Written evidence from Mo Smith (HSR 54)|
1. What are the main arguments either for
or against HSR
Autumn 2010 National Passenger Survey show record
overall satisfaction levels at 84%, with 85% satisfied with their
scheduled journey times ie.speed. A high speed rail network is
necessary in the U.K. and we already have one, travelling faster
than some of our European neighbours, at 125 mph. which in Europe
qualifies as high speed. We currently have quicker rail journey
times between our capital city and the next five largest cities
than in Spain, Italy, France and Germany (larger countries!!).
This speed is only limited on some existing routes by safety standards
that require in-cab signalling for speeds above 125 mph. Therefore
with investment (lower than HS2 spend), current and accurately
assessed future needs can be accommodated, at greater value for
money. (A DfT requirementsee Secretary of State for Transport,
Decision Making 27 April 2011)
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 strategic road network?
HS2 represents selective inter-urban connectivity,
with a number of large cities and local journeys not on line,
having a reduced service. It is questionable whether it is "inter-urban"
as the stations are outside the major conurbations eg HS2 goes
to Water Orton (West Midlands Interchange) outside Birminghamgiven
the speeds required it cannot go into the city, therefore a new
station is proposed in Birmingham.There are already three stations
in the city (Birmingham New Street currently undergoing a major
refurbishment costing millions of pounds) and the proposed site
of the fourth station is not in close proximity to the other stationswhere
is the "inter-urban" connectivity? Whilst there is limited
information available on the "Y" route- here too is
mention of a "Manchester outskirts" stationwhere
is the connectivity?
Additional road journeys will be required to reach
few and far between stations on the proposed HS2 routewill
this require greater investment in the road network to handle
increased car journeys?
2. Focussing 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?
Current plans eg doubling of commuter capacity planned
for Milton Keynes-London c 2016, service improvements from Rugby
not progressed, Lichfield (where HS2 will not be travelling at
proposed speeds), Tamworth, Nuneaton, Stafford, Crewe- potential
service improvements not taken forward.
3. What are the implications for domestic
HS2 projects that only 6% of journeys will be transfers
from air travel. There are no air journeys between Birmingham
and London, so unclear how this can be achievable in Phase1. Phase
2flights between London, the North-West and Scotland have
been in decline since early 2000. Should air space be freedBAA
have publically stated that it will be replaced by more long and
medium haul flights out of Heathrow.
3. Business Case
1. How robust are the assumptions and methodologyfor
example, on passenger forecasts, modal shift, fare levels, scheme
costs, economic assumptions(eg about the value of time) and the
impact of lost revenue on the "classic" network?
Long distance travel has not increased in the past
15 years and is now approximately the rate of population growth
(Evidence supplied and accepted by the Select Committee for Transport,
October 2010). HS2 has used the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook
which is more appropriate for short term forecasting. In any event
the DfT have used an out of date PDFHversion 4.1 which
was superseded in August 2009 by version 5, explaining that they
did not want to change methodologies. However the time frames
were changed from March 2010 (forecast year 2033) to February
2011 (forecast year 2043), therefore "methodology" can
be changed. The calculation for modal shift is questionable with
HS2 predicting air shift of 6% and car at 7%, whilst the biggest
shift (65%) is from existing rail passengers. If this is the case
it will be to the detriment of income on the "classic"
network that can be expensive and is already heavily subsidised.
No account has been made for time on train journeys as "working"
time, nor for the additional time taken on car journeys to reach
the few HS2 railway stations ie door to door. There is no recognition
of technological advances which negate the need for personal face
to face interaction.
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 railway?
There is no requirement for a new conventional rail
network. The DfT assess alternatives on a "do minimum"
basis which would be fine for short timescales; however they have
extended the period by 10 years, 2043! NoteHM Treasury
"National Infrastructure Plan 2010" puts the best use
of the extensive assets already in place, at the top of a new
hierarchy for infrastructure investmentis this compatible
with HS2? The HS2 Business Plan has no recognition that improvements
in train journeys are happening this year and there needs to be
serious consideration given to reducing first class compartments,
increasing numbers of platforms, in-cab signalling etc. RP2 can
deliver the capacity improvements even when using the same base
as HS2-2008. Changes to WCML can be incremental without major
disruption to trains and passengers.
3. What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
Experience has shown that the demand and increase
in train travel has been due partly to the availability of airline
style pricing with internet booking"overcrowding"on
cheaper train journeysthe cheaper the price, the busier
the train - hence demand can be predicted.
4. What lessons should the Government learn
from other major transport projects to ensure that any new lines
are built on time and to budget?
The World Bank "High Speed Rail: The fast track
to economic development" July 2010 "high-speed projects
have rarely met the full ridership forecasts asserted by their
promoters and in some cases have fallen far short". HS1 is
such an example, and we only have to look abroad to much larger
countries such as China and at least three American states, who
have abandoned future plans for high speed rail.
