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Posts Tagged ‘HS2 Ltd

Cha(u)ncey gardeners

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Written by beleben

January 22, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Goodbye clogged arteries

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Following a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority Ltd, HS2 Ltd has pulled its “clogged arteries” video from Youtube (at the time of writing, it is still available as a ‘showcase‘ item on the animation company’s Vimeo channel).

Stop HS2 story about a complaint made to the ASA about HS2 Ltd advertising, 15 Oct 2014

Stop HS2 story about a complaint made to the ASA about HS2 Ltd advertising, 15 Oct 2014

Unfortunately, the ASA’s reach does not extend to what comes out of the mouths of government ministers. If it did, Patrick McLoughlin might be a man of few words. “Clogged arteries” and “our country” are two of his favourite phrases.

ASA informally resolved HS2 Ltd complaints

Advertising Standards Authority, HS2 Ltd informally resolved cases to 15 October 2014

Written by beleben

October 15, 2014 at 1:52 pm

HS2 and bad design, part two

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Part one

Aesthetically challenged 'Pinocchio' high speed train

Aesthetically challenged ‘Pinocchio’ high speed train

Earlier this year, the depressing drab interior of Birmingham’s reworked New Street station revealed that design quality management in the GB rail sector is not improving. Lack of design expertise seems to be an ongoing problem for both Network Rail and HS2 Ltd.

HS2 aspiration, and what is achievable, have become very different things. For example, HS2 Ltd have claimed that its 200-metre units would seat ‘up to’ 550 passengers (giving a total of 1,100 seats in a 400-metre train). In the visualisations provided by head of operability Theresa Clarke, the HS2 units are shown as having amenity / lounge areas, with relatively few seats.
Alstom AGV Italo brochure, extract

According to Alstom, its 200-metre AGV Italo provides 460 seats

Alstom’s 200-metre ETR 575, in service in Italy, is the basis for HS2 Ltd’s Reference train. The ETR 575 does not have the amenity areas of Theresa Clarke’s HS2 vision, yet the total number of seats is still only about 460.

In general, Continental high speed rail lines are low capacity systems. Resolving the conflicts between the Technical Standards for Interoperability, and British conditions and capacity aspirations, is at best likely to be a costly and very difficult process.

Written by beleben

December 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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HS2 and business relocation

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According to the government, the HS2 high speed rail project is intended to help “rebalance Britain’s economy” and benefit ‘the regions’ by allowing businesses to locate outside of London. If the £50 billion Y network were built,

  • Manchester would be about as ‘close’ to London as Coventry is today
  • and Leeds would be as close to London, as Birmingham is now

in terms of journey time.

So one might expect the company managing the HS2 project to be based somewhere outside the capital, but with good rail connections to it — Birmingham, or Coventry, for example.

But HS2 Ltd is based at Eland House in central London. And as of 31 October 2013, HS2 Ltd employed 557 people, of whom 550 were based in London and seven in Birmingham, said transport minister Robert Goodwill.

Written by beleben

November 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Unacknowledged HS2 pathing problems

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Shortcomings in the HS2 economic case are increasingly well known, but problems with the operating and capacity modelling have received little attention, even in the railway press.

Certainly, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin seems to be completely unaware of the issues. On 7 November, he took questions from MPs. Asked about the HS2 to HS1 connection, he answered

We believe the three trains per hour that will be able to go directly from Birmingham, Manchester or Leeds to Paris or Brussels or other European destinations is a very positive move.

According to HS2 Ltd, each track would ultimately be able to carry 18 trains in an hour. However, if three HS1 trains were added to the October 2013 modelled service pattern, the result would be 19 trains per hour on the trunk (see diagram).

HS2 Ltd, Oct 2013 Y network service pattern with sample three HS1 services added in

If two Northern England to Heathrow Airport services were assumed to run on the trunk, in addition to the HS1 services, the loading would increase to 21 per hour.

When the nature of the HS2 to HS1 link is factored in, it’s unlikely that Mr McLoughlin’s three trains per direction an hour could operate.

Written by beleben

November 11, 2013 at 11:56 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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HS2 and classic capacity, part two

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In the Oct 2013 documents, the HS2 net increase in fast peak-hour paths to West Coast destinations from London over 2009 is just threeThe planned ‘PUG2’ 225 km/h upgrade of Britain’s West Coast Main Line railway, planned in the mid 1990s, was so badly mismanaged that it had to be abandoned. In its place came a much less ambitious project known as ‘West Coast Route Modernisation’, which was largely restricted to replacing worn-out assets (sadly, the de-scoped WCRM was also mismanaged). Despite the fact that its enhancement aspect was quite limited, proponents of HS2 often refer to WCRM as the “£10 billion upgrade”, as a supposed warning of the very high costs of “patch and mend”.

The fact is, all railways need renewals work from time to time, if they are to keep operating (HS2 would be no exception). The West Coast Route Modernisation was not really optional. The route had a very large maintenance backlog, with relatively little having been done on its southern trunk since the 1960s.

According to the Department for Transport, upgrading conventional rail lines ‘would not deliver‘ the same capacity improvements as the entirely new route proposed under HS2.

However, the real capacity uplifts offered by HS2 could be matched by investment based around the existing railways. How big are the real capacity uplifts from the Y network? As far as long distance travel is concerned, HS2 is **primarily concerned with ‘West Coast’ destinations**. In the October 2013 Economic Case modelled service pattern, there are 11 London — West Midlands and North West trains, but only 5 for destinations in the East Midlands, Yorkshire, and North East.

In Figure 10 of the Oct 2013 HS2 Strategic Case, the Department for Transport presented the WCRM as being an ‘upgrade’, in which a £10 billion investment provided four additional fast train paths to West Coast destinations. But as Figure 10 showed, the year 2033 net increase of fast train paths to West Coast destinations provided by the HS2 line over the year 2013 would be only three.

So, in the terms of the HS2 October 2013 Economic and Strategic Case docs

  • WCRM “upgrade”, £10 billion — net output: 4 additional long distance paths to West Coast destinations
  • HS2 Y network, £50 billion — net output: 3 additional long distance paths to West Coast destinations

The closer one looks at HS2, the less sense it makes.

Written by beleben

November 4, 2013 at 8:40 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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HS2 and classic capacity

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According to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, “the case for [HS2] rests on the step change in capacity and connectivity it will provide”. However, the new Economic and Strategic Case documents published on 29 October 2013 suggest that HS2’s capacity outputs represent poor value, even if eighteen paths per hour were possible on each track (currently, that is not achieved on any high speed line anywhere in the world).

The Oct 2013 Economic Case included revised service patterns for ‘modelling purposes’, but it seems HS2 Ltd have been unable to resolve many of the shortcomings inherent in the underlying Y network concept.

HS2 and WCML fast line trains departing Euston in the peak period

HS2 and WCML fast line trains departing Euston in the peak period (HS2 Ltd, Oct 2013)

According to Figure 10 from the Strategic Case (reproduced above, with annotations), in 2009, there were eleven peak hour intercity trains departing Euston on the WCML Fast lines  (ten Virgin Pendolino, and one Voyager), and two “fast commuter / regional trains” (London Midland Desiro).

With the Y network in 2033, there would be 18 peak hour very high speed trains departing Euston on the HS2 line, and 3 intercity and 9 commuter / regional trains departing on the WCML Fast line. So thirteen Euston departures altogether in 2013, and thirty in 2033.

On closer examination, the uplift in capacity from HS2 turns out to be less than impressive. From the Oct 2013 service pattern, HS2 looks like little more than a bizarre and very expensive way of enabling more commuter trains to run to Milton Keynes.

