Written evidence from SEStran (HSR 139)|
1. What are the main arguments either
for or against HSR
1.1 The main arguments for HSR are; Economy,
Rail Capacity and Journey times and the Environment.
1.2 Economy and re-distribution of wealthThe
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.
1.3 Rail capacityThe 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 timeThis
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 and safeguard long-term connectivity.
1.5 EnvironmentIncreased capacity and
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
city centres 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 objectives
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?
2.1 The objectives of HSR go well beyond improving
inter-urban connectivity through improved capacity and reduced
journey time. Other objectives that will be met through HSR would
be to enhance and redistribute wealth and to make transport more
2.2 Some of these objectives could be met 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 city-centres.
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 approx 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 out of
the 13.2 million domestic UK Mainland air passenger journeys were
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
2.7 However, out of the 8.8 million air journeys,
as many as 6.7 million either start or finishes in Edinburgh or
Glasgow so in order to make a significant modal change, it is
imperative that in the longer term, 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 access.
2.10 In addition, there would also be significant
growth in the total long-distance travel market so the overall
transfer from rail to air with the introduction of a 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 release 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, so that these cities
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
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 between London and as far as 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 a train.
3.4 The study by HS2 surprisingly did not include
Edinburgh-London services in its modelling and business case for
the London-Birmingham/Lichfield 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
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 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.
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.
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
budget. 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 serve the city centre. Rail is the most efficient
mode in respect of land use to access city centres and without
city-centre termini the advantage of high speed rail will be seriously
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
4.3 Additional stations should only be provided
where there is sufficient demand for long distance rail travel.
The temptation would be to add stations to cater for high volumes
of shorter journeys such as commuting, but that would soon 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 considered wider networks
that include London, Birmingham, Manchester, East Midlands, Sheffield,
Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. These should be considered
as the core cities for a north-south high speed network (which
could be expanded by a western network). The y-network would fit
in well with this scenario.
Is the Government correct to build the network
in stages, moving from London northwards?
4.5 Pragmatically it makes perfect sense to start
the HSR network with 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 to London is the most essential
element of a national HSR network so should the London-Birmingham
section be rejected, it is unlikely that a national network will
4.6 However, future phases do not necessarily
have to be in a consecutive northwards order. The most speed restricted
sections of the network are typically across the English-Scottish
border so serious consideration should be given to start construction
of northern sections at an earlier stage rather as the last legs.
4.7 In particular, the Government should show
greater commitment to plan the future network beyond Manchester
and Leeds so that the longer term benefits of a national network
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
rebalancing and equity
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 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 such, all socio-economic groups would
benefit from HSR.
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 as far north to Edinburgh
and Glasgow. Many cities will also experience improve connectivity
by increased service levels on the classic network so most of
the UK will benefit from HSR.
5.6 However, it must be recognised there will
areas that will benefit less such as North of Scotland, Wales
and the South West of England and transport investment in these
areas should be identified (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 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 negligible.
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 exaggerated.
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?
Experience from the St Pancras redevelopment should
indicate 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.