Written evidence from the Glasgow Edinburgh
Collaboration Initiative (HSR 98)|
Glasgow City Council, City of Edinburgh Council and
Scottish Enterprise share the following position on high speed
The case for building a UK high speed rail network
is well established. We believe it is vital for future economic
prosperity. However, the full economic and environmental benefits
associated with High Speed Rail will only be realised with the
construction of a dedicated HSR line over the entire route between
London and Scotland.
We believe that the UK Government should further
explore the opportunities to build the network from both ends
and give a clear commitment to building a continuous HSL to Scotland.
Current proposals to run High Speed services on existing track
north of the border do not deliver the sub 3 hour journey time
required to ensure maximum shift from air to rail and return on
1. What are the main arguments for or against
1.1 The main arguments for HSR are as follows:
1.1.1 Economic growth; capacity constraints on
much of the existing rail network are costly to business and restricting
economic growth. HSR is the fastest-growing transport mode in
Europe; there is a danger of regional British cities losing out
to regional European cities, in the absence of HSR connectivity.
1.1.2 As the DfT's HS2 consultation documents
state, business "consistently underlines the importance of
95% of companies agree that the UK's road
and rail network is important to their business
lines have an unrivalled capacity to enable rapid and direct journeys
between central business districts
" Between 1994 -
2010, "passenger miles travelled rose from 18 billion to
almost 32 billion. The fastest growth of all has been in demand
for long distance travel".
1.1.3 "Many services on
are already extremely full. Despite
the WCRM programme, long
distance services on this route are regularly overcrowded. Almost
half of all long distance Midland Main Line trains arriving into
(London) in the peak have passengers standing
demand on the
London-Manchester route will grow by around 60% by 2024
on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines
growth of more than 70%...from 2007 to 2036. Even higher
1.1.4 Capacity on the existing network can be
effectively increased by removing express services. This requires
alternative long-distance routes. Having established the need,
it is generally more cost effective to build such a route for
high speed rather than 125mph/200kph standards.
1.1.5 A new HSR line will release capacity on
existing lines, facilitating improved local passenger and freight
rail services and encouraging more modal shift from road.
1.1.6 Reduced journey time particularly over
longer journeys will help deliver the shift required from plane
to train. Current journey times between Glasgow/Edinburgh and
London are too long for rail travel to morning business meetings.
Same-day return trips by rail leave little time in the destination
1.1.7 Reduced emissions; increased capacity and
reduced journey times encourage modal shift from air and road
to rail. The emission benefits from HSR are highest where trains
run with high load factors and use renewable electricity. The
greatest reductions will be on longer journeys (eg London - Scotland)
where city centre - city centre journey times by rail will be
faster than air and significantly faster than those by road.
1.1.8 Four major studies confirm the strategic
case for HSR as an intercity rail investment:
study for the SRA and 2008 Update (Transport Matters);
"New Lines" study, 2009.
Fast Forward, 2009; HS2 Ltd Reports and Consultation Documents
1.2 The main arguments against HSR are:
1.2.1 Affordability; the UK is likely to be emerging
from the current economic downturn by the time of major expenditure
on HSR. Private sector jobs and growth, which will be unlocked
by HSR, will make the UK economy less vulnerable to future economic
downturn. Affordability is sometimes linked to doubts about demand
forecasts. Recent ATOC figures for number of train journeys confirm
the rapid growth in rail travel, which is at it highest level
for 90 years.
1.2.2 Disruption; building new lines is likely
to cause less disruption than widening an existing transport corridor,
which would not only disrupt existing transport services but also
necessitate relocation of business and homes.
1.2.3 The costs of adding capacity to the existing
network are much more difficult to estimate than those for a new
alignment and upgrading existing infrastructure is neither sustainable
in the longer term, nor good value for money.
1.2.4 Environmental damage; environmental impact
can be mitigated by sensitive design and ancillary works. In "quiet"
areas, the introduction of noise where there is presently silence
will have an impact, but intermittent noise from passing trains
is, arguably, less intrusive than constant road traffic, night
and day, from a motorway.
1.2.5 It is sometimes claimed that Britain is
too densely populated to warrant or allow HSR, however, the UK's
population density is therefore fairly typical of countries with,
or planning, HSR.
1.2.6 The argument that new communication and
information technology will reduce travel is sometimes associated
with a view that transport appraisal overstates the value of time
savings, especially given the increasing possibilities of using
travelling time productively. However, historically improvements
in communications technology have not reduced travel demand; if
there is any correlation, they have increased it.
1.2.7 If productive travel time was more important
than a fast journey, there would already be much greater modal
shift from plane to train on UK routes. But it appears that increased
air journey times and inconvenience, associated with increased
security procedures, have produced such modal shift as has taken
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 programmes, including the
strategic road network?
2.1.1 Britain faces a long term economic challenge
to move into recovery and growth, competing on an international
stage. It is our cities that will drive this growth and underpin
the national economy. The Core Cities and their primary urban
areas alone produce 27% of England's economic output, more than
London, with Glasgow and Edinburgh home to just over 20% of Scotland's
population but generating around 31% of Scotland's economic output.
