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HS2 and the percentage of business trips

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Percentage of “intercity rail trips made on the corridors that will be served by HS2” which are for business:


(according to section 2.4 of the Department for Transport’s HS2 and the Market for Business Travel, Nov 2015).

Percentage of intercity rail trips made on the West Coast Main Line which are for business:


(according to section 2.4 of the Department for Transport’s InterCity West Coast franchise consultation, May 2016).

gov_uk, comparison of rail business travel claims

Written by beleben

May 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, Politics

Tagged with ,

‘Victorian infrastructure limitations preclude trains longer than 250 metres’

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In March 2011, the editorial director of Railnews, Alan Marshall, wrote to his local newspaper complaining about what he saw as the inaccuracies of the ‘Stop HS2’ campaign. In the interests of accuracy, he wanted to “draw attention to some factors”.

'A response to Joe Rukin's letter' by Alan Marshall, Kenilworth Weekly News, 24 March 2011

‘A response to Joe Rukin’s letter’ by Alan Marshall, Kenilworth Weekly News, 24 March 2011

Mr Marshall went on to “draw attention to” the “factor” that the Stop HS2 campaign’s “preferred alternative, known as Rail Package 2 (RP2), just does not stack up in providing sufficient extra capacity on the southern section of the West Coast Main Line… Victorian infrastructure limitations of the West Coast Main Line preclude trains longer than 250 metres”.

But did the Stop HS2 campaign actually have a “preferred alternative”? And do ‘Victorian infrastructure limitations on the West Coast Main Line preclude trains longer than 250 metres’?

Alstom Transport: Each 11-car Pendolino train on the West Coast Main Line is 265 metres long

Alstom Transport: ‘Each 11-car Pendolino train on the West Coast Main Line is 265 metres long’

Coventry station from above (Google maps)

Alan Marshall: “The Victorian infrastructure limitations of the WCML preclude trains longer than 250 metres — notably at Coventry”

Contrary to the claim made by Mr Marshall, trains longer than 250 metres operate every day on the West Coast Main Line. A need to extend WCML intercity platforms is unlikely to arise in the next 15 years, but if it did, it would certainly be possible at Coventry (and many other locations). In terms of scale, disruption, and cost, the civils of platform extension — and junction grade separation — are nothing like those involved in building 560 km of HS2.

Unfortunately, certain sections of the railway press — such as Rail Magazine and Railnews — cannot be relied upon to provide accurate information about HS2.

[Engineer sets out plan for more trains on HS2, Railnews, 16 Mar 2012]

[…][HS2 Ltd’s Prof Andrew McNaughton] said HS2’s control system would be based on ERTMS Level 2 train control, and would be designed to allow headways of two minutes, giving a theoretical capacity of 30 trains an hour. At the moment, a maximum of 18 is envisaged.

Headways would be maintained by trains stopping intermediately, such as at Birmingham Interchange, and then departing on ‘acceleration lines’ up to 14km long, so they were running at high speed before being slotted back in behind a fast train that had just overtaken them.

Railnews story, 'Engineer sets out plan for more trains on HS2', Railnews, 16 March 2012

Railnews story, ‘Engineer sets out plan for more trains on HS2’, Railnews, 16 March 2012

Written by beleben

October 15, 2015 at 10:53 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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What the Rail Delivery Group and KPMG get ‘up to’

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Britain’s rail industry is contributing up to £10.1 billion in added value to the national economy every year, a report by economists Oxera for the Rail Delivery Group ‘revealed’ (21 Sep 2015).


[…] At the same time rail boosts economic productivity by up to £11.3 billion through reduced road congestion and enabling companies to be clustered together. According to research by economists Oxera for the Rail Delivery Group which represents train operators and Network Rail, rail and its supply chain also supports 216,000 jobs. The sector also pays up to £4 billion in tax to the public purse.

But according to KPMG 2013’s (widely derided) report for HS2 Ltd, the 560 km of new high speed line could deliver annual an £15 billion boost to the economy — more than what RDG claims as the benefit from the entire existing rail system. (The existing rail network carries 18 times as many passengers as HS2 is forecast to carry.)

Did someone say “Made-up numbers”?

