Written evidence from Railfuture (HSR
This response is made on behalf of Railfuture's
Policy Committee. Railfuture is the campaigning name of the Railway
Development Society Ltd., a not for profit company limited by
Railfuture has no connections
whatsoever with any political parties, trades unions or commercial
interests. Our members are drawn from all walks of life, shades
of political opinion, and professions. The society is entirely
voluntary and receives no funding from any source other than its
members. Whilst we are pro-rail, we pride ourselves in being even
handed and are most certainly not anti-car or anti-aviation.
Whilst Railfuture supports in principal a
new high-speed line between London, the Midlands and the North,
it remains our view that the primary function must be the provision
of new capacity and congestion relief on the three principal main
lines to the North, not just the West Coast main line. Since the
most effective way to maximise capacity is achieved by diverting
long distance services away from existing main lines it makes
sense to design new routes for high speed running.
However, we are concerned that designing the new
route for operating at up to 400 kmh (250 mph) is unnecessary
and inappropriate for Britain`s needs, given our population density
and the relatively short distances between major cities. Such
a speed would create an inflexible route, which would fail to
optimise connectivity and will increase energy consumption, seriously
weakening the environmental case for HSR.
We would also express concern about current proposals
to operate 400 metres long trains built to UIC-c loading gauge
that could only operate between London and a new station inconveniently
sited at Curzon Street in Birmingham, therefore necessitating
the construction of second train fleet built to UK loading gauge
for operating services beyond the high speed route and into existing
city centre stations. It is our belief that the entire train fleet
should be capable of being fully integrated with the existing
rail network and construction of a standard, go anywhere design,
would reduce construction costs.
The business case also appears to be weak on two
counts. Firstly, the over emphasis on the value of small time
savings, a much criticised aspect of appraisal methodology, and
what appears to be over optimistic predictions for passenger demand,
most of whom would simply be transferring from existing inter
city services. Modal switch from domestic aviation would be modest
since rail already dominates this market except for London-Scotland
and cross-country routes.
The need to provide a connection to Heathrow airport
is contentious. Only five domestic air routes now serve Heathrow
with the majority using Luton, Stansted and London City airports.
Access to Central London by the shortest route would therefore
achieve optimum mode switch from aviation. The proposed interchange
station at Old Oak Common could indeed provide connections to
Heathrow Express and Crossrail but it would also narrow the route
options to that through the Chilterns, which is already generating
significant opposition. An alternative route using the M1 corridor
would be far less controversial and provide superior connectivity
to the east and west midlands and the north. High-speed services
to Heathrow could be operated by use of the Dudding Hill loop,
which would need to be electrified, and thence to the Great Western
main line connection to the airport.
We note that the current upgrade work being carried
out on the LU Circle and Hammersmith & City lines will increase
capacity by some 65% and Heathrow Express and Crossrail services
would be available at Paddington station, only four stops away
from Euston Square. We also note that Crossrail 2 (the so called
Chelsea-Hackney line) will now have a station at Euston as well
as Kings Cross/St Pancras. A link to Euston and St. Pancras by
the Docklands Light Railway has also recently been suggested by
Transport for London (TfL) and this would make the Euston station
complex a major transport interchange.
In our response to the questions below, we have tried
to produce an objective view from a national standpoint and without
local self interest bias either for or against HS2, with the aim
of providing a balanced conclusion.
1.1 Driven partly by road congestion, growing
environmental awareness and rising oil prices, Britain`s rail
network is now carrying more passengers than at any time since
1928. This has been achieved on a network that is roughly half
the route length that it was in 1928 and with a significantly
smaller train fleet. As a consequence, overcrowding on many services
is now endemic and the system is running out of capacity on many
1.2 Demand for rail services is likely
to increase still further as the population grows and modal switch
to rail from aviation and road transport will continue to be driven
by ever higher oil prices and growing environmental concerns and
this will be in spite of recent statistical evidence showing that
people are now travelling less overall. Mode shift from aviation
would be limited mainly to the London-Scotland routes however,
since rail already has 79% of the air/rail market between Manchester
and London, 70% between Leeds and London and 100% between both
Liverpool/Birmingham and London and 60% between Newcastle and
1.3 In spite of recent upgrade work, the
West Coast main line will be full to capacity by 2020 if current
growth rates are maintained. In common with our other principal
rail routes, the West Coast main line is a mixed traffic railway
carrying fast inter-city services as well as slower regional passenger
services and freight. It is the mixed nature of this traffic that
constrains the capacity of our principal rail routes.