They could do more with the right infrastructure in place.
2.1.2 Enhancing the strategic road network can
improve local capacity but ultimately generates more traffic,
leading to greater congestion elsewhere. By contrast, investment
in HSR creates capacity for an alternative travel mode. Congestion
costs business £23.3 billion a year. HS2 is an important
first step to avoiding this costly problem.
2.1.3 Road schemes dominated investment between
1945 and circa 2000. From a strategic and long-term perspective,
current rail investment (including HSR) merely goes some way to
restoring the balance between modes of transport.
2.1.4 Over longer distances, (eg Scotland-London),
HSR will also abstract air traffic significantly reducing carbon
emissions. It will also produce economic benefits as HSR journey-time
can be used more productively than air travel.
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?
2.2.1 Spending on new HSR need not reduce spending
on the existing network. The argument that HSR funding should
be reallocated across the existing network, or that HSR would
distort investment funding, misunderstands the nature of priorities
and finance in government.
2.2.2 "High-cost" rail projects are
already under construction: London Crossrail (£18 billion
over around seven years) and Thameslink (£5.5 billion over
around eight years). These do not appear to have affected funding
for the "classic" network; note for example Great Western
Main Line and ECML enhancements, IEP, and further WCML enhancements.
The peak annual spend on HSR is likely to be similar to that
on Crossrail, which will be largely complete as HS2 construction
starts. Crossrail has a BCR of 1.87, which is less than that of
2.2.3 It is very doubtful that equivalent funding
could be invested in the existing railway. There is a limit to
the amount of work that it can sustain at one time. The cost of
HS2 phase one spread across the existing network is equivalent
to implementing the WCML upgrade on the WCML and the ECML simultaneously.
2.2.4 HSR may constitute the most cost
effective means of increasing capacity in and around major cities.
2.3 What are the implications for domestic
2.3.1 HSR services between London and Birmingham
would have little impact on domestic aviation. Extending HSL to
Manchester and Leeds would reduce journey times between London
and Scotland sufficiently to encourage some transfer of domestic
air travel to rail. It would probably eliminate any remaining
air services between London, Manchester and Leeds, except, perhaps,
for some interlining.
2.3.2 To achieve a significant modal shift from
air to HSR, however, a new HSL over the full distance between
London and Scotland is needed, eliminating the current time penalty
by rail. In 2009, some 20% of journeys between Edinburgh/Glasgow
and London were by rail. If the rail journey time were reduced
to less than 3 hours by a new HSL throughout, it is anticipated
that around 80% of journeys would be made by rail, saving 4 to
5 million domestic air trips on these routes.
2.3.3 Reducing domestic air travel between HSR-served
cities could release capacity for additional domestic flights
to cities beyond the reach of HSR (eg Aberdeen and Inverness)
and/or international flights. These could bring economic benefits
in excess of those already calculated from the construction of
a HSR network.
3. Business case
3.1 How robust are the assumptions and methodology
eg passenger forecasts, modal shifts, fares, costs, economic assumptions
(eg the value of time) and the impact of lost revenue on the "classic"
3.1.1 As noted above, Atkins, Network Rail, and
Greengauge 21 separately researched the case for HSR. Each considered
a slightly different network, but all produced a case for a north-south
spine route linking the major cities between London and Edinburgh/Glasgow.
3.1.2 HS2 Ltd's methodology is based on standard
DfT and Treasury models and cannot, therefore, be challenged in
3.1.3 It has been argued that HS2 Ltd
assumed that time on trains is "un-productive" and therefore
overestimated the benefits of HSR. In fact HS2 Ltd made no such
assumption. Furthermore Greengauge21 reported that counting time
on HSR trains as "working-time" marginally increases
the overall benefit:cost ratio for HSR (because the productive
time gained by passengers transferring from car and air outweighs
the working time lost by passengers transferring from classic
train services of longer duration). HSR may also create a better
working environment than current rail services, affording greater
productivity for passengers than other modes.
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?
3.2.1 The recent West Coast Main Line upgrade
added significant capacity but this is rapidly being filled as
passenger numbers rise; it is likely to be exhausted by 2020.
Even if additional capacity was created, this would soon be exhausted
too. Consequently, Network Rail concluded that the only realistic
long-term solution for travel between London and West Midlands
is to provide an additional line.
3.2.2 The WCML upgrade was initially estimated
at £2.1 billion; the cost after a decade of disruptive work
was £9 billion, with less capability than originally planned.
Moreover, the new timetable was developed only by a series of
compromises that restricted development of commuter services,
cross country and freight.
3.2.3 The recent ECML capacity review indicated
that stakeholders' realistic aspirations might be achieved only
to the medium term. The new timetable (May 2011) was achieved
only after several years work; it is still not optimal.
3.2.4 Proposed improvements on existing routes
are not detailed, so cannot be tested, or their feasibility verified.
However, an alternative "Rail Package 2a" was set out
as the best of a range of alternatives to HS2 examined by the
DfT. On completion, RP2a could be followed only by route upgrades
with BCRs of 1.11 to 0.85. At which point HS2 would still have
to be built.
