High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Gladwin Associates (HSR 45)


Our main conclusions are that:

1.  There is a need for a National Transport Infrastructure Plan, which covers air, road and rail. This would provide the opportunity to balance growth and investment, taking into account opportunities for regeneration, providing a modern transport system for the whole country. In particular, we believe that a strategy for freight is urgently needed. Currently the majority of freight is moved by road, which results in noise and congestion on motorways, plus substantially increasing the wear & tear on the slow lanes.

The latest HS2 reports show that anticipated growth is now much lower, with the cap being applied in 2043 instead of 2033. Rail Package 2 provides an incremental programme of improvements as demand changes. Thus there is time to develop a National Transport Infrastructure Plan.

2.  High Speed Rail may well prove to be part of the solution, however the route chosen has a number of disadvantages in meeting the Government's desire to heal the North South Divide:

(a)  The timescale to reach the North is too long:

(i)  Birmingham 2026.

(ii)  Manchester/Leeds 2033 (probably 2036).

(iii)  Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow?

(b)  The route is difficult to future proof ie increase to 4 tracks. HS2 Ltd admit this themselves.

(c)  HS2 Ltd's proposal of a single tunnel (with three trains per hour each way) to link to HS1 and the continent is hardly a 21st century solution, and begs the question of what happens if demand increases sharply.

(d)  The route does not follow accepted practice of running alongside motorways, where the noise envelopes of HSR and the Motorway can be merged. The land around motorways is already blighted to a certain extent. The increase in blight and environmental damage from an HSR is substantially less than building through open country.

(e)  An alternate route following the M1 would reach Leeds and Manchester in 2026, and give the opportunity to reach the North East and Scotland significantly earlier. This has the advantages that:

(i)  with faster travel times, the majority of people travelling to London would choose rail, and flights could be cut significantly.

(ii)  The majority of cities in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire could be connected, and those in the West Midlands by a link following the M6.

(iii)  There would be a long fast track, which with the use of acceleration / deceleration tracks would enable significantly more cities to be joined to the HSR network.

3.  The economic case presented by HS2 has declined substantially between March 2010 and February 2011. On a like for like basis the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) has dropped from 2.6 to 1.6 for the Birmingham London proposal. A significant amount of this was due to the correction of errors as well as a reduction in demand. To get the BCR to 1.6, the cap on growth which is normally applied has been extended to 2043 from 2033. Without this extension, the BCR would be 1.0.

4.  There are a number of deficiencies in the costs, in particular no disbenefits have been included for:

(a)  the impact on commuters into Euston during the rebuilding period;

(b)  the impact on businesses along the line for loss of profit from walkers and cyclists; and

(c)  The impact of not spending any further funds on the classic rail system after 2015, an assumption that HS2 Ltd makes.

5.  The cost of building a new power station, which will only be needed if HS2 goes ahead, has not been included. This alone is estimated at £2.8 billion.

6.  HS2 Ltd has admitted that errors have been made in the calculation of spoil that will need to be removed in the Chilterns. In calculating a figure of 658,000 cubic metres, they only included one tunnel instead of two. In addition they have omitted the expansion factor of 50% for spoil removed compared to its compacted form. The Chiltern Conservation Board has calculated that the correct amount is 12,000,000 cubic metres. A cost adjustment will be needed for this.

7.  Classic compatible trains will run on the WCML north of Litchfield. Due to the bends in the current track, they will need to run slower than the existing Pendolino's. At the moment we have not been able to resolve whether the slower times have been reflected in the business benefits. Should they have not been reflected, considering that 11 of 14 trains per hour will originate north of Lichfield, there would be a considerable reduction in the benefits arising.

8.  In our opinion there is evidence that there are a significant number of errors in the business case which need to be resolved to determine whether the proposed route is viable.


1.  What are the main arguments either for or against HSR

The arguments advanced for HSR are:

—  Lack of Capacity.

—  Need to close the North South Divide.

—  To contribute to Carbon reduction through transfers from road and air, and from the "greening" of power generation.

The arguments against HSR:

—  Capacity can be adequately met through improvements to existing lines. These can be phased in as demand develops.

—  Demand from business travelers over the next 15 years will be impacted by IT developments, reducing the need to travel.

