Written evidence from ASLEF (HSR 112)|
1. The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers
and Firemen (ASLEF) is the UK's largest train drivers' union representing
approximately 18,000 members in train operating companies and
freight companies as well as London Underground and light rail
systems. The union has 130 years knowledge and experience of the
2. ASLEF welcomes the opportunity to contribute
to this Transport Select Committee Inquiry into High Speed Rail.
As the union representing the UK's only high speed train drivers'
on Eurostar and HS1 we believe we are well placed to comment on
this proposed infrastructure development.
3. Investment in the UK's infrastructure, particularly
rail, is crucial to reducing the deficit and boosting economic
growth. A key objective of that investment in the railways must
be to cultivate a modal shift from air to rail and from car to
train along in tandem with the development of a high speed rail
network in line with Coalition's Programme for Government commitment
to make the transport sector greener, more sustainable and reduce
carbon dioxide emissions. An increase in rail capacity is strongly
linked to a decrease in car journeys undertaken with the result
that there is less carbon emissions. Decisions must therefore
be determined by what will best deliver these outcomes.
What are the main arguments either for or against
4. ASLEF believes that the development of a high
speed rail network is vital to the long term prosperity of the
UK and notes that British rail network is already running at capacity.
Over the past few years rail use has been at record highs with
more distance being travelled by rail than any other era in peacetime.
We are travelling 10 billion miles a year more than we did just
a decade a go. Projections quoted by the McNulty review team suggest
that the rail industry has the potential to double its traffic
by 2030. In addition the UK is highly unlikely to build any more
motorways in the near future so the construction of a high speed
rail network is therefore the only viable solution to the capacity
5. The growth on the main two north to south
rail routes in the UK has also witnessed an extraordinarily upward
trajectory. Between 2008-09 and 2009-10 the West Coast Mainline
increased the number of passenger journey's carried by 15.8% and
passenger kilometres by 18%.
6. The East Coast Main line is one of the busiest
routes on the rail network yet there is currently insufficient
capacity on parts of the line to deal with the existing requirements
of passenger and freight services notwithstanding future growth
7. The Committee will know Network Rail's West
Coast Route Utilisation Strategy published in December 2010 explained
that "the Line is nearly full to capacity. The market for
travel between London and Manchester is expected to grow at the
fastest rate, with passenger demand expected to increase by as
much as 61%." It also states that "this RUS therefore
supports the development and implementation of a high speed network
initially between London and the West Midlands, but also to Manchester
and beyond. We believe that this is the best way to free up capacity
on the West Coast Main Line and are delighted the Government is
committed to the project."
How does HSR fit with the Government's transport
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?
8. This Government has sought to become the greenest
Britain has seen. Therefore not only must this been seen in the
context of improving inter-urban connectivity, but within the
scope of carbon reduction through reduced car journeys and flights.
The Government has a legal commitment to reduce CO2
emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.Transport is the fastest
growing polluter in the UK. However rail emits just 2% of these
emissions whilst road is responsible for 19% of all emissions
and 55% of transport emissions.
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?
9. It is essential that any funds spent on a
high speed network are ring fenced and should not detract from
the ongoing funding of the remaining network. It is thus essential
that the High Speed rail builds capacity along with other areas
of the network rather than simply moving it.
What are the implications for domestic aviation?
10. By linking to Heathrow airport, domestic
connecting flights which use Heathrow as a main hub for international
journeys will be substantially reduced. It is important to remember
that travel by HSR produces one-quarter the emissions of an equivalent
trip by air, taking into account the average loadings typically
achieved on each mode.
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?
11. High speed lines tend to promote more growth
than conventional lines. Currently rail only enjoys a 15% market
share in journeys between London and Scotland. The Eurostar demonstrates
the popularity of high speed rail as an alternative to air travel
with around an 80% share of London to Paris travellers.
What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
12. ASLEF believes that for environmental reasons
and likely road congestion projections we must look at increasing
demand and capacity on rail. Reducing demand in lieu of investment
in capacity is simply not an option. HSR can deliver modal shift
from carbon-intensive car and air travel by dramatically speeding
up journey times for medium and long-distance journeys. In the
future, the carbon savings of HSR will be as great if not better,
given that it operates on electric traction and will therefore
benefit from future de-carbonisation of the electricity supply.