Written by beleben

October 5, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Railways

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HS2 and London Midland commuting, part five

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According to the Government Response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee HS2 report (July 2015), “the lack of track capacity for commuter services is highly relevant to the case for HS2 as the West Coast Main Line is a mixed use railway”.

Figure 2-4 from the Response (below) purported to show ‘indicative loadings’ on midweek evening commuter services departing Euston in 2033 / 2034, “assuming June 2015 capacity”.

Department for Transport, 'Indicative loadings' on midweek evening commuter services departing Euston in 2033 / 2034 [July 2015]

Department for Transport, ‘Indicative loadings’ on midweek evening commuter services departing Euston in 2033 / 2034 [July 2015]

As is now to be expected, Figure 2-4 turns out to be a load of old nonsense. There is plenty of unused line capacity, even with the existing signalling. For example, anyone perusing London Midland’s May 2015 ‘Getting a seat from Euston’ can see that in the period 16:00 to 16:59, just seven LM commuter trains head north from the station. In the period 17:00 to 17:59, the number is eleven. So, why don’t eleven trains leave Euston between 16:00 and 16:59? And of course, most of the peak trains are short-length (i.e., not twelve cars).

London Midland, 'Getting a seat from Euston', 17 May 2015

London Midland, ‘Getting a seat from Euston’, 17 May 2015

So why are most trains short-length, and why are there fewer trains outside of the high peak (5pm to 6pm)? How many people would be “standing in 2033” if trains ran at full length, and all paths were used?

If the Department of Transport are so worried about rail commuters having to stand, why did they order trains for Thameslink whose capacity is ‘666 seated, 1,088 standing’? Do people from Bletchley have more difficulty standing up, than people from Bedford?

Written by beleben

August 6, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Posted in HS2

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He says with knowledge

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Business trends at sea mean the HS2 rail plan is essential, according to HS2 Chief Information Officer James Findlay.

[HS2 CIO James Findlay interview – Boats, trains and CIO reveals, Mark Chillingworth, CIO, 19 Mar 2015]

[…] Speaking at his Canary Wharf office, James Findlay told CIO UK that “95% of our trade is by sea, so transport is critical to our ability to compete.”

When a ship such as Globe unloads (it takes 24 hours), its load would form a single line measuring 72 miles, Birmingham to Manchester as it happens, and the next phase of HS2.

“The ports at London and Southampton are being dredged for the new mega ships, so the challenge is the ability to distribute the loads. The ability to interface are critical to our survival and that requires a lot of strategic thinking about the hub cities in the UK.” While politicians try and sell HS2 to the public with everything but the truth; Findlay deals in facts and he knows the facts. Not just because he’s a well aligned CIO, but because he has a heritage on the seas, having been IT and projects leader at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for close to a decade and before that a career in ports and defence. To this day, the coast plays a major part in his life, and he sees what’s happening on our waves and to our demands of our economy.

“Over the next 10 years we will be at peak capacity on the existing rail network,” he says returning to dry land. “HS2 provides a relief to primary freight traffic. We won’t build more roads,” he says with knowledge, as Findlay doubles up as Technology Leader for the Department for Transport. “Network Rail has been re-engineering some of the lines through a process of dropping the lines,” but as he explains, because the UK was the first adopter of rail networks, the nation is lumbered with a legacy of Victorian lines that can’t take the growing capacity of local, intercity and freight rail. A new rail infrastructure is required.

So what is the relief which would be provided by HS2 to primary freight traffic? Careful scrutiny of the evidence suggests the uplift in railfreight capacity would be, at best, minimal.

And there may not be any uplift at all. When the Department for Transport were asked about HS2 released capacity for railfreight, the answer was

[…] there is good reason to believe that 3 additional freight paths per off-peak hour on the WCML corridor would be compatible with the HS2 Phase Two service set out in the PFM assumptions report.

3 additional freight paths per off-peak hour on the WCML corridor would be compatible with the HS2 Phase Two service set out in the PFM assumptions report. And 3 additional freight paths per off-peak hour on the WCML corridor would be compatible with no HS2 service at all.

Because 3 is the hourly two-way number of freight paths currently allocated on the WCML, but not used.

