Written evidence from Nottingham City
Council (HSR 120)|
This response focuses on the questions that are most
relevant to Nottingham as a Local Authority, which is well placed
to benefit from the huge potential of a High Speed Rail network,
provided the right choices are made in determining route and station
This response has been provided by Nottingham City
1. What are the main arguments for or against
High Speed Rail (HSR)
1.1 Nottingham considers that there is a compelling
case in favour of HSR and that this case will be seriously undermined
if the full Y network is not constructed. The construction of
a network will allow the full benefits to be dispersed and shared
nationally. A partial network could hold back economic growth
and regeneration of those cities not included on the network.
This is particularly true of cities like Nottingham where national
rail connectivity is already comparatively poor due to short sighted
decisions made in the 1960s with regard to the closure of the
Great Central Railway.
1.2 Nottingham as a Core City will support national
economic growth but needs appropriate infrastructure and connectivity
to do so. There must be investment in new rail technology, in
terms of both the Midland Mainline (MML) and HSR, to ensure that
sustainable conditions for growth will be secured. This is coupled
with the fact that there is an urgent need to invest in the economy,
with infrastructure being a top priority. Our cities need better
strategic transport connections and simply widening roads will
not secure the economic and environmental future of the country.
Together with an enhanced classic rail network, HSR should therefore
be seen as the answer to meeting our increasing demand for inter-regional,
national and international travel demands for the coming decades.
1.3 HSR makes financial sense. According to The
British Chamber of Commerce, congestion costs business £23.3 billion
a year and just within Nottingham it is estimated to cost local
businesses £160 million a year. A full HSR network linking
the major cities of the UK would cost up to £69 billion
and would generate over £125 billion of economic benefits.
These benefits are derived from improvements in journey times,
less crowding, reductions in road congestion, environmental improvements
and the economic benefits arising in the release of capacity on
the conventional rail network. It also includes the beneficial
effect on the productivity of businesses through changes to employment
patterns and agglomeration effects.
1.4 Forecasts suggest that by 2055 a full HSR
network could be carrying 30 million journeys which would
otherwise be made by air, and 13 million from car journeys.
This would indicate that high speed rail could deliver carbon
savings of around one million tonnes per year, but a full national
network is needed to create this modal shift.
1.5 HSR would also:
existing and generate new economic and business flows and interactions,
worth £125 billion to the economy;
rail and decrease air and car journeys by 30 million journeys
a catalyst to improve local public transport networks;
new business and economic flows between cities;
carbon emissions by 1 million tonnes a year, improve air
quality and achieve targets; and
UK infrastructure up to competitive international standards.
2. How does HSR fit with the Government's
transport policy objectives?
2.1 Nottingham supports the move to follow the
world leaders in HSR, China, Spain, Japan and France to implement
a comprehensive high speed network serving the whole of the country.
2.2 The changing context of the country's commitments
to combat climate change, rising oil prices and peak oil supply
threats, means that pursuing UK national transport policies which
seek to accommodate travel demand through extending the capacity
of the trunk and motorway network will be the wrong path in economic
and environmental terms. The costs and environmental impacts associated
with sub national domestic air travel are also considered to present
strong incentives to pursue a more sustainable national transport
2.3 A new high-speed line would not only significantly
boost the national infrastructure itself, but also release capacity
on the existing network when long distance services transfer to
the new line. This radically opens up the opportunity to provide
new services where previously there were none and to improve the
quality of existing services, expanding business and employment
potential through improved commuter networks and spreading the
agglomeration benefits on a much wider basis than just looking
at the line itself.
2.4 All this is needed because the country's
existing rail infrastructure is currently reaching capacity. To
date we have responded by upgrading what is already there. In
order to provide for the level of growth and capacity needed,
this is no longer sustainable, nor is it good value for money.
