High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Graham Earl Collyer (HSR 59)

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

Answer Question 1

—  The benefits that HSR is alleged to deliver are completely and fundamentally flawed. The supporting evidence for my statement can be found by looking back at the way HS2 Ltd in conjunction with the DfT have consistently changed their way of "selling" the project to the tax payers of this country (of which the vast majority will see NO benefit). How can the public take this major transport project seriously if the organisations actively involved in delivering the project are having so much trouble substantiating and promoting it.

—  If there were outstanding business benefits, amazing environmental benefits irresistible trade and economic benefits for the country, I'm sure there would be great public support for such a scheme, but this couldn't be further from the truth.

—  The alternative RP2 proposal has in my option been almost completely overlooked, despite the enormous cost benefits it offers, whilst still delivering almost all the requirements of HS2. Of course there are much greater benefits for RP2 than just financial. One of the greatest being to protect our environment from irreparable and significant destruction.

—  One thing that HS2 cannot be accused of and that is being environmentally friendly. How can you propose a project of the magnitude of HS2 and "forget" to take into account the environmental impact of construction?

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?

Answer Question 2.1

—  We already have a rail network that serves our major cities, and which could I believe be improved by the implementation of RP2.

—  The general underinvestment and lack of maintenance on our road network has massive cost, business and other detrimental implications. I believe that investment in our road network would be far better use of funds, would benefit many more people more and have greater long term economic rewards when compared to HS2.

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?

Answer Question 2.2

—  It is inevitable due to the vast sum of money that the HS2 project would consume, even if it were to come in on time and budget (which on past performance of major construction projects would be very hard to visualise) that there would be a detrimental "knock on" effect to funding of the "classic" network. Which, in itself would have a negative impact on business and economic growth for the future.

3.  What are the implications for domestic aviation?

Answer Question 2.3

—  I believe the implications for domestic air travel due to HS2 are minimal, as 80% of the Manchester to London movements are currently by rail. In addition there has been a steady decline in domestic travel especially from Heathrow for a considerable amount of years. I cannot help noticing that this decline co-insides with the explosion of IT services and the inevitable "new" ways of conducting business.

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?

Answer Question 3.1

—  The fundamental business case assumes some very impressive facts and figures to help build an "acceptable" argument. In the initial months of the proposal, growth was estimated at 267%, this figure has now been downgraded by HS2 to 100%. Unfortunately this upset the benefit ratio figures for HS2, so to counteract this they increased the forecast period by 10 years.

—  One would have to question any models and forecasts on any aspects put forward by HS2 if they so readily amend and manipulate figures and data.

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?

Answer Question 3.2

—  As highlighted elsewhere in this document I believe RP2 addresses the requirements that HS2 are setting out to provide, but at far less cost both in financial, environmental impact, noise and disruption terms.

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

Answer Question 3.4

—  Contract assignment and strict budget and time constraints from construction companies are the most obvious way to bring any major transport project in successfully and within budget. But all to often especially when spending tax payers money there seams to be an open cheque book policy.

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?

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

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

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?

5.  Economic rebalancing and equity

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

Answer Question 5.1

—  Even HS2 Ltd own forecasts show that the major growth in travel would be into London, so how does this help bridge the north-south divide?

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

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

Answer Question 5.3

—  Examples from the French TGV shows that locations that were thought initially to benefit do not always do so.

—  As for the socio-economic groups that would benefit most, this would predominately be high earning business people as stated by HS2 Ltd. Therefore the minority not the majority of the population.

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?

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?

Answer Question 6.1

—  As previously mentioned, the construction of HS2 has NOT taken into account ANY carbon emissions, so without this data it is very hard to asses the shift that would be required from air and roads for HS2 to reduce carbon. Of course what we do know is that HSR is by definition a high carbon producer when compared to say other forms of rail travel.

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

Answer Question 6.2

—  No the environmental costs have NOT been correctly accounted for as a complete and thorough assessment of the environmental impact will not be conducted until AFTER the consultation period is completed.

—  I believe the noise assessment is also flawed, as the standards used appear to be deliberately misleading as they don't take into account the background setting in the most rural areas of the route, and the fact that aerodynamic noise is the major problem with high speed of which conventional sound barriers are mostly ineffectual.

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

Answer Question 6.3

—  As HS2 has been conceived with NO freight consideration (it would obviously spoil the proposed 20 minute time saving that HS2 is supposed to deliver) I believe that the impact on freight services on the "classic" network would be negligible even taking into account the "freeing up" of the "classic" network offered by HS2.

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

Answer Question 6.4

—  The disruption caused by the rebuilding of Euston in particular is almost immeasurable. Again this is another example of the benefit of RP2. Whilst there would still be major logistical and disruption issues, I believe they would be no where near the scale that HS2 would represent.

May 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011