Transport and the economy

Memorandum from Gladwin Associates Limited

Strategy

Currently we can see no evidence of an ‘Integrated Transport Policy’, particularly with regard to Transport Infrastructure.

The last Government’s 2003 White Paper on Airport Policy is now discredited with the reversal on a third runway for Heathrow. We are not aware of any new policy statement.

The HS2 Limited Report and Command Paper has made a half-baked attempt at defining a High Speed Rail (HSR) network. This is flawed because the Terms of Reference predicated a London Birmingham link as an initial step, rather than to develop a strategy for the whole country.

We believe that it is necessary to define the

· Expected growth in the population, analysed across the regions

· To determine the current and future development of the national and regional economies

· To define the drivers for growth in technology, employment and economic integration

· To accurately determine the cost of achieving this to ensure that it is within the economic ability of the country

With regard to HSR, we submit that

· It is more important to improve links between the North and the South East than it is with Birmingham. Birmingham is already only an hour from London, and there are improvements on the Chiltern Line, which will provide a fast service linking the intermediate stations.

· HSR should serve the larger populations earlier rather than later. HS2 produced a table 11.2 in HS2 Demand Model Analysis showing the daily return trips to Inner London. Analysis of this table showed that nearly 14,000 came from east of the Pennines compared to 9.800 from west of the Pennines. Of the latter 3,300 came from Manchester, which could be linked easily to an east coast alignment.

· On the continent, HSR is developed alongside motorways, thus avoiding creating further noise and light envelopes across the country.

· A four track solution would enable intermediate cities to benefit from HSR.

· 4 cities in the north deliver the majority of internal travel to Heathrow. Approximately 75% derive from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, but these are to be connected to HSR much later. An east coast trajectory would deliver these much earlier.

· The current business case developed by HS2 is patently flawed, with over optimistic growth forecasts, overvaluation of the benefits and omission of additional capital costs

Questions

1. When will the Government produce an Integrated Transport Policy, including infrastructure developments?

2. Is it the Government’s intention to eliminate internal air flights in the UK?

3. Why are we rushing ahead with HSR, when no integrated transport strategy has been developed, when capacity constraints between London & Birmingham will not be reached until 6 years after HS2 is forecast to open?

4. Why are many major conurbations being denied the opportunity to benefit from HSR, when a different routing would bring benefits to more people substantially earlier?

Demand

The DfT’s record on forecasts in Demand is poor. The Transport Select Committee criticised rightly the gross over estimate of demand for HS1.

At the Select Committee’s meeting with Mr Hammond on 29 July, he was asked why he was cancelling a number of Pendolino carriages. He responded that the demand forecasts were not robust.

Questions

1. In light of the DfT’s poor record of forecasting growth, what are you doing to satisfy yourself, that their growth forecasts, underlying HS2 are robust?

2. If Manchester and Glasgow were connected to a trajectory to the east of the Pennines, what would be the impact on demand between London and Birmingham on the WCML?

Valuation of Benefits

The DfT’s standard method for evaluating transport projects utilises WebTag. Webtag uses base data at 2002 prices. The benefit for a businessman travelling quicker is £36.92 per hour. Applying inflation produces £46 per hour in 2009 prices. HS2 has applied £70 per hour.

There is evidence to suggest that businessmen prefer punctuality to reduced journey time. This was demonstrated by Swiss Air, who typically used transit times 20 minutes longer than their rivals but had almot perfect punctuality.

Questions

1. Why has HS2 been allowed to use a rate different to the Webtag standard?

2. With developments in modern technology, laptops, I-phones etc, businessmen are productive while travelling on a train. Surely, the perceived benefit should be reduced rather than increased?

Economic Growth

The evidence for HSR stimulating economic growth is mixed. For example, Lille has seen a rejuvenation of the city centre around the train station. However this has not impacted the suburbs significantly. Calais on the other hand is suffering an economic downturn.

As the population of the country increases, the need for economic growth increases, as does the demand for housing and the need for people to enjoy open spaces. The latter has been recognised through the Green Belt Policy, and the creation of 66 National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty..

Questions

1. What concrete evidence does the Government have on the economic benefits of closer links between major conurbations, and have they studied the impact on other communities not connected?

2. In which sectors of the Economy, does the Government see the opportunity for growth, financial services, other services or manufacturing?

3. Have they studied the impact of this growth on demand for IT, passenger travel and freight?

4. How can an overall transport policy be developed without understanding this?

5. Does the Government believe that the pursuit of economic growth overrides the regulations put in place to protect our open spaces, which are one of the embodiments of England, Wales and Scotland.

September 2010