1.4 Without significant investment, the East
Coast and Midland main lines will soon be full to capacity as
well and there is a growing need for new routes. Since the most
effective way to maximise capacity on the existing network for
essential improvements to regional passenger and freight services
is to narrow the speed differential by removing the fast inter
city services, it would make sense to build new routes designed
for high speed running which would also shorten journey times.
1.5 Shorter journey times and the extra
capacity released on the classic rail network would enable rail
to achieve further modal switch from short haul aviation and roads,
providing environmental, economic and social benefits as a result.
1.6 Improved transport links provided
by HSR help to improve the competitiveness of the areas served
and can help boost local economies as a consequence.
1.7 The 1998 SACTRA (Standing Advisory
Committee on Trunk Road Assessment) report on transport and the
economy found that new transport links did not necessarily boost
local economies but could also damage them by transferring jobs
elsewhere. This is amply demonstrated by the effect of low cost
aviation which is now estimated to be responsible for an annual
tourism deficit (the difference between what money people take
out of the UK compared to what other people bring in) amounting
to over £18 billion and is also thought to have caused the
loss of nearly 1m jobs in the UK tourist industry. Although HSR
can help to improve competitiveness, success will ultimately depend
on the ability of the areas served to take full advantage of the
opportunity to rise to the challenge.
1.8 Continued growth in travel demand cannot
be taken for granted however. Recent statistical evidence suggests
that each one of us is now travelling less each year, both in
terms of total distance travelled and the average number of trips
made. HS2 Ltd.'s prediction that by 2033, the current 50,000 or
so daily long distance passengers using the West Coast main line
will more than treble to 165,000 on HS2 could prove to be wildly
optimistic. It should be remembered that the number of passengers
predicted to use Eurostar services have never been realised, even
after 17 years of operations. There is also an overriding necessity
to reduce the need to travel.
2.1 High-speed rail has the potential
ability to enhance inter-urban connectivity but there are major
concerns that the planned route for HS2 will fail to optimise
connectivity in some areas (see 4.2 below) and it will be essential
to get it right first time if HS2 is to achieve its objectives.
The wider benefits of rail investment are far reaching, not least
in helping to reduce road congestion. Conversely, investment in
the road network can actually increase congestion through induced
traffic, particularly to the detriment of town and city centres.
2.2 It is essential that funding for HS2
be NOT abstracted from investment in continued electrification
and other enhancements to the existing rail network. Electrification
of the Midland main line and the "Manchester Hub" scheme,
for example, should be seen as high priority. A rolling programme
of electrification will have growing importance as oil prices
continue to rise and in view of the growing need for Britain to
develop energy independency, particularly from volatile areas
in the middle east. A study carried out for Invensys Group in
2007 found that, pound for pound, investment in modern railway
signalling and rolling stock procured more capacity than any other
transport investment including motorway widening. The
same study also found that for every 100 direct jobs created by
rail investment, further 140 indirect jobs are created compared
to only 48 indirect jobs from the same investment in roads.
2.3 There is ample evidence that HSR can
achieve very high levels of modal switch from aviation and on
some routes, for example Paris-Brussels, airlines have ceased
operations entirely. However, Britain already enjoys frequent
high speed inter city services and, as noted above, rail now dominates
the air/rail market and air has the greater share only between
London and Scotland and on cross country routes. Nevertheless,
HSR would enable rail to achieve journey times of around three
and a half hours between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow even
without the route going all the way to Scotland and evidence suggests
this would be good enough to raise rail's market share on these
routes to between 50 and 70%.
3.1.0 There is no way to accurately forecast
passenger demand, particularly over such a long time scale. For
example, the 2003 Aviation White Paper had forecast continued
passenger growth until at least 2030, and had assumed that by
then some 500 metres of us would be flying into and out of UK
airports each year. In reality, aviation demand peaked in 2007
and has been in decline since 2008 and rising oil prices are likely
to constrain growth in the future. The "Predict & Provide"
policy adopted for expansion of the motorway network has since
been discredited and road traffic actually fell by about 3% last
3.1.1 On the other hand, recent experience with
reopened rail stations and routes such as Cardiff-Ebbw Vale and
Stirling-Alloa and many others have seen passenger numbers far
exceed predictions. However, HS2 Ltd. have assumed that passenger
numbers will be over three times the number currently using long
distance services on the West Coast main line, even though important
centres of population such as Coventry and Wolverhampton would
not be served by HS2. This assumption would therefore seem to
be optimistic, particularly since recent evidence suggests people
are now travelling less.