—  The argument for closing the North South Divide is based on research that relies on HSR creating economic conditions which will create new employment. That evidence shows that where two economic units are linked the larger unit will gain the most employment. HS2 Ltd has admitted that 70% of the jobs created will be in London. The same research shows that the main gain to the smaller unit is a transfer of jobs from neighbouring regions, which do not have as good a transport connection.

—  HS2 are forecasting only marginal transfers from road and air. The majority of transfers will be from classic rail and from new travel.

—  The existing railway with improvements will use substantially less electricity, and will therefore be greener that HSR.

2.  How does HSR fit with the Government's transport policy objectives?

1.  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?

HSR will improve inter-urban connectivity between the cities it is linked to, but will seriously weaken the prospects for intermediate cities not on the HSR network. For the North, significantly improving the rail links from Liverpool to Newcastle and Teesside with intermediate access in Manchester, Leeds, Doncaster and Sheffield would cost significantly less and yield higher returns significantly earlier.

2.  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?

HS2 Ltd states that they expect no further improvements of the classic rail system from 2015. This leaves a period of over 10 years where, the risk of overcrowding will increase substantially, whereas Rail Package 2 sets out a series of improvements, which can be implemented as and when the need arises to increase capacity. No account has been taken of the disbenefits that will arise during this period.

3.  What are the implications for domestic aviation?

Domestic aviation from the North of England to Heathrow comes from, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The key to a passenger transferring to rail is whether they are interlining at Heathrow or going to London and the South East. As total journey times by train shorten compared to total journey times by air, one would expect to see the continued decline in air passenger volumes. The key issue is whether HS2 will deliver significantly faster services than the classic railway.

From Manchester, Virgin WCML claim to have 80% of the Manchester / London traffic. The domestic flights from Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow are currently declining, and, with the new Flying Scotsman reducing the time to four hours from Edinburgh to London, can be expected to decline further.

3.  Business case

1.  How robust are the assumptions and methodology - for 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?

The poor quality of HS2 Limited / DfT figures are demonstrated by:

—  The drastic reduction in the forecast demand as published in March 2010 and Feb 2011, requiring a capacity cap to be extended from 2033 to 2043 to bring the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) to 1.6 from 2.9. Without this cap extension the BCR would be 1.0.

—  The DfT forecasts for demand on HS1 produced when the project was approved are currently approximately double the current level of demand.

—  The valuation of time savings for business at £46 per hour, is based on the assumption that business people's travel time on trains is unproductive. With WiFi, laptops etc, most business people are very productive on trains. Elimination of this valuation reduces the Benefits by £17 billion, and the BCR to.

—  HSR trains at 360kph use three times the power of a Pendolino at 200kph. With the forecast number of trains the HS2 preferred route will require an additional power station to be built. This would cost an estimated £2.8 billion as at Q3 2009. This has not been included in the capital costs. If HS2 is not built there would be no need to build this power station. Therefore £2.8 billion should be included in the Cost numbers.

In discussions with HS2 officials during the Roadshow, there are other errors coming to light:

—  The calculation of the spoil generated from crossing the Chilterns:

—  used only one tunnel instead of two.

—  The deepening of the cuttings by 5m from Amersham to Wendover appears not to be in calculation. This alone creates 2,600,000 cu metres of spoil.

—  When spoil is dug up it creates 1.5x the volume of the compacted earth. This has apparently been ignored.

—  The figure for spoil given by HS2 Ltd is 658,000 cu metres., compared with a conservative estimate of 10,000,000 cu metres, all of which needs to transported and disposed of.

—  It is apparent that no account has been taken of this cost in the Economic Case.

—  The rebuilding of Euston station is scheduled to take eight years. During that time the lives of millions of commuters will be affected, with delays overcrowding etc. At the Roadshows, it was established that no disbenefit has been deducted from the benefits for this impact.

—  The impact on businesses along the line, whose trade is currently impacted by blight, and those that will impacted during the construction phase have not been included as disbenefits or compensation. In the Chilterns, this will impact all those businesses dependent on visitors, and will be severe with footpaths and cycle tracks cut.

—  Between Amersham and Wendover 23 Rights of Way will be disrupted and currently only four are shown to reconnected or diverted. At the Roadshows, officials were unaware of this. One claimed they would reconnected by diverting them, but as there are few roads crossing the proposed line and the cutting is mainly up to 15 metres deep, the only solution would be bridges or tunnelling the whole way. No cost has been included in the Economic Case for bridges or the additional cost of tunnelling. Nor has the cost of providing solutions to reconnect over 100 Rights of Way north of Wendover.

