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Posts Tagged ‘Greengauge 21

Euston Greengauge dissemblance problem

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In December 2012, Greengauge 21 stated that claims about trains leaving Euston in the evening peak being only half full were ‘wrong’.


[Greengauge 21]

While this is true for Virgin Trains (52% seats occupied),

(So, Greengauge 21 accepted it was true, as far as intercity was concerned.)

[Greengauge 21]

Network Rail has pointed out that London Midland – which runs the commuter services – is at 94% capacity, and traffic levels are growing at 4% a year.

If London Midland was at ‘94% capacity’ around 2012, and traffic levels grew at 4% a year, surely that would mean it was at ‘97.7% capacity’ a year later, and ‘101.6% capacity’, a year after that.

But according to London Travel Watch, London Midland’s “passengers in excess of capacity” (PiXC) count in 2014 was lower than in 2013.

London Travel Watch, 'PixC, London and South East train operators 2013 and 2014'

London Travel Watch, ‘PixC, London and South East train operators 2013 and 2014’

The statement that London Midland was ‘at 94% capacity’ looks like misleading nonsense.

There is enormous scope for increasing commuter capacity out of Euston (by running longer trains, intensifying the use of the slow lines, etc).


Written by beleben

April 4, 2017 at 9:48 am

Posted in HS2, Politics

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How would HS2 ‘improve links between the north’s major cities’?

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Transport for the North must become “the client and guiding mind for HS2 in the north of England”, according to Greengauge 21 (Jim Steer).

[High Speed in the North of England, Greengauge 21, 1 November, 2016]

The HS2 project is now recognised as having multiple functions, including improving links between the north’s major cities, as well as to/from London. Decisions about how and when to implement HS2 in the north, including developing service plans and providing for access to HS2 stations, must be recognised as a core part of Transport for the North’s transport strategy.

“Multiple functions”?

“Improving links between the north’s major cities”?

The HS2 network diagram in the October 2016 'Taking root' report showed neither Crewe nor Sheffield as having 'HS2 stations'

The HS2 network diagram in the October 2016 ‘Taking root’ report showed neither Crewe nor Sheffield as having ‘HS2 stations’

As can be seen in the diagram from the October 2016 ‘Taking root’ report (above), the HS2 ‘M18 route’ provides no connection between Leeds and Sheffield. The first stop south of Leeds would either be a parkway somewhere east of Rotherham, or a parkway somewhere west of Nottingham. There would be no city stop anywhere on the entire HS2 journey between Leeds and London.

On the western leg, plans for a Crewe ‘hub station with 360-degree connectivity’ seem to have hit the buffers. The ‘Taking root’ report showed the Crewe HS2 stop as having no more status than Sheffield Midland station. HS2’s first stop south of Manchester would be the parkway west of Ringway airport, and there would be no city stop anywhere on the entire HS2 journey between Manchester and London.

So much for HS2 “improving links between the north’s major cities”.

Written by beleben

November 2, 2016 at 10:22 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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The delay that is a “step forward”

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A study on cutting Scotland – London rail journey times commissioned in November 2013 by the UK Department for Transport and the Scottish Government will not be published until 2016, The Scotsman reported (3 September 2015).

[Scots high-speed HS2 rail report suffers new delay, Alastair Dalton, The Scotsman, 3 Sep 2015][…]

[Scottish government infrastructure secretary Keith Brown], speaking at a conference in Glasgow today organised by high-speed rail study group Greengauge 21, said extra work on the report had been requested after the report’s initial findings were submitted at the end of last year.

He said the final report would enable the Scottish Government to develop its planned high-speed line between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The delay in publication was presented as a “step forward” in Transport Scotland’s press release.

[Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown announces step forward for High Speed Rail in Scotland, Transport Scotland, 3 Sep 2015]

Three-hour train journeys between Scotland and London are a step closer after Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown today announced a deadline for delivery of the HS2 final report.

[…] Gareth Williams, High Speed Rail Scotland partnership, said: “The HSRS partnership believes that the investment case for high speed rail is strong, but it is even stronger when Scotland is included. A journey time of less than three hours between both Glasgow and Edinburgh and London is key to delivering the full economic and environmental benefits, including increased availability of slots at London airports for north of Scotland air links.
“The HSRS partnership has been concerned about a lack of clarity on the way forward for high speed rail connections with Scotland, particularly given the accelerated priority for HS3 Transpennine connectivity.

According to Jim Steer (Greengauge 21), “capacity is the key (it always is with high speed rail)”.

North of Preston and Newcastle, there are few commuters, but there are large and growing amounts of freight which use the same track, Mr Steer wrote in an earlier Scotsman article.