Written by beleben

March 19, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Freight, High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with ,

On track to dissemble

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Need to carry more passengers between London and Manchester? Make the platforms longer, or build new platforms and connect them into the existing lines

Need to carry more passengers between London and Manchester? Why not just make the platforms longer at intermediate stations served by intercity trains. In London and Manchester, build new platforms, and connect them into the existing lines – saving tens of billions

Much of the content in the Department for Transport’s latest attempt to justify the HS2 railway, On Track (March 2015), seems to be aimed at obscuring the key issues.

‘HS1 has attracted over £10 billion of private sector investment around station sites.’

Is that true? How much development has there been in Ashford, Ebbsfleet and Stratford, as a result of HS1?

The post-Olympic regeneration underperformance around Stratford led Mayor Boris Johnson to alter the TfL travel zone boundary, to try to boost business interest.

And most of the development at Kings Cross cannot be attributed to HS1; as in other parts of central London, the land would have been redeveloped anyway.

‘Yet it is still quicker to travel from London to the continent than it is to travel from London to Manchester or from Birmingham to Leeds.’

Given that Lille is nearer to London than is Manchester, it might not be too surprising to find that the rail journey takes less time.

But in fact, it doesn’t take less time overall, because most people travelling to Lille have to present themselves at St Pancras at least 30 minutes before the train leaves. Even the expense-account contingent have to be there 10 minutes before. And the Manchester service is much more frequent, further reducing the at-station element of the journey.

‘For example, on the London Midland network we recently invested in 10 additional four-car trains, upgraded the existing fleet to be capable of 110mph running and lengthened peak trains from 8 to 12 carriages where possible.’

The London Midland services still waste capacity, because of their lower top speed (compared to the intercity Pendolinos). And in the peak, most of them are not 12 carriages long.

December 2014: only a third of London Midland Euston weekday evening peak departures were 'full length' (12 carriages)

December 2014: only a third of London Midland Euston weekday evening peak departures were ‘full length’ (12 carriages)

‘Yet despite a £9 billion upgrade completed less than a decade ago, parts of the [West Coast] line are effectively full in terms of trains, and many are full to overflowing at the busiest times of day.’

The latest available statistics suggest most of the trains aren’t full in the peak hours. And there was no £9 billion upgrade.

Written by beleben

March 13, 2015 at 11:22 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS1, HS2

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Baldies need homes

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'HS2 land freed to create over 2,000 jobs in Washwood Heath', Birmingham Post, 24 Feb 2015

Birmingham Post story (24 Feb 2015)

Parts of the former LDV and Alstom sites in Washwood Heath can now be used for industrial development after the HS2 company agreed to give up its claim on the land following protests from Birmingham City Council and Birmingham MPs, the Birmingham Post reported.

[HS2 land freed to create over 2,000 jobs in Washwood Heath, Neil Elkes, 24 February 2015] […]

The land is part of a package of development sites, totalling 3.7 million sq ft [34.3 ha], and proposals for 9,000 jobs in the new ‘East Birmingham Growth Prospectus’ launched today.
Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne heralded the new prospectus and breakthrough on HS2 as a “triple win” for the city.

He said: “This is the biggest plan for jobs in east Birmingham we’ve ever had.

“It was hard fought. But, by demanding the Government, the council and HS2 pull together, we’ve got an amazing plan for jobs and skills.

“Here, at Washwood Heath, we’ve forced HS2 to look at new plans to ensure 2,334 jobs are created rather than a giant train carpark – plus a £1 million investment in skills for local people and the city council’s regeneration plan.

What a load of nonsense from Mr Byrne. His original proposal to relocate the “giant train carpark” away from Washwood Heath has been seen off by HS2 Ltd. His “jobs” claims seem to conveniently overlook the loss of existing employment on parts of the depot site.

Birmingham Post: 'This bold, [HS2] joint initiative with Birmingham City Council will create badly needed jobs and build baldy needed homes, transforming east Birmingham into an economic power-house'

Birmingham Mail story (9 Nov 2012)

Written by beleben

February 24, 2015 at 11:57 am

Posted in Birmingham, HS2

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Many did not see

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HS2 Trainspotting

The government is anxious to spread the business benefits of the “£60bn” HS2 rail project down the supply chain despite misgivings among many small firms, wrote Roland Gribben.

