Supplementary written evidence from Malcolm
Griffiths, Bluespace Thinking Ltd. (HSR 15A)|
1.1 The HSR Command paper presented to Parliament
(March 2010) recommended progressing HS2 based on answers to a
number of key questions. There is conflicting evidence for the
conclusions, this paper sets out the issues and some of the questions
Are the Strategic Alternatives to HS2 a better
solution to meet the predicted demand?
The Command paper concludes that moderate upgrades
to the existing lines cannot meet the projected demand. However
the Atkins work on which this conclusion is based suggests that
the upgrades can meet the demand. I have requested further information
from the DfT to get clarification on which view is correct. The
DfT say that they have no details only the Atkins summary reports.
The Information Commissioner's Office are currently investigating
to see if more information should be made publicly available.
Will reduced rail travel time to London increase
economic activity in the regions?
A graph of travel time to London versus economic
activity (GVA/head) is used in the Command paper to show that
regional economic activity will increase if travel time is reduced.
It appears as if the graph is based on selective data, when full
UK major conurbation data is used there is not a statistical correlation
or any evidence to suggest the assertion is valid.
Are the CO2 emissions from HSR travel
a lot less than travel by car?
At the HS2 Consultation exhibitions and in the Command
paper a graph of CO2 emissions by air, car and rail
is used to demonstrate that HSR produces significantly less CO2/passenger
km. This graph and possibly the detailed HS2 assessment of emissions
does not take into account the emissions involved in travelling
to the HSR stations. It is possible that emissions for many HSR
journeys may be very similar to those made by car and significantly
greater than by using the existing rail system.
2.1 HS2 Ltd studies, assuming continued mode
shift from car and air to rail, predict that demand for long distance
rail travel on the HS2 Y routes will increase by 100% (double)
2.2 Table 2.4 (p51) of the Command paper sets
out the options to increase capacity on the West Coast Main Line.
It shows that a mid-scale rail upgrade package would provide
a maximum potential capacity increase of about 50%. A new HSR
line is predicted to provide a 200% increase. With demand predicted
to increase by 100%, one may conclude that a new line is needed.
2.3 However Atkins strategic alternatives reports
show that with already planned improvements and the upgrade referred
to in the Command paper the capacity would increase from about
88,000 seats/day to 253,500 seats/day, almost a 200% (tripling)
increase. The upgrade appears more than adequate to meet the 100%
increase in demand.
2.4 The Command paper appears misleading but
the numbers can be explained. Assuming the planned improvements
go ahead and increase the WCML to about 170,000 seats, increasing
this further to 253,500 is about a 50% increase. In the same way
the 200% increase from a new HSR line would increase the capacity
to 510,000 seats/day. To maintain current "optimal"
load factors of about 50% (balancing comfort with cost) 176,000
seats are required, 253,500 seems a few too many, 510,000 would
be considerable, very expensive, over capacity.
2.5 The East Coast Main Line and The Midlands
Main Line upgrades are more opaque. The Atkins Scenario B schemes
increase the capacity so that load factors decline to 43% and
24% respectively. These levels would suggest the upgrades are
providing too much capacity to be efficient and that there are
probably more optimal solutions.
2.6 The information requested from the DfT is
required to establish the cost and benefits of the optimal upgrade
schemes for each of the existing lines. It is fundamental to deciding
whether HS2 or upgrades to the existing lines are the best solution
to increase capacity.
3. REGIONAL ECONOMIC
3.1 Section 3 (p55) of the HSR Command paper
sets out to make the case that High Speed Rail will support growth
in the regions. This assertion is based on a view that there is
a statistical relationship between the time taken for rail travel
to London and GVA/head. The report states "correlation can
be seen between the rail journey time from London of British towns
and cities and the value of the goods and services they produce
(known as Gross Value Added (GVA) . Their figure 3.2 shows a relationship,
for 36 towns, cities and conurbations, suggesting that as journey
times to London reduce, GVA/head increases. The correlation (R2)
is about 0.4.
3.2 However the locations used include Swindon,
Colchester, Torbay, Milton Keynes and Peterborough with populations
less than 200,000 people, but exclude Aberdeen, Cardiff, Edinburgh,
Glasgow, Swansea and Medway all of which have populations above
200,000. Figure 1 shows the result using the largest conurbations
in the UK, all above 200,000 people. The larger (yellow) squares
on the graph are the 15 UK conurbations with populations above
400,000. For the full group there is no statistical correlation,
for just the larger locations there would be a slight negative
relationship, the further away the higher the economic activity
but this is not statistically significant or sound. (Note: the
longer journey times are capped to air travel times and GVA/head
are the latest ONS data)
3.3 The Command paper acknowledges other influences
on GVA/head including education and skills. The correlation between
qualifications and GVA/head across all UK local authorities is
reasonably strong (R2 0.68). Skills (probably derived from education
and apprenticeship) are a far greater influence on economic well
being than travel time to London.
