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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Adonis

Just to be ‘unclear’ about HS2 demand and usage

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'Just to be clear, I've no idea'Publishing a draft operating timetable for HS2 would build up a set of debates, expectations and controversies “long before the likely pattern of demand and usage is clear”, according to HS2 Ltd director Andrew Adonis.

[High Speed Rail (London–West Midlands) Bill, Lords Grand Committee, 12 January 2017]

[Andrew Adonis:] It is not clear to me why my noble friend [Lord Berkeley] thinks that publishing a draft timetable nine years before the line opens is a good idea. This would build up a whole set of debates, expectations and controversies long before the likely pattern of demand and usage is clear. Was there some particular reason why he was so keen that this work should be done so far in advance of the opening of HS2?

But he went on to claim, “just to be clear”, that “the illustrative timetables have been published already and, indeed, have been a part of the business case. What my noble friend’s amendment refers to is a comprehensive and detailed working timetable, which, as I say, will greatly build up the expectations of those who will benefit and lead to big and controversial campaigns by those who will not.”

As usual, Andrew Adonis was talking nonsense. HS2 Ltd has only published ‘service patterns’, which are far less detailed than any sort of timetable.

If HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport can publish ‘service patterns’ for HS2 and West Coast Main Line ‘modelling’, was there some particular reason they are unable to produce corresponding working timetables?

The most likely explanation is that publishing such timetables would further expose the limitations and impracticalities of HS2, and the associated post-2026 ‘planning’. Apparently, the government’s plan is to make the whole thing someone else’s problem, by having the future ‘West Coast Partnership’ responsible for HS2 and WCML timetable design.

Written by beleben

January 13, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Posted in HS2

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Representation without taxation

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On 5 May, the Guardian published a story about the need for corporate tax reform in America, to pay for public services and infrastructure. According to the mayor of Cupertino, Barry Chang, cash-rich Apple Computer is unwilling to pay a dime towards fixing the town’s traffic problem.

Guardian online,"Cupertino's mayor urges Apple to pay more tax: 'where's the fairness?'"

Of course, this is not just an issue for North America. In Great Britain, Google’s Demis Hassabis is a commissioner with the ‘independent’ National Infrastructure Commission, chaired by Andrew Adonis. The National Infrastructure Commission is recommending billions of pounds of public expenditure, on things like London Crossrail 2. Yet Google pays almost no tax in Great Britain.

Should a tax-avoiding multinational be represented on the National Infrastructure Commission? There are questions to be asked about what the Commission does, how it does it, and who is represented on it.

Written by beleben

May 6, 2016 at 11:10 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Charade of a commission

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According to HM Treasury, the provision of new infrastructure in the UK “has historically relied heavily on an often fragile and incomplete political and public consensus”. So, in 2015, the government set up a National Infrastructure Commission to provide “expert, independent advice on pressing infrastructure issues”.

The government has been consulting on the “key design specifications” of the Commission. The period of consultation ends today (17 March).

Cm 9182: National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-01National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-02National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-03National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-04National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-05National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-06National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-07National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-08National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-09National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-10National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-11National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-12National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-13National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-14National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-15National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-16National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-17National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-18National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-19National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-20National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-21National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-22National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-23National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-24National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-25National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-26National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-27National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-28National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-29National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-30National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-31National_infrastructure_commission_jan_16_web_final-32

[National Infrastructure Commission: consultation]

“The provision of new infrastructure in the UK has historically relied heavily on an often fragile and incomplete political and public consensus. This has led to changes of direction and a lack of certainty. In the past, individual infrastructure proposals were discussed and assessed at length.

In its present form, the National Infrastructure Commission cannot be a facilitator of independent investigation or rigorous examination of infrastructure projects.

Its members are appointed by the chancellor of the exchequer, and all discussions are in private. The evidence to date suggests it is little more than a rubber stamp for George Osborne.