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)
The more curve to the line, the slower the train,
HS2 stating that it will be "high speed" to Birmingham
Internationalnot so, passengers will have to alight at
the West Midlands Interchange Station and board an Automated People
Mover. The Government has already pledged money to Birmingham
Council to improve road facilities around the "proposed"
location of the West Coast Interchange Stationis this in
preparation? Birmingham Curzon Street will be the fourth station
in Birmingham with no connection to the other three and the furthest
out of the City Centre. Given the curvature of the line from the
West Midlands Interchange, it will not be able to achieve "high
2. Which cities should be served by an eventual
high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right
This is difficult to assess as little has been published
on the Y route until 13 April, well after the publication of the
Consultation. It is invidious therefore to seek comment or include
the Y route in a public consultation. Communities and Local Authorities
(or have HS2 already contacted councils up the line?) north of
Birmingham are possibly uninformed or at worst, unaware. There
are issues with service assumptions and benefits. How can the
project aim to reduce overcrowding, whilst the areas that arguably
require regeneration and connection to other cities have no overcrowding
issues? In any event, stations in Phase 2 may not serve cities-
merely the outskirts of cities, and require further travel either
by foot, car or people carrier.
3. Is the Government correct to build the
network in stages, moving from London northwards?
Regardless of how the programme would be managed
it would cause severe disruption, not only the actual build but
the transfer of materials, spoil etc.
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 these the right decisions?
It is an expensive solution (in cost and for the
environment) to supplying a "fourth runway" for London
Heathrowas Birmingham airport has been dubbed.
It is debatable whether this is actually required
given the DfT changes to air passenger demand.
5. Economic rebalancing and equity
1. What evidence is there that HSR will promote
economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic
HS2 predict 30,000 new jobs, however these will mainly
be in the vicinity of the new stations and seven out of 10 jobs
will be in London. It is thought that it will be service sector
jobs that are affected. London is the major player in the financial
services market so travel to London will continue. HS2 anticipate
growth in leisure trips to London due to the high speed line,
outstripping trips from Londonwidening the North-South
2. To what extent should the shape of the
network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local
and regional regeneration?
Certainly this should be a major consideration, however
in areas that require this e.g. the Potteries, it would not be
feasible due to the need for the line design to achieve speeds,
and limited stops, which again would impact on proposed speeds/times.
3. Which locations and socio-economic groups
will benefit from HSR?
Almost 40% of HS2 perceived benefits attribute to
business time and reliability savings. Long distance travel is
made predominantly by the more wealthy (calculated by HS2 as households
with an income in excess of £70k per annum) and this is where
HS2 assess the most benefitthe business users. Should the
U.K. taxpayers subsidise the high earners?
There is a dichotomy in that the Government has initiated
a review into how people, in particular those in the business
sector, adopt alternatives to travel.
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 cost of HS2 will be met by the UK taxpayer, with
private funding requested for rolling stock (who will supply this
as there are no manufacturers in the UK?) and stations. Businesses
and Local Authorities seem to be very vocal in supporting HS2,
as a means to regeneration and perceived increased business opportunities.
However to ensure that they share the responsibility, they should
be charged with earmarking funds towards the cost (if necessary
held in escrow) to ensure that they pay for the benefits which
they believe HS2 will bring to their business/community. (Put
their money where their mouth is)
EU's TEN-T programme aims to improve transport for
"goods and people to circulate through member states".
Would HS2's published Business Case meet these criteria?
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?
See 2.3 BAA have publically said that released short
-haul slots (including those to Europe) would be re-used for more
profitable medium and long haul flights.
There is no recognition in the Business Case for
innovations in the automotive industry, to reduce carbon emissions
for the period up to 2043!
HSR will use daytime electricity consumption (18
hours) however HS2 continue to use overall total 24 hour electricity
generation in their calculations.
HS2 acknowledge that it is "carbon neutral"that
is inequitable when as a country we are planning to conserve energy.
2. Are environmental costs and benefits (including
relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business case?
As with carbon emissions, there are inaccuracies
in the way HS2 measure noise pollution. HS2 are using a measurement
system which looks at average noise over an 18 hour period (Leq)standard
occupational noise exposure for public places, such as high streets.
This is inappropriate for HS2short bursts followed by quieter
periods. Part of the planned timetable is what is deemed as "night-time"
(World Health Organisation) - these do not appear to have been
3. What would be the impact on freight services
on the "classic" network?
There is an already an excess on the W.C.M.L. Network
Rail is currently upgrading Felixstowe-Nuneaton cross country
which will create greater capacity. Capacity north of Nuneaton
can be increasednot by HS2 but by infrastructure investment
to relieve specific pinch points.
Increasing freight movement is correct; however it
can also bring an increase to short road journeys. The containers
at the rail depot, still have to be transferred to their end destination.
4. How much disruption will there be to services
on the "classic" network during the rebuilding of Euston?
HS2 acknowledge that work will take eight years and
"possibility of some disruption to both services and the
station concourse". The WCML and its passengers will be affected
for this period, unnecessary as there are alternatives to reducing
disruption in shorter timescales and at less cost.