In the 2033 Y network,

  1. five of the eighteen HS2 Euston paths would be used for services to destinations served by the Midland and East Coast Main Lines. The claimed uplift in capacity provided by the Y network needs to be compared against the capacity provided by the ‘WCML_plus_other_main_lines_to_the_North’. In the Strategic Case, the comparison is with the ‘WCML_alone’.
  2. the number of Euston HS2 departures for West Coast destinations is shown as eleven. As far as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester are concerned, the number of peak fast trains is the same as today (3 Birmingham, 3 Manchester, 2 Liverpool).  
  3. the Birmingham and Manchester HS2 trains could have more seats than their 2013 Pendolino counterparts, but the Liverpool HS2 trains would probably have fewer seats (HS2 Ltd planning has been based on the use of 200-metre trainsets for most places off the Y network).
  4. if there were to be eighteen HS2 “Euston paths”, as claimed in the Strategic Case, there could not be any paths to HS1, or to Heathrow Airport. The service pattern in the Strategic Case (October 2013), and the capacity statement in the October 2013 Economic Case, appear to be mutually exclusive.
HS2 Ltd, Y network service plan for 'modelling purposes', Oct 2013

HS2 Ltd, Y network service plan for ‘modelling purposes’, Oct 2013

For comparison, the Jan 2013 Y network service pattern is presented below.

January 2013 service pattern (HS2 Ltd)

HS2 Ltd, Y network service plan for ‘modelling purposes’, Jan 2013

Written by beleben

November 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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What does HS2 Ltd lead spokesman Ben Ruse think of opponents?

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Ben Ruse, HS2 lead spokesman, tweets about luddites

Ben Ruse, of M & N Place, hired-in lead spokesman for HS2 Ltd'

Ben Ruse of M and N place, LinkedIn

Written by beleben

October 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Posted in High speed rail

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Valuing HS2 connectivity and released capacity (part three)

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Part two

The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has reacted positively to KPMG’s study predicting that the West Midlands will be the greatest beneficiary of the High Speed 2 railway project, the Information Daily reported.

September 11, 2013

[…] Commissioned by HS2 Ltd, KPMG claim the West Midlands regional economy will benefit from an annual boost of £1.5 to £3.1 billion, representing between 2.1 and 4.2 per cent of the city’s GDP. This is compared to between £2.5 and £2.8 billion in Greater London (0.5 per cent GDP), £600 million to £1.3 billion in Greater Manchester (0.8 to 1.7 per cent GDP) and around £1 billion in Leeds (1.6 per cent GDP).

[…] Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Birmingham Chamber of commerce Group (BCCG), said: “The KPMG report is a ringing endorsement of everything those of us who support HS2 have been saying.”

But as previously mentioned on the Beleben blog, while it is plausible that improved transport connectivity for a region would have positive economic effects, measuring or predicting such gains presents substantial difficulties. On the Spatial Economics blog, Prof Henry Overman made some interesting observations.

[…] So, on my reading, [the KPMG study appears] technically wrong and possibly out by orders of magnitude. I can imagine why the government has rushed this report out, but it would appear to add very little, if anything, to the debate.

Go-HS2 blogpost on KPMG's assessment of HS2 regional benefits, 11 September 2013

Written by beleben

September 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm

The Chiltern advantage, part two

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Part one

According to the Chairman of HS2, Douglas Oakervee, ‘Critics of HS2 are reluctant to set out their alternatives’. Nothing could be further from the truth. The information blackout, evasiveness, and dissemblance is at HS2 Ltd, and the Department for Transport.

On BBC WM radio (4 July 2013) HS2 Ltd chief executive Alison Munro claimed that the railway between London and Birmingham is “full“. That claim is nonsense. There are two railways between London and Birmingham, and neither of them is full.

In particular, the Chiltern Main Line has very large amounts of unused capacity. By transferring London to West Midlands intercity traffic to the Chiltern route, West Coast services to north west England / north Wales / Scotland could be drastically improved.

Chiltern RP6 option in the West Midlands (intercity trackage in blue, local trackage in pink, shared track in pink and blue)

As can be seen from the diagram, the Chiltern intercity concept has important advantages over HS2. For example, the boroughs of Wolverhampton, Walsall, and Dudley would, in effect, get their own main line to London. In the HS2 scheme, the Black Country, and Coventry, are ignored.

Written by beleben

July 4, 2013 at 10:21 am