The Commission has just finished “independently” reviewing the case for Crossrail 2 and, lo and behold, found it would be a jolly good idea to build it as soon as possible. But the ‘interim chair’ of the Commission, Andrew Adonis, was previously chair of London First‘s task force to champion Crossrail 2.

London First claimed the ‘indicative cost’ of Crossrail 2 was £12 billion, and value for money.


Written by beleben

March 17, 2016 at 9:31 am

Posted in Planning, Politics

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The resurrection of HS3

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In an interview for the Guardian, published on 8 February, Transport for the North (TfN) chief David Brown dismissed any suggestions that any new link across the Pennines could be called ‘HS3’.

"Northern England transport planners reject 'Noyster cards'", Helen Pidd, The Guardian, 08 Feb 2016

TfN seems to have regarded the moniker ‘HS3’ as something of an embarrassment, and in its Spring 2016 strategy report, it did not appear once.

TfN spring 2016 Northern Transport strategy, no mention of 'HS3'

But in today’s  National Adonis Infrastructure Commission “High Speed North” report, ‘HS3’ is mentioned 47 times.


One of the things not mentioned in “High Speed North” is exactly how spending billions of pounds on making the rail trip between Manchester and Leeds ten minutes shorter, would create an economic powerhouse in the North of England. But has the press and broadcast media noticed?

Arup fruitcake HS2-to-HS3 connection option, Mar 2016

The NIC have also had Arup provide some of their best ‘crayonista’ ideas for linking HS2 and HS3. The company also came up with the ludicrous HS2 to HS1 connection concept (now dropped).

Written by beleben

March 15, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Posted in High speed rail

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Green light for more Adonis boondoggles

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Chancellor George Osborne’s imminent Budget “will give the green light to Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse HS3, delivering on National Infrastructure Commission recommendations”.

George Osborne green lighting HS3 and crossrail 2, 15 Mar 2016

On 10 March 2016, the NIC, chaired by Andrew Adonis, published ‘Transport for a World City’ recommending that “Crossrail 2 should be taken forward as a priority”. And on 15 March, the NIC’s High Speed North report called for “HS3, the planned fast rail link between Manchester and Leeds”, to be ‘kick-started’ as part of a broader plan to improve transport links in northern England, BBC News reported.

The original BBC report quoted Andrew Adonis as saying 'HS3 would not be like HS2, the creation of a completely new line for nothing' (now changed to "from nothing")

What is the benefit-cost ratio of What is the benefit-cost ratio of the Adonis Crossrail 2 boondoggle? The 71-page 'Transport for a World City' report claimed 'the benefits are marginally greater than the costs', but gave no breakdown of the costs and benefits

Written by beleben

March 15, 2016 at 12:50 pm

No more Mr Get-a-grip

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In August 2013, Labour’s Andrew Adonis said the coalition government needed to “get a grip” on HS2 costs.

The Guardian, August 2013

The Guardian, August 2013

[Appoint HS2 minister to get grip on costs, urges Lord Adonis, Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 30 August 2013 ]

The architect of HS2, the high-speed rail scheme between London, the Midlands and the north of England, has demanded that the government appoint a dedicated minister for the project to guard it against ballooning costs, poor management and vanishing support.

Lord Adonis, who set out the plans for the network as transport secretary in 2010, lambasted the coalition’s inertia and “extremely poor project management”. He warned that increased contingencies in the project’s expanded budget were “an invitation to massive overspending“.

In October 2013, Labour’s Mary Creagh repeated the get-a-grip shtick.

Labour press, Oct 2013

Labour press, Oct 2013

But the “get-a-grip” / “no blank cheque” shtick appears to have gone down the pan. Now, Labour is calling for ‘up to an extra £500 million’ of public cash to be spent on HS2’s Euston station, for something or other.

Evening Standard, 16 Nov 2015

Evening Standard, 16 Nov 2015

Euston HS2 has the potential to be a kingsize money pit, so Lilian Greenwood’s “£500 million extra” brainwave would be quite an odd way of “getting a grip”.

