Written evidence from Leslie Fawcett (HSR
1. Thankyou for the opportunity to comment on
2. A new railway will almost certainly be needed
but the current HS2 plan is fatally flawed.
3. Please press the government to commission
an independent review of HS2 by professionals not tied to DfT
or HS2 Ltd, as part of a national transport plan.
4. The plan does nothing towards the legally
committed 80% reduction in CO2 emissions, while a sensible
route at a sensible speed could make a major contribution befitting
the largest rail scheme in the UK for over a century.
1. What are the main arguments either for
or against HSR
It is most likely that we will need new rail tracks
northwards from London to carry the number of people wanting to
travel and the government is right to plan for it. The forecast
passenger numbers are only forecasts and they may turn out to
be wrong. A flexible policy is needed to respond to demand as
the picture becomes clearer. This can be achieved by incremental
development of the network, not by an all-or-nothing segregated
railway that will take 10 years of construction before it is any
use at all, and will then be found to be not what the nation actually
2. How does HSR fit with the Government's
transport policy objectives
2.1 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?
Rail is the correct means of achieving the extra
capacity for long-distance passengers and freight that will be
needed in the future for an increasing population, consistent
with the commitment in the Climate Change Act to reduce our CO2
emissions by 80%.
Road will remain the principal mode of UK transport.
Rail developments can reverse the long-term increase in road usage,
especially for long distance journeys, thus obviating large-scale
expenditure on trunk road and motorway works. Since it is widely
accepted that we cannot build our way out of road congestion,
rail is the answer.
A shortcoming of the HS2 plan is that it deals only
with one corridor. A national rail plan is needed incorporating
HS lines where appropriate.
For local journeys, light rail and bus should be
developed together with further discouragement of car use. This
will reduce congestion and carbon emissions while allowing economic
development in a growing population.
2.2 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?
The rate of spend on HS2 will be similar to the current
spend on Crossrail and Thameslink, while other rail works continue.
Consequently there is no reason why development of the classic
network should not progress concurrent with HS2.
Demand is likely to increase on all rail corridors
so the HS2 plan should be part of a national rail plan considering
2.3 What are the implications for domestic
Demand for long-distance air transport is likely
to rise despite rising fuel price. Airport space can be released
by replacing internal and near-continent air travel with HS rail
travel. This will give slots for more long haul flights by larger
aeroplanes, without new runways.
International agreement is needed to subject air
travel to the same realities as surface travel, eg VAT and fuel
Passengers going to Heathrow will be a very small
proportion of those using HS2, so access to Heathrow must not
be allowed to dominate the HS2 plan.
3. Business case
3.1 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?
The forecasts put forward by HS2 Ltd are symptomatic
of someone striving to prove a weak case. Whilst it is true that
Treasury approval will not be given unless there is a business
case, the case should be made for HS2 to Manchester and Leeds
rather than for the expensive first phase out of London. Forecasts
can be wrong, therefore we should develop a range of plans in
parallel. We have five years before construction is due to start
and can reassess our plan during that time. This is more realistic
than a gung-ho pursuit of a very expensive segregated HS2 that
is not what the nation needs.
Scheme costs are unreliable. For example, a blanket
figure has been allowed for diversion of statutory services, whilst
"stats" can form over half the cost of urban schemes.
Records of underground services are available from all the "stats".
Costs should be calculated from the actual work needed rather
than a blanket figure. The unreasonable charges made by stats
as monopolies should be challenged, but this is a matter outside
this study. It is a reason for UK construction costs being higher
than those in similar economies.
The transport planning profession have calculated
the value of time on a train as lost time, and have only recently
acknowledged that time is not all lost time because passengers
work on trains. Philip Hammond recently announced that the NATA
transport tool will be replaced by a new tool giving more emphasis
on carbon emissions. Application of this to HS2 will lead to some
of the basic flawed decisions being challenged, eg 400km/h and
DfT infatuation with Old Oak Common, the source of the disastrous
choice of route.
The HS2 plan should be specific about its effect
on classic services.
The theory of HS2 releasing capacity on classic tracks
is valid where trains are removed from towns where they currently
pass without stopping, but is detrimental to towns where services
stop now and would be taken away. The aspirations of bodies such
as Centro and Greengauge 21 for a considerable increase in classic
services consequent to the opening of HS2, are not backed up by
any responsibility to provide those services, and in some cases
there are not the available paths for them without additional
works that are not proposed within HS2. That is why a national
rail plan is needed rather than one for HS2 in isolation.
3.2 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?
Alternatives to HS2 have been developed and costed.
Whether they would provide sufficient capacity depends on the
passenger numbers. Forecast numbers may prove to be wrong. The
government is right to progress the HS2 plan, indeed it would
be irresponsible to neglect it in the face of the forecast demand.
The answer to the uncertainty is to progress the alternatives
in parallel. We have five years before construction is due to
start. In that time we can reassess our needs and have more confidence
in the likely demand before committing to construction. The government
should take a neutral stance in the debate rather than spending
public funds promoting HS2 to a sceptical public. Most important
of all is for the government to commission an independent review
of HS2 which would either reassure the public that the right decisions
have been made, or more likely to reveal that the plan is fatally
flawed and needs to be reconsidered.
3.3 What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
Price is a valid tool in a purely commercial venture
but rail is a public service highly dependent on public funds.
Fares are already labyrinthine with widespread anomalies and unfairness.
Managing demand by price would increase the unfairness, and perhaps
more importantly if there is insufficient capacity we will reap
the economic consequence. Pricing is valid as a temporary measure,
if only to raise the funds for a better railway, but is no substitute
in the long term for providing the capacity needed.
3.4 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?
Experience shows that when risk is offloaded by employers
onto contractors, prices rise, claims rise and delayed completion
is more likely. This often happens where there is insufficient
time to complete design work before inviting tenders, and when
the employer has insufficient expertise to do the detail design.
The remedy is to design the project in detail before asking contractors
to price the work.
Incremental development allows continuous smooth
demand for expertise and construction industry output, and allows
the first section completed to be used while construction of later
phases continues. This is better than waiting 10 years to see
if it all works.
4. The strategic route
4.1 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)
The plan for HS2 is defective, perhaps because the
brief was wrong. If the design team had been asked what transport
provision the nation needed, they may have come up with a different
plan from the one making a beeline from London to Birmingham.
Euston is the right choice for a London terminus
because it is the only place with sufficient space.
Old Oak Common is ideal as an interchange for various
services including those running off HS2 en route to Heathrow,
but there is no justification for diverting HS2 miles off its
natural course northward from Euston, very expensively in tunnel,
wasting time by stopping at OOC, then having to exit London via
the Chilterns AONB in yet more tunnel which is only likely to
get longer to placate protestors. (Tunnels form 25% of the construction
cost of HS2, stations another 25%).
Commentators have agonised over whether HS2 should
go through Heathrow. It should not, nor should it go near Heathrow
on the vague notion that it would allow easy access to Heathrow.
There is no need for a change of train to go to Heathrow if trains
run from various cities via HS2 to north London then directly
to the various Heathrow stations via N London line and OOC.
The proposed station near Birmingham is the worst
example of an out-of-town parkway sucking in thousands of cars
on roads already congested, then needing another journey to reach
NEC/B'ham airport. There is no need for it when there is International
station in exactly the right place, with space for more platforms
and car parks if needed, and already rail connected to most of
Fazeley St is the best compromise for a station in
central Birmingham. It is unfortunate that it also called Curzon
St because this leads people to believe it would be at the original
station some distance from New St and Moor St stations. Terminus
stations need travelators to reduce the walk distance. Travelators
(or at least a shuttle bus) are also needed to integrate the new
station with New St station.
Moor St station should be integrated with Fazeley
St to form one interchange station. The space above WCML should
be bridged over to provide pedestrian, bus and taxi space between
the old and new parts of the station.
4.2 Which cities should be served by an eventual
high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right
All communities along the route should benefit, not
by having a HS line to each of them but by having UK gauge trains
running off HS2 to existing city centre stations. This needs HS2
to be integrated with the existing network to link cities rather
than being a stand-alone showpiece railway that links just a few
of them to London. It will need 4 tracks to do it. HS2 have proposed
this then forgotten about it in their detail plans, and they have
admitted that a second route north would be needed eventually.
We must get it right first time.
A Y-plan would be acceptable if it could achieve
those principles, but it will not. A spine and spur route east
of the Pennines will connect more cities with less route miles
on easier terrain at less cost and with less carbon emissions
in construction and in use.
4.3 Is the Government correct to build the
network in stages, moving from London northwards?
Yes, it is inevitable that the project will develop
within the limits of cash flow and construction industry capacity.
A basic error in the HS2 plan is that the London-Bham
section is proposed to take 10 years and £17 billion before
it is of any use whatsoever. If passenger numbers increase as
forecast, that will be too late. If instead HS2 is linked to WCML
near Rugby, it will come into use earlier and cheaper while construction
progresses onward. This alignment along M1 allows early connection
to MML at Leicester and eventual connection to ECML, thus serving
all communities north of London.
4.4 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?
I can't evaluate the relative merits. Both links
are needed, but they do not have to be HS rail links. It may be
helpful to say that Heathrow needs better rail access from all
directions, but HS2 is not the vehicle for it given that only
about 2% of HS2 passengers will want to go to Hrow.
The proposed single track connection between HS1
and HS2 is likely to be regretted in the future. Double tracks
5. Economic rebalancing and equity
5.1 What evidence is there that HSR will promote
economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic
There is no doubt that an HS station will attract
development around it (as at Lille in France) but the effect will
be local and development may not be desirable there, eg at the
Bickenhill WM interchange which would be in the green belt. Benefits
around the station will be counterbalanced by disbenefits to communities
remote from the station.
Network Rail's 2009 New Lines Study evaluated the
benefits to each city served. Not surprisingly they were proportional
to the size of the city. This means that the north-south divide
would be exacerbated by HS2 rather than relieved, not only by
favouring the largest cities but also blighting the communities
bypassed by a poorly-designed HS2. The way to avoid that problem
is to design the route of HS2 so it is not London-centric and
to make sure all communities are included.
5.2 To what extent should the shape of the
network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local
and regional regeneration?
HS2 should take into account planned developments
rather just trying to serve communities as they are.
It would be a mistake to skew the network as a means
of social engineering, hoping economic generation will follow
HS2 in areas with deep economic problems.
5.3 Which locations and socio-economic groups
will benefit from HSR?
Locations that will benefit are those near the stations.
Claims that benefits will spread from cities with stations to
cities without them are somewhat optimistic when the clear indication
is that communities not served will be blighted. Wolverhampton,
Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall, Stoke on Trent, Coventry and Leicester,
would all be disadvantaged by the current plan, whilst an alternarive
plan integrated into the existing network could be benefit all
of them and be of so much more use to the nation as a whole.
Users of HS2 are likely to be mainly the higher echelons
of society. This is true of the existing railway and is likely
to be more prevalent with a premium cost service. Classic services
are likely to suffer as those prepared to pay the higher fares
are creamed off by HS2. Classic services will have less passengers
when HS2 runs parallel, the remaining passengers will be more
price-conscious, so services will need more subsidy or will be
5.4 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?
The government should seek EU funding and it is surprising
they have not already done so in view of the large sums already
Making local authorities and businesses contribute
to the cost would no doubt dampen their enthusiasm. It has only
been worthwhile for local authorities and businesses to lobby
for HS2 on the assumption they would get an advantage over others
without having to pay for it. There is no perfect formula, but
the government could propose one on the French TGV model where
the state gives the largest contribution, the region gives some
(TfL and Centro or the successor to AWM), businesses pay an enhanced
business rate and the local authority gives a smaller amount.
It would be interesting to see local reaction to such a proposal.
The clamour by various cities to be served by HS2 is perhaps more
to do with them terrified of the indignity of being left out than
any confidence in HS2 being of real benefit to them.
6.1 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?
HS2 Ltd tell us that carbon emissions will barely
change due to HS2 (+0.3% to -0.3%). That is not acceptable for
the biggest transport scheme for over a century when we are committed
by the Climate Change Act to reduce our emissions by 80%. If HS2
cannot contribute, what can?
The major source of transport emissions is road.
That is because road is the dominant form of transport. It is
therefore essential for any rail scheme to enable a reduction
in road use.
Rail is nominally more green than other forms of
transport, but the situation reverses when a full car or coach
is compared with an empty or poorly-loaded train. The way to ensure
trains are well loaded (especially if they have 1,100 seats as
proposed) is to run them along a series of cities. A spine and
spur arrangement achieves this, whilst a fan of tracks radiating
from London does not.
The design speed of 400km/h involves more construction
cost and environmental damage than is necessary. Energy use increases
exponentially with speed. No rail service in the world runs at
400km/h. HS2 Ltd describe this as future-proofing. Their plan
cannot be future-proof when they say that a second HS route will
be needed northwards from London for the passengers not served
by HS2. It is clear that there will not be a case for a second
HS2 after the first has creamed off most of the flow. We must
get it right first time. The way to do that is to route HS2 directly
north from London along the M1 corridor and to link it with WCML,
MML and ECML to relieve the congestion on all those routes that
will be congested by the time HS2 is open.
6.2 Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
It is not possible to accurately evaluate noise,
visual intrusion, division of communities and disruption during
construction, in money terms. The relative values can only be
a judgement. It is the lack of such judgement that has lead to
the insensitive current HS2 plan.
6.3 What would be the impact on freight services
on the "classic" network?
Any new rail tracks are bound to yield spare paths
for freight. Whether the railfreight industry uses them is subject
to commercial judgement. Part of the national rail plan I am asking
for is enhanced freight facilities subsequent to the opening of
6.4 How much disruption will be there to services
on the "classic" network during construction, particularly
during the rebuilding of Euston?
Rebuilding of Euston is necessary and must involve
some disruption. This can be minimised by working through the
station gradually, taking two platforms out of use at a time,
as in the rebuilding of New St. There is no need to expand the
footprint of Euston or to demolish five blocks of flats. 400m
platforms can be built within the current area, 2 new platforms
can be added in place of a lorry ramp, some local services can
be diverted to Old Oak Common. Pedestrian travelators are needed
for 400m platforms as it is unreasonable to expect passengers
to walk that far. Combined with escalators and a new pedestrian
deck above the platforms, this gives more pedestrian area within
the same footprint and the opportunity to separate conflicting
pedestrian flows. Stations form 25% of the construction cost of
HS2 and rebuilding of Euston is planned to take all of the HS2
construction period. There is scope for large cost savings at
Euston and OOC, and earlier completion.