Written evidence from the Leeds and North
Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce (HSR 113)|
This is the Leeds and North Yorkshire Chamber of
Commerce response to the Transport Select Committee's call for
evidence on high speed rail.
Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce
welcomes the opportunity to submit comments about High Speed Rail
to the Parliamentary committee. The Chamber is one of the largest
in the country and represents around 2,500 businesses of all sizes
and from all sectors.
The Chamber firmly believes that an efficient and
effective transport system is essential for a successful and sustainable
economy. The Chamber sees high speed rail as a vital component
in an integrated transport strategy that will help this region
and the north compete even more successfully with areas both within
and outside the United Kingdom.
The Leeds and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce
have contributed to the work of the High Speed Rail Eastern Network
Partnership. The Partnership has commissioned Arup (the leading
global transport and development consultancy) and Volterra (a
leading economic consultancy) to analyse the economic benefits
of the eastern route of the national Y-shaped high speed rail
network. This evidence draws on the Arup-Volterra reasearch.
1. What are the main arguments either for
or against HSR?
The Leeds and North Yorkshire Chamber Commerce believe
the main arguments for high speed rail are the economic benefits
that will result from faster rail journey times and the additional
rail capacity that will be created. However to secure these economic
benefits the network needs to be planned and constructed in the
right way. In particular the eastern route should be built at
the earliest opportunity. This route will provide access to the
East Midlands, the Sheffield City Region, Leeds and to the East
Coast Main Line near York to allow high speed trains to access
York and the North East.
We believe that high-speed rail is essential if the
Government is to rebalance the economy by accelerating the growth
of towns and cities in the north of England. High speed rail will
connect Yorkshire's businesses with the Midlands, London, and
Europe and further afield, via the link to Heathrow, improving
the competitiveness and productivity of the region. Investment
in infrastructure is vital for us to remain a competitive economy.
According to the Arup-Volterra research, the total
wider economic impacts of the eastern route of the proposed national
high speed rail network are estimated to be £4.2 billion
over a 60-year appraisal period. These comprise productivity benefits
(of bringing businesses closer together) of £2.6 billion,
imperfect competition benefits of £0.8 billion and economic
benefits of releasing capacity on existing rail routes of £0.8
billion. These benefits are additional to the benefits from reduced
journey times of rail passengers (conventional transport benefits),
which have been estimated by HS2 to be £23.1 billion
for the entire Y-shaped network north of the West Midlands.
We need to build the eastern route as soon as possible,
in advance of, or at least at the same time as the western route.
The economic benefits compared to the costs of the eastern route
are significantly higher than the western route. In terms of benefits
to rail users, the Benefit to Cost ratio of the eastern section
of the high speed network north of the West Midlands is 5.6, compared
with 2.6 of the western section. The Arup-Volterra research shows
that the productivity benefits of bringing businesses closer together
of the eastern part of the network (£2.6 billion) are
around 20% higher than those for the western part (£2.1 billion).
Once the national high speed rail network is completed
it will be important to ensure that there will be at least six
high speed trains to/from London on the eastern part of the network.
According to the Arup-Volterra research, most (70%) of the productivity
benefits of the eastern route are created by the faster journeys
to London. It is vital that there are at least six trains per
an hour to/from London on the eastern route of the Y shaped network.
We need to ensure the eastern part of the high speed
network is planned in the right way to maximise the potential
for bringing city regions outside London close together. A significant
proportion (30%) of productivity benefits from the eastern route
will also result from high speed rail bringing city regions outside
London closer together. The national high speed rail network has
the potential, if it is planned in the right way, to transform
the connectivity between main cities outside London. Some of the
existing rail links between these cities are poor. For example
it now takes almost two hours to travel by rail between Leeds
and Nottingham, two of the largest cities in England, which are
only 70 miles apart. In addition to the high speed rail services
to/from London, there will also be high speed services between
Birmingham, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East.
The economic benefits of high speed rail will be
maximised if it is planned and delivered in the right way and
integrated with a strategy for improving rail services on existing
High speed rail is essential, but it is not a panacea.
It is vital that upgrades be made to existing rail links. Electrification
and new rolling stock with expanded capacity must be introduced
on regional connections. Upgrades to the East Coast Main Line
are a priority. Improvements are needed to existing rail routes
in the short to medium term to deliver benefits in advance of
completion of the full national high speed rail network (which
could take over 20 years).
Capacity released on existing rail routes by high
speed rail should be used to retain existing long distance inter-urban
rail services to the Eastern Network Partnership area, not for
additional London commuter services. There should be more regular
services to London from places in the Eastern Network Partnership
area that do not have them currently.
There must also be improvements to local and regional
transport networks including rail and light rail services that
connect with the high speed rail stations. This will spread the
benefits of high speed rail as well as delivering substantial
economic benefits in its own right. To maximise its economic benefits
and integration with the wider rail network, high speed rail should
serve city centre stations where feasible.
The economic benefits will be increased if high speed
rail is planned in conjunction with regeneration and development
projects in the areas next to the high speed rail stations.
2. How does HSR fit with the Government's
transport policy objectives
2.1 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?
2.2 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?
We believe that high speed rail is not an alternative
to investment in local and regional transport networks, and the
strategic road networks. In the context of current public spending
constraints it is important to remember that major capital spending
on High Speed Rail is not planned to start for several years,
and will be phased over time. It is possible to deliver investment
in transformational national transport projects, as well as a
series of other economically important transport schemes. For
example, as well as investing in a range of local transport projects
and road schemes, the Government is also currently (at a time
of spending constraints) investing in Crossrail. Once Crossrail
is complete, the next major national transport project should
be high speed rail.
