Written evidence from the seven statutory
Scottish Regional Transport Partnerships (HSR 183)|
The seven regional transport partnerships in Scotland
were established by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005 and are
responsible for strategic transport planning at a regional level
throughout Scotland. The seven chairs of the partnerships met
on 1 June to consider their response to this consultation. This
response supersedes the version from six of the Scottish RTPs
forwarded to you earlier. The seven partnerships strongly support
the development of a national HSR network that must include Scotland.
The particular changes are that the response is now
on behalf of all seven regional transport partnerships and therefore
geographically covers the whole of Scotland. The joint chairs
particularly are of the view that they do not support the strategy
of a phased development of HST starting from London and moving
northwards. They believe that the long time delay before reaching
Scotland under this strategy would be detrimental to the Scottish
economy and would therefore wish to see an alternative strategy
deployed whereby construction started at both ends of the network
in a similar timescale. This view is reflected in the revised
wording in paragraphs 2.6; 2.8, 2.11 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 of this
1. What are
the main arguments either for or against HSR
1.1 The main arguments for HSR are; Economic
growth and a balanced economy, Rail Capacity and Journey times
and the Environment.
1.2 Economic growth and re-distribution of
wealth: The positive link between economic growth and transport
connectivity has been long established. Experience in other countries
has shown that HSR stimulates economic growth outwith the Capital
City such as for Lille in France and will therefore re-balance
the national economy and reduce the current north-south divide.
Improved accessibility to the north of England and Scotland will
in addition provide opportunities for growth as a whole in the
1.3 Rail capacity: The West Coast RUS
concluded that the southern end of this line would soon run out
of capacity to cater for expected growth and the only effective
way to deal with this scenario would be to build an additional
line. The East Coast and the Midland Main Line would also in due
course experience a similar situation. The construction of HS2
would then release capacity on existing main lines, in particular
the West Coast, which will cater for additional local rail services
1.4 Reduced End-to-End Journey time: This
is a more important benefit for North of England and in particular
Scotland where rail still has a relatively low share of the inter-city
travel market and where only HSR can facilitate a step change
in modal share from air to rail whilst at the same time enhancing
UK regional connectivity as part of a sustainable economic growth
1.5 Environment: Increased capacity and
significantly reduced journey times will stimulate transfer from
car and air to rail. Rail is the only mode with the realistic
potential to transport large volumes of passengers over long distances
between UK cities and regions in a sustainable manner, in particular
with an increasing proportion of the primary energy being renewable.
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 The objectives of HSR go well beyond improving
inter-urban connectivity through improving overall network capacity
and enhancing regional connectivity by reducing journey times.
Other objectives that will be met through HSR would be to redistribute
wealth and enhance regional prosperity by reducing real and perceived
peripherality within the UK and to make transport more sustainable,
in line with Government Climate Change objectives.
2.2 Some of these objectives could be met in
part by investing in other transport modes but when compared with
roads, rail is in particular more environmentally sustainable
(air quality, energy use, land use) and is best suited for travel
between and to access 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 There are already significant "high-cost"
rail projects under construction, in particular London Cross Rail
(approximately £15 billion over around seven years) and Thameslink
(approximately £5.5 billion over around eight years) and
it does not appear than these schemes have affected funding for
the general "classic" network.
2.4 These two schemes will be very close to completion
by the time construction would start on the proposed HSR between
London and Birmingham in around 2016. At an approx. cost of £17
billion over 10 years, the peak expenditure on the London-Birmingham
HSR should be no higher than for Crossrail alone, never mind the
combined peak expenditure of the two London projects.
2.5 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 Lines (eg Hitchins and Stafford flyovers)
2.6 The development of a comprehensive and regionally
inclusive HSR network, which includes commitment to constructing
high speed lines to/from Edinburgh and Glasgow from the outset,
must be viewed as a UK Treasury priority. It is essential that
a UK HSR network delivers comparable "step change" journey
time and capacity benefits for all of the regions, including Scotland.
What are the implications for domestic aviation?
2.7 In 2009, approximately 8.8 million domestic
UK Mainland air passenger journeys were undertaken between the
main cities that it is anticipated will eventually be directly
served by a UK HSR Network (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool,
East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow).
With significantly faster rail journeys, there should be a major
shift from air to a much more sustainable rail travel mode.
2.8 Out of the 8.8 million air journeys, as many
as 6.7 million either start or finishes in Edinburgh or Glasgow
demonstrating the much more significant modal change potential
that exists in extending the full HSR network to Scotland. It
is therefore imperative that the construction of a high speed
rail network also includes new lines across the Border and that
the UK Government's strategy for delivery of HSR includes a clear
and unequivocal commitment to the funding and construction of
HSR lines starting from Scotland within the initial stages of
2.9 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. For the Newcastle to London rail/air
market, rail held around 60%, with a rail journey time of around
3 hours and for Manchester-London journeys, rail held around 76%
of the rail/air market with a typical rail journey time of around
2 hours 10 minutes. For the Leeds to London air/rail market, rail
held more than 95% of the market, with a typical rail journey
time of 2 hours 15 minutes.
2.10 A 30 minutes reduction in journey time (which
should be achieved with high speed rail between London and West
Midlands), could therefore see a shift from air to rail of nearly
1.5 million of today's long-distance passenger journeys.
This should increase to more than 3 million with the extension
of the network to Leeds and Manchester when it must be assumed
that domestic flights between Manchester/Leeds/Newcastle and London
will end. It is acknowledged however that modal split is also
affected by other factors such as frequency and fares and ease
of airport access.
2.11 In addition, there would also be significant
growth in the total long-distance travel market beyond what took
place in 2009 so the overall transfer from rail to air with the
introduction of a high speed rail network to/from Scotland will
be considerably higher.
2.12 3.8 million out of the 8.8 million
air journeys quoted above are to or from London Heathrow so there
should be significant scope to redirect valuable take-off and
landing slots to other routes. Some of these Heathrow slots should
go to domestic air routes that do not directly benefit from High
Speed Rail, such as Aberdeen and Inverness which will not directly
gain from the HSR network due to their geographical peripherality,
so that these cities and surrounding regions 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:
1. Atkins study (on behalf of SRA), later updated
for the Government in 2008.
2. Network Rail "New Lines" study (2009).
3. Greengauge21 "Fast Forward" study
3.2 The 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 from London to 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 A recent argument is that assumptions on
time spent on trains is "un-productive" has overestimated
the benefits of HSR. A recent study by Greengauge21 (where time
spent on train would be regarded as "working-time")
did however show that the opposite was the case (although only
marginally so). Passengers transferred from car and air would
gain more productive time than in the original estimate and this
would outweigh the "over-estimate" (in the original
study) of working time gained by passengers transferred from classic
train services. It could also be argued that HSR will create a
better working environment than current rail services and also
that there will be a limit as to how long it is reasonably practical
to work on a train.
3.4 The study by HS2 surprisingly did not include
Edinburgh-London services in its modelling and business case for
the London-Birmingham/Litchfield High Speed Line although the
Edinburgh-London market is around 30% greater than the Glasgow-London
market. Edinburgh-London Services via the West Coast and HS2 would
be around 30 minutes faster than existing services (as for Glasgow
services) so by including Edinburgh-London services should make
the business case even stronger.
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?
3.5 Upgrading the West Coast Main Line could
only be limited in scope in respect of capacity and the Network
Rail RUS concluded that the only longer-term capacity solution
would be to construct a new line between London and West Midlands.
3.6 The most recent upgrading of the West Coast
Main Line also saw significant added costs in terms of disruption
to services and reduced capacity during construction. Adding these
costs to the actual upgrading cost of around £9 billion
(the most recent cost estimate) for a scheme that will give less
incremental capacity than a new line, it is almost certain that
such an upgrade will not be better value than a new line.
3.7 A new conventional line (restricted to 125
mph) would largely resolve the capacity issue but would not enhance
journey-times and would therefore be much more limited in benefits
to North of England and Central Scotland where journey times become
increasingly more important. Without the journey-time savings,
there will not be such a significant shift to rail from the less
environmentally sustainable modes of car and air. Greengauge21
has also shown that the cost of a conventional line is only marginally
cheaper than a High Speed line. In summary, the potential regional
and UK economic and environmental benefits would be significantly
diminished compared to investment in HSR.
What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
3.8 Managing demand by higher fares or by not
providing more capacity would push passengers back onto less sustainable
modes such as car or air, or journeys would not be undertaken
in the first place which would be damaging in overall socio-economic
3.9 There must also be doubts if price alone
could realistically manage to reduce demand sufficiently to avoid
investing in additional capacity. Regulated fares are already
the highest in Europe and increasing these fares much further
in real terms could make rail travel only affordable by the more
well-off in society, contrary to wider equality and social inclusion
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?
3.10 Construction of new rail lines (as opposed
to rail upgrades) in this country has a reasonably good track
record in terms of time and budget, e.g. HS1 and the recent Airdrie-Bathgate
project. There will also be a large number of European High Speed
projects that have a good record in this respect.
4. The strategic
The proposed route to the West Midlands has stations
at Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham International and Birmingham
Curzon Street. Are these the best possible locations?
What criteria should be used to assess the
case for more (or fewer) intermediate stations?
4.1 The most important issue for high speed rail
is that stations are well located to serve the key UK cities and
major centres of population and, through excellent connections
with regional rail networks, their surrounding regions. Rail is
the most efficient mode in respect of land use to access city
centres where this can be achieved and without city-centre termini
the advantage of high speed rail will be seriously eroded.
4.2 Station locations outwith city centres will
depend on local circumstances but the general rule of thumb should
be that not all services will necessary stop at non-city-centre
stations and that in general, distances between stops should not
be less than hundred miles or so.
4.3 Stations should only be provided where there
is sufficient demand for long distance rail travel. The temptation
to add stations to cater for high volumes of shorter journeys
such as commuting, must be resisted on the basis that such a strategy
would erode the benefits of HSR.
Which cities should be served by an eventual high
speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right choice?
4.4 Most studies have demonstrated that a UK
network that includes London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool,
East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow
derives greatest benefits and offers best value. These should
be considered as the core cities for a north-south high speed
network (which could be expanded by a western network). The UK
Government's proposed y-network supports this scenario but needs
to be extended to Scotland.
Is the Government correct to build the network
in stages, moving from London northwards?
4.5 The proposition that phases should be constructed
moving northwards from London is fundamentally challenged. The
most speed restricted sections of the network are typically across
the English-Scottish border. In addition, as indicated above,
various studies have confirmed that an HSR network including Scotland
will deliver significantly greater economic and environmental
benefits. Consequently, detailed consideration should be given
to starting construction of northern sections at a much earlier
stage rather than as "last legs", with cross-border
sections being progressed as soon as possible.
4.6 The UK Government has decided that phase
1 of the HSR network should be the London-Birmingham section.
It is the most capacity constrained section on the West Coast
Main Line and it is probably also the most complicated section
to plan and construct. Furthermore, the link between Birmingham
and London is accepted as being crucial to the future development
of a more extensive UK HSR network.
4.7 In particular, the Government should show
greater commitment to early planning and construction of the network
to/from Edinburgh and Glasgow in recognition of the greater benefits
that a comprehensive HSR national network, including Scotland,
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?
4.8 The link to HS1 must be part of phase 1 due
to technical issues but will also cater for the current West Midlands-Europe
4.9 The Heathrow market will to a large extent
be catered for through the Old Oak Commons interchange as part
of phase 1 so it is reasonable that further expenditure on this
link should come later. However, the Heathrow link should be built
in a way so that High Speed Trains for Heathrow from the north
can continue on the classic network south of London to also serve
important destinations such as Gatwick Airport and south coast
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 experience higher
economic growth and there is no reason why this should not be
the case for the UK. A Greengauge21 report also found that areas
of Kent experienced rapid growth following the construction of
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 Central Scotland, the
North West and the South East benefitting 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 the main centres of
population in the UK and in particular connectivity with London.
By serving City Centres, high speed rail will indirectly support
Which locations and socio-economic groups will
benefit from HSR?
5.4 A Greengauge21 study advised that the business
case for high speed rail was robust when based on current fare
levels for long-distance rail travel and would cater for both
business and leisure travel. Furthermore, the release of capacity
on the existing network will also benefit other travellers and
commuters in particular, as well as users of rail-freight. As
such, all socio-economic groups would benefit.
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 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
5.6 However, it must be recognised there will
be areas that will benefit significantly less such as the Northern
half of Scotland, Wales and the South West of England and Northern
Ireland. Transport investment in these areas should be identified
to reverse their relative decline (such as rail electrification
programmes or, for the north of Scotland, improved air connectivity)
to ensure a fair distribution of benefits.
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 and there may also be lessons
learned from London Crossrail project.
5.8 A UK HSR Network will "replace"
current classic rail links that form part of TEN so support should
be sought from TEN-T and other 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 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 completion)
should be relatively very small.
Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
6.2 It could perhaps be argued that studies have
erred on the "safe" side so that overall environmental
benefits have not been fully expressed.
What would be the impact on freight services on
the "classic" network?
6.3 The release of capacity on the classic network,
in particular on the West Coast Main Line which is the busiest
rail freight corridor in the UK)) 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 Experience from the St Pancras redevelopment
indicates that this should be manageable. Disruption could also
be reduced through service changes/ improvements to some of the
existing local services terminating at Euston. For example, some
local services on the West Coast Main Line as far out as Northampton
could be incorporated into the Crossrail network through a connection
in the Willesden/Old Oak Commons area, extending planned Crossrail
services from the East that would otherwise terminate at Old Oaks
Commons. This could take away up to seven train arrivals/departures
per hour from Euston Station.