Written evidence from Malcolm Griffiths,
Bluespace Thinking Ltd. (HSR 15)|
1.1 There is not a strategic, business or environmental
case for building a totally new 250mph UK High Speed Rail (HSR)
network serving only major cities and "by-passing" 42%
of the business population on the route. There is a case to progressively
enhance the existing rail routes to form a reliable and comfortable
125-140 mph High Speed Rail network serving all areas of the UK.
1.2 The HS2 passenger forecasts are over estimated
due to DfT Webtag guidance not being up to date and HS2 Ltd having
ignored the guidance concerning growth capping. HS2 HSR proposals
do not provide an effective solution to the increase in passenger
demand forecast or flexibility in the event the demand predications
are not correct.
1.3 There are alternative HSR solutions that
provide sufficient capacity for the next 40+ years. The alternatives
would cost about £27 billion less than the HS2 Y scheme leaving
money to be spent on transport projects targeted to enhance economic
1.4 Demand reduction on existing rail lines caused
by HS2 will result in the need for increased fares, subsidy or
the reduction of services. Splitting passengers and fare revenue
between two systems will create inefficiencies, raise costs and
complicate transport transfers.
1.5 HS2 Ltd. forecast that when complete 43,000
passengers/day will travel between Scotland and London on HS2,
more than are forecast to travel to/from Birminghamforecasts
confirmed by HS2 Ltd and the DfT.
The HS2 Y scheme utilises all available train slots on the new
track but provides just 18 trains/day in each direction to and
from Scotland about a third of the number required to meet the
2.1 High Speed Rail in the UK has become synonymous
with the current HS2 proposals, Arguments against HS2 are its
very high cost, the impact on the 350+ mile route to the local
environment, its limited effectiveness in improving inter urban
connectivity. These problems do not exist with other HSR solutions.
2.2 As well as highlighting the errors and omissions
in the HS2 analysis this paper compares the 225-250mph HS2 proposals
with an alternative scheme of improvements, on the existing lines,
raising train speeds above 125mph, the EU definition of HSR, which
increase capacity and reduce journey times.
3. HS2 PASSENGER
3.1 HS2 Ltd have reduced the "HS2 to West
Midlands" passenger demand forecasts by about 40%, but they
are still based on 1990s long distance elasticities. The DfT know
that there are errors in the forecastsquote "We agree
that the PDFH 4.1 recommendations produced infeasibly large elasticities".
New analyses by DfT researchers and a revised version of the DfT
guidance has not been approved for use by the Secretary of State.
Current DfT guidance requires promoters to carry out sensitivities
with specific elasticity caps, these have not been carried out
3.2 Although WebTAG (Unit 3.13.1) specifies that
rail demand forecasts should be capped at 2026 predicted levels
HS2 Ltd initially allowed growth to continue until 2031, as the
economic case has collapsed they have extended the growth to 2043
twice the period specified in the DfT guidance.
3.3 The principle economic benefits of ultra
fast 250 mph rail is calculated to be business user time saved
and assumes business users are not able to work on trains. The
DfT have accepted that this assumption is wrong but say that because
people can not work on overcrowded trains the overcrowding benefits
should be higher. This will have the effect of substantially reducing
the benefits of HS2 while increasing the calculated benefits of
the alternative 125-140 mph HSR improvement schemes on existing
3.4 The value of business user time saved is
based on 2002 users socio economic profiles and salaries that
are increased over the evaluation period to 2086 at about 2%/year
(real GDP/capita growth) above inflation. The 2002 DfT analysis
suggests that only the highest 10% of earners used trains for
business travel, HS2 Ltd forecasts assume this in-equality will
continue even though they anticipate a tripling of business rail
travel on the routes.
3.5 Each of the four flaws (elasticities, growth
capping, time saving and value of time) if corrected would bring
the already low cost benefit ration of 1.6 nearer to 1, the point
at which there is no benefit in doing the project. Combined they
bring the NBR below 1, the project actually destroys value. In
addition the HS2 comparison is made against an out of date "do
minimum case" HS2 are claiming benefits for an improved frequency
of trains that has already occurred on the West Coast Main Line.
3.6 The prescriptive nature of DfT Webtag guidance
is in part to ensure that projects are evaluated on an equal basis,
the extent of these flaws undermine this intent. All local, regional
and inter regional transport projects would have substantially
improved economics if 2026 growth capping was not applied, the
other issues would impact projects in different ways.
4. HSR ALTERNATIVES
4.1 In 2010 2,200 passengers/day travelled by
rail to or from Scotland to or from London,
and 13,500 travelled by air to/from Glasgow/Edinburgh to/from
all five London airports.
Air travel has declined 20% since 2005 however HS2 Ltd predict
that when HS2 is extended to Glasgow it will transport 43,000
passengers/day to or from London. The Y scheme schedules show
18 trips/day to Scotland and utilises all the trains slots, 18/hour,
available on the new line.
4.2 This shows that HS2 is not a viable solution
for the demand predicted, while the high speed line will probably
never be extended to Scotland if the demand predicted for Scotland
and the North East is to be met services to Birmingham, Leeds,
or Manchester would need to be reduced.
4.3 The DfT have published limited information
about three alternative schemes to HS2, non of them are optimal
however they show clearly that there are better solutions to the
need for increased capacity.
Their Scenario B scheme shows load factors of less than 51% can
be achieved in 2043 on the existing routes, whereas HS2 to West
Midland would have a load factor of 58% at this time.
5.1 Because the DfT benefits calculations are
weighted heavily towards business time saving, rather than the
provision of transport capacity where it is needed, and because
it is sub optimal the predicted Net Benefit Ratio (NBR) for the
DfTs Scenarios B scheme is 1.4, slightly below that predicted
for the HS2 to West Midlands scheme.
5.2 The cost estimates for Scenario B includes
projects that are already in the do minimum case, provide capacity
that is not required and projects that would be required even
if HS2 proceeded. The estimates for rolling stock and operating
costs in the alternative schemes are also inflated to allow for
contingencies as if they were un-proven technology trains.
5.3 The alternative schemes need to be compared
with the HS2 Y scheme as they provide sufficient capacity to deal
with all three North-South routes for the next 40-50 years not
just the West Coast Mainline.
5.4 Based on the work carried out by Atkins for
the DfT it is possible to develop a more optimal "Alternative
scheme" that would meet the predicted demand at lower load
factors than the HS2 Y scheme. This scheme can be developed for
an infrastructure cost of about £8.3 billion, a day one rolling
stock cost of about £1.7 billion and an initial annual operating
cost of £0.28 billion.
This compares with the HS2Y scheme having an infrastructure cost
of £32.1 billion, rolling stock cost of £5.3 billion
and annual operating cost of £1.1 billion.
5.5 As well as releasing £27 billion of
investment funds for transport or other projects, with higher
NBR returns and targeted specifically to support economic development,
the Alternative scheme will need less ongoing subsidy or could
be run with lower fares.
5.6 If the time saving predicted by HS2 Ltd is
achievable, if the demand does exist, if it were true that business
user can not work on trains and that their value of time does
increase to £180/hour (un-inflated 2010 £s) by 2086
then HS2 is forecast to add £19.3 billion in journey time
5.7 HS2 Ltd also claim that it will create about
£4.1 billion in reliability saving. It is assumed that HS2
trains on the HSR track will on average be 6 seconds late versus
2-5 mins for conventional trains and that the value of time associated
with trains being late is three times the normal rate. There is
no technical basis for these assumptions, indeed the technical
experts have doubts about the ability to run 18 trains/hour let
alone do so with only an average six second delay. The value figure
is acknowledged as a "perception of value" it does not
translate to individual or community benefit but is included in
the HS2 benefit calculation.
5.8 Assuming the HS2 analysis were correct Table
1 provides Present Value and the Net Benefit Ratio calculations
for HS2 and the Alternative of substantial improvement to the
ECONOMIC EVALUATION £ BILLIONPRESENT
|HS2 phase 1|
|Net Benefit Ratio (NBR)||1.631067961
|Wider economic benefits||£4.00
|Funds available for investment elsewhere
5.9 The Alternative meets the demand required, it can be carried
out in stages and optimised to meet actual demand, it leaves £27
billion of funds to invest in public transport and urban roads
de congestion projects that will have NBRs in excess of four.
The Alternative with an estimated NBR over four is substantially
better use of public funds.
5.10 If current evidence is used for the demand elasticities
and value of time saving, and HS2 reliability assumptions were
realistic, HS2 economics become substantially worse, however due
to the impact of the DfT suggested transfer of value from time
saving to overcrowding the Alternative scheme could have an NBR
6. TRANSPORT IMPACT
6.1 Estimates of wider economic benefits are provided for
HS2 but have not been published for the alternative schemes. With
the reduction in demand on the existing lines future services
will require subsidy. This subsidy maybe included in the HS2 analysis
but in 20 years time decisions will be based on the usage of the
lines and, other than commuter lines, heavily subsidised services
will probably be cut. If long distance travellers move to HS2
as predicted, mid to long distance connectivity for those not
living in the major cities will be reduced.
6.2 HS2 Ltd predict that 42% of the schemes economic benefits
will flow to London and the South East. In her evidence to the
Select Committee the Rt Hon.Theresa Villiers cited Cross Rail
as an example of a transport scheme predicted to add £50
billion to GDP, it is now clear that this number is based on TfL
assumptions and is not in accordance with DfT guidance. DfT analysis
predicts the impact of the £16 billion scheme will be between
£7-18 billion "total" improvement in GDP
Economic regeneration should not just be about London, commuter
transport in regional urban conurbations and the improvement of
interconnectivity between all major UK locations will provide
greater general economic benefit.
6.3 Based on Office of National Statistics data London is
the most economically productive location in the UK but it has
the lowest level of business journeys (any length including within
London, and by any measure eg /population,/employment,/GVA) of
any area,. In contrast the West Midlands has the highest number
of business journeys but has one of the lowest rates of GVA/capita,
there is no evidence to suggest that increased numbers of business
journeys translate to improved economic development.
6.4 Developing calculations of wider economic benefits or
GDP benefit based on differing local assumptions and unproven
methodology may lead to seriously flawed conclusions. There is
conflicting evidence and insufficient academic understanding of
the modelling and analysis of these benefits and dis-benefits
to expect that including them will improve decision making.
7. THE IMPACT
7.1 Computer output of economics does not explain the detailed
impact on individuals and communities of changes in transport
services. We look at a few examples.
7.2 The West Midlands is currently served by 11 major stations
with direct access to London. These are shown with their catchment
areas as short black arrows on the map. Although direct services
to these stations may continue the frequency of service will reduce
and journey times will be longer. There are also three other significant
rail catchments that go via either Birmingham New Street or south
7.3 HS2 Ltd assume that about 75%, of the West Midlands population
travelling to London will travel to Birmingham to join HS2. HS2
trains will go from a new station at Curzon street or a new parkway
station, those that want to join HS2 by train will need to change
station with a 10-15 min walk or bus transfer. If the 3.6 million
people who live outside of the Birmingham catchment travel by
car to the HS2 stations this will add to the road congestion that
already exists in Birmingham. Given that people will be substituting
a 1 hour 40 mins train journey, where they can read, relax or
work, for a combination of rail, car, bus, walking and waiting
time, it is doubtful it will be more productive, even if it is
marginally faster. The details of the HS2 analysis released 13
April 2011 show that for commuters, journey time will actually
7.4 Apart from those directly impacted by the HS2 route the
West Midlands maybe the region with that will suffer most from
HS2. Further North the impact of stopping at only a few major
stations or parkways is less severe although our analysis shows
that HS2 "by-passes" about 42% of people living on the
7.5 The HS2 Y service planned for Wigan is similar to the
current service, one direct train/ hour through the day, two at
peak times, the service will be faster. The capacity of each train
will be similar to those running at the time on the West Coast
Main Line. However as the HS2 train to Wigan will be the only
HS2 train serving Scotland it will be crowded. There is not capacity
for additional trains, as the service becomes too crowded to operate
it is probable that the direct fast service to Wigan will cease
in favour of through trains to Scotland. While the capacity to
run trains on the WCML will exist continued frequent direct trains
from Wigan to London will be dependant on there being sufficient
demand for the service without the more northerly passengers.
It is not clear whether passengers from locations like Carlisle
will continue to have a regular direct service to London.
7.6 The HS2 Y scheme does not show any direct trains to Edinburgh
although it is possible that hourly trains will alternate between
Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Overcrowding will increase as demand builds up, in the event the
HSR line is built to Glasgow then longer trains can be run but
a more frequent service is not possible unless services to Birmingham,
Leeds or Manchester are reduced. The direct Edinburgh service
on the ECML will presumably continue although if the demand reduces
due to travellers favouring HS2 it is possible that frequency
will reduce or fares increase to limit the subsidy required.
7.7 We have asked both the DfT and HS2 Ltd how HS2 will provide
an adequate service to Scotland to meet their demand forecast
and what they believe will be the load factors on the service
in 2033 both before and after the Y scheme is completed. They
are not able to answer these questions.
7.8 We understand that the final report on "A High Speed
Rail Network Strategy for Britain" published by Greengauge
21 (23 October 2009) by SYSTRA and MVA (two internationally recognised
rail consultancies) advised that the maximum number of trains
that could run at 225 mph was 17/hour at peak times 14/hour on
average through the day. (the report was published on the Greegauge
21 website but has been removed).
We understand that HS2 Ltd are aware of the recommendation but
are hopeful that new technology (braking and signalling) will
enable the 18/hr peak and 16/hr average that they have assumed.
They have however costed the rolling stock as off the shelf current
technology HSR trains. In the event only 14 trains/hour can be
run there will be little point in extending the service to both
Manchester and Leeds as the section of line into London will not
be able to cope with the number of trains required.
8. IMPACT ON
8.1 Neither the DfT or HS2 Ltd claim that HS2 will reduce
emissions although if the shorter rail journeys reduce air journeys
by 11,415/day, which is the assumption in the Y scheme, then the
extra emissions caused by the increased speed are offset by the
flight reductions. An alternative 125 mph scheme produces less
direct emissions therefore has the same overall emissions without
the need to reduce air flights, although the analysis shows a
reduction in air flights will occur anyway. Assuming the Governments
recently proposed 2030 floor price of £30/tonne, the CO2
emitted by HS2 or the Alternative equates to a cost of £4,000/day
or £100 million (un-discounted) over the 60 year evaluation
8.2 It is possible to make assumptions about
energy fuel mix, passenger demand forecasts and technology improvement
to sway the argument either for or against HS2 but realistically
the difference is minimal neither scheme makes a significant reduction
in emissions. It would be far more productive both economically
and environmentally to invest £100 million in carbon reduction
schemes in developing countries or UK domestic insulation schemes
than to try and reduce domestic flights between London and Scotland,
beyond that which is already occurring, by investment in a new
225-250 mph rail system.
9.1 HS2 Ltd predict that 4,700 houses will be
impacted by the noise from HS2 to West Midlands with 150 of them
requiring sound insulation and noise protection,
scaling up for HS2 Y about 10,000 homes may be adversely impacted
in total. If the loss of property value and amenity, particularly
the use of gardens and external areas, devalues house by 10-15%
then the total impact could be about £500 million. This level
of impact is not in the HS2 Ltd evaluation, it depends on the
compensation scheme whether this becomes a cost to Government
or whether private individuals suffer this as a personal loss.
10.1 If, due to terrorism or mechanical failure,
a train were to derail at speed onto the second line it is unlikely
oncoming trains would be able to stop in time to avoid a crash.
Apparently for HS2 no time has been allowed for passenger security
checks to take place. Impact mitigation is best achieved by multiple
transport systems and limiting damage as a result of fire, explosion
or systems sabotage. The high profile nature and single route
aspect of HS2 combined with the number of tunnels, extreme speed
and frequency of trains are major concerns with regard to security
and the impact of any failure.
11.1 Discussion about UK strategic transport
needs has been been polarised by the HS2 proposals. HS2 Ltd and
the DfT have substantially reduced their passenger demand forecast,
accepted that the value of time savings from HSR are over stated
and the HS2 economics show, at best, a low return.
11.2 Rather than conclude that the UK can not
afford an improved HSR network it is time to promote lower cost
HSR projects that can both add the required capacity to the UK
rail system and improve, rather than fragment, inter urban connectivity.
The money saved by this approach can be invested in other public
and private transport improvements particularly urban congestion
and strategic road bottlenecks.
The DfT and HS2 Ltd have been helpful in the provision
of information to enable an evaluation of the proposals. HS2 Ltd
issued further detailed information on the HS2 Y scheme on the
13 April 2011 which we have taken into account in our submission.
We have requested further information on the alternative schemes
from the DfT but do not anticipate receiving this prior to 16
15 HS2 Ltd Demand and Appraisal Report March 2010 Back
DfT Webtag guidance 3.15.4 in DRAFT Back
DfT Webtag guidance 3.5.6 HS2 Ltd Model Development & Baseline
Report April 2011 Back
Office of the Rail Regulator Regional Trends Back
Civil Aviation Authority Statistics Back
DfT Strategic Alternatives to the proposed HS2 Y network Back
Based on the Atkins information provided. Further detail has been
requested from the DfT by FOI request. Back
HS2 Ltd Demand Model Analysis Feb 2010. HS2 Ltd Valuing the benefits
of Hs2 April 2011 Back
DfT HS2 Ltd Economic case for HS2 Feb 2011. DfT Back
Cross Rail Business case July 2010 TfL, Cross Rail, Mayor of London,
Office of National Statistics accessed via popanalyser.com Back
HS2 Ltd /www.hs2.org.uk/supporting-documents-temp Back
DfT Economic case for HS2 Back
MVA Consultancy www.mvaconsultancy.com/news/2009/high_speed_rail.html Back
HS2 Ltd Appraisal of Sustainability presentation March 2011 Back