Written evidence from Exeter City Council
1. How this evidence has been compiled
This evidence has been prepared with the approval
of the Council's Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Development
Our purpose in submitting this evidence is not to
express a view on whether high speed rail is in principle the
correct policy decision (since Exeter is nowhere near the proposed
high speed line). Instead, our evidence concentrates on issues
of relevance to Exeter and the wider South West. In summary:
support investment in transport (and rail in particular) as a
core element of the National Infrastructure Plan.
wish to highlight the importance of investing in the rail system
as a whole, in order that the benefits of high speed rail, if
adopted, can be distributed throughout the whole country. Specifically,
investment in local rail in Exeter and Devon is essential to underpin
the growth provided for by our emerging Core Strategy.
High Speed 2 comes to fruition, we strongly support the proposed
inclusion of an interchange with the Great Western main line at
Old Oak Common, and a connection to High Speed 1.
1.2 Our evidence
We have used your numbering, although we have not
provided evidence in response to every question.
2. How does HSR fit with the Government's
transport policy objectives
(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?
2.1 We are concerned about the implications for
funding the "classic" network. While we support a strategy
of enhancing the capacity and performance of Britain's inter-city
rail network, this should apply to the network as a whole, not
just the routes between London, the Midlands and the North. We
welcome the separate announcement that the route from London to
Bristol and Cardiff will be electrified, and urge the Government
to pursue progressive electrification of the remainder of the
Great Western inter-city network, including the lines to Exeter.
2.2 Use of local rail services in Devon has increased
by at least 10% annually between 2001 and 2010,
with minimal increase in capacity
and consequent overcrowding. No new infrastructure south west
of Bristol is proposed by the Great Western Route Utilisation
Strategy, despite recognising that by 2026, Exeter and its immediate
surroundings expect to see an additional 18,500 dwellings, 37,000
inhabitants and between 22,300 and 28,500 jobs.
2.3 We make this point because it is crucial
that development of a high speed system to serve the Midlands
and North is not achieved at the expense of investment in rail
in other parts of the country. On the contrary, complementing
the significant investment in high speed rail with relatively
modest sums for local rail will add value to the overall system
by enabling seamless journeys by train from one part of the country
2.4 To address the proposed growth in and around
Exeter, Devon County Council has worked up proposals for a "Devon
Metro" which include improved frequencies and additional
stations, including three within the city's boundaries. Their
Appraisal Report, submitted in support of our Core Strategy, costs
two of the stations (each comprising a single platform) at around
£4 million each, and the third (two platforms) at around
£6 million. While it is anticipated that significant funding
for the stations will come from developer contributions, including
a Community Infrastructure Levy, this is unlikely to meet the
cost of all three stations, or the additional passing loop (not
included in the above figures) which is necessary if all of the
stations are to be delivered. A passing loop and associated station
improvements at Penryn, Cornwall, were recently provided at a
cost of £8.5 million.
2.5 The increased frequencies, necessary because
our lines are already overcrowded during the peaks, will be dependent
both on funding and the availability of rolling stock. Developer
funding is not going to be sufficient to pay for additional trains.
In terms of rolling stock, it does not appear that sufficient
diesel multiple units (DMUs) will be available nationally to enable
increased frequencies to be operated on our local lines. While
some DMUs will be displaced by electrification (for example around
57 trains are to be released by electrification of the Thames
Valley network), we fear that there will not be sufficient diesel
stock nationally to replace the 140 substandard and ageing "Pacers",
let alone allow for increased services here and in other parts
of the country which are experiencing significant growth.
2.6 Between them, the stations and enhanced services
proposed as "Devon Metro" would make a significant contribution
to serving the development proposed in and around Exeter by our
Proposed Submission Core Strategy. Without them, the city's roads,
which are already operating at capacity during the peaks and near
capacity for much of the day,
will become even more congested. The Core Strategy proposes that
this development is concentrated near rail lines, which will facilitate
train travel as long as the necessary stations can be provided.
Exeter has a successful track record in this respect - Digby and
Sowton station opened in 1994 to serve a major area of new development,
and now caters for over a quarter of a million passengers annually.
2.7 Although the sums needed to pay for these
improvements are dwarfed by the £32 billion price tag for
HS2, they are massive sums for us to raise locally. Whether or
not HS2 goes ahead, this investment in "classic" rail
is essential if the rail network as a whole is going to have the
capacity to cater for anticipated growth across the country.
4. The strategic route
(1) Are the proposed stations in the best
(4) Is the link to HS1 the right decision?
4.1 If High Speed 2 is implemented, we support
the proposed interchange with the Great Western main line at Old
Oak Common, and the link to High Speed 1.
4.2 In our view, it is particularly important
that if high speed rail is adopted as a national strategy, the
high speed network should be fully integrated with the existing
system. This integration would be enhanced by enabling travellers
from west of London to connect with high speed trains at Old Oak
Common, rather than having to travel via Paddington to St Pancras
and back again.
4.3 This connection would admittedly be of more
benefit to travellers from towns nearer to (but west of) London
than it would to travellers from Exeter, who have direct services
to Birmingham and the north via Bristol. However, the proposed
connection to High Speed 1 would be of great benefit to the entire
South West, potentially enabling travellers from Exeter to connect
directly with HS1 trains. We strongly support this proposed connection.
(2) Which cities should be served by an eventual
high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right
4.4 We would make the point that the high speed
rail network described (the Y network) is not a "national"
high speed rail network, despite being described as such in the
DfT's Consultation Document. However, we recognise that improvements
are proposed to other parts of the national inter-city network,
including partial electrification of the Great Western lines,
which we welcome on the basis set out in paragraph 2.1 above.
We support the policy of progressive electrification of the rail
and would welcome an extension of the wires to Devon at the earliest
5. Economic rebalancing and equity
(2) To what extent should the shape of the
network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local
and economic regeneration?
5.1 There is a risk that in attempting to balance
the economy between the north and south, imbalances are created
elsewhere. For example the DfT's Consultation Paper refers to
HSR bringing both Manchester and Leeds within 80 minutes of London.
The fastest journeys from Exeter to Paddington take around 130
minutes. It is imperative that the rail links from London to the
South West are upgraded, including by the introduction of electric
trains, if the competitiveness of cities and towns in the region
is to be maintained.
85 Figures from Devon County Council Back
Increased frequency on the Barnstaple-Exeter line has been achieved
with County Council support Back
GW RUS Figure 5.1, page 114 Back
Exeter Infrastructure Planning: Baseline Traffic Evidence Base
Report-Devon County Council, February 2011 Back
As per the statement of The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, 1 March
At paragraph 1.6 Back