3.4 It is well known that the South has higher
levels of economic activity so it is understandable that proximity
to London is thought to impact on GVA/head, however if London
data itself is removed there is a reasonably equal distribution
of GVA/head across the UK.
Command paper includes a sketch showing HS1 domestic HSR services
to Medway and Kent. Medway
with a population of 250,000 is much larger than Milton Keynes,
Swindon or Peterborough the recognised high skills growth areas
used in the DfT analysis. Medway's GVA/head is only 63% of the
UK average, similar to Greater Manchester North (Greater Manchester
South is above average at 109%).
3.6 The latest Office
of Rail Regulator's data, with HS1 domestic services operating,
shows that from 2008-09 to 2009-10 rail journeys from Kent, including
Ebbsfleet and Ashford International, declined by about 5.6%, generally
UK rail journeys reduced by less than 1%. Medway's journeys to
other regions declined by 8.2% one of the largest falls in the
are consultant predictions but little evidence that Medway
and Kent's economic activity will increase due to HS1. With jobs
being drawn to London, higher fares due to HS1 investment and
the reduction in services on the conventional lines it would be
unlikely. Conventional rail from Medway to London takes about
45 minutes. If economic activity were correlated to travel time
to London it is doubtful Medway would be in the bottom 15% of
UK district authorities GVA/head.
3.8 Clarification of the relevance of travel
time to London on economic activity is required to decide if the
substantial cost of 250mph trains versus upgrades to the existing
lines is worth while.
4. CO2 EMISSIONS
4.1 The Command paper stresses the importance
of reducing transport emissions and figure 2.3 p49 provides a
comparison of emissions for various modes of transport. The graph
shows a single occupant car uses 200 g CO2/km although current
DECC emissions data combined with DfT car distance information
shows that the figure is currently 175 g CO2/km, this years new
car fleet averages 159 g CO2/km.
4.2 Emissions from Eurostar (a surrogate for
HS2) are shown at 20 g CO2/km probably due to French supplied
nuclear power, there is no emissions figure predicted for HS2.
Based on HS2 Ltd energy consumption predictions and current UK
electricity generation fuel mix the emissions would be about 40
g CO2/km. Figure 2.3 was used at the HS2 consultation road shows
and encourages the conclusion that HSR produces less than 20%
of the emissions of average car use. With the more accurate figures
above this almost doubles to 40%.
4.3 Of greater concern is that these numbers
are for the station to station portion of the journey only and
take no account of the travel to the station. Over 12 million
people live within 15 miles of Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield,
Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool the possible locations of the
HS2 Y stations. However only 13% 1.5 million actually live within
three miles of the centres. Journeys to the stations will be by
car, bus, train or taxi and be much further than to the multitude
of stations with current direct fast intercity services.
4.4 If someone from Manchester makes separate
visits to a typical business or social contact at each of the
other locations the total average journey time by car would be
about 14.5 hours. The time by train with the current schedule,
assuming travel to the station by car, averages about 19.5 hours.
This will reduce to 18.5 hours if HS2 is built. If public transport
is used to get to the stations the journey times increase considerably.
4.5 Business travellers who use a taxi to get
from the station to their visit end location will probably have
combined CO2 emissions of the train and taxi similar
to those if an average car is used for the entire journey.
4.6 Increasing peak time core city centre road
speeds by the provision of improved bus public transport could
save two to four minutes on every journey. This would reduce local
commuter emissions and reduce the duration of both local and inter
city connectivity car journeys. It could also reduce average intercity
city rail door to door journey times by four-eight minutes.
4.7 According to the magazine Transport Extra
some of the country's leading transport modellers have recently
told the DfT that the computer modelling underpinning the Government's
high-speed rail plan is inadequate and cannot provide a sound
basis for proceeding with the project. As well as questions about
journey time savings and mode & station choice it is concerning
that HS2 Ltd and the DfT may not have included the CO2 emissions
attributable to station access journeys and that the Command paper
comparisons are possibly misleading.
5.1 Most of the UK public want Parliament to
make the best decisions possible for the economic and social well
being of the country. Obtaining clarification of the assertions
made in the HSR Command paper will help Parliament make good decisions
related to High Speed Rail.
18 August 2011