2.  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?

The benefits of upgrading the existing WCML are substantial in that Rail Package 2 (RP2),developed by National Rail, can be implemented incrementally, thus matching upgrades to demand as it occurs, rather than building for a 50 year anticipated demand.

We agree with HS2 Ltd that developing a new conventional line offers no significant benefit over HSR.

Interestingly, the DfT, led by Norman Baker, is currently working on reducing the demand for travel by promoting developments in IT, such as Skype, video conferencing, improved data networks, etc. The impact of this at the moment is small at present but the potential reduction in demand is significant.

3.  What would be the pros and cons of alternative means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?

The benefit of managing demand by price would be that rail infrastructure costs could be reduced, but the reality is that people will still want to travel, and the impact could be to see an increase in road or air traffic, with a consequent increase in other transport infrastructure costs. Effectively, demand is managed by price today. The railway companies use the "Budget Airline" model to optimize capacity and price, thus if one books a long time ahead one gets a good price.

4.  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?

The first lesson the Government needs to learn is that the Country needs a National Transport Infrastructure Plan. Currently we have no overall plan for rail, air or road. Passengers and Freight can modally shift easily, depending on the marginal cost of each mode. We believe that the biggest single challenge for the country is to develop a strategy for moving freight. However to do this one needs to take into account passenger movements. Moving a significant amount of freight from the roads to rail or water would relieve congestion on the roads, reduce noise pollution on many major roads and reduce substantially the wear and tear on the motorways and major roads. HS2 correctly suggest that more freight could be run on the WCML. However one freight train over Shap uses three pathways for Pendolinos. Thus increasing significantly the freight on the WCML could substantially reduce the number of intercity trains on a particular route. Developing a well thought out National Transport Infra structure Plan would resolve such conflicts, and would almost certainly change the infrastructure spending priorities. The southern part of the WCML is currently 4 tracks, but there are crossovers between fast and slow lines. Resolving the pinch points offers the opportunity to have a dedicated freight line and a dedicated fast train line.

4.  The strategic route

1.  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?

Not responded to.

2.  Which cities should be served by an eventual high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right choice?

The proposed "Y" is not the best solution to meet the Government's objectives of:

(1)  reducing Carbon Emissions;

(2)  healing the North South Divide See Q 5.1; and

(3)  allowing access to HSR for the maximum number of people.

A route which follows the M1, and serves Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, would also be able to serve Sheffield, Doncaster, Nottingham and Luton. This configuration would serve more than 70% of the current travelers to London. The length of the line, with appropriate acceleration and deceleration tracks would enable HSR trains to run at full speed over most of their journey, thus creating more capacity if needed.

The faster a train runs, the straighter the track needs to be. This reduces the flexibility of design to follow contours, avoid Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and villages and towns. Running trains at lower speeds offers both carbon benefits and the ability to materially reduce the damage to countryside and communities. It also enables an HSR track to follow the contours of a motorway more easily. One of the decisions we need to make on this small crowded island is between speed and the environment. As business people are able to work on trains, taking slightly longer has some significant advantages. This has been borne out recently by the Chinese announcement that they will limit their HSR to 300kph both to reduce cost and to improve safety. Mr Hammond and Prof MacNaughton, HS2's chief engineer are well documented as wanting to run HSR the way the Chinese do.

3.  Is the Government correct to build the network in stages, moving from London northwards?

Once we have a National Transport Infrastructure Plan, building an HSR in stages would be possible. This would give the opportunity to build it in areas such as Manchester to Leeds and Newcastle earlier providing both an immediate economic boost locally, but also improving the connectivity significantly earlier.

4.  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?

The electrification of the Great West Main Line (GWML) offers the opportunity with some planning to link HS1 and HS2 to Heathrow, via London, with the creation of a station at Heathrow. This would also improve the links from Cardiff and Bristol to Heathrow. Network Rail has already looked at moving the Heathrow Express from Paddington to Euston. Such a development would offer an earlier connection with the opportunity to reduce flights from the North.