The new Conservative majority government seems to hold Andrew Adonis in high esteem, as he was appointed as ‘chair’ of the National Infrastructure Commission. The NIC is supposed to ‘enable long term strategic decision making to build effective and efficient infrastructure for the UK’.

With Andrew Adonis installed as NIC chair, why isn’t he reversing HS2’s “ballooning costs, poor management, and vanishing public support”? Why hasn’t the government removed the increased contingencies which Mr Get-a-grip claimed were “an invitation to massive overspending”? Could it be, perhaps, that he is a big-mouth charlatan?

Written by beleben

November 17, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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‘Dispassionate analysis’ of UK infrastructure needs?

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Andrew Adonis told Rail magazine of his passion for HS2

Andrew Adonis told Rail magazine of his passion for HS2

In 2013, chancellor George Osborne told the BBC that he was ‘passionate‘ about the HS2 rail project. But should national and regional infrastructure planning be determined by the ‘passion’ and whim of politicians like Andrew Adonis and George Osborne?

Senior vice president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (and former Network Rail chief) Sir John Armitt believes that a National Infrastructure Commission headed by Lord Adonis “can provide unbiased analysis on the UK’s infrastructure needs for the coming decades and act as a catalyst for reaching consensus”.

[Consensus can power infrastructure revolution, ICE, 7 Oct 2015]

In the UK we have a rich engineering heritage stretching back to the industrial revolution, and proven ability in delivering major projects. Nonetheless we encounter some difficulties when it comes to understanding why we must invest, what we need to build and having confidence in our decisions.

In 2012 I was asked to develop a way forward – with cross-party support for evidence-based decision making at its heart. My colleagues and I – including Lord Adonis – consulted widely and proposed the creation of a National Infrastructure Commission to provide dispassionate analysis of the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs.

Three years later, I am thrilled to finally see cross-party support for the concept. During this year’s Budget, the Chancellor said government needed to be bold when it comes to infrastructure, and this is indeed a bold and positive step.

Lord Adonis is the right person to take the helm. He has long championed infrastructure and brings vast experience in transport and housing. He is known and respected across political boundaries for his drive, intelligence and ideas. He has all the credentials.

And he is keen to get started. While the commission is being put into statute, Andrew will work on an interim basis – providing continuity to industry and certainty to the investment community.

[…] Let’s be clear – a commission cannot remove politics from decisions on infrastructure and nor should it; politicians and the public will always have differing views on how to achieve something. However, the commission can provide unbiased analysis on the UK’s infrastructure needs for the coming decades and act as a catalyst for reaching consensus.

For me, the success of the commission will be truly underpinned by the independent evidence on which its analysis is based. This essentially opens up the debate; drawing from a wide pool of experts, data, analysis and consultations, and taking into consideration key factors such as climate change, population growth and affordability for the taxpayer. It will provide a basis for the strategic thinking that has been largely absent in the UK over the last few decades.

Claire Perry MP, extract from speech, 5 Nov 2014

Who needs a rationale, or “dispassionate analysis”?

Written by beleben

October 8, 2015 at 9:02 am

Posted in Politics

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The economic divide between London and other GB cities ‘will widen’

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The economic divide between London and other GB cities will widen in the next ten years, without more action to invigorate underperforming cities, according to a report (summary) by the Centre for Economics & Business Research and law firm Irwin Mitchell.

[London ‘to grow twice as fast as north despite Conservative policies’, Sean Farrell, The Guardian, 4 October 2015]

[…] The economy of London will be worth almost £450bn in 10 years – more than £110bn higher than the total output of cities in the north-west, the north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber, the report, UK Powerhouse: Supporting Economic Strength and Bridging the Prosperity Gap, found.