[Jim Steer: High speed rail must stay on track, The Scotsman, 29 Aug 2015]

[…] It becomes just as difficult here, across the Anglo-Scottish border as in the south (where at least the intercity and freight services largely get to run on separate tracks), to fit in extra trains.

After Greengauge 21’s Glasgow conference on 3 September, Mr Steer claimed that the northern end of the West Coast Main Line has ‘just as much a capacity problem as the southern end’.

Greengauge 21, Preston Carstairs train graph

Greengauge 21, Preston Carstairs train graph: ‘the fast passenger trains soon catch up the slower freights’

[Greengauge 21 blogpost: British High Speed Rail Network [conference roundup], 7 September, 2015 ]

[…] Cross-border links bring the greatest environmental benefit through the scope for major modal shift from air to rail – a lost reason why high speed rail is the right way forward. Jim Steer said the corridor through Carlisle – which lies to the east of Edinburgh – could achieve a balanced benefit for both Glasgow and Edinburgh and the critical sub-3 hour journey time to London.

Jim Steer highlighted three issues. The northern end of the West Coast Main Line has just as much a capacity problem as the southern end. Existing appraisal assumptions prevent a proper value being put on the extra capacity required. And the 3 hour journey time target can be achieved without a whole-length new route. As a first stage, the aim should be to get as close as possible to a 3 hour journey time for Edinburgh and Glasgow as soon as HS2 to Birmingham opens in 2026 – the notion of splitting high speed trains at Carstairs was a nonsense adding 10 minutes and should be ditched.

Issues to be overcome were illustrated by Audrey Laidlaw, Network Rail’s Lead Strategic Planner in Scotland. Long sections of two track railway through the Borders with a conflicting mix of slow freight trains and fast inter-city trains. Pressures on station capacity through demand growth for commuter services into Edinburgh and Glasgow as well for long distance services where Virgin Rail Director Graham Leech said actual demand was massively outstripping conventional demand forecasts.

Sir Richard Leese, Chair of Transport for the North and Leader of Manchester and Andrew Burns Leader of Edinburgh spoke about the massive boost to the economy and quality of life that high speed rail will bring. In both Scotland and the North of England faster east-west links as well as north-south links to London are needed. This will support business to business links within and between the North and Scotland and growth in tourism. It will widen and strengthen labour markets.

Sir Richard revealed that Transport for the North is seeking significant development funding from the UK Government in support of a £15bn – £25bn investment programme to 2030.

At the conference, Mr Steer’s presentation included a map of his favoured cross-border high speed rail system, with new-build track stretching all the way from Lancashire to Glasgow:

High speed rail network proposed by Greengauge 21

High speed rail network proposed by Greengauge 21

But his presentation also included a map showing a “sensible mix of upgraded and new lines”.

Greengauge 21, so-called 'sensible mix', 2015

Greengauge 21, so-called ‘sensible mix’ of new build and upgraded track, 2015

So does that mean that new-build track stretching all the way from Lancashire to Glasgow wouldn’t be sensible?


In 2007, according to the Scottish chambers of commerce, there were 1.13 million rail journeys between Glasgow / Edinburgh and London. If a new cross-border high speed line could be built for £15 billion and it carried 15 million passengers annually, at 3% the interest charge alone would be £30 for each single journey (with no repayment element).

Greengauge 21, mixed  train speeds means inefficient capacity utilisation, Glasgow presentation, 03 Sep 2015

Greengauge 21 attacks the government’s plan for the post-HS2 southern West Coast Main Line?, 03 Sep 2015

Equally barmy is the idea that it would be worth spending £15 – £25 billion to ‘improve railfreight access’ on the tracks over Beattock, when it is perfectly possible to route most diurnal goods traffic onto the Settle and Carlisle line.

Preston - Hellifield - Appleby - Carlisle railfreight route (Beleben)

Preston – Hellifield – Appleby – Carlisle railfreight route (Beleben)

Written by beleben

September 8, 2015 at 10:22 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, Politics

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The perspicacity of Neanderthals

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Neanderthals in the House of Lords have packaged together every half-backed [sic] snake oil claim about HS2 that it is possible to find in a report that accuses the Government of failing to make a convincing case for the £50 billion project (wrote The Chamberlain Files’ Paul Dale).

[HSBC and HS2 reinforce ‘booming Birmingham’, but also highlight tale of two cities, Paul Dale, 26 Mar 2015]

As [Birmingham council chief executive] Mark Rogers told us in his anniversary interview this week, “deprevation [sic] in this city hasn’t changed in 25 years.”

But how would building a £20+ billion high speed railway between Birmingham and London reverse forty years of second-city economic decline?

Birmingham city council: 'The scale of the challenge'

Warwick University, Feb 2013: West Midlands economy most affected by downturn

In the late 1960s, there was only one motorway connection between London and Birmingham, and fewer (and slower) train services than there are today. So one might expect that in 2015, with the improved connectivity from the M40 and the West Coast Very High Frequency train service, Birmingham’s relative productivity would be higher than in the 1960s and 1970s. But in the last forty years, a large productivity gap has opened up.

'How to kill a city (extract)', The Economist, May 2013

This month’s Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on HS2 concluded that the scheme would primarily benefit London, rather than provincial cities. Interestingly enough, Alan Wenban-Smith’s 2009 report for the the high speed lobbying company Greengauge 21 stated that “economic theory predicts that better transport between two regions or nations will tend to work to the competitive advantage of the stronger area”.

Extract from 'Complementary measures to facilitate regional economic benefits from High Speed Rail', 2009

Alan Wenban-Smith on competitive advantage of the stronger area

Written by beleben

March 29, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Letting Jim steer

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Greengauge 21 heart CBTOn 26 January 2015 the Campaign for Better Transport published ‘new research’ revealing how ‘investing in the north of England’s rail services is essential to tackling the north – south divide’.

[Campaign for Better Transport news release, 26 Jan 2015]

The new research, Stepping Stones to a rebalanced Britain, was commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport and reveals how investing in new trains, improved stations and better services as part of the new Northern Rail franchise would provide essential infrastructure for growing cities and maximise the benefits from billions of pounds of investment due as part of the Northern Powerhouse.

[…] Stepping Stones was commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport and written by research group Greengauge 21. Greengauge 21 is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, with a wide aim of helping to shape tomorrow’s railway. The company was founded by Jim Steer, one of the UK’s leading transport sector specialists. Initially conceived as a means to promote a debate on the case for high-speed rail in Britain, it has established a broad research base to foster and guide high-speed rail planning. Its remit now extends into all aspects of the national rail system and its wider benefits.

It’s curious that the Campaign for ‘Better’ Transport has chosen to let Greengauge 21 steer so much of its ‘research’ and policy-making activity. After all, the CBT claims its vision is for “a country where communities have affordable transport that improves quality of life and protects the environment”.

[CBT, ‘About Us’]

In recent decades we’ve helped to change the Government’s transport policy radically, away from building big roads and expanding airports and towards much more recognition of environmental and social impacts”.

But as early as 2006, the CBT had commissioned Greengauge 21 to write a report tacitly supporting the expansion of Heathrow Airport. CBT is also a tacit supporter of the environmentally damaging HS2 rail project.

Campaign for Better Transport homepage, 26 January 2015

Campaign for Better Transport homepage: worried about environmental damage from ‘unnecessary roads’, but apparently not worried about environmental damage from ‘unnecessary HS2’, 26 January 2015

The CBT is blind to the fact that the best opportunity to improve rail in the north of England would come from cancelling HS2, and reallocating funds to the classic railway.

Written by beleben

January 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm

HS2 and Stoke-on-Trent, part six

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Part five

In the document “Stoke and Staffordshire can be key HS2 beneficiaries – as well as Crewe” (August 2014) Greengauge 21 (a.k.a. Jim Steer) claimed that the Stoke Route for the high speed railway (proposed by Stoke-on-Trent city council) would mean

  1. losing the advantages of directly serving Crewe, with its unrivalled rail catchment
  2. the consultation process would have to be re-started
  3. risking worse environmental impacts — because of the need to create an as yet little defined route northwards from Stoke-on-Trent across rural Cheshire to the West Coast Main Line.

According to Mr Steer, the Consultation Route could offer much the same benefits to the Potteries as the Stoke Route. It is not necessary to discard the preferred (Consultation) route for Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford to be provided with an hourly (or possibly half hourly) HS2 service to London, via the connection at Armitage with Handsacre.

[Greengauge 21]

The route to be used would be London Euston HS2 – (via Handsacre junction, the original northern limit of Phase 1) – Stafford – (via the junction at Norton Bridge which is currently being improved and grade-separated and Stone) – Stoke-on-Trent and onwards to Macclesfield and Stockport. Services could be terminated at the planned new HS2 terminus alongside the existing station at Manchester Piccadilly. Fast HS2 trains to/from Manchester would use the route via Crewe.

Furthermore, bringing forward completion of HS2 to Crewe (as proposed in HS2 Plus) would

  • release capacity for railfreight and local passenger trains, and result in fewer lorry movements across Staffordshire
  • enable the section of the West Coast Main Line between Colwich Junction and Stone to be taken out of use. Pendolino services currently using that section of track would be replaced by the HS2 services from Stoke-on-Trent operating via Stafford.

    [Greengauge 21]

    The advantages and opportunities locally would be for local communities to assess. The not insubstantial villages of Little Haywood and Great Haywood could gain direct open access to the Trent and Mersey canal and its amenities, for example. The disused track-bed could be used to create a useful off-road long–distance cycle path, as has been achieved with many older railway line closures. Noise nuisance from passing trains at places such as Shugborough Park, Weston and Stone would be reduced. This is important because the planned HS2 route (whether it goes to Crewe or Stoke) passes through this area. The line closure approach could therefore bring some important environmental mitigation benefits.

    There are also some wider benefits from line closure. Three road level crossings would be eliminated, enhancing safety and reducing delays. The junctions at Colwich and Stone would be eliminated, and in the case of Colwich, this should allow a useful increase in line speed on the West Coast Main Line, shortening journey times, (including for the proposed HS2 services to Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent) and reducing track maintenance costs. There would be similar savings at Stone where it may be possible more easily to implement the platform extensions needed to enable Cross Country services on the Stoke-on-Trent–Stafford route to make stations calls that are currently not possible. And the materials retrieved from the line (track, ballast etc) should be re-usable on other parts of the network as replacements fall due.

Closure of Colwich to Stone railway proposed by Greengauge 21

Closure of Colwich to Stone railway proposed by Greengauge 21

[Greengauge 21]

The unextended Phase 1 plan allows for an additional ten railfreight trains/day to operate over the West Coast Main Line.

The capacity gain would be much higher with the extension northwards to Crewe. This is because the constraints at Colwich Junction and between there and Stafford would be bypassed by most HS2 services, using the Crewe extension freeing up the existing West Coast Main Line for more freight.

[…] It is likely that the full aspirations of the rail freight sector to secure additional train paths on the busy West Coast Main Line could be met once HS2 is in operation as far as Crewe. A report by WSP suggested 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 and saving over 65,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per annum from reduced lorry movements.

It is plausible that the unextended HS2 Phase 1 plan would allow for an additional ten railfreight trains per day to operate over the West Coast Main Line (as HS2 Ltd claim). But the monetised value of that benefit is very low. And how commissioning the Crewe section of HS2 would increase WCML freight throughput is far from clear; the Greengauge 21 report provides no quantification.

The West Coast Main Line is mostly four track from London to Crewe, so there should be little difficulty in running a local passenger service through Staffordshire on the Slow Lines without building HS2. All the same, it might be better to run bus services to places like Wedgwood, given the low demand and the energy costs of stopping 170-tonne multiple units.

The Consultation route has “the advantages of directly serving Crewe, with its unrivalled rail catchment”. But in the service pattern used for modelling, hardly any HS2 trains would stop there. The economic benefits of stopping HS2 trains in Crewe (and Manchester Airport) are bound to be low.

In the Consultation proposal, captive HS2 trains would pass beneath Crewe’s existing station, in a tunnel. Crewe was once an important railway junction, but its connections are not actually very good. For example, the line to Stoke-on-Trent is partially single track.

Presumably, the reasons for routeing HS2 into Crewe are:

  1. Pete
  2. Waterman.

Written by beleben

September 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Jim’s blight future

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HSRILG connected or notThe ‘High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group’, an offshoot of Jim Steer’s high speed rail lobbying company Greengauge 21, has detailed ‘the impact to Britain if High Speed 2 is derailed’, it claims.

[‘Industry warns of stifled Britain without HS2’, High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group, 3 March 2014]

‘Great Britain: connected or not?’, which was developed by the HSR Industry Leaders Group, outlines how failing to build HS2 will leave a clogged Britain, unable to meet its full potential, lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of infrastructure development.
Jim Steer, Director of Greengauge 21 and founding member of HSRILG, said:

“HS2 is a project that will build a bright future for Great Britain. With the Bill for the first stage of the route now before Parliament, we felt it important to set out the hugely positive difference this project will make. To bring to life its contribution, we considered this question: what would be the most likely outcome should it be cancelled? Thinking this through it became clear to all of us that walking away from HS2 is a risk that Britain just cannot afford to take.”

What Steve Scrimshaw probably meant to say

So far as can be ascertained, companies become members of HSRILG by paying money to “not for profit” Greengauge 21 (which is controlled by Jim Steer). What the membership fees are, hasn’t been disclosed. One of the curious things about ILG being ‘concerned’ about British jobs and skills, is that all but one of its member companies are based overseas. The current rail manufacturing members of ILG — Alstom and Siemens — manufacture no trains in Britain at all.

Written by beleben

March 3, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2

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