High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Further written evidence from Stuart Porter (HSR 12A)

This submission updates paragraphs B1 to B14 of HSR 12

B1.  DfT have got the detail of HS2 wrong. Complementary rail schemes are needed to make it work. Costs have been minimised, rather than benefits (BCRs maximised, allowing objectors to query its value for money. Greenguage and others have put forward similar arguments including that:

(i)  The HS2 scheme has not yet been optimised, and consequently the scheme's benefits are underestimated and the project costs could be reduced.

(ii)  The Old Oak Common interchange is a £1.5 billion luxury arising from the last Government's remit and better interchanges could be provided elsewhere.

(iii)  An extra connection between HS2 and the Birmingham to Derby line should be provided as part of HS2 Phase 1 as it reduces journey times to Sheffield and Derby by half an hour and can relieve the capacity constrained Tamworth - Birmingham New St rail corridor.

(iv)  The Birmingham Interchange station stops ought to be on the Glasgow, Manchester & Liverpool services - to make optimum use of the seating capacity and effectively introduce faster services from Birmingham Interchange to points north.

(v)  The modal transfer benefits of Ebbsfleet to Midlands through domestic rail services have not been considered.

(vi)  Operationally that could be possible using mixed Domestic/International services (by adopting one of the range of technical ideas Greenguage sets out in pages 19 & 20 of its report GG21 HSR Consultation Response Addendum 28 July 2011.doc).

I support their ideas, but am less sure of argument ii) than Greenguage pending further investigations.

B2. London Assembly observations on HS2 also criticise the detail of HS2. One of their key points is that "Additional tube capacity, in the form of a new line linking Chelsea and Hackney ('Crossrail 2') [as shown here] should be constructed during Phase 1 of [HS2] to ensure that local transport services are not swamped by the new passengers created by HS2".

B3.  Taken literally the above quote mimics Network Rail's Route Utilization Study (RUS) recommendation that the core of Crossrail 2 is from Hackney to Chelsea, as shown in its Figure 8.2 (reproduced above). However, Greenguage argue that Crossrail 2 is only needed if Network Rail's Crossrail 1 ideas discussed below are not adopted. Both arguments need further detailed study and the option of dividing Crossrail 2 into six sub projects as discussed here should be considered alongside both arguments.

B4.  Both ideas could allow Euston station to be rebuilt with reduced land take (another issue raised by the London Assembly) rather than HS2's recommended site shown here.

B5.  As I see it, if Crossrail 2 is to be provided, the Euston to Victoria section is needed first (I call that Crossrail 2a) followed by through services from South of Clapham Junction, to the Northampton line (I call that Crossrail 2b). That would make HS2 much more accessible from the South East and leave the within London branches to be separately justified and financed.

B6. In that event Crossrail 3a & 3b ought to run between Wimbledon (3a) and Watford DC lines (3b) and share the tunnels and platforms of Crossrail 2a & 2b - with lots of intermediate stations on 3a as shown above. Crossrail 2a, 2b & 3b should use what would be the low level part of Euston station. Crossrail 2 should cater for mid distance services to open up new markets for rail journeys by linking existing services (British Rail's original idea) to spread the benefits of HS2 more widely across the whole country.

B7. If the decision is taken to go ahead with HS2, radical options such as those set out above need to be fully evaluated before Parliamentary proceedings begin. The net effect of those suggestions is shown here.

B8.  Crossrail 1 also needs to be extended as shown next (from Figure 8.1 of Network Rail's RUS) to help reduce congestion and land-take at Euston. However, it serves too many stations, outside its Old Oak Common - Canary Wharf /Stratford core - to significantly widen HS2's catchment area beyond Stratford.

B9.  As I see it there are four key aspects where HS2 needs to be changed:

(1)  Phasing needs to be tweaked - as a slight delay to the non-revenue earning elements of Phase 1 would increase the BCR by 20%. That tweaking could be achieved as shown in bold below. It brings forward HS2 services to Heathrow by two or more years.

(2)  Plan Bs are required in case passenger growth or signalling developments are slower than expected.

(3)  Long term aspirations for better rail connectivity to serve the rest of the country need to be set out.

(4)  The policy context for prioritising rail spending at the expense of roads needs to be much clearer.

B10.  The ideal coordinated phasing which could be speeded up would be:

(a)  2018 Crossrail1 opens as planned.

(b)  2022 Prototype running of Classic Compatible trains.

(c)  2024 Network Rails suggested Crossrail1 extensions to Bletchley/Milton Keynes open to ease Euston rebuilding.

(d)  2024 Classic Compatible trains used on West Coast Main Line (WCML) replacing shorter trains & as extra shoulder peak services (overcrowding relief).

(e)  2026 HS2 Phase1 opens using only Classic Compatible trains until 2030.

(f)  2030 HS2 Phase1 & Euston station rebuilding completed.

(g)  2030-32 HS2 services to Heathrow start using Classic Compatible trains.

(h)  2034 HS2 Continental Gauge services to Leeds start.

(i)  2034 Core of Crossrail2 opens from Euston to Victoria/Clapham Jct.

(j)  2036 HS2 Phase2 finished & Continental Gauge services to Manchester start.

(k)  2030-36 Reading & beyond to HS1-HS2 link through services - possibly accompanied by Aylesbury to Old Oak Common electrification so that Aylesbury can be connected to Crossrai1.

That phasing would increase the proportion of costs covered by fare revenue by 9% from 57% for HS2 Phase 1.

B11.  A soft launch of High Speed services should be planned and a Plan B developed in case long distance rail travel grows is slower than predicted. The softest launch ONLY needs to provide the following services on launch day:

—  Three Classic Compatible Services/hr to Manchester
(with two calling at Birmingham Interchange).

—  One Classic Comp Service/hr to Glasgow (calling at Bham Int).

—  One Classic Comp Service/hr to Liverpool (calling at Bham Int)

Euston station rebuild could be still underway. Supplementary fares (say £10/journey payable on the train) might be needed to manage demand during the soft launch period. That would:

(i)  allow 2 Manchester Pendolino services/hr to be used elsewhere or make extra station stops;

(ii)  increase capacity; and

(iii)  reduce overcrowding on all Euston routes.

Once the Heathrow station & spur is ready, the Birmingham Interchange stops could transfer to the Heathrow services with faster extra services introduced to other WCML stations. 

B12.  Changes to Cross-Country trains from south of Basingstoke to give their long distance passengers faster journey times via HS2 & the HS1-HS2 link also need to be considered.

B13.  As capacity on the HS1-HS2 link is limited pre-planning for increasing frequencies is needed. That implies advance provision for some dualling of the link is needed and if 8 trains per hour are ever to reverse at St Pancras - some Corby - St Pancras peak hour services might need to operate to/from the St Pancras Thameslink platforms. 

B14.  All the above illustrates well how more passenger focused work could be undertaken to be sure that the benefits from HS2 are not at the expense of other parts of the country. Leicester, Coventry, Kettering where I live, Rugby, Cardiff & Bristol will be less attractive to inward investment if HS2 is built - as Leicester is currently 15 minutes quicker from St Pancras than Birmingham etc. With HS2 their relative accessibility is REVERSED unless it is revised as suggested by Greengauge or Crossrail 2 counter-balances those effects as set out above & London Midland trains interwork beyond Clapham Junction to Portsmouth, Chessington, Reading, Staines etc.

September 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011