2.5 Modernisation of the West Coast Mainline
(WCML) was due to cost £2 billion, take six years, and
deliver maximum speeds of 140 mph. The final scheme cost £8.8 billion,
took nine years, and provided for maximum speeds of 125 mph. Despite
this work, the line is expected to reach full capacity by the
early 2020s, and some sections much earlier than this. In addition
to the WCML there are capacity problems on the East Coast, Midland
and Great Western Mainlines. It is clear that given the strategic
importance of these lines to the economy, we cannot suffer years
of disruption and delay for upgrades which will not deliver the
long term benefits that are needed and will cost nearly as much
as building the new HSR lines themselves. Instead we must plan
for a new HSR line which runs in addition to the existing classic
2.6 However, our existing rail lines do and will
continue to play a pivotal role in support of HSR and the national
infrastructure. Whilst the classic network alone cannot provide
the capacity and speeds that are required, which will be provided
by a new HSR network - they are vital for connections and capacity
and must where necessary, such as on the Midland Main Line receive
the required investment to support them. £69 million
has recently been allocated for journey time improvements; but
partners are having difficulties in securing just £27 million
which is required to raise the standard and reduce the journey
time of the MML. This modest investment is in stark comparison
to the £8.8 billion that was spent on the WCML.
2.7 It is also important to remember that HSR
is not projected to come to the East Midlands for at least 20
years. Investment in the classic rail network such as electrification
and allocation of new Intercity Express Rolling stock on the MML
which is needed now, cannot and must not be blighted by the plans
and must be pursued and funded in addition to HSR.
2.8 The provision of HSR and the classic network
is essential for improved inter urban connectivity. Nottingham
currently has relatively poor connections to other core cities,
the north and London. By improving these connections it will allow
Nottingham to fulfil its growth potential, expanding on the growing
key economic, science and business sectors which the City needs
support to develop and expand.
2.9 For example, the service between Nottingham,
Sheffield and Leeds operates at an average speed of 36 mph and
the Nottingham-Birmingham service at just 44 mph. These are short
distances but entail relatively significant journey times limiting
the agglomeration between the cities. There is therefore a strong
case for strengthening the links between these cities on the eastern
leg of the Y network and beyond.
2.10 For a city like Nottingham in the centre
of the country, as well as improved connectivity to London and
Heathrow, HSR offers a very substantial opportunity to connect
with the other Core Cities and build economic capacity and agglomeration
which will help close the widening economic productivity gap between
the midlands and the north and the south-east, with significant
associated social inclusion benefits.
3. The Business Case
3.1 The HSR consultation document makes a compelling
case, it clearly highlights that the business case for HSR stacks
up. This is through the provision of direct economic benefits,
much needed additional capacity, but it is also enhanced once
the environmental and social benefits are also factored in.
3.2 We are also aware that the business case
for the eastern leg of the Y is a very significant element which
improves the overall business case for HSR. Previous work undertaken
by HS2 Ltd has estimated that the BCR for the eastern leg at 5.6
compared to 2.6 to Manchester. Therefore it is critical important
that the process moves forward as fast as possible and ensures
that the second Hybrid Bill is not delayed.
3.3 Whilst we see the logic in building the route
in phases we would want the construction of the eastern leg to
be viewed as the next priority following the Birmingham leg. We
believe that it is makes sound financial and business sense to
build the eastern route as early as the process allows, ahead
of the expansion of the western leg and the Heathrow extension.
This is particularly important as the midlands and eastern inter
city rail networks have not benefitted from the scale of investments
enjoyed by the WCML in recent years. Classic compatible trains
could run over the WCML to Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow from
the outset, but not to Leeds and the ECML, so it is logical that
this is progressed at the earliest opportunity. An absolute imperative
will be to ensure that allocation of HSR train paths between the
eastern and western legs of the "Y" fully reflects the
demand potential and contribution to the business case demonstrated
by the eastern leg, which has the potential to join up Nottingham,
Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
4. The Strategic Route
4.1 HSR must be seen as more than just a route,
the network approach is essential to its success.
4.2 It is essential that this opportunity to
redress the poor national rail connectivity suffered by Nottingham
is fully grasped by HSR.
