does not link northern cities, and attempting to re-use sections of phase 2 to perform that function (e.g. between Manchester and Liverpool) is likely to waste enormous sums of public cash.

Building a very high speed railway to London is not a way of improving rail in the north.

Written by beleben

January 19, 2017 at 11:04 am

Posted in HS2, Transport

The semi-detached HS2 chairman

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HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins is to become chairman of Gatwick airport next month, leaving the high-speed rail project “with an increasingly occupied figurehead and no permanent chief executive”.

[HS2 chairman takes job at Gatwick, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian,`15 December 2016]

Higgins, who also spends time working in Australia as a director of the Commonwealth Bank, will take over from Sir Roy McNulty on 1 January at the Sussex airport.

He is paid £240,000 for three days a week at HS2 and is understood to be remaining in post as chair for up to a year, until a replacement is found and as the search for a new chief executive continues.
[…]
HS2 said the extra work would not affect or conflict with Higgins’s current role at HS2.

When he spoke to the House of Commons transport select committee on 12 December 2016, Mr Higgins made no mention of his new Gatwick job. He also omitted to explain that his remarks to the committee, on 17 November 2014, about the relationship between railway speed and capacity, were misleading and inaccurate.

David Higgins told the transport select committee on 17 November 2014 that 'a 220-mph railway can have twice as many trains on it'

In 2013, HS2 Ltd finally admitted that its new line would increase carbon emissions. But on Monday, Mr Higgins told the committee that HS2 was carbon-beneficial (although he had no figures to back that up).

[Transport Select Committee, 12 Dec 2016]

[Chair:] Will High Speed 2 result in a reduction of carbon in the environment?

[Sir David Higgins:] It should, because it is a very carbon-efficient way of moving people. The railway can move 18,000 people an hour so it is very carbon efficient in terms of delivery. I remember seeing the stats. If you compare trains with buses — obviously it depends on the occupancy of the trains themselves — they are much more efficient.

[Chair:] What is the latest estimate for carbon reduction?

[Sir David Higgins:] I do not know that. I do not want to tell you a figure off the top of my head. I will get my experts behind me to write to you about that.

[Chair:] We would like to have that information, please.

In 2013 HS2 Ltd finally admitted that its new line would increase carbon emissions

An internal HS2 Ltd document on aspirations for ‘level boarding’ from platform to train stated “there are no obvious grounds” for a European ‘Technical Standards for Interoperability’ derogation. But when asked on 12 December if HS2 were seeking a derogation, Mr Higgins replied, ‘Yes’.

[Transport Select Committee, 12 Dec 2016]

[Graham Stringer MP:] There was a report in The Sunday Times yesterday that European regulations mean that the platform heights on HS2 will make it difficult for disabled people. Is that story true?

[Sir David Higgins:] I saw the article. The answer is that we are going to build platform heights between 1.1 and 1.2 metres, which will allow full access for disabled people. We have to get regulation exemptions from the current ones, and we are having that whole discussion with the European Commission. It does not make any sense whatsoever to build platforms at a low height when we want speed of access and proper disabled access to the station. I am really clear where the Government are on this. We want to discuss it with Europe and the Commission very carefully, but we do not want to build a platform height that does not deliver proper access. We will never get the turn-round times if we do that either.

[Graham Stringer MP:] Getting the platforms at the right height effectively depends on getting a derogation from the regulations?

[Sir David Higgins:] Correct.

Internal HS2 Ltd document about level boarding stating there are no obvious grounds for a 'TSI derogation'

Internal HS2 Ltd document about level boarding stating there are no obvious grounds for a TSI derogation

Written by beleben

December 16, 2016 at 10:54 am

Posted in HS2, Industry, Transport