Written evidence from Joanne Staton (HSR
Q1. What are the main arguments either for
or against HSR
A1.1 In my view, as a Chartered Mechanical Engineer
(Imperial College, London) who has studied, with an open mind,
a vast array of documentation produced by the Government and other
organisations, detailing the HS2 proposal, I can see NO arguments
FOR HSR in our country.
A1.2 However, the arguments against it are numerous
and so blatantly apparent, I cannot believe this proposal is being
pursued. For me, this puts into question the Government's motives
to back this proposal - is it a "vanity" project linked
to "political legacy" or is it trying to play catch
up with our European neighbours? Or is it linked to influential
vested interests in the construction and other industries that
would benefit from the project going ahead? Either way, these
reasons are short-sighted. There is no doubt that developing HSR
would be at great detriment to our country.
A1.3 The main arguments AGAINST HS2 include:
is not required:
already have fast frequent intercity network that connects our
capital to its top five cities faster than many European countries
that have HSR (refer to paragraphs A2.1.1-2).
are far less expensive, less disruptive and substantially more
environmentally friendly alternatives to meet the predicted increased
demand (refer to paragraphs A3.2.1-4).
has been a failure to assess these alternatives properly (refer
to paragraphs A3.1.6 & A3.2.1).
arguments on environmental impact are flawed. The project will
certainly NOT reduce carbon emissions but actually be a large
contributor and it will have a substantial detrimental affect
on the environment (refer to paragraphs A6.1.1, A6.1.2-6 &
Department for Transport (DfT) are not conducting a proper Environmental
Impact Analysis until after the decision has been taken which
underlines that they are not taking the environmental issues seriously.
arguments used in the Business Case are flawed (refer to paragraphs
appears to me to be a new argument developed when it became clear
that the business and environmental cases were fundamentally flawed.
the arguments for North/South divide and regeneration are also
clearly flawed (refer to Paragraph A5.1.2)
Q2. How does HSR fit with the Government's
transport policy objectives
Q2.1 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?
A2.1.1 The UK already has a fast frequent intercity
service, superior to those between capital and principle cities
in other major Western European countries that have high speed
rail. Services on the East Coast, West Coast and Great Western
are so fast that lines up-rated to their existing maximum speed
(125mph or 201km/h) can qualify as high speed railways under the
A2.1.2 As the Eddington Study found, our rail
network already provides journey times comparable to or better
than those of the four largest West European countries. In 2010,
the average quickest journey rail connections between the capital
city and their five largest cities were:
mins for UK.
mins for Spain.
mins for Italy.
mins for France.
mins for Germany.
A2.1.3 A modern signalling system (already under
development in the UK and planned for implementation from 2014)
would allow trains to travel faster on the existing UK track in
A2.1.4 Also, travel between the locations to
be linked by HS2 represents less than 1% of all rail travel in
the UK and 7% of all distance travelled, and therefore the introduction
of HS2 does not contribute significantly compared to the substantial
outlay required, when considering the Government's overall Transport
A2.1.5 Considering all of the above, the objective
of improving inter-urban connectivity seems far less important
than many other transport policy objectives and spending schemes.
Surely investing in the NHS, School Building Programmes, other
Educational Programmes, maintenance and upgrade of the existing
road and rail networks, would be of far more benefit, with substantially
less disruption, to the people of the UK, as they focus on sustainable
jobs and maintenance of an existing strong transport system.
Q2.2 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?
A2.2 The evidence suggests to me that the introduction
of HS2 would be detrimental to the funding of our "classic"
network. The business case is fundamentally flawed, as detailed
in Paragraph A3.1.1, therefore overall costs are certain to be
higher than predicted, which is likely to drain funding from existing
transportation. France has experienced exactly the situation described
above. Currently their TGV is running a debt of 29bn plus
1% of GDP to subsidise it. This has been vastly detrimental to
all other Rail Services which have been starved of funding as
Q2.3 What are the implications for domestic
A2.3 There is no London/Birmingham air market
and rail already has 80% of the Manchester-London flow.
