Written evidence from Henry Law
1. What are the main arguments either for
or against HSR
2. Journey times between cities will
3. Additional capacity will be created,
including capacity released by transfer of services from existing
4. The case made by the proponents of
the route rests primarily on the second argument. However, additional
capacity could equally well be created by construction of a new
route or routes, including one on a similar alignment to that
selected for HS2. This could be substantially achieved by the
reinstatement (as 125 mph railway) of routes and tracks removed
in the 1960s rationalisations, including the Great Central main
line, the Midland direct route to Manchester, and the Midland
and other routes where quadruple track was reduced to double track.
5. The costs of constructing, equipping
and operating a high speed railway must be very substantially
higher than those for a 125 mph railway. Energy consumption doubles
for every 40% increase in speed. Higher speeds give rise to higher
costs for other reasons. This will include the provision of a
fleet of bespoke high speed trains for running on Britain's classic
6. To reinforce the above point: 250
mph is not optimal for rail transport in the UK. Costs are proportional
to speed to the power of x, where x is greater than
2. Thus, the costs of travel at 140 mph are more than double those
at 100 mph. These extra costs comprise amongst other elements,
energy costs, initial costs of equipment specified for the higher
speed of operation, wear and tear, and maintenance.
7. Time savings, on the other hand, are
less for each increment of speed increase. Thus a journey of 120
miles takes 2 hours at 60 mph, 90 minutes at 80 mph, 72 minutes
at 100 mph and 60 minutes at 120 mph, giving successive time savings
of 30 minutes, 18 minutes and 12 minutes respectively. For typical
UK distances, speeds much higher than 100 mph achieve diminishing
8. The high costs of the service will
mean that demand has to be finely tuned, using yield management
techniques, resulting in complex fares structure which force people
to make their travel plans far in advance and tie their journeys
to particular times. This in turn adds to journey time since passengers
must allow the best part of an hour for delays on the way to their
point of departure. That completely negates most of the time savings
achieved by high speed running. From this point of view, a conventional
speed walk-on service will give shorter journey times than a high
speed railway with an airline-style booking system!
9. How does HSR fit with the Government's
transport policy objectives
10. HSR is designed to improve inter-urban
connectivity. How does that objective compare in importance to
other transport policy objectives and spending programmes, including
those for the strategic road network?
11. All journey start and finish with local journeys.
The number of local journeys made is at least an order of magnitude
greater than the number of inter-urban journeys. Investment must
be balanced between the different needs. HS2 could be harmful
to this balance by consuming too much of the available resources.
12. Focusing on rail, what would be the implications
of expenditure on HSR on funding for the "classic" network,
for example in relation to investment to increase track and rolling
stock capacity in and around major cities?
13. Unless additional funding is set aside, the
classic network could be starved of funds. Moreover, there is
a risk that building of the line and rolling stock could consume
an excessive share of the physical engineering resources and personnel
available for rail construction in the UK.
14. What are the implications for domestic
15. In that most inter-urban journeys are not
city-centre to city-centre, for trips starting and finishing within
the catchment areas of airports, especially local ones, HS2 may
not be as attractive as expected.
16. Business case
17. How robust are the assumptions and methodologyfor
example, on passenger forecasts, modal shifts, fare levels, scheme
costs, economic assumptions (eg about the value of time) and the
impact of lost revenue on the "classic" network?
18. The best measure of the external economic
value of infrastructure is aggregate change in land value attributable
to the project. There is a need to refine the methodology so that
this can be more accurately forecast.
19. What would be the pros and cons of resolving
capacity issues in other ways, for example by upgrading the West
Coast Main Line or building a new conventional line?
20. This was comprehensively explored in the
report by W S Atkins. However, that report over-estimated the
difficulties of running longer trains on the WCML, referring to
the need for platform lengthening. This problem could be significantly
alleviated by the development of an improved system of selective
door opening. (SDO) to facilitate the stopping of long trains
at stations with short platforms.
21. As regards a new conventional line, the option
that needs to be explored is the reinstatement of the Old Oak
Common to Northolt route, the Great Central main line and cross-connections
including Ashendon-Grendon Underwood, the Calvert spurs and the
east-west route between at least Oxford and Bedford, reinstatement
of four tracking of the Midland route from London to Trent Junction,
and reinstatement of the Midland Peak Forest direct route to Manchester
via Matlock and Buxton, all as 100 mph-125 mph railway.
22. What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
23. Complex yield management schemes are unpopular.
High fares drive people onto alternative modes of transport.
24. Economic rebalancing and equity
25. What evidence is there that HSR will promote
economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic
26. HS2 is as likely to promote long distance
commuting and further centralisation to London as it is to promote
regional economic regeneration. A strategy more certain to bridge
the north-south economic divide would be to adjust the tax system
so that it was related to ability to pay, where this is determined
by geographical advantage and disadvantagein effect creating
"tax havens" where they are most needed and raising
a greater share of public revenue from those areas most able to
bear the burden. This would apply the same principle as the Domesday
27. To what extent should the shape of the
network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local
and regional regeneration?
28. This question lies at the crux of the matter.
There is a need for connectivity both at local and national scales.
29. Which locations and socio-economic groups
will benefit from HSR?
30. The benefits of fixed infrastructure are
ultimately capitalised into land values. The benefits go to whoever
owns the land. This was demonstrated with the construction of
the Jubilee Line Extension in London, which resulted in a land
value uplift of three times the cost of building the line.
31. How should the Government ensure that
all major beneficiaries of HSR (including local authorities and
business interests) make an appropriate financial contribution
and bear risks appropriately?
32. By a substantial replacement of existing
taxes by a charge on the site rental value of land. This is the
policy known as land value taxation (LVT). In the absence of this
tax, the benefits will be creamed-off through higher rents and
higher land prices, including prices of domestic property. Any
other means of recovering the benefits will be arbitrary and unfair.
33. Should the Government seek support from
the EU's TEN-T programme?
34. No. Conditions are likely to be imposed resulting
in additional costs.
36. What will be the overall impact of HSR
on UK carbon emissions?
37. It is worth noting again that energy consumption
doubles for every 40% increase in speed. In addition, the embodied
energy of the structure and rolling stock must be taken into account.
39. The fundamental question that must be asked
is whether, given a pot of money sufficient to pay for HS2, and
a decision to spend it on public transport infrastructure, whether
HS2 is the best way to spend that pot, as against other options
such as a 125 mph railway, urban light rail, or improvements to
urban bus travel, and beyond this, on improvements in facilities
for cyclists and pedestrians in cities.
16 May 2011