Evidence from city region studies shows that typically
70-80% of all journeys are within city regions. Therefore, more
effective integrated city region transport networks and systems
will support agglomeration and economic growth, and contribute
towards the Government's low carbon agenda.
Better city region transport networks can help maximise
and spread the benefits of high speed rail, by improving access
to the high speed rail stations. Improvements to existing lines
(including electrification, capacity improvements, and new rolling
stock) would deliver benefits in the short-to-medium term. This
will be important for places such as Yorkshire which may have
to wait for 20-30 years for the full high speed rail network to
be completed. These improvements would also help increase the
benefits of capacity release on existing rail lines once the high
speed network is completed.
2.3 What are the implications for domestic
We believe that the Leeds City Region is at an economic
disadvantage in terms of its international connectivity. Leeds
Bradford Airport is an under exploited asset, with scope to develop
its route network. However, improvements are needed to its connections
to the city region transport network in order to strengthen is
Our businesses also require good access to London
airports, particularly to Heathrow which is a global hub. Leeds
Bradford Airport no longer has flights to Heathrow, and is losing
its flights to Gatwick. The proposed high speed rail network will
transform our access to Heathrow via the proposed Crossrail interchange
in West London.
3. Business case
3.1 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?
We believe that the Government's proposals for high
speed rail are underpinned by robust economic analysis. Indeed
in some respects the analysis of the economic benefits is conservative.
For instance, the existing "Wider Economic Impacts"
methodology is best suited to assessing the benefits of commuter
rail schemes to successful business centres (it was designed to
help make the case for Crossrail) and does not capture all the
transformational benefits of high speed rail.
3.2 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?
It is important there are capacity and speed improvements
to existing long distance rail routes, particularly the East Coast
Main Line, and also to the Midland Main Line. These schemes have
a strong business case, would deliver substantial benefits over
the short-to-medium term. However improvements to existing lines
would not provide the step change in north-south rail capacity
that will be needed over the medium to longer term. The experience
of the West Coast Main Line upgrade demonstrates the potential
pitfallsdisruption and cost over-runsof seeking
to deliver overly ambitious upgrades of existing routes.
3.3 What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
We believe that managing demand by price will suppress
overall demand, which will constrain our economy. The cost of
a Leeds to London Standard Class Anytime ticket is already £239.
3.4 What lessons should the Government learn
from other major transport projects to ensure that any new high
speed lines are built on time and to budget?
High Speed One (the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) was
built on time and on budget, despite it being a very challenging
scheme in engineering terms.
4. The strategic route
4.1 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)
No response to this question.
4.2 Which cities should be served by an eventual
high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right
The proposed Y shaped network is the right option.
Previous work undertaken by Arup and Volterra on behalf of the
Leeds and Sheffield City Regions demonstrated that the Y shaped
network would deliver greater economic benefits than the alternatives.
As well as providing fast access to London the high
speed network should also be configured to support links between
cities outside London. In particular there is an opportunity to
transform rail journey times between the Leeds City Region, the
Sheffield City Region and the main cities of the East Midlands.
This corridor has a population of over 6 million and over 3 million
jobs. Its main cities are close together geographically, but currently
function as separate economies as a result of poor transport links.
For example it takes almost TWO hours to travel by rail the 70
miles between Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham, generating an average
journey time of 36 mph on a service which links three of the largest
cities in England.
4.3 Is the Government correct to build the
network in stages, moving from London northwards?
The Government is right to build the network in stages,
but the eastern route between the West Midlands and Yorkshire
should be built as soon as possible and in advance, or at the
very least, at the same time as the western route to Manchester.
It should also be noted that the North West will benefit from
the first stage of the HS2 networks because it will include a
link to enable high speed trains to run north of the West Midlands
on the West Coast Main Line.
4.4 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?
Yes. The proposed Crossrail interchange in West London
will provide easy and fast connections from HS2 to Heathrow. A
direct link to Heathrow could lead to capacity constraints on
the core London to West Midlands section of HS2. We would not
support a direct HS2 link to Heathrow if it resulted in a service
pattern of less than six central London high speed services and
hour to / from the eastern route of the Y shaped network.
5. Economic rebalancing and equity
5.1 What evidence is there that HSR will promote
economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic
The work of HS2, and the work undertaken by Arup
and Volterra, shows that high speed rail will deliver substantial
economic benefits to the places it serves. A national high speed
rail network, if planned and delivered in the right way, can help
narrow the north-south divide in economic performance.
5.2 To what extent should the shape of the
network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local
and regional regeneration?
There is a need to plan the high speed network in
the right way, and in conjunction with wider land-use and regeneration
plans and investments, in order to maximise the economic benefits.
High Speed 1 is a case in point. It has unlocked development areas
around the new stations at Kings Cross-St Pancras, Stratford City
(location for the London Olympics), Ebbsfleet, and Ashford. In
these four locations alone around 50,000 new homes and over 100,000
jobs will be created.
Which locations and socio-economic groups will
benefit from HSR?
5.4 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? Should the Government seek support
from the EU's TEN-T programme?
No response to these questions.
6.1 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?
6.2 Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
6.3 What would be the impact on freight services
on the "classic" network?
6.4 How much disruption will be there to services
on the "classic" network during construction, particularly
during the rebuilding of Euston?
No response to these questions.
That concludes the submission from the Leeds, York
& North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. As mentioned the Chamber
is supportive of high speed rail and will look to continue its
support over the coming years.