The findings take account of the proposals announced by George Osborne to revitalise Greater Manchester and other northern cities by improving transport links and devolving powers from Westminster. The project is centred on Greater Manchester and largely ignores the north-east. Osborne declared Sheffield as a second powerhouse last week.

The report, published before the chancellor’s speech to the Conservative party conference, found that business leaders in the north were unenthusiastic about the government’s HS2 high-speed rail link as a way to revitalise their cities. HS2 will run from London to Birmingham at first and will then be extended to the north west.

Businessmen favoured improving roads and local rail services over HS2. More than half the 1,000 surveyed by YouGov for the report wanted local decision making on business rates and infrastructure improvements.

But the prospects for Midland and Northern cities getting the right infrastructure have diminished, because George Osborne has recruited Labour peer and HS2 Ltd director Andrew Adonis to head a new (and supposedly ‘independent’) National Infrastructure Commission.

Andrew Adonis thought Ed Miliband would be the next prime minister

Andrew Adonis rubbish book

[Lord Adonis to resign Labour whip and chair George Osborne’s infrastructure body, Nicholas Watt, The Guardian, 5 October 2015]

Andrew Adonis, Tony Blair’s former policy chief, will sit as a cross-bench peer to allow him to chair the new statutory body that will advise the government on new infrastructure projects.

The chancellor – addressing the Conservative party conference on Monday – will hail the appointment of Lord Adonis as a sign of his determination to occupy what David Cameron has called the “common ground” as the Labour party “runs to the hills” under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

[…] The poaching of such a high-profile New Labour figure – the father of Blair’s schools academy programme and of the HS2 rail line – will be seen as a highly political move by the chancellor as he follows the former Labour prime minister’s “big tent” approach as a way of occupying the centre ground. “I think you can see what Andrew Adonis thinks of Labour’s prospects under Jeremy Corbyn by this move,” said one Tory source.

About the National Infrastructure Commission

About the National Infrastructure Commission

Andrew Adonis is bedazzled by grands projets, big business, and ‘intensified’ urban development (‘rabbit hutches’ in London, etc). Having given Labour the middle finger by becoming a Lords cross-bencher right in the middle of the Conservative conference, it will be interesting to see what Labour support he retains in the coming months.

Written by beleben

October 5, 2015 at 10:53 am

His difficulty with facts

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On 3 July 2015 the Financial Times gave Labour infrastructure charlatan Andrew Adonis another opportunity to air his views about Heathrow airport expansion, and high speed rail.

Adonis at the Euston ball

[Heathrow backers take hope: the expansion will be built, Andrew Adonis, FT, July 3, 2015]

High speed rail is a similar story of prevarication followed by decisive action at crisis point. For decades, Britain stood out from the international trend to build entirely new rail lines to tackle congestion and connectivity, apart from the short Channel tunnel Rail Link (HS1). Instead we spent billions on upgrading old Victorian lines.

The turning point was the last modernisation of the West Coast main line, which links London, Birmingham and Manchester. Costing nearly £10bn, yet delivering only incremental capacity benefits on a railway infrastructure close to breaking point, it concentrated the minds of transport planners on the need for a completely new line to meet future capacity demands.

Similar challenges led Japan to open the world’s first high-speed line, between Tokyo and Osaka, as long ago as 1964.

In the late 1950s, or at any later time, there was no practical means of upgrading the old 1067mm railway between Tokyo and Osaka to match the speed and capacity of lines in Western Europe. With Britain’s West Coast Main Line, the situation was, and is, entirely different.

When it comes to railways, Mr Adonis seems to be incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction. On more than one occasion, he claimed that Wales and Albania were the only countries in Europe without an electrified railway track.

Far from delivering “only incremental capacity benefits”, the West Coast Modernisation was designed to increase intercity paths “by 80%” (Railway Gazette, 1 Sep 2003). The value of the upgrade component was less than £3 billion, not £10 billion.

Written by beleben

July 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Posted in HS2

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A magic wand and a big bag of cash

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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