Written evidence from the Cardiff Business
Partnership (HSR 188)|
Given plans for High Speed 2, which will bring every
major English and Scottish City at least 30 minutes closer to
London (for example Manchester to London in one hour 15 minutes)
then an upgrade to the Great Western Mainline (GWML) is essential
if Cardiff is to remain competitive in both UK and European terms.
This is especially important given that Greengauge21/KPMG found
that HS2 would have a negative impact on the Welsh economy, thereby
restricting Cardiff's capacity to address Wales' deteriorating
GVA/capita Vs the UK average.
The Cardiff City Region, home to 1.4 million
people, half the Welsh population, has the potential to transform
Welsh economic performance. Cardiff itself contains a Leading
UK Russell Group University; has a diversifying employment base,
has achieved amongst the largest growth in the private sector
in UK and now has ~80,000 inward commuters in a total work force
of nearly 200,000 or one third of the entire city region workforce.
From a business perspective transport connectivity
is crucialespecially inter and intra regional transport.
For example, Admiral Insurance's (one of Wales' leading private
sector companies) recent statements as regards public transport
provide a stark warning:
would not locate in Cardiff today with >2 hour travel time
connectivity to Heathrow maybe needed to maintain a Cardiff HQ
in the long term.
In March 2011, the Department for Transport (DfT)
announced that the GWML would be electrified as far as Cardiff;
returning Cardiff-Paddington journey times to those that existed
in 1980, at 1 hour 45 minutes. That work will be completed by
2017 alongside other upgrades including introduction of ERTMS
(European Rail Traffic Management System) and a fleet of new Inter
City Express Programme (IEP) trains. In May 2011, First Great
Western (FGW) announced their intention not to take up the option
to extend their franchise beyond 2013, bringing forward the tendering
process for a longer term and perhaps more strategic arrangement.
The Cardiff Business Partnership believes that the
electrification programme and franchising process should be a
catalyst for the implementation of long term and incremental upgrade
of the Great Western Corridor. This position acknowledges that
whilst a dedicated new high-speed line is desirable, it would
be at least 25 years before such a scheme could be delivered at
a cost of over £15 billion. A pragmatic approach would
see a series of ongoing upgrades to the existing rail corridor,
with electrification as the foundation that can deliver significant
benefits in terms of capacity, journey times and Heathrow access
by 2025 which collectively will help provide a stimulus to the
Welsh economy. A deliverable target is:
to London journey times of less than 80 minutes at least twice
to Heathrow journey times of less than 90 minutes at least twice
ILLUSTRATION OF POTENTIAL ENHANCEMENTS TO
THE GREAT WESTERN LINE
It is anticipated that the above performance criteria
can be delivered from a range of enhancements to both infrastructure
and service patterns, as suggested in the following sections.
1. HEATHROW ACCESS
In the first instance, for inclusion in CP5 (Network
Rail's 2015-19 planning period), a new western link should be
constructed to Heathrow from the GWML. BAA recently cancelled
plans for Airtrack, which would have linked Heathrow Terminal
5 to the Staines-Windsor commuter line from Reading (in blue below).
A far better option for Swindon, Bristol, Cardiff and the Thames
Valley is to see a new western route into Terminal 5 to link up
with the existing Heathrow express line as shown in red below
(from NR GW Route Utilisation Strategy). This would allow a Heathrow
express service to operate from Reading to serve passengers from
South Wales and South West England.
EXCERPT FROM NETWORK RAIL'S GREAT WESTERN
ROUTE UTILISATION STRATEGY RE: HEATHROW ACCESS
The HS2 focussed exploration of Heathrow access should
be extended to include the GWML so that direct services could
eventually run to a new HSR station at Heathrow from Cardiff and
As the DfT found in its 2002 review of UK airport
capacity, "Future Airport Capacity in the UK",
Wales and SW England has the greatest need for better access to
Heathrow than any other region in the UK (outside the SE England).
The study found the leakage of passengers to other regions, mainly
South East England Airports and specifically Heathrow, was about
65% for both Wales and South West England, the highest in the
UK. For each region, the total annual trips were estimated at
3.4 million and 7.2 million respectively. That was 10.6 million
in total, with about 6.5 million using airports in the SE
England and in particular, Heathrow. Most of these Heathrow journeys
are by car indicating a latent demand for better Great Western
Main Line connectivity to Heathrow. The DfT reports also made
some other relevant statements:
it does appear that Wales is suffering
in attracting inward investment because it does not offer a wide
range of air services to European centres."
"It is important for Wales to maintain access
to key London airports, especially Heathrow and Gatwick. Even
if Cardiff was to provide a much wider range of services and frequencies
than it currently offers, it is likely that a large number of
Welsh air passengers would continue to use airports in the South
East of England."
"Their [South East England airports] route networks
especially for long haul, will continue to be wider than the route
networks offered by regional airports. Links to London are also
important, particularly for the business community."
There are also at least 10 return flights per day
from Cardiff and Bristol airports to Schipol. Better access to
Heathrow could deliver a significant modal shift and reduce the
need for this number of short haul flights and resulting CO2
This position should be set against a situation in
which Wales continues to be disadvantaged by competitive transport
investment elsewhere in the UK and a significant deterioration
in services from Cardiff Airport since 2002.
2. A SERIES OF
Determine the theoretical maximum speed of the GWML
based on the curvature of the current alignment, etc.
Then, identify sections of track that may restrict
this theoretical maximum speed (> 125 mph) as a result of constraints
in curvature, junctions, signalling, etc. Then suggest and scope
works (re-alignment, 4-tracking, junctions, signalling, ballast,
etc) and costs to address. For example:
Bassett grade separated junction.
of Didcot to Wootton Basset and perhaps Bristol Parkway.
section(s) of the South Wales main line (eg Newport by-pass.
costs of each of the incremental infrastructure upgrades to achieve
sustained higher speed of >140mph (track, ballast, signalling,
gantries, other civils, safety, etc).
Assess impact of speed upgrades on route pathways
(eg between Bristol Parkway and Yate Junction for X-country services
to the Midlands) and the need for 4-tracking to accommodate different
service patterns and traffic speeds.
Explore different stopping patterns (eg less stops
between Cardiff and London), schedules, etc, and their potential
impact on capacity, operational costs, passenger revenues and
journey times; also review impact on freight usage.
One of the most congested sections of the GWML is
actually between London and Reading (as shown below from Network
Rail's Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy). If a new line
is built, one section could be from London via Heathrow to just
west of Reading where it can connect to the existing GWML. This
should be included in the consideration of HSR rail access to
Heathrow as set out in plans for HS2.
EXCERPT FROM NETWORK RAIL'S GREAT WESTERN
ROUTE UTILISATION STRATEGY RE: CAPACITY CONSTRAINTS
Given the ~145 miles distance between Cardiff and
Paddington, an 80-minute journey would require an average speed
of approximately 109 mph. As a comparator, the WCML service between
Manchester Piccadilly and Euston, as a result of its £9 billion
upgrade, now provides a 1 hour 58 minute service for the 185 mile
journey, at an average speed of ~95 mph (on a line with a
max running speed of 125 mph). Even achieving this average
speed on the GWML between Cardiff and Paddington, would deliver
a journey time of approximately 90 minutes.
3. OTHER GWML
maximum speed will be specified for the new inter-city trains
to be procured as part of the IEP programme? Given the potential
for the track to cope with speeds of >140mph then it would
be prudent to specify >140 mph.
is the freight impact (can't run >140 mph trains if <80mph
freight train in the way) especially between Didcot and Bristol
with only two tracks; will this strengthen the case for further
to Swansea and the Valleys.
of the diversionary route via Kemble and to Birmingham from Bristol
and Cardiff up both sides of the Severn at the same time via Cheltenham
terms of "termination" stations in South Wales, aside
from Cardiff Central, Swansea and Newport, consideration should
be given to: Pontypridd, Cardiff Airport (new on site-station)
and Swansea Parkway (new station). The franchise tendering process
for First Great Western and Arriva Trains Wales services presents
an opportunity to explore these options more fully.
addition to the improvements to the GWML, there is also the potential
to provide more effective and seamless connectivity to both HS1,
HS2 and Crossrail.
part of HS2, a new interchange is proposed at Old Oak Common in
West London to enable transfer between the GWML, HS2 and Crossrail.
A direct link is also proposed from HS2 to HS1 to provide through
services for all Northern and Scottish cities. A link should also
be provided from the GWML so that through trains can access HS1
and the Channel Tunnel and European destinations from Wales and
SW England. If not, every other major UK city will have this capabilitybut
not Cardiff and Bristol.
it be possible to run the occasional Intercity express onto/into
Crossrail and into central London?
Given plans for major upgrades on the GWML corridor
in the next 10 years, the introduction of the IEP trains and the
upcoming tendering process for the FGW Franchise, there is now
an opportunity to develop a more strategic vision for this route.
This would place the economic needs and expectations of the major
cities along the GW Corridor at the heart of the review and recognise
the importance of the Great Western Line to the Welsh Economy.
It is therefore recommended, that a comprehensive
and strategic, Great Western Corridor study is undertaken to examine:
costs, practicality and benefits of a range of GWML infrastructure
upgrades that will contribute to a reversal in the decline in
Wales GVA/capita Vs the UK average, by achieving the following
to London Journey times of less than 80 minutes at least twice
to Heathrow journey times of less than 90 minutes at least twice
to TOC franchise and service patterns should be explored if they
can also contribute to achieving the above targets.
access to Heathrow from the GWML(west).
and interchange with HS1/HS2 services and the running direct service
from GWML to HS1.
and interchange with Crossrail.
electrification of the network to Swansea, Plymouth and beyond.
potential funding sources (these could include direct government
capital investment, TOC contribution, Local Authority borrowing,
other transport providers, etc).
The objective is to develop a clear business case,
with a focus on the wider economic benefits, for a programme of
incremental upgrades to the GWML. This work should be undertaken
on the same basis as the work undertaken to date by the DfT in
developing the business case for HS2.