HS2 Ltd/DfT project a 178% increase in domestic air
passengers by 2033. This assumes the third runway at Heathrow.
It ignores the reality of the declining domestic air market for
London. There has been a decline in domestic air passengers flying
from Heathrow since 1997. Domestic passengers from all London
airports to the North West and Scotland (lowlands) have been declining
since 2004, and total domestic passengers have been reducing since
The forecasted volumes expected to transfer to HS2
(11,000 journeys/day - 8% of all HS2 journeys) could not occur.
It is agreed amongst experts that passengers may switch from air
to rail when journey times by train are less than about 3 hrs
(excluding domestic air flights from northern Scotland).
Domestic air routes that are poorly served by rail
or road connections may well continue to grow (for example Aberdeen-Exeter
was started in 2006 and has grown rapidly), and will not be affected
by a high speed rail network.
Therefore, considering all of the above, I believe
there is unlikely to be any implications for domestic aviation,
which adds further doubt to the Environmental Arguments for the
project as HS2's only means of reducing emissions is winning traffic
from air (refer to Paragraph A6.1.4 for more details).
Q3. Business case
Q3.1 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?
A3.1.1 In my opinion, HS2 does not have a sound
business case. It:
no commercial case and it is justified on a partial cost benefit
on excessively high demand growth of 267% now amended by HS2 Ltd.
to the still excessive 100%.
on exaggerated time saving benefits (that presumes all travel
time is currently wasted).
the effects of competition.
inferior to some of the alternatives considered in cost benefit
A3.1.2 No commercial organisation would consider
HS2 without subsidy. The "business case" shows that
the incremental fares (£15 billion) do not cover the (£25.5
billion) total costs it absorbs. HS2 is in fact justified on a
partial cost benefit analysis, where the uncharged consumer surplus
(£28.7 billion) arising from faster journey times and less
congestion, and the "wider economic benefits" (£3.6
billion) are put forward to justify the cost. The analysis is
partial as it does not include either the damage to the environment
of its route, or the reduction to property values from its negative
A3.1.3 Growth in rail demand within the Business
Case is overstated. In the initial months of the proposal, growth
was estimated at 267%. HS2 have now reduced this figure to 100%.
But to maintain an acceptable benefit ratio they increased the
forecast period by 10 years (2043 instead of 2033)! Even so, the
benefit ratio for Phase 1 has fallen from 2.4 to 1.6, which would
be very marginal even if true. Not only does this appear strongly
of manipulating the figures, the new growth figure exceeds all
"reasonable" current forecasts including those of Network
Rail - except those of the Dft/HS2 Ltd. Additionally, the growth
figure does not take into account any effect from increasing use
of technology or reducing propensity for business travel due to
cost. Without such a major demand, as clearly there is not, HS2
will be underutilised and make even larger losses. I strongly
believe the lessons of HS1 on overestimating demand have not been
A3.1.4 The largest benefit attributed to HS2
is the time savings to travellers (£13 billion, or nearly
40% of the benefits). This is plainly overestimated: It assumes
that all time on a long distance train is wasted and uses out
of date data on business travellers. It neither takes into account
current practices and improving information systems, nor changing
patterns of employment. It is apparent, even today, when travelling
by train, mobile technology is making on board time useful. With
the inevitable advances in mobile technology over this extended
time frame, how can the Business Case argument of time wasted
during train travel be expected to apply when HS2 begins in 2026
(the first phase), let alone by 2033 when the Y route is planned
to be fully operational?
A3.1.5 The case for HS2 takes no account of competition
between HS2 and conventional rail services. Competition will result
in lower prices for high speed and conventional rail, lower passenger
volumes for HS2 or both. HS1 experience is relevant, where apparently
no account was taken of cut-price airlines.
A3.1.6 Finally, the handling of the alternatives
to HS2 that were developed is unsatisfactory. Two packages of
alternatives (Rail Package 2 and Road Package 2) had better Net
Benefit Ratios than HS2 (3.63 and 3.66 respectively). DfT neither
recommend the options with the best Net Benefit Ratio, nor used
these options for assessing the incremental costs with incremental
benefits of HS2. If they had, the case for HS2 would be exceedingly
Q3.2 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?
A3.2.1 There are substantial benefits with the
Rail Package 2 compared to High Speed 2. However, I believe DfT
have hidden and misrepresented the facts. I can only conclude
that this option has not been taken seriously because it does
not provide a political legacy and it is not as glamorous as a
new railway - both of which are certainly not valid reasons to
dismiss the best solution for the UK.
A3.2.2 The advantages of RP2 include:
provides all the capacity DfT say is needed (RP2 provides 135%
extra capacity, extendable to 176%) and has less crowding (51%
load factor on RP2 compared with 58% on HS2).
is cheaper than HS2 (£2 billion net cost not £11.9 billion
- on DfT's 2010 figures).
can be delivered more quickly (no waiting until 2026) and without
takes a risk free incremental approach, which can be flexed around
true demand (the forecasts for which are dubious, as detailed
in Paragraph A3.1.3).
is better value for money (50% better than HS2, on DfT's figures).
A3.2.3 A major argument for HS2 is the need to
create more capacity. But extra capacity does not require a new
railway, nor one capable of speeds of 400km/h, nor does it have
to mean disruption on existing lines. If more capacity is needed
it can be created at a small fraction of the cost of HS2, and
incrementally without having to gamble on demand forecasts. The
capacity needed to meet the demand that HS2 Ltd forecast for conventional
rail (133%) could be met for a little over £2 billion- as
compared to £11.9 billion (£25.5 billion less incremental
fares, etc) for HS2 (with just over £1 billion to be spent
on planning for it in this term of parliament). This alternative
also meets the requirement to be high speed, as under the EU Directive
high speed rail is 125mph (201km/h). To a great extent capacity
can be increased without disruption to existing services. There
is potential to increase the number of carriages per train following
minor infrastructure improvements that are already underway and
planned to be complete within two years (permitting a 65% increase
in WCML capacity, almost half what is said to be needed).
A3.2.4 Furthermore, the largest part of the £44
billion benefit predicted from HS2 comes from the erroneous assumption
that time is unproductive on trains (as detailed in Paragraph
A3.1.4), so time savings become highly valuable. As already discussed,
modern technology allows those who wish to work to do so very
effectively whilst travelling by train. Also, much of the other
benefits of HS2 are solely because DfT have assumed that without
HS2 there will be no economic growth. In fact, the evidence that
improved intercity performance has any beneficial economic effects
is very weak: reductions in journey time cannot be expected to
yield material productivity benefits; and faster rail travel has
not been shown to deliver other economic benefits. Therefore considering
all of the above, if HS2 is compared with RP2, the bulk of the
HS2 benefits are eliminated.
Q3.3 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?
A3.3 The Government should learn from the HS1
project (currently running at less than 50% its capacity) not
to continue pursuing high speed rail. As mentioned above, HS1
was justified with vastly overestimated demand figures (exactly
the same thing has occurred in the HS2 Business Case as detailed
in Paragraph A3.1.3) ultimately ensuring its fate as a major loss-making
The Government should also learn from other countries
experiences with introducing and operating HSR, such as France
and Spain, where the results have been far from economic success
Q4. The strategic route
Q4.2 Which cities should be served by an eventual
high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right
A4.2 As previously stated in Paragraphs A2.1.1-4,
the UK already has a fast and efficient rail network, bettering
many of our European neighbours with HSR. Using only a small proportion
of the HS2 budget to upgrade existing lines (the RP2 alternative
is discussed in detail in Paragraph A3.2.2), ALL cities and towns
would benefit and continue to be served via the existing network.
A4.4 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?
A4.4 In my mind, the Heathrow and HS1 direct
services make no economic sense. There is not enough demand to
justify frequent direct services. HS2 Ltd demonstrated this in
their analysis for the 2010 White Paper. Although HS2 Ltd now
forecast greater potential traffic, it is still inadequate to
support a sufficiently frequent service for it to be viable.
In addition the 18 trains per hour planned for peak
Y operations make no allowance for trains to Heathrow and HS1
which is likely to both reduce total line capacity and reduce
service availability for London Services, undermining the delivery
of the claimed benefits.
Q5. Economic rebalancing and equity
Q5.1 What evidence is there that HSR will
promote economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south
A5.1.1 In conducting my research to respond to
this Transport Select Committee Inquiry, I have found that this
is an area rife with poor analysis and inapposite analogies. In
addition, it appears to me that this is a new argument which was
developed when it became clear that the business and environmental
cases did not make sense.
A5.1.2 On HS2 Ltd's own analysis, HS2 itself,
leads to very limited economic growth:
agglomeration growth benefits that come from faster connectivity
between two centres are tiny (ie about £10m/a as Imperial
College work commissioned by HS2 Ltd demonstrates).
Ltd ascribes £3.6 billion to wider economic benefits, of
which £2.0 billion is for agglomeration and does not depend
on high speed but the re-use of freed-up conventional capacity
to run more local services. Such additional local services could
be provided without HS2.
demand forecasting work implies important redistributive effects
that favour London not the West Midlands - this is inconsistent
with Government's stated objective to reduce the North/South divide.
The demand elasticities used in the HS2 Ltd forecasts show the
major growth in travel will be in journeys into London - not starting
from London - with nearly three times as many having London as
their destination. This implies that expenditure will move from
the regional centres to London - not the reverse - with more passengers
taking trips to London and spending in London shops and amenities.
This tendency to reinforce the dominance of London is confirmed
by other work and is a consequence of London being an exceptionally
large city (more than twice the size of other West European capitals).
London is also seven times the size of the next largest UK city
- other major West European capitals are about twice as big as
their next largest city. In fact, DfT say 73% of the 30,000 regeneration
jobs will be in London. Also, there is little evidence of high
speed rail redressing regional imbalances. For example, unemployment
rose in Greater Lille relative to the French average after high
speed rail arrived. Transport links (Motorways and existing rail)
have never been major factors in solving N/S divide, they have
made matters worse.
report concluded that there was no evidence in Europe of regeneration
resulting from High Speed Rail investments. Interestingly, "Paid-for"
vested reports support regenerative effects (eg Centro), academic
reports (eg Imperial College, Warwick University, OECD) do not.
has been claimed that 40,000 jobs will be created. However more
realistic figures state 1,500 new rail jobs are expected along
with 9,000 temporary construction jobs. The rest are "regeneration"
jobs such as in shopping malls by new stations. These are just
mainly relocation of existing jobs, and not a net increase to
the country. I strongly believe we should invest in sustainable
industries such as manufacturing and technology. I have heard
it estimated that if the £34 billion for HS2 was invested
in IT/broadband, 700,000 jobs (as opposed to the 40,000 above
for HS2) would be created, of a type which would be easier to
distribute and set up throughout the country, going much further
to distribute wealth across the UK, perhaps really contributing
to addressing the North-South divide issue.
Q6.1 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?
A6.1.1 The work undertaken for HS2 Ltd concludes
that HS2 is "broadly carbon neutral" - ie makes no contribution
to reducing carbon emissions. This is inconsistent with the official
Government line that repeatedly states HS2 is part of a low carbon
I strongly believe that HS2 is not "green"
A6.1.2 Speed is not "green". Most of
HS2's forecast passengers (ie 57%) would otherwise be travelling
on less energy consuming conventional rail (on HS2 Ltd's own forecasts).
A6.1.2 Encouraging more travel is not "green".
27% of the 145,000/day journeys on HS2 would not otherwise have
happened (on HS2 Ltd's own forecasts). This increase represents
87% of the 2008 total of long distance journeys on the southern
end of WCML.
A6.1.3 HS2's only means of reducing emissions
is winning traffic from air. However as already discussed in Paragraph
A2.3, total domestic passengers have been reducing since 2005.
There is no London/Birmingham air market and rail already has
80% of the Manchester-London flow. The forecast gain from air
exceeds the entire of the current flow of air passengers between
these places and Heathrow. Despite the proven steady decline,
to achieve the quoted shift from air, internal UK flights would
have to increase by 178%. Also, any flight slots which are released
will transfer to carbon-hungry long-haul travel.
A6.1.4 HS2's "broadly neutral" assessment
is based on the carbon emissions from electricity generation on
the characteristics of total average electricity production rather
than the daytime demand characteristic of a railway meaning they
have been under-estimated. Also, their figures are based on new
power generation technology coming on stream. However Nuclear
power generation has been severely impacted by the Fukushima disaster
and it is well known that wind and wave power only have limited
potential in this country.
A6.1.5 The most shocking oversight that I can
see in the HS2 analysis is that the millions of tons of carbon
generated during the construction have not been accounted for.
Q6.2 Are environmental costs and benefits
(including in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the
A6.2.1 The fact that HS2 Ltd and the Department
for Transport are not conducting a proper Environmental Impact
Analysis until after the decision has been taken underlines that
they are not taking the environmental issues seriously.
A6.2.2 I have four main areas of concern:
Emissions (detailed in Paragraphs A6.1.1-6).
Appraisal of Sustainability is misleading on noise as the noise
contours previously promised were not provided, making it impossible
to properly assess the likely noise impact of HS2.
was assessed against inappropriate standards. For example, an
average measure of noise exposure has been used, which is inappropriate
where the noise is against a tranquil background, for which peak
emissions are appropriate.
of the very high speeds, aerodynamic noise becomes the major source,
against which conventional noise barriers are largely ineffective.
mitigating efforts for the noise produced by HS2 will produce
unsightly walls and barriers across the countryside. High noise
levels will be inflicted on residents both during the construction
and then operation. The noise maps provided fail to show the true
impact of the proposal and there is no information as to how the
noise targets will be policed and controlled if exceeded.
of the Landscape and the Impact on Chilterns and Green Belt:
of the proposed routes ignore the ANOB, green belt, farming land,
footpaths, ancient monuments and listed buildings. It impacts
national paths (for example the Ridgeway) and closes 79 rights
of way in Bucks alone. Other protected areas and historic buildings
may be at risk if the Route goes further North.
selection seems to have been based on speed and straightness.
As my previous statements convey, HS2 Ltd principles were flawed
with the overriding emphasis on speed and time saving at the expense
of all aspects of the environment.
and the eco-system:
of habitat will threaten rare species and result in losing many
trees. It will cut through 23km of high grade farmland. It will
have a huge visual impact - the track is 75m wide including a
25m non-vegetation zone on each side which is in stark contrast
to the propaganda pictures displayed by HS2 Ltd, showing sleek
trains running along green fields. Most worryingly, the AoS fails
to address potential local impacts, for example the effect on
the Chiltern Aquifer.
Q6.3 What would be the impact on freight services
on the "classic" network?
A6.3 None. HS2 ignores freight and the opportunity
to remove freight from the roads.
Q6.4 How much disruption will be there to
services on the "classic" network during construction,
particularly during the rebuilding of Euston?
A6.4 HS2 involves the complete rebuilding of
Euston Station whilst it remains in use with predicted disruption
for the significant term of eight years. Furthermore HS2 will
increase road congestion and cause severe disruption during its
lengthy construction duration and over its entire route due to
the major nature of the works creating the brand new infrastructure.
Whilst the RP2 alternative will inevitability cause disruption,
it would not be on the same scale as that created by the HS2 project.