4.3 We are supportive of the Y network but are
concerned about the pathing and capacity constraints associated
with the "trunk" section of the network. It will be
essential (and equitable) to prioritise pathing to the eastern
leg, but we believe that in the longer term a wider network which
includes a new eastern north south route which would directly
serve London could be required to meet growing national demands.
We would therefore support further work to expand the network
above the remit currently being worked on by HS2 Ltd.
4.4 HSR has huge potential to act as a catalyst
for regeneration; therefore the planned network must serve city
centres. Where a dedicated City Centre Station on the line is
not feasible a spur must be provided with appropriate pathing
to ensure that the growth potential and economic benefits of the
investment into HSR is maximised by all our core cities. Economic
growth needs to be centred on City Centres to support sustainable
development patterns, local economies and provide regeneration
growth and jobs in a way which meets projected future environmental
commitments and social inclusion objectives. There are substantial
regeneration opportunities in and around Nottingham City centre
which provide capacity for growth in an area where labour supply,
housing market conditions and skills availability are very favourable
4.5 Firms which would benefit from HSR cluster
in City Centres and are willing to pay a premium to be there.
This provides the high density labour market which they need and
are ideally suited to benefit from the rail market, which can
transport large volumes of commuter, business and leisure travellers.
4.6 It is right that a link to HS1 is provided
in the first phase. It is logical that a link to existing infrastructure
is provided from the outset. It also enhances the national connectivity
to the Continent helping to support more sustainable travel options
over air travel. Nottingham City would however not support any
proposal which would compromise or result in the loss of the existing
direct MML connection to HS1 at St Pancras International.
4.7 There are benefits of linking to Heathrow,
especially in light of the very poor existing connections from
Nottingham, but it is not essential that this is delivered in
the first phase, especially in the light of forthcoming improved
connectivity to Heathrow via classic rail. We would argue that
the eastern leg of the Y should be prioritised ahead of this link
when planning the second phase.
5. Economic Rebalancing and Equity
5.1 By significantly reducing journey times between
the countries largest cities it should be possible to rebalance
the national economy, as a result of the improved connectivity
between areas of opportunity with the capacity for growth such
5.2 Britain needs the South East's economic contribution,
but we can also unlock greater growth elsewhere by investing in
HSR, in a way which avoids decreasing environmental conditions
associated with exacerbating an unbalanced, overheated, congested
and inefficient economy based on London and the south east. However,
the Core Cities and their primary urban areas alone produce 27%
of England's economic output. Therefore the rest of the country
in particular the Core Cities must be better linked to the South
East to allow them to support and grow off each other. This is
in addition to improved regional connections to support this.
5.3 For example the Eastern Partnership area
(covering the area potentially served by the Eastern leg of the
Y) contains more than 8.7 million people and 3.6 million jobs.
The delivery of HSR could make this area function as a more balanced
single economic zone, reducing dependence on public sector funding
and increasing private sector jobs and investment.
5.4 As with the Motorway network HSR is a nationally
important investment. Not only will the Cities directly served
benefit but the regional economies and areas supported by these
cities will grow as a result of the investment.
HSR is strongly supported by Nottingham's local business
community as well as the Council.
However the opportunities offered by HSR will only
be captured with effective connectivity into the heart of the
UK's Core Cities including Nottingham.
However it is crucial that the long planning and
procurement processes for High Speed Rail do not frustrate or
blight the necessary investments in our classic rail network which
will be required over the intervening Control Periods, in particular
electrification and the upgrading of the Midland Main line and
its rolling stock.
Notwithstanding this, HSR offers an outstanding opportunity
to make a step change in the improvement of the country's national
infrastructure which will ensure we are better placed to meet
both our growth aspirations and our environmental commitments;
for Nottingham in particular it is a once in a generation opportunity
to retrieve the damage done by the closure of the Great Central
Railway which took the city off the country's core inter city
Not to take this opportunity would be a massive economic
blow to the City's medium and long term aspirations to capture
our true potential.
16 May 2011
326 Fast Forward-A High Speed Rail Strategy for Britain.
Greengauge 21. Back