Written evidence from North West Rail
Campaign (HSR 66)|
The North West Rail Campaign (NWRC) is a partnership
of organisations from both the private and public sector. The
overarching aim of the campaign is to achieve economic growth
in the North West in line with the Government's first stated priority
in the coalition agreement of May 2010 of rebalancing the economy
outside of the South East. In transport terms, this means investment
in projects that will connect people with jobs, cities with each
other, and increase the productivity of the labour market in the
North West through the enhancement of infrastructure to solve
the problems of capacity, specifically around the Northern Hub
and on the West Coast Mainline. We believe that HSR addresses
our priorities for releasing capacity around the West Coast mainline
and increasing inter- urban connectivity, ultimately helping rebalance
the North West economy with that of the South East.
The following paper seeks to address the issues that
the Transport Select Committee wishes to examine and does so following
consultation with a wide range of stakeholders in the North Westcivic
leaders, Local Authorities, the Greater Manchester Chamber of
Commerce, the North West Business Leadership team, trade unions,
Transport for Greater Manchester, Merseytravel and the Manchester
1. The Main Arguments for High Speed rail
The case for high speed rail is primarily driven
by the huge increase in passenger demand seen over the past 10-15
years and the projected need over the next 20-30 years for more
transport capacity, rather than a "need for speed".
The West Coast mainline is due to become saturated in the next
10-15 years and this saturation will have negative economic impacts
for the North West and UK as a whole as time progresses. Increasing
capacity through high speed rail has real benefits for the economy,
improving journey times for passengers, and improving the connectivity
of the UK. Releasing capacity on the classic network has additional
benefits for the movement of freight to/from the North West and
HSR will have particular benefits for inter- urban
connectivity in the North West, whose economy is knowledge and
high- tech based and dependent on high quality intercity links.
Current poor inter- city connectivity in the North, particularly
around the "Northern Hub" will act as a major constraint
to narrowing the North/South productivity gap if allowed to continue.
The costs of doing business and attracting labour in the North
West are also higher than they need to be.
2. How does HSR fit with the Government's
transport policy objectives?
1. HSR is designed to improve inter-urban
connectivity. How does this objective compare to other transport
policy objectives and spending programmes, including those for
the strategic road network?
HSR meets the Government's first priorityto
rebalance the economy outside of the South East. As the largest
economy outside of London, the North West is well placed to address
this challenge. Linking businesses in the North West with other
markets in both the United Kingdom and Europe will provide a significant
and sustained impetus to the regional economy. Freeing up space
on the existing rail network will also create significant capacity
for local and freight services.
It is also generally accepted that existing road
capacity cannot meet the forecast increase in demand, is not an
environmentally sustainable solution. and that other solutions
have to be found. There are also physical constraints to how much
road building would be feasible (especially into our urban centres)
and it has been accepted by successive Governments that no one
solution in itself is the answer and that an integrated approach
to transport investment is the best solution to meet demand, mitigate
environmental impact and encourage modal shift to more sustainable
2. Focussing on rail, what would be the implications
on expenditure on HSR on funding for the "classic" network,
for example in relation to investment to increase track and rolling
stock in and around major cities?
For HSR to be effective, the classic rail network
serving the North West needs to get people to and from the new
high speed services. Early investment in the Northern Hub, for
example, is needed to address the capacity and connectivity constraints
in the North West that currently act as blockage to economic growththese
problems need to be addressed well before HSR services begin.
Government has already recognised this and the announcement of
the £85 million investment in the "Ordsall Chord",
connecting Manchester Victoria with Manchester Piccadilly is the
first of a series of projects that will free
up capacity on the Transpennine routes and allow better connections
between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. Services such as this
will be essential to support the new high speed line.
3. What are the Implications for Domestic
The advent of the Virgin Pendolino from Manchester
to London, connecting the two cities within just over two hours,
has already seen modal shift from domestic airlines to train and
this would be expected to continue and increase with HSR. Elsewhere,
the Spanish high speed network, AVE, has hugely reduced air travel
from Madrid to Barcelona. In addition, this type of modal shift
should take pressure away from the need to build more runways
in the South East, freeing up slots at South East Airports and
generating long term carbon savings.
3. Business case for HSR
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?
