Written evidence from the six statutory
Scottish Regional Transport Partnerships (HSR 130)|
|Hi Trans||Highland and Islands Strategic Transport Partnership
|Nestrans||North East of Scotland Transport Partnership
|SPT||Strathclyde Partnership for Transport
|SEStran||South East of Scotland Transport Partnership
|Tactran||Tay and Central Transport Partnership
|ZetTrans||Shetland Transport Partnership
1. What are the main arguments either for or against HSR
1.1 The main arguments for HSR are: Economic growth and a
balanced economy, Rail capacity and Journey times and the Environment.
1.2 Economic growth and re-distribution of wealth:
The positive link between economic growth and transport connectivity
has been long established. Experience in other countries has shown
that HSR stimulates economic growth outwith the Capital City such
as for Lille in France and will therefore re-balance the national
economy and reduce the current north-south divide. Improved accessibility
to the north of England and Scotland will in addition provide
opportunities for growth as a whole in the UK economy.
1.3 Rail capacity: The West Coast RUS concluded that
the southern end of this line would soon run out of capacity to
cater for expected growth and the only effective way to deal with
this scenario would be to build an additional line. The East Coast
and the Midland Main Line would also in due course experience
a similar situation. The construction of HS2 would then release
capacity on existing main lines, in particular the West Coast,
which will cater for additional local rail services and freight.
1.4 Reduced End-to-End Journey time: This is a more
important benefit for North of England and in particular Scotland
where rail still has a relatively low share of the inter-city
travel market and where only HSR can facilitate a step change
in modal share from air to rail whilst at the same time enhancing
UK regional connectivity as part of a sustainable economic growth
1.5 Environment: Increased capacity and significantly
reduced journey times will stimulate transfer from car and air
to rail. Rail is the only mode with the realistic potential to
transport large volumes of passengers over long distances between
UK cities and regions in a sustainable manner, in particular with
an increasing proportion of the primary energy being renewable.
2. How does HSR fit with the Government's transport policy
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
2.1 The objectives of HSR go well beyond improving inter-urban
connectivity through improving overall network capacity and enhancing
regional connectivity by reducing journey times. Other objectives
that will be met through HSR would be to redistribute wealth and
enhance regional prosperity by reducing real and perceived peripherality
within the UK and to make transport more sustainable, in line
with Government Climate Change objectives.
2.2 Some of these objectives could be met in part by investing
in other transport modes but when compared with roads, rail is
in particular more environmentally sustainable (air quality, energy
use, land use) and is best suited for travel between and to access
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?
2.3 There are already significant "high-cost" rail
projects under construction, in particular London Cross Rail (approx.
£15 billion over around seven years) and Thameslink
(approx. £5.5 billion over around eight years) and it
does not appear than these schemes have affected funding for the
general "classic" network.
2.4 These two schemes will be very close to completion by
the time construction would start on the proposed HSR between
London and Birmingham in around 2016. At an approximate cost of
£17 billion over 10 years, the peak expenditure on the
London-Birmingham HSR should be no higher than for Crossrail alone,
never mind the combined peak expenditure of the two London projects.
2.5 There is already commitment to invest in a significant
number of classic rail projects, such as Great Western Main Line
electrification, Intercity Express Train Replacement Programme
(IEP) and significant further enhancements to the East and West
Coast Main Lines (eg Hitchins and Stafford flyovers).
What are the implications for domestic aviation?
2.6 In 2009, approximately 8.8 million domestic UK Mainland
air passenger journeys were undertaken between the main cities
that it is anticipated will eventually be directly served by a
UK HSR Network (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, East
Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow).
With significantly faster rail journeys, there should be a major
shift from air to a much more sustainable rail travel mode.
2.7 Out of the 8.8 million air journeys, as many as 6.7 million
either start or finishes in Edinburgh or Glasgow demonstrating
the much more significant modal change potential that exists in
extending the full HSR network to Scotland. It is therefore imperative
that the construction of a high speed rail network also includes
new lines across the Border.
2.8 The 2009 rail market share of the Edinburgh/Glasgow to
London rail/air market was around 20% with rail journey times
of typically 4 hours 30 minutes. For the Newcastle to London rail/air
market, rail held around 60%, with a rail journey time of around
3 hours and for Manchester-London journeys, rail held around 76%
of the rail/air market with a typical rail journey time of around
2 hours 10 minutes. For the Leeds to London air/rail market, rail
held more than 95% of the market, with a typical rail journey
time of 2 hours 15 minutes.
2.9 A 30 minute reduction in journey time (which should be
achieved with high speed rail between London and West Midlands),
could therefore see a shift from air to rail of nearly 1.5 million
of today's long-distance passenger journeys. This should increase
to more than 3 million with the extension of the network
to Leeds and Manchester when it must be assumed that domestic
flights between Manchester/Leeds/Newcastle and London will end.
It is acknowledged however that modal split is also affected by
other factors such as frequency and fares and ease of airport
2.10 In addition, there would also be significant growth in
the total long-distance travel market beyond what took place in
2009 so the overall transfer from rail to air with the introduction
of a future high speed rail network will be considerably higher.
2.11 3.8 million out of the 8.8 million air journeys
quoted above are to or from London Heathrow so there should be
significant scope to redirect valuable take-off and landing slots
to other routes. Some of these Heathrow slots should go to domestic
air routes that do not directly benefit from High Speed Rail,
such as Aberdeen and Inverness which will not directly gain from
the HSR network due to their geographical peripherality, so that
these cities and surrounding regions do not "fall behind"
in respect of London connectivity.
3. Business case
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?
3.1 A number of fairly in-depth studies have been undertaken
into a UK High Speed rail Network in addition to the HS2 study,
in particular the following three major studies:
1. Atkins study (on behalf of SRA), later updated for the
Government in 2008.
2. Network Rail "New Lines" study (2009).
3. Greengauge21 "Fast Forward" study (2009).
3.2 The studies looked at different HSR solutions and had
different objectives behind their proposals. However, there were
common strands such as a north-south network linking in the major
cities from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow. They all showed positive
cases for a HSR network with benefit/cost ratios in the region
of 2-3.5 and costs and passenger forecasts comparable with those
found in the HS2 study.
3.3 A recent argument is that assumptions on time spent on
trains is "un-productive" has overestimated the benefits
of HSR. A recent study by Greengauge21 (where time spent on train
would be regarded as "working-time") did however show
that the opposite was the case (although only marginally so).
Passengers transferred from car and air would gain more productive
time than in the original estimate and this would outweigh the
"over-estimate" (in the original study) of working time
gained by passengers transferred from classic train services.
It could also be argued that HSR will create a better working
environment than current rail services and also that there will
be a limit as to how long it is reasonably practical to work on
3.4 The study by HS2 surprisingly did not include Edinburgh-London
services in its modelling and business case for the London-Birmingham/Litchfield
High Speed Line although the Edinburgh-London market is around
30% greater than the Glasgow-London market. Edinburgh-London Services
via the West Coast and HS2 would be around 30 minutes faster than
existing services (as for Glasgow services) so by including Edinburgh-London
services should make the business case even stronger.
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?
3.5 Upgrading the West Coast Main Line could only be limited
in scope in respect of capacity and the Network Rail RUS concluded
that the only longer-term capacity solution would be to construct
a new line between London and West Midlands.
3.6 The most recent upgrading of the West Coast Main Line
also saw significant added costs in terms of disruption to services
and reduced capacity during construction. Adding these costs to
the actual upgrading cost of around £9 billion (the
most recent cost estimate) for a scheme that will give less incremental
capacity than a new line, it is almost certain that such an upgrade
will not be better value than a new line.
3.7 A new conventional line (restricted to 125 mph) would
largely resolve the capacity issue but would not enhance journey-times
and would therefore be much more limited in benefits to North
of England and Central Scotland where journey times become increasingly
more important. Without the journey-time savings, there will not
be such a significant shift to rail from the less environmentally
sustainable modes of car and air. Greengauge21 has also shown
that the cost of a conventional line is only marginally cheaper
than a High Speed line. In summary, the potential regional and
UK economic and environmental benefits would be significantly
diminished compared to investment in HSR.
What would be the pros and cons of alternative means of managing
demand for rail travel, for example by price?
3.8 Managing demand by higher fares or by not providing more
capacity would push passengers back onto less sustainable modes
such as car or air, or journeys would not be undertaken in the
first place which would be damaging in overall socio-economic
3.9 There must also be doubts if price alone could realistically
manage to reduce demand sufficiently to avoid investing in additional
capacity. Regulated fares are already the highest in Europe and
increasing these fares much further in real terms could make rail
travel only affordable by the more well-off in society, contrary
to wider equality and social inclusion objectives.
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?
3.10 Construction of new rail lines (as opposed to rail upgrades)
in this country has a reasonably good track record in terms of
time and budget, eg HS1 and the recent Airdrie-Bathgate project.
There will also be a large number of European High Speed projects
that have a good record in this respect.
4. 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 stations?
4.1 The most important issue for high speed rail
is that stations are well located to serve the key UK cities and
major centres of population and, through excellent connections
with regional rail networks, their surrounding regions. Rail is
the most efficient mode in respect of land use to access city
centres where this can be achieved and without city-centre termini
the advantage of high speed rail will be seriously eroded.
4.2 Station locations outwith city centres will
depend on local circumstances but the general rule of thumb should
be that not all services will necessary stop at non-city-centre
stations and that in general, distances between stops should not
be less than 100 miles or so.
4.3 Stations should only be provided where there
is sufficient demand for long distance rail travel. The temptation
to add stations to cater for high volumes of shorter journeys
such as commuting, must be resisted on the basis that such a strategy
would erode the benefits of HSR.
Which cities should be served by an eventual high
speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right choice?
4.4 Most studies have demonstrated that a UK
network that includes London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool,
East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow
derives greatest benefits and offers best value. These should
be considered as the core cities for a north-south high speed
network (which could be expanded by a western network). The UK
Government's proposed y-network supports this scenario but needs
to be extended to Scotland.
Is the Government correct to build the network
in stages, moving from London northwards?
4.5 The UK Government has decided that phase
1 of the HSR network should be the London-Birmingham section.
It is the most capacity constrained section on the West Coast
Main Line and it is probably also the most complicated section
to plan and construct. Furthermore, the link between Birmingham
and London is accepted as being crucial to the future development
of a more extensive UK HSR network. So should the London - Birmingham
section be rejected, it is highly unlikely that a national network
will ever materialise.
4.6 However, the proposition that future phases
should be constructed moving northwards from London is fundamentally
challenged. The most speed restricted sections of the network
are typically across the English-Scottish border. In addition,
as indicated above, various studies have confirmed that extension
of an HSR network to Scotland will deliver significantly greater
economic and environmental benefits. Consequently, detailed consideration
should be given to starting construction of northern sections
at a much earlier stage rather than as "last legs",
with cross-border sections being potentially progressed alongside,
or possibly earlier than, sections between Birmingham and Leeds/Manchester.
4.7 In particular, the Government should show
greater commitment to plan the future network beyond Manchester
and Leeds in recognition of the benefits the completed HSR national
network, including Scotland, will achieve.
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?
4.8 The link to HS1 must be part of phase 1 due
to technical issues but will also cater for the current West Midlands-Europe
4.9 The Heathrow market will to a large extent
be catered for through the Old Oak Commons interchange as part
of phase 1 so it is reasonable that further expenditure on this
link should come later. However, the Heathrow link should be built
in a way so that High Speed Trains for Heathrow from the north
can continue on the classic network south of London to also serve
important destinations such as Gatwick Airport and south coast
5. Economic rebalancing
What evidence is there that HSR will promote economic
regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic divide?
5.1 European experience has shown that most cities
directly connected to the high speed network experience higher
economic growth and there is no reason why this should not be
the case for the UK. A Greengauge21 report also found that areas
of Kent experienced rapid growth following the construction of
5.2 The 2009 Greengauge21 study also found that
Regional economic benefits from a "full" HSR network
between London and Glasgow/Edinburgh would amount to around £80
billion and would be widely distributed but with Central Scotland,
the North West and the South East benefitting most.
To what extent should the shape of the network
be influenced by the desirability of supporting local and regional
5.3 The most important element of a High Speed
Network is to improve connectivity between the main centres of
population in the UK and in particular connectivity with London.
By serving City Centres, high speed rail will indirectly support
Which locations and socio-economic groups will
benefit from HSR?
5.4 A Greengauge21 study advised that the business
case for high speed rail was robust when based on current fare
levels for long-distance rail travel and would cater for both
business and leisure travel. Furthermore, the release of capacity
on the existing network will also benefit other travellers and
commuters in particular, as well as users of rail-freight. As
such, all socio-economic groups would benefit.
5.5 The majority of the population of the UK
enjoys reasonable good links with the Cities that will be directly
served by a future HSR network extending to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Many cities will also experience improved connectivity by increased
service levels on the classic network so most of the UK will benefit
5.6 However, it must be recognised there will
be areas that will benefit significantly less such as the Northern
half of Scotland, Wales and the South West of England and Northern
Ireland. Transport investment in these areas should be identified
to reverse their relative decline (such as rail electrification
programmes or, for the north of Scotland, improved air connectivity)
to ensure a fair distribution of benefits.
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?
5.7 There may be examples from other countries
with HSR that could be used as models and there may also be lessons
learned from London Crossrail project.
5.8 A UK HSR Network will "replace"
current classic rail links that form part of TEN so support should
be sought from TEN-T and other relevant EU budgets.
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?
6.1 HSR has considerably lower carbon footprint
than car and air and also matches that of classic rail when the
higher capacity of HSR trains are taken into account. If it can
be assumed that the primary energy source is renewable, the carbon
footprint from HSR operations (after construction completion)
should be relatively very small.
Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
6.2 It could perhaps be argued that studies have
erred on the "safe" side so that overall environmental
benefits have not been fully expressed.
What would be the impact on freight services on
the "classic" network?
6.3 The release of capacity on the classic network,
in particular on the West Coast Main Line which is the busiest
rail freight corridor in the UK)) should in part be utilised by
rail freight services so the impact on freight services by HSR
should be very positive.
How much disruption will be there to services
on the "classic" network during construction, particularly
during the rebuilding of Euston?
6.4 Experience from the St Pancras redevelopment
indicates that this should be manageable. Disruption could also
be reduced through service changes/ improvements to some of the
existing local services terminating at Euston. For example, some
local services on the West Coast Main Line as far out as Northampton
could be incorporated into the Crossrail network through a connection
in the Willesden/Old Oak Commons area, extending planned Crossrail
services from the East that would otherwise terminate at Old Oaks
Commons. This could take away up to seven train arrivals/departures
per hour from Euston Station.