5.  Economic rebalancing and equity

1.  What evidence is there that HSR will promote economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic divide?

There has been a lot of debate over economic regeneration. In our opinion HS2 has not researched regeneration thoroughly. What is clear is that when you join two economic units together, the larger unit takes the lion's share of the job creation. HS2 has confirmed this by showing that 73% of the jobs created will be in London. Lille is held out an example of regeneration from HSR. I have worked in Lille, and certainly the centre has benefited, but the suburbs are still badly blighted. Comparisons of unemployment levels show that Lille has not improved it's overall unemployment rates compared to France overall. The effect of HSR is at best a redistribution of employment from surrounding to communities to the community best served by HSR. When one looks at economic growth points in the UK e.g. the Thames Valley and Leeds - Manchester, the clear link is improved connectivity with the M4 and M62 acting as catalysts. Economic growth in the North would be better served by improving links between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds - Bradford, Sheffield, Doncaster, Newcastle and Teesside. Certainly Manchester and Leeds have been urging an HSR link. The M1 route would provide this more easily than the "Y", particularly as the necessary tunnels already exist, but are not currently used. We believe that the issue of connecting to Edinburgh and Glasgow also needs to be addressed to provide certainty for investment in Scotland.

2.  To what extent should the shape of the network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local and regional regeneration?

We believe that this is one element which needs to be considered. We are of the opinion that this should be part of the remit of a National Transport Infrastructure Plan. This would give the opportunity to use the appropriate transport solution. In urban areas, this might be to give priority to commuter centric solutions, whether train, road or bus.

3.  Which locations and socio-economic groups will benefit from HSR?

With regard to locations, please see the answer to 5.1. The beneficiaries of HSR will change depending on the fare structure and the capacity available. In general the wealthier would benefit more. However looking at HS1, many of the users going to Disneyworld Paris are from a broad socioeconomic background. Because of the relatively low capacity utilization, competitive rail/hotel packages are available.

4.  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?

The issue of financing HSR needs to be addressed once the economic decision to build is proven. I there is a clear cut benefit to the Country as a whole, then the Country as whole should bear the cost. If local regeneration through HSR proves successful, then local business will pay it's share through increased rates, rents and Corporation Tax.

Funding from the EU may be sought, but the pathetic link proposed between HS1 and HS2 would lead the EU not to regard the proposal seriously.

6.  Impact

1.  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?

With regard to Carbon emissions, HS2 is correct in saying that it will rely on the carbon footprint of the Electricity Generating industry to reduce its carbon usage, assuming that more nuclear, wind and wave power is generated. There is however another factor which needs to be considered. Trains traveling at 360kph use approximately three times the power of trains operating at 250kph. Thus whatever the UK Electricity Generating industry's carbon footprint is, classic rail will use substantially less carbon that HSR.

HS2's own figures show HS2 to be broadly neutral in Carbon emission terms, with an assumed shift of 8% from road and 8% from air. There would need to be a substantially higher shift to make a significant impact. The dhift from air will help to free up slots at Heathrow, but these will be taken by long-haul flights, which have a higher carbon footprint.

2.  Are environmental costs and benefits (including in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business case?

There are costs relating to noise reduction included in the business case. Whether these are sufficient will only be able to be determined when an Environmental Impact Assessment is completed.

However there are no disbenefits included for the damage to the environment, loss of tranquility, impacts on rural businesses or disturbance to wildlife, loss of ancient woodland.

3.  What would be the impact on freight services on the "classic" network?

Theoretically removal of train services from the "classic" network would free up more capacity for freight. However there are also opportunities to improve commuter services. The development of a National Transport Infrastructure Plan would give the opportunity to resolve these conflicts.

4.  How much disruption will be there to services on the "classic" network during construction, particularly during the rebuilding of Euston?

We believe that there would be considerable disruption. The disbenefit arising from this has been included in the business case.


Description Per 2010
2010 in New
Transport user benefits - Business17.6 17.611.1
Other11.111.1 6.4
Total28.728.7 17.5
Other quantifiable benefits excl carbon .4
Loss to government of indirect taxes (1.5)(1.3)
Net Transport Benefits28.7 27.216.6
Wider economic impacts3.6 3.64.0
Net Benefits incl WEIs32.3 30.820.6
Capital costs17.817.8 17.8
Operating costs7.67.6 6.2
Total Costs25.525.5 24.0
Revenues(15.0)(15.0) (13.7)
Loss to government of indirect taxes1.5
Net Costs to government11.9 10.510.3
BCR without WEIs2.42.6 1.6
BCR with WEIs2.72.9 2.0

May 2011

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 8 November 2011