NWRC believes that the assumptions made by HS2 Ltd
are conservative and have recently been revised in line with updated
data. Estimates of cost have been derived from a detailed assessment
of the needs of the scheme and comparisons with costs of construction
of HS1 and other rail schemes. There is also a Treasury-inspired
"optimum bias" built in which adds 64% to infrastructure
capital costs these costs have been tested with HS2 and
a panel of independent experts. Within these estimates there are
ranges to reflect different views of the risks and performance
of the rail network. There is an underlying assumption that the
scheme would be entirely Government funded, but the Secretary
of State has already made it clear that there is an expectation
of private sector contributions, particularly where station locations
would offer specific local economic benefits. Private sector contributions
would increase the benefit:cost ratio (BCR), lowering the costs
2. What would be the pros and cons of resolving
capacity issues in other ways, for example by upgrading the West
Coast mainline or building a new conventional line?
The West Coast Mainline saw completion of a major
upgrade in 2008, having taken 10 years, cost of £9 billion,
and caused significant sustained disruption to rail services over
much of that period of time. This level of disruption was a major
cause of concern to businesses across the North West of England
over most of the last decadeit led to significantly extended
journey times, very poor weekend services, and major periods of
bus replacement both on local and longer distance services, and
rail diversions. The House of Commons Public Accounts committee
concluded in 2007 that some parts of the West Coast mainline were
already near or already at peak capacity, and that by 2015-2020
the line may not have enough capacity to meet demand.
Building a new conventional line is estimated to
cost only fractionally less (9%) than building a high speed line.
The small additional cost to Government of a high speed line over
a conventional upgrade yields significant extra benefits. The
BCR for a new classic line is estimated to be around 1.6conversely
for HS2 London to Birmingham it is 2.0.
3. What would be the pros
and cons of alternative means of managing demand for rail travel,
for example by price?
There is a logic for variable pricing, eg charging
higher fares for peak time travellers. Generally speaking, though,
pricing passengers off trains and onto roads for long journeys
would only serve to increase road congestion and act as an impediment
to economic growthit would also give no advantage in terms
of the speed of journeys.
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?
It is important that when planning major transport
projects that Government does the detailed engineering and planning
analysis well in advance, so that adjustments to stations, track
etc are thought out well in advance in order to avoid the mistakes
of previous projects. We are concerned that without proper planning
for the North West services in phase one that expenditure might
be wasted as happened in respect to investment in Waterloo station
in the HS1 project. It is therefore vital that any modifications
to the infrastructure between Birmingham to Manchester to accommodate
the phase one services is planned for as part of phase 1 (London
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)
Linking two of Britain's main cities, London and
Birmingham, has major economic benefits in terms of agglomeration.
In the longer-term the high speed network will also release capacity
on the Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line, both due to
reach peak capacity by 2030. In assessing whether fewer or more
stations should be considered, time consumption in slowing down
and then speeding up in and out of stations should be taken into
account, as adding longer journey times starts to decrease the
benefits of high speed rail.
The selection of interchange or intermediate stations
should consider both the best usage of the HS2 line and the onward
connections from any intermediate station onto the classic network.
A few key nodes need to be identified on both networks where interchange
can take place effectively. Any station opportunities should also
link to wider economic development plans to ensure the investment
captures the wider GVA benefits. For example, in the North West,
Crewe is a key node on the classic rail network, so enhancing
connectivity there would benefit a large number of other North
West towns and cities. With its strong rail heritage, it also
provides a potential site for an HS2 maintenance base which would
be consistent with existing plans for its role to grow as a key
economic growth point.
2. Which cities should be served by an eventual
high speed network? Is the proposed Y the right choice?
It is important that the major cities of Britain
are served by High Speed Rail, to give the benefits of agglomeration
and to start the rebalancing of the economy outside of the South
East, in line with the Government's first stated priority. As
the North West region has the second largest economy outside of
London, high speed rail will help to grow the economy of this
region, greater connectivity will be an impetus to further growth.
In Manchester, in particular, and has the potential to attract
further investment, being well connected to a major international
airport. The extension of the high speed rail network to Glasgow
and Edinburgh offers those cities the economic growth potential
and agglomeration benefits of Manchester, Birmingham and London.
Conventional services between the northern cities need to be much
better developed through the hub programme and further electrification.
. High speed rail will also free up existing rail networks for
local commuter travel and freight services. The logic of Manchester
International Airport as an interchange station, is strong. This
airport provides for good inter modal connectivity,
being currently served by rail, bus and major motorway links.
3. Is the Government correct to build the
network in stages, moving from London northwards?
The Government is correct to propose building in
HSR stages, but we question why there is such a proposed delay
in the construction between phase 1 and 2, given that the development
work for phase 2 is only 18 months behind that of phase 1. As
noted above it is vital that proper planning is done for services
to Manchester, and infrastructure that might be needed north of
Lichfield, as part of "phase one".
4. The Government proposes a link 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?
NWRC supports the proposals for a link to HS1, as
part of phase 1 construction, as access to European markets will
allow North West businesses to achieve economic growth through
direct access to the channel tunnel.
We agree that a future HSR link to Heathrow is needed,
making Heathrow more accessible to North West passengers as part
of Phase 2 plans. The investment into Manchester International
Airport as an interchange station would provide a good link between
HSR phase 2 and Heathrow.
5. Economic rebalancing and equity
1. What evidence is there that HSR will promote
economic regeneration and help bridge the North- South economic
Evidence that HSR will promote economic regeneration
and help bridge the North-south economic divide comes from other
areas in which HSR schemes have been integrated with a range of
transport modes, enabling modal shift quickly and efficiently
and enabling easy access to job markets and major cities. Agglomeration
benefits are achieved when travel between cities brings them 'closer'
together in terms of accessibility, eg Paris and Lyon, the latter
having seen significant economic growth since the introduction
of a high speed link. Early local estimates are that approximately
10,000 jobs would be created in the North West by the introduction
of HSR, generating almost £1 billion of economic output (GVA).
2. To what extent should the shape of the
network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local
and regional regeneration?
The shape of the network should be influenced by
the need to support regional and local economies. The proposed
"Y" shape achieves this, linking London, Birmingham,
Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow.
3. Which locations and socio economic groups
will benefit from HSR?
The city centre station locations will likely benefit
from HSR, with the expected creation of economic growth around
station locations and therefore local job markets and increased
productivity. The benefits of HSR are not limited to these areas,
however and it is expected that the "ripple" effect
of HSR-related growth will be felt across the region. Freeing
up capacity on the classic network will also allow for expansion
of local train services, connecting people with those job markets.
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?
Through the careful development of the Hybrid Bill,
the Government can ensure that steps are in place to extract appropriate
financial contribution from the major beneficiaries of HSR, in
order to reduce the burden on the taxpayer. For example the Crossrail
Bill included the use of a supplementary business rate to levy
funds from the private sector, drawing in £150 million. The
private sector could be involved in Section 106 style planning
agreements where businesses will directly benefit from development
around stations on the new line.
1. What will be the overall impact of HSR
on the UK's carbon emissions? How much modal shift from aviation
and roads would be needed for HSR to reduce carbon?
HSR could significantly reduce carbon emission levels
in the UK as faster modes of land travel will naturally encourage
modal shift from car and air travel (see section 2 above). Research
by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) concludes
that HSR travel produces only 1/3 of the carbon emissions of car
travel and ¼ of the emissions of an equivalent trip by air,
bearing in mind the different loads on each mode. It is estimated
that the line between London and the West Midlands alone will
provide carbon savings of 5 million tonnes of CO2
over 60 yearsif that line were extended up to Scotland,
the CO2 savings would be approximately one million
tonnes each year by 2055. De-carbonisation of the UK's electricity
generation facilities should reduce carbon emissions even further.
2. Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
NWRC believes that assessments of environmental costs
and benefits are conservative and based on both detailed assessment
of demand in the future and future carbon environmental. Significantly
they exclude long term effects that might accrue from impacts
on housing location through wider shifts in future transport patterns.
The impacts of HS1 and other rail schemes have also formed part
of these assessments.
3. What would be the impact on freight services
on the "classic" network?
It is essential that some of the classic network
capacity is freed up for freight, in order that connectivity can
be improved to ports and airports. Volumes of freight are due
to increase by 140% by 2030, according to Network Rail's Route
Utilisation Freight Strategy and it is essential that this demand
is met by increasing capacity, or this will have a negative impact
on the North West's economy.
4. How much disruption will there be to services
on the "classic" network during construction, particularly
in the rebuilding of Euston?
There is bound to be disruption to the classic network
during the construction phase, but not nearly to the extent seen
in the upgrade of the West Coast mainline. This phased upgrade
was more complex and expensive than predicted and saw journey
times increase and modal shift move away from rail to car and
air during and after construction. North West businesses feel
it is important that these problems are not repeated. The disruption
caused by the upgrade of the West Coast mainline is in itself
a strong argument for the construction of a brand new rail line.
The North West has many areas of high environmental value and
the commitment to building an HS2 line to the highest possible
standards of environmental protection is essential to minimise
the impact on residents and communities and the natural, historic
and built environments. The use of cuttings, cut and cover and
box tunnels for example can go a long way to mitigating against
negative environmental impacts.