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Posts Tagged ‘West Yorkshire

Knott in gley public interest

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On June 22, The Guardian Northerner Blog’s political commentator Ed Jacobs asked how the HS2 project could be made more ‘relevant’ to people.

Talking in generalisations about economic growth may sound good, but it doesn’t address the day-to-day transport problems that we have to endure in the north. So, for those advocating the route, here are four questions that could do with being answered:

1. What would High Speed Rail to northern England do to ease the UK’s unenviable position of having the most expensive rail fares in Europe?

2. How would the project address the problem of trains persistently running late?

3. Will HS2 do anything to relieve frequently overcrowded trains?

4. Would HS2 do anything about the train fare system which so many people cite as being too confusing?

I don’t think HS2 could help much with these issues. Fares are high because the railway is inefficient and less subsidised than its Continental cohorts. The fare structure could probably be rationalised in a couple of years, if the government pushed for it. Trains run late because the railway is inefficient and less modern than its Continental cohorts. And crowding is ultimately tied up with tidal peaks, and willingness to pay.

The government’s timescale is for HS2 track to reach northern England around the year 2032, so its short term relevance for Mancunian and Leodensian commuters is minimal. And over the medium to long term, HS2 would play the role of attention thief and competitor for funds against the classic network.

Rail writer Nick Kingsley’s response to Mr Jacobs’ article (Northerner Blog, 26 June) alluded to commuter benefits for Northwich

The Cheshire town of Northwich might seem an odd place to start a discussion about the case for High Speed 2, the government’s proposed fast rail link between London and (eventually) Manchester and Leeds. Between 7am and 8.30am each weekday, three trains leave Northwich to carry commuters the 30 miles or so to Manchester. Trouble is… only one actually gets there, the others unhelpfully decanting their passengers at Stockport.

[…]The Northwich case is just one of many examples of too many trains being squeezed on to too little railway; and the railways around Leeds and Manchester remain a somewhat haphazard web of routes that have developed only piecemeal since the mid-19th century.

and Knottingley (the ‘Pontefract Line’).

As one senior transport official in West Yorkshire told me in April:

‘Pontefract and Knottingley won’t get a proper service into Leeds until we sort out the East Coast bottlenecks using HS2.’

I’d venture that rail capacity and connectivity in northern cities is better addressed by scalable, smaller schemes that can be implemented in shorter timescales.

Northwich

Northwich - Manchester rail diagram

Northwich – Manchester rail diagram showing ‘Metrolink Max’ direct access via MSJ&A

Only the mad world of British planning would produce a situation where rail travel from Northwich to Manchester entailed a change of train in Stockport. And detouring trains via Stockport reduces capacity on the approach to Manchester Piccadilly, used by expresses from London.

So why not incorporate Northwich into a ‘Metrolink Max’, and route its Manchester services over the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJ&A, now part of the Metrolink tramway)? That would shorten the journey, and decongest the Piccadilly approach.

Knottingley

Leeds, Castleford, Knottingley rail diagram

Knottingley and ECML Leeds trains: potential conflict only in vicinity of City station

At present, through trains between Knottingley and Leeds take about 40 minutes, calling at Pontefract Monkhill, Glasshoughton, Castleford and Woodlesford. They do not approach Leeds using the East Coast electrified line from Kings Cross, so it’s unclear to me how HS2 would help with decongestion.

Like Centro in the West Midlands, West Yorkshire ITA misrepresents HS2 as freeing up significant capacity on its local rail network. However, its draft Railplan 7 did include some good development options for the Pontefract line, including platform lengthening. As the site for the HS2 station in Leeds has not been revealed, it’s not possible to discuss the capacity and connectivity implications.

Written by beleben

June 28, 2012 at 8:34 am

Posted in HS2, Leeds, Manchester

Tagged with , ,

HS2 and West Yorkshire

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Yorkshire Needs HS2 is a pro-high-speed rail campaign led by Yorkshire local authorities, with a message reminiscent of the West Midlands campaign (Go HS2).

A significant number of the journeys currently made to London and other destinations on the East Coast Main Line, which along its length handles long-distance expresses, local services and freight trains, would be transferred to the HS2 high-speed route.

This would free up the space in the timetable and on track for more, fast, frequent commuter services between Leeds and growing population and business centres such as Wakefield, Sheffield and Doncaster.

Additional capacity would also become available for freight services, particularly fast container trains from the South and East Coast ports to the Midlands and North, thereby helping to reduce the number of lorries on the motorway network.

In HS2 phase one, the new track would run only to Staffordshire, so there would be no effect on capacity in Yorkshire. In phase two, new track would be extended to West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, and bringing the national total of true HS2 stations to eight or nine.

HS2 Ltd’s scheme appears to comprise parkway-type stations in ‘South Yorkshire’ and the ‘East Midlands’, with only Leeds having a centrally located station. This would probably make the existing network faster for journeys between the central business districts of Sheffield and Leeds, and Nottingham.

Given the existence of alternative routes between Leeds, Doncaster, and Sheffield, it’s hard to see how HS2 would provide a noteworthy capacity uplift on the Yorkshire network. And owing to the paucity of destinations on the Y network, it’s hard to see how conventional intercity services could be cut without reducing connectivity.

Railways in the Leeds Wakefield area, showing a possible Midland Mainline electrified route

Written by beleben

January 3, 2012 at 12:00 am

Trolleybuses in West Yorkshire

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When government funding for a Supertram light rail network in Leeds was rejected for a second time in 2005, the city council decided to pursue a trolleybus system – ‘New Generation Transport‘ (NGT) – instead.

The West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive‘s September 2011 NGT Best and Final Funding Bid gave the following details.

• 14.3km network serving North and South Leeds;
• South route (4.5km): city centre to Stourton Park & Ride;
• North Route (9.1km): city centre to Bodington Park & Ride and on to Holt Park; and
• North-South city centre link (0.7km).
Vehicles:
• Operated by electrically powered trolleybuses operating at a six minute headway during core hours of operation.

• Approximately 56% segregation from general traffic;
• 6.1km of which is new NGT-only route where NGT is 100% segregated; and
• Priority and traffic management measures planned where NGT is mixed with general traffic to ensure adequate levels of reliability

Unfortunately, NGT has the same ‘gold plating’ issues that have afflicted other British transport schemes. However one looks at it, 14 kilometres of trolleybus route is not worth £250 million.

The NGT scheme would leave the vast majority of services operated by diesel buses. To provide environmental benefits, the trolleybus system should have been designed to maximise on-wire coverage of main routes in the city. So NGT is the nearest British equivalent of Nancy‘s tramway sur pneus.

Written by beleben

December 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm