Written evidence from Stoneleigh Action
Group (HSR 65)|
TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE TERMS OF REFERENCE
1. What are the main arguments either for
or against 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 is to be considered a negative feature of an
overall rail programme. Negative because it is likely to drain
financial resources from other low key but essential developments.
Should the focus be on inter-urban connectivity per se, or should
it be directed towards an overall enhancement of the rail network?
Again looking at transport as a whole, there is a
danger that other projects will be shelved in favour of HSR.
What overall vision is there for HSR, ie after HS2,
will there be HS3 etc and might it not be an idea to consider
If we can provide an example from our own area, Kenilworth
our local town, has a population of approaching 30,000 people,
no station (closed in the Beeching cuts) and may get two railway
lines within its boundaries if HS2 goes ahead. To get onto HS2
would involve a 11 mile commute to Birmingham International or
a commute to Coventry or Leamington main line stations. Both of
these activities rely on carbon fuel. We understand that a possible
subsidy for a station in Kenilworth is now severely in doubt,
but these are the sort of interventions we would rather see, not
politically brash, but essential.
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?
We understand that HSR would drain financial resources
from classic rail as above. The danger then is that the classic
rail network then starts to fall apart as evidence from France.
3. What are the implications for domestic
Between London and Birmingham there are no flights,
a search of Birmingham Airport's website reveals no flights to
London, so HS2 will achieve no modal shift here. There is the
possibility that if modal shift occurs for flights over longer
distances, the tendency is for airport operators to attempt to
replace these with even longer flights, so any environmental objectives
will be compromised.
3. Business case
1. How robust are the assumptions and methodologyfor
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?
We would just wish to comment that time on a train
now with technologies cannot be considered to be time lost. The
only point to stress here is that seating capacity must be provided
but that would not matter whether classic or HSR.
We will leave others to comment on robustness of
models but there is always the danger that models can be fitted
to support an argument pro or anti.
Have the proposals taken into account the nature
of future work. We are educating our secondary school children
today for jobs that do not exist now but will when they leave
school seven years later. What is the likely impact of technology
on business travel? Why travel when you do not need to? We are
then looking leisure/personal travel.
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?
We would urge the Committee to look at the implications
of RP2a. Its critics have said that this is not future-proofed,
but if the predictions turn out to be true, the network cannot
wait for the advent of HSR in 2025, so some form of RP2 will need
to be implemented. Has that been factored into any financial equation?
3. What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
Since the rail companies have introduced an airline
style of pricing this has undoubtedly increased demand, especially
for leisure travel. It is fair to say that leisure travel is more
price sensitive than business travel and that the latter will
always be a primary market. This will not achieve any modal shift
of sufficient quantity. If business travel is well catered for
and classic rail then starts to unravel, there is a danger that
mass market movements will revert to road.
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?
Employ independent companies to carry out review,
pricing etc without political restraint, and publish the results
without any adaption. Set realistic timescales and prepare thoroughly
before starting. These proposals seem rushed especially the proposal
of the Y network north of Birmingham which "feels" like
an unresolved afterthought to counter opposition to a London to
Birmingham route which does not offer any significant time savings,
one of the chief arguments for HSR. We would argue that reliability,
safety and cost are more important.
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)
It seems a very complicated route structure and these
intermediate stations counter the desire for high speed, but acknowledge
the difficulties of putting HSR into established urban areas.
More stations would again slow trains so the argument for very
high design speeds is weakened. However, if HSR is successful
it creates economic winners and losers, eg Birmingham wins Coventry
loses as classic inter-urban rail travel diminishes. Our view
is that a reduction in the design speed allows for a better alignment
of the track and also allows the opportunity to reroute it along
an existing transport corridor.
2. Which cities should be served by an eventual
high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right
Evidence suggests that the busiest transport corridor
is north-west from Birmingham, so this is a probable priority.
Once again the case for High Speed Rail is weakened by the close
proximity of cities in the north west of England. So the question
again is: will HSR and its high design speeds provide the right
fit? We think not.
3. Is the Government correct to build the
network in stages, moving from London northwards?
If it is so badly needed, which we dispute, then
what timescales are on offer?
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?
Certainly there is a common perception of being able
to board one train in say Manchester and getting off in Paris.
This is not the case and many people remain unaware of this.
What is the point in surcharging Heathrow, an airport
we are told that is already under heavy load? Other regional airports
exist and have capacity, but does the Government want to encourage
air travel or can we believe that the so called modal shift is
being done for environmental reasons?
5. Economic rebalancing and equity
1. What evidence is there that HSR will promote
economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic
What other incentives will there be to spread economic
activity away from London as opposed to creating a super economic
hub in London?
2. To what extent should the shape of the
network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local
and regional regeneration?
What evidence is there that this will help at all?
We have a rail network with good inter-urban connectivity so will
this really be a seismic shift? We doubt it. We see a proposal
which will aid regional pockets and which is not inclusive.
3. Which locations and socio-economic groups
will benefit from HSR?
It seems to us the South East and white collar and
professional/ management groups. Does a rail line have a greater
priority for the movement of goods than of people? This would
then favour manufacturing which can then locate where conditions
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?
Yes they should. This is the only equitable way to
distribute a partial way of generating wealth. This could be in
the form of a percentage tax on economic activity.
What is the role of the Local Authorities with regard
to emergency provision on the section of track within their area?
If they have to make provision as is likely, what will this provision
consist of and how will it be funded:
(a) in implementation; and
(b) in ongoing costs.
If we take the case of Warwick District Council,
or local authority, there is the potential for an economic liability
for no economic return, so they will require subsidies.
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?
We have already commented on what appears to be a
confused set of objectives. We have our commitments to Kyoto Earth
What consideration of the following carbon costs
has been allocated in the proposals:
the embedded carbon cost from construction and the
construction carbon consumption, eg construction traffic, deliveries
the size of the electricity demand and its generation?
2. Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
No we believe not. It appears to be a net loss to
the physical environment without obvious gains.
If we concentrate on acoustics, there is no data
available for trains running at the maximum speed (400kph), data
only goes up to 360kph and although responses stated are typically
that trains will get quieter and initially trains will not run
at that speed etc, then reconsider the track alignment. There
appears to be no modeling for trains passing each other. It is
clear that airborne noise dominates above 300kph and since we
have been running high speed trains for 30 years, the nose design
must have been optimized, so there is no apparent magic solution
waiting to be discovered to reduce the train-in-motion noise.
3. What would be the impact on freight services
on the "classic" network?
If we are to believe this there will be more slots
for freight but there is also talk of improving local train routes
so the two may be incompatible.
4. How much disruption will be there to services
on the "classic" network during construction, particularly
during the rebuilding of Euston?
This is not something we wish to comment on. Clearly
there will be disruption and Euston is a pinch point.