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Posts Tagged ‘capacity

‘Not necessarily borne out’

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Simon Kirby — who became the nation’s highest paid civil servant when he was appointed chief executive of HS2 Ltd last year on a £750,000 a year salary — argues that the “perception that [overseas high speed rail networks] are lower cost” is not necessarily borne out (wrote the FT’s Gill Plimmer).

[“Battle over HS2 ‘gravy’ train intensifies”, Financial Times, 1 Feb 2015, (paywall)]

[…] Nevertheless, he has — at the Treasury’s behest — commissioned a year-long study that will compare the costs of high-speed internationally and look at lessons to be drawn.

“Not necessarily borne out”? Mr Kirby must believe the public were ‘borne’ yesterday. High speed rail cost benchmarking (presented by HS2 chief engineer Andrew McNaughton) HS2 and HS1 costs (David Higgins, from 'HS2 Plus')

The FT story also included a couple of diagrams which surely encapsulate the absurdity of the entire HS2 project (reproduced below).

Rail journeys to and from London, and all-GB rail journeys (Financial Times)

Rail journeys to and from London, and all-GB rail journeys (Financial Times)

As can be seen, Manchester — London accounted for about 0.2% of the total number of journeys made on GB national rail in 2013. For Leeds, Sheffield, etc, the volumes are even smaller. The idea that spending £50,000,000,000 on one very small part of the travel market could ‘rebalance the economy’, or address a so-called ‘capacity crunch’, is too silly for words.

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Written by beleben

February 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Clearly, nearly, twice

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Written by beleben

November 20, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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HS2 and valuation of additional capacity

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Although ‘additional rail capacity’ was cited as one of the justifications for building HS2 during Gordon Brown’s time as prime minister, it is only recently that the argument has been emphasised by coalition ministers. Evidently, the HS2 Ltd public relations machine realised that talk about getting to Birmingham 30 20 minutes quicker had failed to achieve cut-through outside the world of train enthusiasts.

Although the message has changed, in the October 2013 iteration of the HS2 economic case, speed — in the form of time savings to business users — is more important than ever. The underlying Adonis design of the Y network, which has not changed, sacrifices capacity (and connectivity) for speed between the Four HS2 Cities (London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds).

Increasing national rail capacity could be done without spending £50 billion on a project whose trains would not run until 2026. And in many cases, little more is involved than the purchase of additional rolling stock.

In the West Midlands, transport authority Centro has spread misinformation linking HS2 to local capacity augmentation, but there is no connection. In no way is HS2 relevant to increasing rail capacity between Wolverhampton, Walsall, Stourbridge, Lichfield, Redditch, and Birmingham. The only released capacity from HS2 stage one would be on the Coventry line, and at New Street station itself (platform occupancy). In both cases, the relief is not significant.

Network Rail’s May 2011 West Midlands and Chilterns Route Utilisation Strategy gave some insights into the problem of capacity augmentation. Even where pouring concrete is not involved, the benefits of de-crowding investments are often judged as not being worthwhile, or not implementable for want of rolling stock. Here are a couple of examples.

Example 1

[Network Rail, West Midlands and Chilterns Route Utilisation Strategy]

Option 10 – Train lengthening on long distance services between Nottingham and Birmingham New Street/Cardiff
[…]
Concept: Lengthen the busiest morning and evening peak A) Nottingham – Birmingham New Street – Cardiff central and B) Nottingham – Birmingham New Street services by one car each
[…]
Conclusion: The results of the analysis indicated that crowding on the Cardiff to Nottingham services is mainly a localised issued between Tamworth and Birmingham New Street in the peak hours, although there are some services that are overcrowded from as far out as Burton-on Trent. Reducing localised crowding by lengthening the long distance Cardiff Central – Birmingham New Street – Nottingham services incurs significant mileage-related cost and lengthening the
Nottingham – Birmingham New Street services is a more cost effective solution. However with the assumption that the lengthening unit is in operation throughout the day, the option would offer poor value for money. Both options 1 and 2 are not recommended as the operating cost is higher than the level of benefits generated by the options.

Example 2

Assessment of Option 15a, Lengthening of Arriva Trains Wales peak services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International
[…]
Concept: Lengthen two morning and two evening peak Arriva Trains Wales services between Shrewsbury
and Birmingham International
[…]
Conclusion: A medium value for money business case exists to lengthen two morning and two evening
services by one vehicle each. This option is recommended for implementation as soon as rolling stock becomes available.

