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Posts Tagged ‘baloney

Distilled walker

with 2 comments

Greengauge 21, Birmingham conference, 19 Sep 2013At today’s Greengauge 21 conference in Birmingham, Rupert Walker, Network Rail’s Head of High Speed Rail Development, warned “that failure to build a high speed track between London and Birmingham would plunge existing commuter services into chaos”, wrote Paul Dale (The Chamberlain Files).

Passengers at New Street Station may be unable to get on peak hour services to the capital by the early 2020s because trains will already be full by the time they reached Birmingham, it is claimed.
[Mr Walker] added that commuters travelling from Birmingham to London “will have to set their alarm clocks earlier and earlier just to get a place standing”. It was likely that some trains arriving at New Street would be unable to take on any more passengers.

How does one get to be Network Rail’s Head of High Speed Rail Development without knowing that most trains from Birmingham to the capital must be empty by the time they reach Birmingham? Nearly all West Coast intercity trains from the West Midlands to London start at Wolverhampton, or Birmingham. And of the standard pattern three trains per hour to London, two start at Birmingham New Street.

In other words, when they arrive at Birmingham New Street, about two thirds of the Euston services have no passengers on board at all.

Virgin Trains, Wolves - Birmingham - London timetable (extract), 2013

Written by beleben

September 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with ,

HS2 means ‘half a million fewer lorry trips a day on our main motorways’

with 4 comments


According to prime minister David Cameron, the ‘fightback on HS2 begins today [11 September] with the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, highlighting the huge benefits to the UK & our economy’.

[‘Patrick McLoughlin: HS2 will provide vital capacity’, BBC News, 11 Sep 2013]

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has hit back at recent criticism of the HS2 rail project, as a report suggested it could boost the UK economy by £15bn a year.

The study, commissioned by the company responsible for developing and promoting the project, also said most of HS2’s benefits would be felt in the regions and not the capital.

During a speech in London, Mr McLoughlin argued that HS2 was necessary because the “clogged arteries” of the nation’s transport system needed a “heart bypass”.

The report mentioned in the BBC story, was produced by KPMG — one of the special interests sharing in HS2’s multi-million pound consultancy trough. Special interests, conspicuous production and political ‘legacy’, are pivotal in the HS2 scheme, as noted in an article by David S D’Amato on the Institute of Economic Affairs website.

The story of big infrastructure ventures is that of corporate welfare, insolvency and waste palmed off as a catalyst for interconnectedness and economic growth.

As commitment escalates, the claims for HS2 get more and more outlandish. In January 2013, Ian Brooker of the WSP consultancy claimed that HS2 “could take 500,000 HGV lorry journeys off the M1, M40 and M6 motorways each year leading to environmental benefits worth over £45 million per annum”.

Mr Brooker’s claim is less than plausible, but even if it were true, monetised benefits of £45 million per annum are trivial alongside the capital spend required to achieve them by means of HS2 (i.e., £50,000 million). Apparently, in Mr McLoughlin’s 11 September 2013 speech to the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Brooker claim was bumped up by a factor of 365, to become “half a million trips a day on our main motorways”. Presumably, not knowing much about transport, Mr McLoughlin will read out anything Westbourne, et al, put in front of him.


Written by beleben

September 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

HS2 is about speed, not capacity (part two)

with 2 comments

Table 10 from the January 2012 HS2 updated Economic Case shows that time savings (to business users) are assessed as being far more valuable than crowding relief (to all users). In other words, the economic argument — if such a thing could be said to exist — is about speed, not capacity.

HS2 Ltd, 'Benefits to transport users' January 2012

HS2 Ltd forecast, Jan 2012 update: 'three per cent shift from air travel'The update also shows a revised forecast for modal shift from air travel, down to just 3% of HS2 ridership. The pie chart previously used by HS2 Ltd gave a 6% figure for shift from air.

Written by beleben

February 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Reid, write, mislead

with 3 comments

One of the latest examples of factual inaccuracy and misrepresentation in press and broadcast coverage of HS2 comes from Les Reid, in the Coventry Evening Telegraph:

The costs have to be understood in relation to the returns and this is where most agree the government has to do more to show the sums are right.

But the consensus is the issue of limited rail capacity is key, not faster trains.

I’m not convinced politicians at Coventry and Warwickshire councils, fighting HS2 alongside vociferous constituents, have properly considered the disadvantages and economic costs of having a Victorian rail network unable to cope by the 2020s and beyond. Ten or 20 minutes added journey times could be less of an inconvenience.

Rail capacity is “limited”, like lots of other things. Road capacity is limited. Typewriter manufacturing capacity is limited – is that an argument for building more typewriter factories? If the issue of limited rail capacity is key, then why is High Speed 2 not called ‘High Capacity 2’? And why was HS2 Ltd set up to ‘develop the case for new *high speed* rail’, not *high capacity*, rail?

Most railways in Britain run well under capacity, most of the time. Where there are genuine capacity shortfalls, there’s no evidence that they are best dealt with by building HS2 (one of the lines most affected by capacity issues is London to Brighton, for which HS2 provides no help at all). And at the national level, the market for long distance rail travel is growing, but in absolute terms, not very large.

The *vast majority of railways in Western Europe* were built over a hundred years ago, and there’s nothing especially ‘Victorian’ about those in Britain. Victorian railways did not use solid state interlocking, continuously welded rail, or monocoque carriages. And they did not run trains at 200 km/h every day.

Coventry’s opposition is partly understandable. HS2 would bypass the city, and affect fast services to London.

But it would stop at a station nearby – to which local road and rail improvements would be needed.

HS2 is being sold as providing quicker journey times. But, in most cases, the time savings are trivial, zero, or – as with Coventry – negative. “Stopping at a station nearby” actually means ‘stopping at a parkway, miles away from where you live’.

There’s nothing exceptional about Coventry and HS2. Longer and less convenient journeys are built into Adonis/Steer high speed rail. Its headline-grabbing peak speeds dictate a small number of access points, which are unsuited to British economic geography.