3.1.2 Most of the passengers using HS2
are likely to be those currently using Inter City services, most
of which we assume would be switched to the new route. However,
capacity released on the existing network could generate passenger
growth on enhanced regional services. Modal switch from domestic
aviation is likely to be modest since rail already dominates this
market as noted above, but there could be significant mode switch
from long distance car journeys, driven largely by rising oil
prices. Unless fares are reasonably competitive, it is unlikely
there would be significant mode switch from long distance coaches
as this market is very price sensitive.
3.1.3 Over emphasis on the value of small
time savings has been a major source of criticism concerning appraisal
methodology and was roundly condemned by many consultants during
the recent NATA Refresh consultation.
3.2.0 There is limited scope for further
capacity enhancements on the West Coast main line but it has been
suggested that completion of four tracking work in the Trent valley
coupled with grade separation at a number of key junctions could
raise capacity on the fast lines by another five trains per hour
(tph) to a maximum of 16. However, the new route would provide
at least 16 tph in addition to that already available.
3.2.1 However, investment in other existing
routes could help relieve pressure on the West Coast main line.
For example, the Chiltern route between London and Birmingham
could be electrified and upgraded for 200 kmh operation and if
trains were routed into Paddington station, journey times of a
few minutes over 1 hour could be achieved, making this the principal
route between London and Birmingham. Other opportunities exist
such as provision of four tracks on sections of the Midland and
East Coast main lines but these routes are likely to soon be full
and require new capacity themselves. Loading gauge enhancements,
particularly on the Midland main line, could help divert a number
of freight services off the West Coast route. Construction of
a flyover at Redhill would also enable freight between the West
Midlands and the channel tunnel to be diverted away from the West
Coast main line and avoid London by using the route via Banbury,
Reading, Guildford and the North Downs line instead. Network Rail
already have plans for just such a viaduct at Redhill and this
should be supported as it could help to develop rail freight through
the channel tunnel to the West Midlands, South Wales and the South
3.2.2 As noted above, capacity on the
existing rail network is constrained by the need to accommodate
fast inter city services amongst slower regional services and
freight. Creating a clear path for the faster trains consumes
capacity and it therefore makes sense to construct new routes
for high speed operation which also reduces journey times and
makes more efficient use of rolling stock by cutting turn back
times. However, construction of a new conventional line could
enable UIC-c gauge freight rolling stock to access depots in the
West Midlands and the North, a point not mentioned in the DfT
3.3 Suppressed demand for rail travel
is already evident, caused by some of the highest fares in Europe
and continued application of above inflation fare increases which
could soon result in a downturn in passenger numbers. The practice
of cramming in more and more seats into a given space, many of
which have no view through a window, also creates an unpleasant
travel environment and these factors conceal latent demand. Unless
these issues are satisfactorily addressed, modal switch from rail
to road could occur, increasing safety risk, energy consumption
and environmental damage and reducing the chances of achieving
Government carbon reduction targets as a consequence. The railway
urgently needs more capacity, not only with new routes, but also
with more rolling stock.
3.4 Cost control should be achieved by
avoiding untried technology, like Maglev for example, employment
of tried and tested construction techniques and the best people
to do the job.
4.1.0 There are serious concerns about
the proposed HS2 route, not only by those living in the Chilterns
AONB, but it is felt by many that this route and the location
of stations, particularly the one proposed at Curzon Street/Fazeley
Street in Birmingham, fail to provide optimum connectivity with
other rail services. The proposed "interchange" station
at Birmingham International would also be located to the north
side of the National Exhibition Centre, so far away from the existing
station and the airport that it would have to be connected to
them by means of an extension to the airport people mover system.
4.1.1 Euston station would seem to be
the best choice for the London terminus but there are doubts about
the proposed station at Old Oak Common, not least because this
route would significantly lengthen journey times to Manchester,
Yorkshire and the northeast. Whilst the benefit provided by a
connection to Crossrail and Heathrow Express is acknowledged,
it should be noted that Crossrail 2 (the Chelsea-Hackney line)
will be provided with a station at Euston and would provide a
direct connection with Crossrail 1. It should also be noted that
Heathrow Express services at Paddington will be only four stops
away from Euston on the upgraded Circle and Hammersmith &
City lines which will see capacity increased by about 65%. The
rebuilt Euston station would no doubt be provided with a direct
link to Euston Square station.
4.1.2 A further possibility, proposed
by Network Rail amongst others, consists of a connection between
the West Coast main line and Crossrail. This would enable outer
London commuter services from Milton Keynes for example, to be
routed into Crossrail, helping to reduce the need to widen Euston
station. Another such enabler would be diversion of Watford DC
line services to the North London line.
4.2.0 A major concern about the currently
proposed route centres on the lack of connectivity. Clearly, if
the primary objective of HSR is to increase capacity on the existing
network by transferring inter city services onto the new route,
the new HS services will need to mirror the connectivity provided
by inter city services as closely as possible. A notable failure
of HS2 is its inability to serve Coventry and Wolverhampton and
Phase Two would fail to serve Stoke on Trent, Crewe and Stockport
as well as Leicester and Nottingham. This being so, some form
of high speed inter city service resembling current service would
still be needed on the West Coast main line and ultimately, the
Midland main line as well, reducing some of the benefits provided
by the new capacity.
4.2.1 It will therefore be necessary for
the new HS route to be fully integrated with the existing rail
network at strategic locations so that HS services can access
existing city centre stations and, given the spread of major cities
either side of the Pennines, a Y shape network would seem to offer
optimum connectivity. Apart from current plans for HSR to reach
Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, HS services should also serve
Liverpool, Preston, Carlisle, Darlington, Newcastle, Edinburgh,
Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.
4.2.2 However, if connectivity provided
by current inter city services is to be closely matched, intermediate
cities such as Derby, Durham, Stafford, York and Wakefield will
also need to be served by HS services.
4.3 The Government is correct to build
HSR in stages to the north of London but each stage should be
planned with future extensions in view.
4.4.0 Linking HS1 to HS2 would enable
services from the European mainland to reach destinations to the
north of London but a market survey should be carried out before
money is spent on providing costly new city centre stations equipped
to handle rolling stock built to the larger UIC-c loading gauge
which would also require new routes to be built into city centres.
A more cost effective solution, at least initially, could consist
of a below ground level pedestrian travelator linking Euston with
St. Pancras/Kings Cross stations. Such a link would be very beneficial
with or without HS2. There are concerns that the proposed HS1/HS2
link would create major congestion problems on the North London
line which is already very busy with London Overground and numerous
freight services, which are likely to increase once the new Thames
Haven container port is operational. It should be remembered that
Eurostar plans to operate through services from the continent
to destinations north of London were cancelled due to lack of
4.4.1 The need to connect HS2 with Heathrow
is contentious. Only five domestic mainland air routes serve Heathrow
airport with the majority now using Luton, Stansted and London
City airports. As noted above, rail already dominates market share
between London and Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle,
leaving only Scottish destinations where significant mode shift
from aviation could be won by HSR. There are no flights between
Birmingham or Liverpool and London. However, the majority of passengers
still flying to Heathrow are "inter lining" and they
are likely to continue to fly even with a connection to HS2 because
airfares are normally inclusive of connecting flights.
4.4.2 By far the biggest market is city
centre to city centre and diverting HS services to Heathrow or
Old Oak Common instead of central London would generate a significant
time penalty for passengers wishing to travel to northern cities
with the sole exception of Birmingham. Clearly, designing the
shortest route between London and the north should be a primary
objective if modal shift from aviation is to be maximised.
4.4.3 It would seem, therefore, that the
principal benefit of a link to Heathrow would accrue from provision
of HSR links to those cities that have no convenient link to international
air services, but it should be noted that Birmingham International
airport has been awarded planning approval for a runway extension
which will enable it to handle a wider range of international
5.1 As noted at 1.7 above, the SACTRA
report found no evidence that HSR would automatically promote
economic regeneration and it could even widen the north-south
divide unless the communities served take advantage of the opportunity
to become more competitive.
5.2 HSR could be used to aid regional
regeneration but local issues could work to the disadvantage of
strategic objectives and connectivity. This is apparent with the
plan to provide a new HSR station in Birmingham that would be
divorced from the main city centre station at New Street, thereby
failing to achieve essential connectivity with other rail services.
5.3 We have chosen not to respond
to this question.
5.4.0 With regard to the EU TEN-T
Programme; before seeking support from the EU's TEN-T fund
the UK Government should seek a derogation from the rule that
HS trains should be 400 metres in length and built to UIC-c loading
gauge as this will preclude their operation into a number of existing
city centre stations, notably Birmingham New Street, and from
being integrated with the existing rail network.
5.4.1 The rolling stock issue related
to conditions for EU funding would also require Britain to procure
two incompatible train fleets, one built to UIC-c loading gauge
and a length of 400 metres that would be confined to operating
only between the rebuilt London Euston and the new Curzon Street
station in Birmingham, and the other built to UK loading gauge
for operating into city centre stations over the existing rail
network. A single train fleet built to the latter category would
cut unit train costs and it should be noted that the original
TGV fleet is not built to UIC-c gauge anyway.
5.4.2 Another proposal would require trains
to be built to a length of 200metres, coupled together to make
a full-length train, which could then be split so that each half
could serve different destinations. Whilst there may be some locations
where this could work, it would require stations with platforms
long enough to facilitate the joining and splitting operation.
However, most of the cities likely to be served by HSR are already
served by nine car inter city trains that are longer than 200
metres and are about to be lengthened to overcome overcrowding.
It would seem therefore, that a fleet of trains up to 12 cars
or 300 metres in length would be more appropriate. Given the foregoing,
unless the UK Government is able to obtain a derogation from the
EU TEN-T conditions, it may be more cost effective to forgo EU
funding contributions and design the route and train fleet to
best suit our unique requirements.
6.1.0 Given the current power generation
mix, there is considerable concern that current plans for
HS2 to be designed for operation at speeds up to 400kmh would
seriously weaken the environmental case for HSR. Since wind resistance
increases with the square of the speed, it would require twice
as much energy to propel a train at 400 kmh as at 300 kmh. It
follows, therefore, that carbon emissions would also double at
this speed. Taking into account the buried cost of carbon (that
which is emitted during the construction process), it is doubtful
if HS2 could provide any environmental benefits as it is currently
6.1.1 At 400 kmh, the minimum radius curve
would be 7,200 metres (approximately 5 miles) and this results
in higher construction costs and a very inflexible route, which
would inevitably compromise the ability of the route to achieve
optimum connectivity with the existing rail network.
6.1.2 Given Britain`s population density
and the comparatively short distances between major conurbations,
designing the route for operation at 400kmh is both unnecessary
and inappropriate. Capacity and connectivity should therefore
be accorded the highest priority. It is notable that even China
is reported to be reducing its HSR speeds to around 300kmh.
6.1.3 Noise levels would also be greater
at 360/400 kmh than at the normal HSR speed of 300 to 320 kmh.
6.2 Given the foregoing, we do not believe
the environmental costs have been adequately accounted for in
the business case.
6.3 The capacity released by diverting
inter city services from the existing network onto HSR would enable
significant increases for freight and regional services to be
catered for. Modal switch of road freight to rail would generate
strong environmental and congestion benefits and this factor must
feature in the business case.
6.4 Given that HS2 is only at the consultation
stage at the present time, disruption to existing services will
depend largely on the eventual route agreed upon but the rebuilding
of Euston station would be a major factor.
primary objective for new HSR routes must be the provision of
extra capacity achieved by diverting high-speed inter-city services
away from the existing rail network.
achieve this, it will be necessary for HSR services to match as
closely as possible the connectivity provided by those inter-city
HS2 plans would benefit Birmingham but to the disadvantage of
Coventry and Wolverhampton and other cities to the North East
and the East Midlands (Leicester & Nottingham could not be
connected to HS2 under current plans).
to operate trains at up to 400 kmh are unnecessary and inappropriate
for Britain`s needs.
the route for 300/320 kmh operation would produce a more flexible
route better able to optimise connectivity and reduce the need
for expensive tunnelling and noise mitigation.
London to an inconvenient new station in Birmingham in 49 minutes
would be largely pointless if passengers are to be faced with
a 10-minute walk to make onward connections at New Street station
or to reach the city centre.
need to serve Heathrow airport is tenuous and the proposed station
at Old Oak Common would determine that the route would have to
be through the Chilterns AONB, precluding other options. Should
a route using the M1 corridor be adopted, high-speed services
to Heathrow could be provided by upgrading and electrifying the
Dudding Hill Loop in North West London and, thence to the airport
via a connection from the Great Western main line.
flexible route would open up a wider choice of route options,
notably the M1 corridor which, being more central, could provide
a shorter route to Yorkshire and the north east and facilitate
a connection into the existing route to Coventry and Birmingham
New Street station.
would earnestly advise the Transport Select Committee to recommend
the UK Government to appoint an independent study, employing rail
industry experts, to examine alternative route options for HSR
including the above criteria in its Terms of Reference.