Written evidence from the Scottish Association
for Public Transport (HSR 36)|
Our Association was formed in 1962 to campaign for
better public transport, and has for many years strongly supported
the case for High Speed Rail in Britain. We organised a major
"Fast Track North" conference in Glasgow in 2005,
jointly with the Railway Forum. We also initiated regular meetings
of the "HS2S" Group (High Speed to Scotland). This group
included Scottish Financial Enterprise, Scottish Chambers of Commerce,
Edinburgh and Glasgow City Councils, Strathclyde and South-East
Scotland Regional Transport Partnerships.
Our short submission focuses on the long term strategic
need for High Speed Rail in Britain, and the need to include Glasgow
and Edinburgh fully in HS2 planning. We leave technical and financial
issues to organisations more qualified to provide this information.
1. Arguments for High Speed Rail Technology
1.1 Scotland is far from other UK centres of
population (400 miles Edinburgh-London).
1.2 Scotland is dependent on air travel for most
Anglo-Scottish journeys, with around 80% of London journeys from
Glasgow and Edinburgh made by air. Rail journeys of 4 hours 30
minutes are not regarded as competitive by most business travellers.
1.3 But the cost of air travel is rising due
to oil costs and environmental taxes.
1.4 Future oil reserves, and the balance between
oil supply and demand, cannot be predicted with certainty over
the long 20 year period needed for HSR construction. (Oil prices
have quadrupled in the last eight years, from $25 to over $100
per barrel). While road and rail transport have alternatives to
oil, there is no such option for air.
1.5 Scottish business, particularly the important
Financial and Tourism sectors, depends on easy accessibility to
and from other centres.
European Travel Comparison
1.6 Development of High Speed Rail throughout
mainland Europe since 1984 (when the first TGVs were introduced)
has given Europeans fast transport links which do not depend on
oil. The European HSR network is still expanding.
1.7 Brussels and Paris are now around two hours
from London by Eurostar.
1.8 From 2013, Amsterdam, Cologne and Lyon are
expected to be closer in time to London by train than either Edinburgh
Failure by the UK to adopt HSR technology that is
now widespread in Europe and Japan will have a particularly bad
affect on Anglo-Scottish travel in the long term, and is likely
to hinder the Scottish economy and widen the North/South gap.
2. HSR and Government Transport Policy
As it is understood HS2 would follow the budgetary
spending pattern of CrossRail and Thameslink in London, it would
not necessarily impact on other transport projects. Indeed, HS2
would represent a welcome re-allocation of spending from London
to the eight largest cities north of London, revolutionising intercity
travel speed and capacity to Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield,
Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Surely this
must be the most strategic national transport project in British
3. Business Case
Building a new conventional line would do nothing
to reduce Anglo-Scottish rail journey times towards the European
HSR norm of under three hours for 400 mile journeys. It would
also not significantly reduce local impact or capital cost. Upgrading
existing rail routes has been shown on the WCML to be costly,
highly disruptive, and much less effective than building new High
4. The Strategic Route
The HSR route should be planned all the way from
London to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Network Rail's "New Lines"
analysis showed that inclusion of Glasgow and Edinburgh in a proposed
HSR would improve the business case, due to the high level of
additional revenue transferred from Anglo-Scottish flights, and
corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions.
The proposed "Y" configuration is consistent
with an Anglo-Scottish route, but the Manchester-Scotland route
strategy should be planned simultaneously with the Midlands-Manchester/Leeds
routes, with planning targeted for completion by the end of 2011.
5. Economic Rebalancing
Economic analysis of HSR must, to be relevant, attempt
to predict transport conditions over a very long timeframe, taking
into account a range of probable future fuel price trends, road
and rail congestion growth rates, and environmental restrictions
There is a danger that rejection of HSR technology
in Britain, when it is already widespread in mainland Europe and
Japan, will have a serious long-term economic impact from the
Midlands northwards. Economic growth could instead be concentrated
on the London-Paris-Frankfurt triangle, which is served by a network
of intercity High Speed Lines.
Britain won economic dominance by being at the forefront
of the industrial revolution. We risk losing competitiveness if
we reject the 21st century HSR transport revolution.
Comparison of carbon emissions between HSR and conventional
trains should factor in the generally much higher load factors
achieved on High Speed trains.
The environmental cost of HSR train noise needs to
be compared with the reduction in noise from domestic flights
at all London airports, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle
and other airports where the number of take-offs and landings
are likely to reduce. People who live in densely populated regions
affected by aircraft noise deserve just as much consideration
as those lucky enough to live in affluent areas of the country