Written evidence from the Strathclyde
Partnership for Transport (HSR 179)|
1. What are the main arguments either for
or against HSR
1.1 Capacity: Network Rail's West Coast
Rail Utilisation Strategy (December 2010) concluded that the southern
end of the line would soon run out of capacity. To cater for expected
growth the only effective solution would be to build additional
capacity. This scenario will be repeated in the future on both
the East Coast and the Midland Main Lines.
1.2 Speed: This is a more important benefit
for North of England and Scotland where rail still has a relatively
low share of the inter-city travel market and where only HSR can
facilitate a "speed step change" in modal share from
air to rail.
1.3 Local Rail Travel and Freight: Capacity
will be released on existing main lines in particular the West
Coast, which will cater for additional local and freight services
1.4 Economics: The link between economic
development and transport connectivity has been long established.
Combined with effective Land Use and Development Strategies, HSR
can act as a catalyst to sustainable economic growth in the regions.
1.5 Redistribution of wealth: Experience
in other countries has shown that HSR can help stimulate economic
activity out-with the Capital City.
1.6 Environment: Increased capacity and
reduced journey times will stimulate transfer from car and air
to rail. Rail is the only mode with the potential to transport
large volumes of passengers over long distances between city centres
in a sustainable manner, especially if an increasing proportion
of the primary energy source becomes renewable.
1.7 Against: Any arguments against (other
than local disruption and noise/visual intrusion which do not
form part of this consultation) could be based on opportunity
cost argumentsiethat other investments (whether on transport
or not) would be more cost effective - and/or that greater priority
should be given to local transport improvements.
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 Inter-urban connectivity, whilst the primary
policy objective, is not the sole objective that will be met through
HSR. Wealth re-distribution and more sustainable transport would
also be achieved via HSR.
2.2 Whilst some of these objectives could be
met by investing in other transport modes, when compared with
roads, rail is more environmentally sustainable (air quality,
energy use, land use) and is better suited for travel between
and access to 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 Impact on investment elsewhere on the rail
network need not be compromised given that major rail schemes
have, currently and in the past, been delivered without directly
affecting funding for the "classic" network.
2.4 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 LinesManchester and Liverpool area
What are the implications for domestic aviation?
2.5 Whilst the experience in the UK and on the
continent is that some domestic flights are withdrawn where HSR
operates on the same corridor, the specific impacts will depend
on the precise nature of end to end journey times, fares and potentially
2.6 However, out of the 8.8 million air
journeys, as many as 6.7 million start or finish in Edinburgh
or Glasgow so in order to make significant modal change, it is
vital that in the longer term, the construction of a high speed
rail network also includes new lines across the Border.
2.7 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.
2.8 The freeing up of London Airports slots could
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:
study (on behalf of SRA), later updated for the Government in
Rail "New Lines" study (2009).
"Fast Forward" study (2009).
3.2 These 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 Passengers transferred from car and air could
gain productive working time. This is likely to be most valuable
for those making longer distance trips (eg Scotland/Northern England
to the south) and may not wholly be reflected in the appraisal
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?
3.4 The most recent upgrading of the WCML saw
significant added costs in terms of disruption to services and
reduced capacity during construction. If these costs are added
to the £9 billion (the most recent cost estimate) for
a scheme that will give less additional capacity than a new line,
it is almost certain that such an upgrade will not be better value
than a new line.
3.5 A new conventional line (restricted to c125
mph) would largely resolve the capacity issue but would not enhance
journey-times and would have more limited benefits to the North
of England and Scotland where journey times become increasingly
important. Without journey-time savings, there will not be a significant
shift to rail from the less environmentally sustainable modes
of car and air. The cost of a conventional line would have to
be substantially cheaper than the cost of a High Speed line before
substantial cost/benefits would accrue from such a scheme.
What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
3.6 Managing demand by higher fares or by not
providing more capacity would push passengers back onto less sustainable
modes such as car or air. Similarly journeys not undertaken in
the first place could be damaging in overall socio-economic terms.
3.7 There must also be doubts if price alone
could realistically manage to reduce demand sufficiently to avoid
investing in additional capacity. Currently regulated fares on
the UK rail network are already amongst the highest in Europe
and increasing these fares further in real terms could make rail
travel only affordable by the more well-off in society again damaging
in socio-economic terms.
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?
3.8 Recent construction of new rail lines (as
opposed to rail upgrades) in Scotland has a reasonably good record
in keeping to time and budget, eg Airdrie-Bathgate opening.
4. The strategic route
The proposed route to the West Midlands has stations
at Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham International & Birmingham
Curzon Street. Are these the best possible locations? What criteria
should be used to assess the case for more (or fewer) intermediate
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
eroded. Any station locations out-with city centres will depend
on local circumstances.
4.2 Additional stations should only be provided
where there is sufficient demand for long distance rail travel.
Any temptation to add stations to cater for high volumes of shorter
journeys such as commuting, should be presumed against as it would
erode the journey-time benefits of HSR.
Which cities should be served by an eventual high
speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right choice?
4.3 Most studies have considered networks that
include London, Birmingham, Manchester, East Midlands, Sheffield,
Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. These should be considered
as the core cities for the high speed 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?
4.4 It makes sense to start the HSR network with
the London-Birmingham section. It is the most capacity restrained
section on the West Coast Main Line and potentially the most complicated
section to plan and construct. The link to London is the most
essential element of the HSR network, so should the London-Birmingham
section be rejected, it is unlikely that a national network could
4.5 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 consideration should be given to start construction
from both ends. In this respect greater commitment to plan the
future network north of Manchester and Leeds should be shown by
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?
4.6 The link to HS1 should be part of phase 1
for technical reasons but it will also cater for West Midlands-Europe
4.7 Heathrow could be catered for through the
Old Oak Commons interchange as part of phase 1 so it is reasonable
that further expenditure on this link could come later.
5. Economic 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 achieve higher economic
growth and there is no reason why this should not be the case
for the UK.
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 benefiting 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 main centres of population
in the UK particularly with London. By serving strategic City
Centres, high speed rail will indirectly support regional regeneration.
Which locations and socio-economic groups will
benefit from HSR?
5.4 The release of capacity on the existing network
will 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 reasonably 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 improved connectivity
by increased service levels on the classic network so most of
the UK will benefit from HSR.
5.6 Certain locations will benefit less or more
indirectly (eg North of Scotland, parts of Wales and the South
West of England) and transport investment in these areas could
be identified (for example rail electrification or, for the north
of Scotland, improved air connectivity) to ensure distribution
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.
5.8 As a UK HSR Network will "replace"
current classic rail links that form part of TEN, 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 a 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) should be relatively
Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
What would be the impact on freight services on
the "classic" network?
6.3 The release of capacity on the classic network,
in particular the West Coast Main Line, 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?
6.4 Disruption could be reduced through service
changes/improvements to some of the existing local services terminating
at Euston. Additional East Coast Main Line services could cater
for some Scottish traffic but, if at all possible, longer distance
services should be maintained during construction.