[‘Majority of HS2 rail contracts will go to small businesses’, Daily Telegraph, 2 Feb 2015]

Surveys covering small businesses in the Birmingham region and the north west showed that many did not see any benefit.
[Contracts for small firms] will account for a relatively small proportion of the business in financial terms but with tens of thousands of contracts tied to the ambitious scheme the organisers estimate 60pc of them will end up with small-and-medium-sized suppliers.

Written by beleben

February 3, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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HS2 and London Midland commuting

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As part of its contribution to the HS2 propaganda effort, Network Rail produced fact sheets about the “benefits” for commuter towns on the West Coast Main Line.

However, the fact sheets turned out to be spin sheets, with little in the way of verifiable fact.

Network Rail HS2 Hemel 'fact sheet'

Network Rail HS2 Hemel ‘fact sheet’

The weasel wording of the Hemel fact sheet is typical of Network Rail’s lamentable public relations output.

[from Network Rail Hemel HS2 factsheet]

Current situation

[…] At peak times, there are on average five trains an hour into Euston that serve Hemel Hempstead, but already 140 passengers for every 100 seats on some arrivals. […]

Impact of HS2

The capacity that would be freed up on completion of the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham would
allow for a significant improvement in rail services for Hemel Hempstead:

Up to six trains an hour to London Euston

According to Network Rail, there are currently ‘on average’ 5 Euston trains from Hemel. But with HS2, there would be ‘up to’ 6. Woo-hoo.

What is the real “likely impact” of HS2 on London Midland commuting to Hemel? Probably zero. Zilch. Nada.

And ditto for Berkhamsted.

Network Rail also mentioned that the “impact” of HS2 would mean “All passengers have a reasonable expectation of a seat”. But what does that mean?

If Crossrail 1 were extended to Tring, that would imply the use of ‘regional metro‘ type rolling stock, which have fewer seats than the existing Desiro trains.

Written by beleben

January 12, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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Defeat as a breakthrough

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MPs have “hailed a breakthrough for Birmingham jobs after a Government committee chair called on HS2 to adjust plans for a train maintenance depot in Birmingham so that unwanted land can be freed up for development”, the Birmingham Post reported.

Chairman Robert Syms MP said the HS2 bill select committee were impressed by the submission from AXA and Liam Byrne MP and sympathised with the need to address high unemployment in his constituency, but did not “believe” there is enough evidence justify siting the depot away from Washwood Heath.

[Washwood Heath jobs breakthrough as committee calls on HS2 to adjust plans, Neil Elkes, Birmingham Post, 21 Dec 2014]

[…] Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne and his colleagues have long argued that the site is much too large for HS2’s needs and parts could be developed with warehousing or industrial units now – creating much needed jobs for the inner-city area in the medium term.

By contrast, with construction of HS2 not set to begin until 2017 and the trains not running until 2026, it is argued that the delivery of jobs will take too long. Even then the RSMD would employ about 600 workers compared to thousands of opportunities which may be created by industrial development.

And the Labour MP, who has campaigned with landowners AXA to release the site, has been backed by a Parliamentary Select Committee which, while confirming the site is ideal for the HS2 depot, has urged HS2 Ltd to ascertain it’s needs now and release any unwanted land for development as soon as possible.

Mr Byrne welcomed the decision. He said: “This is a real breakthrough. The HS2 Committee has heard our call for jobs. Now HS2 Ltd must work with us on a Plan B that could see 2,334 jobs created in the inner city.”

But Mr Byrne did not argue that the Washwood Heath site was much too large for HS2’s needs. He argued that the depot should not be located there at all.

Mr Byrne has been outgunned and outmanoeuvred by MPs like Caroline Spelman (who do not want the depot on their patch) but is presenting defeat as a “breakthrough”.

What exactly is ‘Washwood Heath Plan B’, and what is the difference in land take compared to HS2 Ltd’s previous proposal?

The idea that HS2 Washwood Heath would create “thousands of skilled engineering jobs” is laughable. East Coast Trains has just 350 skilled and semi skilled depot staff — and that is for an old fleet which includes diesel trainsets (which are maintenance intensive).

Written by beleben

December 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm