High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Interlinking Transit Solutions Ltd (HSR 168)


The High Speed North (HSN) study commissioned by the 2M Group in 2008 demonstrates the most efficient way to implement high-speed rail in Britain. The schematics above indicate the comparative features between HSN and HS2. This submission is made by Interlinking Transit Solutions Ltd., a group of like-minded professionals keen to promote efficient rail solutions.

1.  Main arguments

High-speed rail for Britain will add tangible benefits both economically and environmentally, provided the fullest of integration is achieved.

High Speed North (HSN) differs from HS2 with a strategy defined as "spine and spur". The strategy permits connectivity and integration of the nine conurbations of England and Scotland with a network that has double the connections of HS2 and is more achievable in terms of cost and time.

All those points will be touched on in this submission, but it needs to be highlighted from the outset that the spine and spur strategy of HSN was dismissed by HS2 Ltd for a handful of reasons. To redress those; HSN will connect directly with Heathrow, while along the M1 corridor has more manageable blight than a Chilterns route, and creates a quicker journey between London and Birmingham. The economic argument is also better addressed by HSN by of developing both the national and regional economies with inter-urban connections and a self-sustaining high-speed rail network, in terms of both finance and the environment.

There are many advantages to the spine and spur of HSN, as set out below.

2.  How does HSR fit the government's transport policy objectives?

HSN simply costs less than HS2 to construct and operate whilst also delivering twice as many inter-urban connections and 10 years sooner, including Scotland.

HSN does not fit the government objective of producing a Y shaped network, but the design and construction of the "spine and spur" network would be quicker and within the time frame of this Government to consider.

The profitability and secondary revenue streams created by HSN give rise to investment potential and self-sufficiency, that creates better arguments than Benefit Cost Ratio while reducing the strain on the public purse than HS2.

The carbon footprint of HSN is less than HS2 by a factor of 10. The modal shift from cars is greater because of greater scale and scope, which then creates more incentives to "leave the car at home". The inter-urban passenger trains will free up more capacity on the conventional networks than HS2, including freight, and these points all contribute to the CO2 modelling that makes HSN better.

Proximity to the Midlands Mainline (MML), means the HSN network delivers greater benefits to the Strategic Freight Network. DfT proposals to connect the MML with Channel Tunnel could more easily go ahead because of what HSN can achieve for the MML in the future.

Carbon reductions for HSN are circa 20 million tonnes per annum, compared with HS2 reductions of only 5 million tonnes per annum (Calculations supplied on request). This makes real contributions to the Climate Change Act.

Avoiding the Y configuration gives HSN a shorter construction time. This is extremely important in convincing government to change tactics for high-speed rail, whilst also assuring the profitability of HSN. From the outset HSN costs less to operate and includes Heathrow and Scotland.

Speed is secondary to connectivity with the HSN strategy, because connectivity reaps larger dividends both economically and environmentally. The network will be designed for speeds of 360 kilometres per hour and connect 42 destination pairings, double that of HS2. This translates into more revenue streams and less carbon impact.

An operational speed on the network of 300 km/h delivers the best frequency, waiting times, energy demand and capacity while still delivering a three-hour journey between London-Edinburgh.

HSN not only bridges the north-south divide it also makes the east-west connections that will gravitate people toward industry rather than only into London.

The scale and scope of HSN creates real alternatives to short-haul flights and car journeys because the connections and frequency of service are convenient.

Speed differentials between high speed and low speed trains are the primary justification for a separate high-speed network. Conventional networks can therefore be devoted to regional passenger services, plus freight trains that travel together at similar sorts of speed. Inter-urban transportation would benefit greatly from a segregated high-speed network serving the nine conurbations of Britain with frequencies up to 15 trains per hour travelling at speeds of 300 kilometres per hour. A separate high-speed network provides greater benefit to all sectors of rail and the High Speed North network does that with the least impact.

HSN with its more ubiquitous rolling stock and speeds will be able to utilise conventional tracks and alignments at some terminus points like Heathrow and Birmingham New Street. Firstly, this creates the shortest walking distances when inter-connecting with other modes, while secondly, permitting the interim use of conventional tracks and alignments during construction of various portions of the high-speed network.

The enduring argument for high-speed rail is that it should benefit both the economy and the environment. For this High Speed North "ticks all the boxes" in terms of capacity, connectivity, modal shift, pollution, economics and the desire for a sustainable business model. (Calculations available on request.)

Implications for Domestic Aviation

Heathrow's short-haul domestic flights can be replaced by high-speed rail, but only HSN is offering direct connections into the Heathrow campus.

Airport movements of 20,000 to 30,000 flights per year could be replaced by HSN and by utilising the existing tunnelled rail alignments at Heathrow. This encourages modal shift via market forces rather than taxation or increases in airport duties. The median of 25,000 flights per year is 7% of flights at Heathrow.

However, the spend-per-head with HSN is much less than HS2 in connecting Heathrow, along with CO2 reductions per passenger. Connecting Cricklewood to Heathrow via portions of the Great West Railway alignment into Heathrow would cost £4 billion. A tunnel extension west of Terminal 5 with the GWR would create a loop and bi-directional flows into Heathrow with benefits shared between Crossrail, Heathrow Express and High Speed North.

HSN can connect planes and trains at Heathrow using a convenient and simply understood strategy. Additionally, transferring passengers within the airport campus creates opportunity to incorporate baggage and Border Control processes that make this a cost effective alternative to many short-haul flights. The connections create mutual benefits for both the airlines and Heathrow.

High-speed rail does not replace Runway 3 in terms of capacity, but instead creates a mulit-modal hub for Heathrow that can move an extra 20 million people.

The sketch indicates the connection between Cricklewood and Heathrow with a dashed line. (Further specifications are available.)

Connecting Heathrow to Scotland, Europe, and the Midlands is a priority made possible by the interchange at Cricklewood. For Heathrow this means frequency of three to five high-speed trains per hour, whilst also accommodating similar frequencies for Crossrail and Heathrow Express.

The opinion here is that Gatwick and Heathrow should be connected and integrated by a proven transit system along the M25 corridor. All five terminal-areas at the two airports can be interconnected. This better justifies a new runway for London to be situated at Gatwick.

A rapid transit system between the two airports could deliver 4 million passengers per year to Heathrow and High Speed North, from Surrey, Sussex and Gatwick.

The High Speed North proposal, with its ubiquitous rolling stock and numerous connections, provides quicker journeys than many short-haul flights. Journeys to Paris and Edinburgh from Heathrow would be under 3 hours 20 minutes and just as important, this would be delivered with high frequency of service.

HSN at Heathrow could deliver circa 16,000 passengers per day to the high-speed rail network who would otherwise take short-haul flights. (Estimates available.)

High Speed North (HSN) does more to achieve the government aspirations to improve London's status as a hub to the world simply by connecting high-speed trains "directly" into Heathrow.

3.  Business Case

The opinion here is that high-speed rail can be profitable for the sake of the country's rail capacity and for the economy. Benefit Cost Ratios (BCR) are only briefly mentioned because the focus here is on profitability and what HSN can deliver to investors in terms of cost and revenue, that are better than HS2.

Profitability and efficiency are at the centre of this plea to the Parliamentary Select Committee to review the case for HSN as the alternative to the HS2.

The greater balance of regional benefits and hardship, plus reduced environmental impact, mean that HSN can be put forward as both a Stakeholder programme and a PLC to secure the confidence of investors and government.

Much design work has been completed on 1:50,000 mapping along with the intrinsic knowledge derived from that, to demonstrates the business case for HSN.

HSN delivers connectivity plus revenue streams into areas where they are most beneficial to the customers as well as the business model. The four phases can operate somewhat independently during construction so that high-speed trains can utilise portions of the conventional network while developing inter-urban connections and revenue streams.

From the outset HSN is a national programme and that is one reason the M1 corridor is chosen. However, this corridor also delivers sooner construction to Birmingham and Leicester while introducing important revenue streams by year 4.

The 933 km network for Scotland and England is divided into four phases of construction with CAPEX and finance also phased-in. The entire HSN network is estimated to cost £40 to £50 billion to build with the projections (graph) assuming:

—  18% equity.

—  5% finance with varying amortisations.

—  15% internalised revenue or subsidy.

CO2 predictions are 10 times better than HS2, based on the greater connectivity of HSN. CO2 defines the network efficiency and its ability to create modal shift from cars and road-freight onto rail, along with airline passengers into trains.

Internalised revenues of 15% of net cash are used for the projections. They would be derived from a list of Stakeholders that would include:

—  freight companies along the WCML, MML, & East Coast Mainline (ECML);

—  passenger rail companies along the WCML and Chilterns railway;

—  Heathrow airport;

—  Highways Agency;

—  City and County Councils at the terminus points; and

—  Government Agencies and regulatory bodies.

Internalised revenue then becomes part of the Benefit Cost Ratio and this is estimated to be about 3 to 1 with the CO2 efficiencies of HSN acting as the harbinger for overall efficiency and financial success.

What would be the pros and cons of resolving capacity issues in other ways?

This question presently makes reference to the West Coast Mainline (WCML) in most peoples' eyes. The problem with introducing higher speed trains to the conventional corridor with proposals like Rail Package 2 (RP2) proposal is that it introduces larger speed differentials between trains in the corridor, which either reduces frequency or creates demand for more lanes of track.

Operating HSN on a separate network is the best way to introduce added rail capacity for the country while also introducing inter-urban connections. The conventional network can increase capacity while maintaining similar sorts of speeds. For example, Coventry and Milton Keynes will maintain present frequency of service to both Birmingham and London, which creates support for HSN from the Chilterns' population who maintain their choices and for Coventry who maintain their present services.

A segregated "spine and spur" network for HSN delivers regional benefits to slower trains travelling at circa 150 km/h and national benefits to high-speed trains that can travel un-impeded at 300 km/h.

What lessons should the Government learn from other major transport projects…?

A stakeholder business model in the form of a Public Limited Company becomes the most effective model for HSN because it is profitable and has least social impact. The diminutive level of blight throughout the HSN network causes fewer regional differences and arguments about who is benefitting who such as exists between Buckinghamshire and Yorkshire. This balanced level of benefit and risk encourages more equal participation from the different regions.

A Public Limited Company for HSN makes sense because there is the potential for direct profitability for the generation who are going to invest in it.

Stakeholders and Investors acting in unison within a Public Limited Company will help to distribute the risks and the benefits and creates self-regulation; its a bit like a toll bridge where the tolls are equitably managed for the benefit of all.

Lessons in managing prestige engineering project can be gleaned from a number of projects such as Concorde, the R101 Airship, Shinkansen, TGV, MagLev, the Isle of Sky Toll Bridge, Channel Tunnel, Eurostar, and Heathrow T5.

Speed and connectivity are the two attributes that can be more equitably managed within the HSN strategy. This gives the best balance of capacity, environmental sustainability, profitability and speed, all in the same formula.

High Speed North will be a tangible asset to both this generation, who will be able realise their investment, and the next generations who will receive a legacy that is engineered to be future proof and not a financial burden.

4.  The Strategic Route

Interfacing HSN with other rail networks will be more effective with HSN than HS2. This is why the Carbon footprint and ridership are as robust as they are.

Old Oak Common is still important, but rather than becoming an intercity interchange the HSN strategy advocates its use as a connection between WCML and Crossrail, primarily for the sake of commuters.

HSN proposes that Tottenham Court Road be connected with Euston and St Pancras with a new transit system. This makes the connection between Crossrail and HS1 and HS2 through Tottenham Court Road with a simple extension of concept already put forwarded by ARUP between Euston and St Pancras. Cost would be circa £400 million with benefits to all transport services around Euston.

Using Birmingham New Street along with reasonable 200 metre trains enhances the integration because that's what customers would prefer and it made possible via the M1 route. Adding to that is the unique east-west connection through the Woodhead corridor of the Pennines that creates a bi-directional flow of people for the Midlands. This part of the HSN strategy strengths the sustainability of the business model while delivering better economic benefits to the country.

5.  Economic rebalancing and equity

HSN does more than just bridge the north-south divide. The intermediate phases of the network construction will strengthen the economy of the Midlands while later phases are designed to connect Scotland and add speed to the longer legs for the benefit of modal-shift and CO2 reduction.

The economic strategy helps industry remain in situ, while making fast connections to London for political and financial support.

Freight capacity to the Midlands uniquely benefits from HSN by its proximity to the MML and trans-Pennine freight routes.

HSN "does more" than HS2 to develop business and industry where it already exists because it implements the bi-directional flow of people and commerce from a broader high-speed network.

A privately operated high-speed network is possible with HSN, whereby the combination of a Stakeholder programme and Public Limited Company helps the Government to maintain regulation and ensure that profitability. The balances, made possible by the even spread of risks and benefits makes possible a more overall support for high-speed rail throughout the regions it serves.

Any number of successful infrastructure projects can be compared and this should prompt further investigation into HSN as a viable formula for a British high-speed rail network. HSN delivers the best speed, connectivity, and value for money.

6.  Impact

"Modal shift" is the usual reason given for promoting high-speed rail. The number of people of who choose the train over the car or plane will need to be significant to justify this claim, and HSN achieves this through better scope and scale. In terms of CO2, HSN is better than HS2 by a factor or 10 because it makes more connections and does it with less construction and fuller trains.

In terms of economic impact, HSN the regional benefits and Benefit Cost Ratio are primary reasons for asking the Parliamentary Select Committee to ask seek further evidence from ourselves and others whilst also reviewing the HS2 proposal.

May 2011

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 8 November 2011