Written by beleben

December 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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HS2 energy waste and load factor

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As well as precluding cost-effective freight operation, the severe gradients of Britain’s proposed HS2 high speed railway would exacerbate the energy inefficiency of its trains. Some proponents of HS2 have argued that the effects of high energy consumption could be offset by increasing the load factor. In other words, if a high speed train consumed 50% more energy but carried 50% more passengers, the passenger-km energy metric would be the same as a conventional train.

In practice, it is difficult to see how HS2 could compensate for higher energy consumption by increasing the load factor. Because of the large size of HS2 trains, and the limited number of places served, even matching the load factor of the legacy system trains would pose substantial difficulties.

As well as wasting path capacity north of the Midlands, the HS2 Y network configuration would present further difficulties for load factor efficiency. In the hourly service pattern proposed in January 2013, three of the six ‘Birmingham to London’ services would actually run from the north of England, with their “Birmingham” calling point being Bickenhill parkway (called ‘Birmingham Interchange’ by HS2 Ltd).

On such trains, there would bound to be a mismatch between the number of people wishing to travel between northern England and the Midlands, and between Bickenhill and London. So, at best, seat capacity would be unused one side of Bickenhill, or the other.

Each empty HS2 train seat would represent a weight of 0.85 tonnes or thereabouts. In the classic network, the ‘carting air long distances’ problem does not really arise, because the West Midlands intercity trains originate in the area itself. Furthermore, the lower speeds of classic trains means that the energy waste associated with empty seats is much less of an issue.

Written by beleben

April 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Observations on HS2 load factor, part two

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Part one

According to HS2 Ltd

in 2043 approximately 136,000 passengers would travel on HS2 each day (46.2 million each year) on the section between Birmingham Interchange and Old Oak Common

and the company says eighteen 1,100-passenger trains could run in each direction in an hour. So, on the busiest section of the Y network, quotidian (14-hours) seat utilisation would be (136000 / 2) / (1100 * 18 * 14) = 25%.

On the spurs, and legs north of Birmingham, the figure would be even lower.

Written by beleben

February 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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An illustrative Chiltern RP6 service pattern

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HS2 Ltd’s plans for a high speed line would only provide two embarkation points in the West Midlands, with one of those being a parkway. By contrast, the RP6 concept would enable travel to London by fast train from all seven West Midlands boroughs.

An illustrative RP6 service pattern with Coventry served from Chiltern

In the illustrative RP6 standard hour service pattern above, 3 West Midlands intercity trains would be routed via the Chiltern Main Line, with Black Country boroughs being directly served.

Notes

1. To reach Walsall and Wolverhampton, trains would be routed over the Soho loop, via a connection at Benson Road.
2. The Midland Metro tramway between Birmingham and West Bromwich would be reconverted to heavy rail, allowing regional and intercity trains to access the heart of the area.
3. ‘Birmingham Airport’ station is currently named ‘Birmingham International’.
4. Chiltern intercity trains would not serve Moor Street.
5. If trains terminated at Old Oak Common instead of Paddington, there would be no effect on Great Western Main Line pathing.
6. Interregio London Midland trains routed via Northampton would be unaffected.

Switching West Midlands intercity trains to Chiltern would enable a step change in efficiency on the West Coast route from Euston to North West England, with London Midland commuter capacity benefiting immediately.

Written by beleben

February 3, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Y HS2 capacity utilisation would be inefficient

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HS2 Y network concept, 2012According to HS2 Ltd, the high speed Y network would transform capacity on Britain’s railway, with up to 18 trains per hour per direction running north of London. (However, travel volume between the capital and the three Y network provincial cities might be fairly described as moderate. The vast majority of rail journeys happen well away from HS2, on the London lines of former Eastern and Southern Regions.)

In the HS2 scheme, central Birmingham would be served by a dead-end spur from the main line, with the Y network legs to northern England diverging in open country outside the city. That configuration is inefficient, because demand for rail travel from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds is much lower than demand for travel from London to Manchester and Leeds. The result is that substantial amounts of capacity on HS2’s Birmingham spur, Manchester leg, and Leeds leg, are unusable at any time of day.

The amount of unusable capacity could be mitigated (but not eliminated), by splitting and joining half-trains at the fork point. However, that strategy would require extremely good timekeeping, especially in the Up (London) direction.

Written by beleben

October 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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