This is likely to be the case even if a switch is made to electric
cars and if aviation becomes considerably more efficient.
The strategic route
The proposed route to the West Midlands has stations
at Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham International and Birmingham
Curzon Street. Are these the best possible locations? What criteria
should be used to assess the case for more (or fewer) intermediate
Which cities should be served by an eventual high
speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right choice?
Is the Government correct to build the network
in stages, moving from London northwards?
The Government proposes a link to HS1 as part
of Phase 1 but a direct link to Heathrow only as part of Phase
2. Are those the right decisions?
13. ASLEF believes that it makes no sense to
have a high speed network in the United Kingdom that does not
go to Edinburgh or Glasgow. These are two major cities in the
UK and the benefit of high speed travel and the shortening of
journey times would be enormous. This is especially true when
you consider that rail only enjoys a 15% market share in journeys
between London and Scotland whereas the Eurostar now has four
fifths of London to Paris travelers. Paris-Lille, Osaka-Tokyo
and Cologne-Frankfurt routes are all about 120 km long, which
is quite similar to the first part of high-speed rail that is
planned (ie the line to Birmingham).
14. Research already carried out by ARUP and
Volterra had shown that a "Y-shaped" network travelling
from London to Birmingham, where it would split with one arm of
the "Y" heading to Yorkshire, could provide between
£1.5 billion and £3 billion of productivity benefits
to the economy, in addition to transport benefits of around £29
ARUP's new research estimates that linking the Sheffield
City Region the Leeds City Region, and the "Three Cities"
of Derby, Nottingham and Leicester as part of a national high
speed rail network would connect an area of 6.7 million people
and 3 million jobs. Existing connections to the Tees Valley and
Tyne and Wear City Regions would provide access to a further 2.2
million people and 0.9 million jobs.
This route to the East of the Pennines would provide
an estimated £60 billion in standard transport benefits and
a further £2.3 billion of productivity benefits. Its Benefit
to Cost Ratio would be 5.61, compared with 2.58 for the route
A direct route to the Leeds City Region, via the
East Midlands and Sheffield, would have greater economic benefits
than the less direct route to Leeds via Manchester. It would have
a higher Benefit to Cost Ratio of 2.46 compared to only 1.88 for
the less direct route, deliver far greater productivity benefits£2.3
billion compared to £0.4 billionand result in far
faster journey times to Leeds, York and the North East.
The scheme will create in the region of 40,000 jobs
and generate economic benefits of around £43 billion.
What will be the overall impact of HSR on UK carbon
emissions? How much modal shift from aviation and roads would
be needed for HSR to reduce carbon?
Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
What would be the impact on freight services on
the "classic" network?
How much disruption will be there to services
on the "classic" network during construction, particularly
during the rebuilding of Euston?
15. Examples of the benefits of High Speed rail
are clear when considering the Eurostar and the high speed line
between Madrid and Barcelona.
Eurostar now has about an 80% share of London to
Paris travellers. In Spain, since the opening of the new high
speed service in 2008, 50% of passengers now use the train between
Madrid and Barcelona.
The EU is currently exploring proposals to reduce
carbon dioxide emissions from transport by 60% over the next 40
years by replacing short haul flights with high speed rail.
According to the EU, Heathrow's congestion problems
could be eased by cutting domestic and European flights, while
demand for new runways could be suppressed by building new rail
networks. The EU transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, has announced
a series of green transport goals. He explains "If we are
successful in creating new railways they can take over short-haul
airline connections. It makes it easier for the runway issue."
A new high speed line could have a significantly
positive effect for Rail Freight by relieving capacity on the
East Coast and West Coast Mainlines for the use of freight services.
16. ASLEF would again point out that the development
of a high speed rail network is crucial to the economic and social
future of Britain. It is vital we invest in our rail infrastructure
to encourage more of a modal shift from unsustainable domestic
aviation and our congested roads.
17. High speed rail is the only viable solution
to the capacity challenges we face on a rail network whose traffic
is projected to double by 2030.
16 May 2011