Written evidence from London Councils
London Councils represents all 32 London boroughs,
the City of London, the Metropolitan Police Authority and the
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. We are committed
to fighting for fair resources for London and getting the best
possible deal for London's 33 Councils. We lobby on our members'
behalf, develop policy and do all we can to help boroughs improve
the services they offer. We also run a range of services ourselves
which are designed to make life better for Londoners.
London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee
(TEC) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the questions posed
by the Transport Select Committee's inquiry into high speed rail.
Due to the nature of our organisation not all of the questions
posed are of equal relevance for London and therefore we have
answered questions 2.2, 3.1, 4.1, 4.4 and 5.4.
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?
2.2.1 One of the strongest elements of the case
made in the government's recent consultation document "High
Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future" is the potential
financial boost high speed rail could bring to the national economy.
On the basis that a high speed network would generate significant
economic benefits (estimated at £71 billion over a 60
year time frame; a cost:benefit ration of 1:2.6), we would not
wish to see initial investment in it come at the price of much
needed funding for the existing network. Overcrowding is already
a problem on many suburban lines in the capital, limiting both
the city's economic potential and quality of life for many Londoners.
2.2.2 Network Rail's draft Route Utilisation
Strategy (RUS), published in December 2010, anticipates that over
half of London's suburban lines will face significant capacity
issues by 2031, including the East Coast, Great Eastern, West
Anglia and Midland main lines.
The RUS highlights the opportunity high speed rail represents
to free up capacity on the West Coast Main Line but cautions that
additional interventions may be necessary to manage large numbers
of passengers arriving at Old Oak Common and Euston stations and
to alleviate disruption to the North London line caused by a link
to High Speed 1 (HS1). The RUS outlines the benefits investment
in Crossrail 2 (the Chelsea-Hackney line) would bring in alleviating
many of the additional burdens high speed rail would impose on
London's existing transport infrastructure, and for this reason
TEC advocates funding for Crossrail 2 being made available in
line with the development of high speed rail.
2.2.3 Though this question specifically addresses
future investment in rail services it is important to consider
the wider role of sustainable transport options for passengers
arriving in London. Bus services, walking and cycling are crucial
forms of transport, particularly in inner London, and funding
for improved provision of all three should be incorporated into
plans for the development of both Old Oak Common and Euston stations.
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?
3.1.1 TEC committee welcomes the Department for
Transport's recent update of the economic appraisal of the LondonWest
Midlands high speed route. TEC member's had shared concerns expressed
by some commentators that the original "value of time"
assumptions did not adequately take into account the use many
business passengers make of laptops and wi-fi to continue working
on train journeys.
3.1.2 Though complex and challenging, it is critical
that such appraisals are realistic. In the case of HS1, demand
forecasts proved to be significantly optimistic and have been
previously criticised by the Transport Select Committee. It would
not be desirable to see future high speed rail fares having to
be raised to balance lower than forecast demand, a situation that
would impact on the attractiveness of high speed rail to potential
passengers and undermine the potential capacity and environmental
benefits that stand to be gained from the project.
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)
4.1.1 London Councils' TEC committee does not
have comments to make on the specific location of stations on
the West Midlands route but is supportive of the decision to include
an interchange station in West London. Indeed, the consultation
document's proposals for Old Oak Common are expected to create
up to 20,000 new jobs and be accompanied by new housing, office
and retail space, all of which will bring welcome economic benefits
to the local community in what is currently a deprived area.
4.1.2 In contrast the use of Euston station as
a terminus raises a number of concerns, particularly around the
impact a high speed line will have on local suburban rail services.
The consultation document anticipates that an extra 5,500 passengers
could arrive at Euston during the three hour rush hour period
looking to use the underground to reach their onward destination.
The Victoria and Northern lines are often already overcrowded
at these times, and though the figures may represent an only two
per cent increase in the number of passengers it is obvious that
the existing infrastructure would struggle to cope.
4.1.3 The current high speed proposals will require
the demolition of around 200 mainly local authority owned homes
on the Regent's Park Estate. It would not be appropriate for any
local authority to be disadvantaged in terms of the number of
socially rented homes or social amenities available to local people.
We urge project partners to ensure that upheaval and disruption
to London's communities throughout the construction phase is minimised.
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?
4.4.1 Ensuring that any future extension of Britain's
high speed rail infrastructure is integrated into the existing
international rail network is crucial. Britain's first purpose-built
high speed line, HS1 (linking London to the Channel Tunnel), has
transformed travel between London and mainland Europe. Already
Eurostar services account for 80% of journeys made from London
by both rail and air to Paris and Brussels. A direct link between
HS1 and HS2 will ensure reduced journey times and greater convenience
for passengers choosing to travel by rail and will therefore help
to maximise the environmental benefits of building the whole HS2
line. The government's consultation document states that, for
technical reasons, tunnelling for this direct link must be completed
before the interchange station at Old Oak Common is operational.
Therefore not including it in phase one would represent a very
significant missed opportunity.
4.4.2 London Council's TEC committee is also
supportive of the government's proposals not to include a direct
link to Heathrow in phase one of the scheme. The principle aim
of building a high speed rail network should be to support the
provision of low-carbon travel choices, rather than support any
expansion in air travel. Including a direct link in phase one
will increase journey times between Birmingham and London, making
high speed rail a less appealing option for inter-city travel.
4.4.3 Around half of passengers flying from Heathrow
begin their journey in London, and already have access to the
airport by rail (access that will improve with the expected completion
of Crossrail in 2018). However travellers accessing Heathrow from
other areas, in the Midlands, South East, Wales and the South
West are at present poorly served by rail services. In 2007, 63%
of journeys to Heathrow were made by car.
Enhanced environmental benefits may be better achieved in the
long-term by a full examination of how existing rail services
across the South of England could better connect with all the
airports in the South of the country, rather than just a possible
link between the proposed high speed line and Heathrow.
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?
5.4.1 London's local authorities are concerned
about potential future funding burdens that could be placed upon
them if the construction of high speed rail goes ahead. The current
Crossrail project is being partially funded by contributions from
section 106 planning agreements and also through the imposition
of a Mayoral CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy). In the case
of the former, only commercial developments within the Central
Activities Zone (CAZ), Isle of Dogs and within the reach of a
Crossrail station (which therefore stand to benefit from its construction)
will be charged. The Mayoral CIL, however, is to be levied on
all development over 100sqm, both commercial and residential,
within London's boroughs, meaning that even those too far away
to feel the benefit of the new line must pay.
5.4.2 The Mayoral levy is likely to be introduced
in summer 2012, and will continue to be charged until a £300 million
target has been reached. The Mayor predicts this will be in 2018-19,
(already after 2017 when the government's high speed rail consultation
anticipates construction beginning). Reaching this target could,
of course, take longer.
5.4.3 The ability of London's boroughs to implement
their own CIL will be affected by the introduction of a Mayoral
levy (a situation not found elsewhere in the country). With the
viability of many potential developments in London severely limited
by the economic climate, many boroughs have been concerned that
the implementation of their own local CIL on top of the Mayor's
Crossrail CIL would see fewer much-needed developments, particularly
of affordable housing, come to site. The proposed arrangements,
as they stand, will reduce London's local authorities' ability
to invest in the valuable social infrastructure needed to enhance
their local communities, a situation that could be significantly
prolonged if a further charge for high speed rail is introduced.
371 Network Rail (December 2010) "Route Utilisation Strategy. Draft for Consultation"
CAA data cited on p.46: Bow Group (2010) "The right track",