Written evidence from Andrew Bodman (HSR
What are the main arguments for or against HSR?
1. The net benefit ratio for HS2 lies between
0.3 (phase 1) and 0.6 (phases 1 and 2) when corrected figures
are used for demand and benefits (Source: HS2 Action Alliance).
That is well short of HM Treasury requirements where the minimum
value is 2.
The UK economy (GDP) flatlined between October 2010
and March 2011. Its growth in the first quarter of 2011 was 0.5%,
which was below that for Greece (0.8%) and the eurozone (0.8%).The
European Commission has downgraded its forecast for the UK's economic
growth to 1.7% for 2011. In these circumstances the Government
must seriously question spending £33 billion on a project
particularly when there are much better value for money alternatives
HS2 offers poor value for money. At a cost of £130m
per mile for phase 1, it will cost more than four times as much
as the average European high-speed line. (Source: Financial Times
HS2 is likely to require an ongoing subsidy based
on the fact that there are only two profitable high-speed rail
routes in the world: ParisLyon and TokyoOsaka. (Source:
The operators of the recently opened high speed rail
systems in the Netherlands and Taiwan have run into serious financial
difficulties. (Source: Reuters and International Journal of Business
and Management). As the UK rail system already receives an annual
subsidy of £5 billion per year, I consider it inappropriate
to consciously add to that.
The design is fatally flawed because there will be
a bottleneck on the BirminghamLondon section of HS2 once
the high speed lines to Leeds and Manchester are opened. See my
response to section 4.2 on page 4.
The focus of the HS2 project appears to have been
on reducing journey times rather than increasing passenger capacity;
in my view, increasing passenger capacity is the more important
priority. A train running at 225 mph for most of its journey from
London to Birmingham will save 10 or 11 minutes over a train running
at 160 mph. Is that 10 minutes so important? In my opinion it
One of the biggest issues facing our rail system
is seriously overcrowded trains at peak times travelling into
major conurbations such as London, Leeds and Manchester. HS2 addresses
a very small proportion of that problem as it focuses on one route
(West Coast Mainline) and provides some additional relief on another
route (East Coast Mainline). It does not address the serious overcrowding
that has existed for years on other routes into London, as well
as routes into Leeds, Manchester, etc. which affects season ticket
holders, regular commuters and other rail users some of whom regularly
have to stand for their journeys every day.
It will be 15 years (Birmingham) and 21 years (Leeds
and Manchester) before HS2 brings any solution to existing and
future train overcrowding. It is unacceptable to wait all those
years when there are much cheaper solutions available in a few
years time, ie Rail Package 2.
During HS2 phase1, Manchester and Stockport will
have a reduction in seat capacity on their routes despite this
route being forecast to have the highest passenger growth. Some
stations such as Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent and Shrewsbury are expected
to experience a reduction of train services. For HS2 phase 2,
the following stations would see no passenger capacity increase:
York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Berwick on Tweed, Edinburgh.
(Source: HS2 Action Alliance).
In 2006 Sir Rod Eddington was commissioned
by the Government to examine the long-term links between transport
and the UK's economic productivity, growth and stability. In volume
3 of his report, you will find the following: "4.166 Upgrading
rolling stock and lengthening trains on congested rail links,
combined with changes to timetables to increase frequency can
significantly increase the effective capacity of existing rail
lines. Evidence of illustrative interventions to increase variable
capacity on inter-urban links into London by investing in new
rolling stock, for example, suggests strong returns are possible
from well-targeted interventions, with wider BCRs ranging between
1 and 13 and costs between £50 and £500 million but
more typically between 1 and 3.28 The higher returns are largely
driven by the ability to add variable capacity with minimal infrastructure
requirements". That describes Rail Package 2 very neatly,
a much cheaper option the Government is now choosing to overlook.
The compensation arrangements are completely unsatisfactory.
Homeowners whose houses will have to be destroyed have not been
contacted by DfT or HS2 Ltd. The principles on which compensation
will be based have not yet been determined, even though many homeowners
have suffered property blight for more than one year. One of the
compensation schemes being considered will not provide any compensation
until 2027 (phase 1) or 2033 (phase 2). One is hardly encouraged
by the workings of the Exceptional Hardship Scheme when 60% of
the applications made so far have been rejected (Source: Guardian,
15 May 2011). The compensation arrangements are quite unacceptable.
HS2 is claimed to be broadly carbon neutral; that
is unlikely given that 87% of passengers will either be making
new journeys or be switching from lower carbon "classic"
rail. Even if it is carbon neutral, that is not compatible with
a government objective of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by
It is also routed through an Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty and is opposed by many organisations such as the
Campaign to Protect Rural England, Green Party, Institute of Economic
Affairs, National Trust, Ramblers, Royal Society for the Protection
of Birds, The Wildlife Trusts and Woodland Trust.
The Kent Criteria for HS1, established by Kent County
Council, do not appear to have been adopted for HS2.
It appears that the cost of the link to Heathrow
has been omitted from the consultation material. That would add
at least £7 billion making a total cost of approximately
£40 billion for phases 1 and 2. (Source: costing by Arup
engineers, printed in Uxbridge Gazette 11/05/2011). Hence the
business case for HS2 becomes even worse and the public consultation
is taking place with incorrect costs.
How does HSR fit with the Government's transport
2.2 It is likely there will be adverse effects
on rail investments in other parts of the UK. For example, an
announcement was made on 25 November 2010 that 650 additional
rail carriages would be introduced between 2010 and 2014. However
this represented a 50% reduction from 1300 of the number of carriages
previously announced to be added in that time period. (Source:
2.3 The majority of passengers currently travelling
between Manchester and London use rail in preference to air travel.
Those who may switch from air to rail if HS2 is built are more
likely to be based in Glasgow or Edinburgh. If any slots are released
at Heathrow or Gatwick then these will almost certainly be used
for long haul flights instead (Source: BAA), which will increase
not reduce carbon emissions.
3.1 While the DfT's latest forecasts for HS2
now show a rail passenger growth of 216% (was 267%) by 2043 (was
2033) for HS2 routes, the forecast is flawed for several reasons.
Eddington has said that the model used should not project forecasts
for more than 10 years. Out of date forecasting factors have been
used; PDFH v5.0 should have been used. The historic base 2008
base numbers have been changed. Demand for travel is saturating;
this has been ignored. The above information comes from HS2 Action
In 2006 Aalborg University made a study of 210 infrastructure
projects in 14 countries; they found 90% of rail projects had
overestimated passenger forecasts. The average overestimate was
106%. By 2009, Channel Tunnel rail passengers (9.2 million) had
reached approximately one third of those originally forecast for
2006 (25 million).
Fare levels have not been provided in the HS2 consultation
documents. However they have a very direct bearing on whether
a user chooses to travel by high speed rail or classic train.
On HS1 in Kent, the high speed fare premium appears to be 20%.
(Source: The Trainline for fares from Ashford to London). This
has discouraged a significant number of regular commuters from
switching to HS1 from classic trains. Consequently South Eastern
Trains have taken a number of the Javelin carriages out of use
as demand has not met their expectations. (Source: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/824624-140mph-train-service-is-reduced-after-complaints
Kent rail travellers on conventional trains have
been very upset by the slower trains (more stops), less frequent
service and higher prices since the HS1 Javelin service was introduced.
Over 2,000 of them signed a Downing Street petition and their
MP Roger Gale even asked questions in the House of Commons.
In making the case for HS2, it has been assumed that
business travellers do not work on trains. Therefore it is argued
that any time saved by a reduced train journey is an economic
benefit. The logic applied is clearly wrong as anyone travelling
on rush hour trains will see passengers using laptops, mobile
phones or preparing for meetings by reading through presentations.
This error seriously undermines the business case.
The impact of lost revenue on the classic network
is likely to mean that it will require increased subsidy (in addition
to that required for HS2 itself).
3.2 Rail Package 2 (LondonBirmingham)
provides a 177% increase in standard class capacity which is far
in excess of the 102% background growth forecast by HS2 for 2043
(Source: Chris Stokes). It has a cost of £4.3 billion rather
than £17 billion (2009 prices). RP2 can be delivered in a
few years rather than waiting for 2026. It provides a risk free
incremental approach (rather than the HS2 all or nothing). It
has a net benefit ratio of 3.6 rather than the HS2 net benefit
ratio of between 0.3 and 0.6, using corrected figures from HS2
Rail Package 2 would provide an increase in capacity
by lengthening existing WCML trains to 12 carriages (except Liverpool
trains which would have to be limited to 11 carriages) and by
refitting one first class carriage per train as standard class.
It also involves removing seven existing pinch points. Similar
principles could be applied on ECML and MML. (Source: HS2 Action
Alliance and Chris Stokes).
I attach no credibility to the recently revised costings
for RP2. To suggest the cost of rolling stock has increased by
100% in 13 months is simply not believable. The DfT also said
that the uplift for risk and optimism bias had been omitted and
therefore needed to be added to make it comparable to HS2. However
I would suggest that it was already included; see "High Speed
Two Strategic Alternatives Study, Strategic Outline Case"
by Atkins March 2010 on page 56, there is a breakdown of the costs
for Rail Package 2; this includes a 60% uplift for risk and optimism
bias. Hence we appear to have a case of double counting for RP2.
A conventional line would not require such a straight
route and therefore there would be more possible choices of route.
In addition its rolling stock would be cheaper (engineered for
lower speeds) and it would be greener because its energy consumption
would be less.
3.3 Rail travel should be encouraged as an alternative
to air or road as it is generally considered to be a greener form
of transport. Therefore reducing demand for rail by significantly
increasing rail fares will almost certainly increase carbon emissions.
If the government want to reduce travel, one of the
ways of doing so would be to provide a better broadband service.
Compared to many other countries our broadband service is slow;
we need to use fibre cables to improve broadband speed. Rural
areas must be included. This will make video conferencing more
accessible, assist businesses in many ways and facilitate more
working from home.
The Strategic Route
4.1 Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham Curzon
Street are stand alone stations which are not integrated into
the existing rail network. Passengers arriving at Curzon Street
will either need to make a 10 minute walk to New Street station
to connect to the rest of the rail network or perhaps queue for
a long time for a taxi. The design is unsatisfactory because some
of the stations are not integrated with the existing rail network.
4.2 The UIC (The international Union of Railways)
has indicated that the maximum number of trains which may run
per hour is 16 where the maximum speed is 350 kph (217 mph). Greengauge
21, the pro-HS2 lobby has admitted that the maximum is 15 trains
per hour. In Europe the maximum scheduled frequency of high speed
trains on any one track is 12. (Source: HS2 Action Alliance).
On page 61 of the Economic Case for HS2 (Source: DfT), it indicates
a peak hour schedule of 18 trains per hour on the section between
Birmingham and London once the high speed lines to Leeds and Manchester
are completed. It closely reflects the existing frequency of services
at peak hours to the destinations listed. The HS2 schedule on
page 61 does not include any trains for Heathrow, Europe (via
HS1), or Edinburgh.
The consequences of this are as follows:
cities may suffer a reduced train frequency with HS2 at peak hours
compared to that which they currently experience.
existing peak hour train frequencies (WCML, ECML) may have to
be further reduced on HS2 to cater for trains to Heathrow, Europe
and possibly Edinburgh.
is absolutely no room for expansion (for more trains per hour)
once the high speed lines have been built to Leeds and Manchester.
This is a monumental shortcoming.
train failure or breakdown on the section between Birmingham and
London will have major knock on effects with trains separated
by approximately three minutes and carrying up to 1100 passengers.
Unlike on a classic rail line, there are unlikely to be convenient
alternative tracks to pass a stricken train.
The Atkins report "Because Transport Matters"
(published in 2008) contained the following remarks: "By
contrast, the Full Network option is likely to require additional
capacity on the southern core section of the route relatively
quickly (Figure 2.3). This reiterates the conclusion that a
single HSR trunk connection to London is unlikely to provide the
necessary capacity" (my italics). The "Full Network"
is virtually identical to HS2 as far north as Leeds and Manchester,
and then has a single high speed route to Scotland up the east
side of the country.
I think the design of HS2 is fatally flawed for these
reasons. A better solution for the planned capacity would be to
have another high speed line linking East Midlands to Kings Cross
or St Pancras to reduce the loading on the BirminghamLondon
It is also questionable whether the underground rail
services at Euston will be able to cope with an additional 10,000
passengers per hour at peak times, which is more than double the
existing volumes. (Source: possible passenger volume from HS2
Ltd Route Engineering Report).
4.3 The planning for phase two will run in parallel
with the construction of phase one. Construction of phase two
may start before phase one is open. So phase two construction
may well be underway before we know whether the forecast passenger
demand is going to be achieved.
Economic Rebalancing and Equity
5.1 HSR is likely to increase the north-south
divide not decrease it. The HS2 consultation report indicates
that over 70% of the anticipated new jobs created will be in the
London area (22,000 out of 30,000). A study by Greengauge 21 indicated
that annual growth in London by 2040 is likely to be at least
twice that in the West Midlands with or without HS2. (Source:
Consequences for Employment and Economic Growth, 02/2010). The
Research Institute of Applied Economics at the University of Barcelona
made a study of high speed rail in five countries and found that
any increase in jobs was more likely to occur at the larger/largest
city with a possibly negative effect at any smaller city connected
to the high speed rail network.
5.2 It is desirable to support local and regional
regeneration, and this can be achieved partly through improving
local transport infrastructure. HS2 is not the way to achieve
that (see 5.1 above).
5.3 The location that will benefit from this
is London in terms of job creation. The users who benefit will
mostly be affluent and hence least in need of subsidy.
6.1 HS2 has been described as being broadly carbon
neutral. Bearing in mind that the Government has committed to
achieving legally binding targets of reducing carbon emissions
by 80% by 2050, then HS2 is an unsatisfactory solution. The government
cannot expect to achieve such a target unless it makes very significant
changes to carbon emissions in its long term strategy.
6.2 The DfT is currently conducting a consultation
process with the public for HS2. The process cannot be valid if
the environmental impact assessment has not been made available,
noise contour maps have not been made available and the method
of compensating homeowners has not been decided. It appears the
Government does not want to compensate homeowners until 2027.
That is both unacceptable and indicates that compensation has
not been properly accounted for.
6.3 There will be enormous disruption to Euston
during construction of HS2 and additional disruption for users
of the Great Western and Chiltern services for approximately eight
years. Euston's reconstruction has been likened to "open
heart surgery on a conscious patient". There will also be
significant disruption to road and rail users (where bridges have
to be built), local inhabitants and businesses which lie on the
route of HS2 during its construction. It is not clear whether
all public footpaths and bridleways interrupted by HS2 will be