3.2.5 The "High Speed Rail Strategic Alternatives
Study" indicates that the best performing of three scenarios
has a BCR of 1.4; considerably less than the HSR network, but
still expensive (£13 billion). Another option would cost
£24 billion. These proposals produce a second-rate outcome,
whilst requiring significant expenditure, and probably need further
3.2.6 It is more effective to remove long distance
express services from these routes so they can be optimised for
other rail services.
3.2.7 The railway network was developed in the
1800s primarily to serve local markets, not as a national network.
Trying to achieve HS objectives by upgrading existing routes would
be like building the motorway network by upgrading A roads.
3.2.8 Increasing capacity on existing routes
does not deliver additional terminal capacity. As upgrades or
new conventional lines would not deliver the passenger numbers
of HSR, the business case for expensive new terminal capacity
may not be justified.
3.2.9 A new 125mph line could deliver increased
capacity but would not reduce journey-times and would therefore
be less attractive for longer journeys. Therefore there would
be less modal shift from road and air and consequently reduced
environmental benefits. Furthermore, it may not remove sufficient
long-distance journeys from the existing network to free capacity
on it for local journeys and freight.
3.2.10 Proposals for a new conventional (125mph)
line are likely to generate the same opposition on the line of
route as proposals for a HSR line. A new conventional line therefore
appears to be a non-starter.
3.3 What would be the pros and cons of alternative
means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
3.3.1 Managing demand by higher fares or by not
providing more capacity would encourage passengers to travel by
less sustainable modes. Passenger surveys score existing rail
services poorly on value for money. The government's policy is
to allow fares to increase by RPI +3% (except in Scotland). Furthermore,
the relative and absolute cost of public transport has risen over
recent decades, whilst the relative cost of car travel has declined.
Any national policy aim of encouraging sustainable travel has
to contend with this, before confronting any concept of managing
demand through price. Furthermore, it is not clear why public
transport demand should be managed by price when car travel is
not, other than in London and Durham.
3.3.2 There is a role for price in maximising
efficient use of the rail network. Differential pricing according
to time of travel and speed of journey could assist in maximising
train load factors on both the classic and high speed networks.
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?
3.4.1 The construction of new rail lines (as
opposed to rail upgrades) has a reasonably good track record in
terms of time and budget (eg HS1 and the Airdrie-Bathgate project).
4. The strategic route
4.1 The proposed route to the West Midlands
has stations at Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham International
and Curzon Street. Are these the best possible locations?
4.1.1 Atkins identified that city centre stations
are critical to a high-speed network. Non-urban stations on the
French TGV network are often very lightly used. Without direct
access to city centres, HSR risks replicating the access problems
of airports. Nevertheless, "parkway" stations can have
a role to play; as well as connecting the HSR network to airports
(as at Birmingham International), it is unrealistic to expect
all passengers to access HSR by sustainable modes to/from city
4.1.2 Curzon Street is adjacent to Moor Street
station, thus well-connected to the existing network.
4.1.3 There is an overwhelming connectivity case
for a London terminal in the Euston/Kings Cross/St Pancras node.
4.1.4 Given the scale of London, the multiple
potential origin/destination points within it, and the benefits
of dispersing HS passengers across the Underground, there is a
case for two stations in London.
4.2 What criteria should be used to assess
the case for more (or fewer) intermediate stations and 4.2 Which
cities should be served by an eventual high speed network? Is
the proposed Y configuration the right choice?
4.2.1 A High Speed network by definition serves
a limited number of strategic locations. TGV network managers
admit that their system attempts to serve too many small urban
centres. Frequency is important, and dispersing services so that
everyone gets a train every four hours is not good use of HSR.
4.2.2 Population size, demand and connectivity
should be the primary criteria; they generally coincide. The Government's
proposed network is not just about new lines, but services. Within
the timescales foreseen in the HS2 proposal, services should include
London, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds,
Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Nevertheless, the Y network
should be seen as a work in progress, not a final product.
4.3 Is the Government correct to build the
network in stages, moving from London northwards?
4.3.1 It is not feasible to build a national
network in a single effort, and therefore phased construction
is necessary. However, it should not preclude early completion
of route sections further north. We believe that the government
should strongly consider building the network from both ends in
light of the high BCR on sections of the line North of Manchester.
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?
4.4.1 The timing of the HS2-HS1 link arises largely
from construction/technical constraints. Later construction would
be practically very difficult, particularly expensive and disruptive.
4.4.2 The Heathrow link should be subsequent
to the Manchester and Leeds extensions, as a simple Heathrow link
may not be the best option. Connecting at Heathrow to a much wider
network south and west of London should be examined, so the objectives
of the Heathrow link need to be reframed.
5. Economic rebalancing and equity
5.1 What evidence is there that HSR will promote
economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic
5.1.1 A recent study by Oxford Economics
showed that the newly designated "Local Enterprise Partnership"
areas around the eight Core Cities alone could produce an additional
1 million jobs and £44 billion economic output over the next
two years, dependant on a number of growth factors, including
infrastructure investment. A full HSR network linking the major
cities of the UK would cost up to £69bn and would generate
over £125bn of economic benefits. These benefits are derived
from improvements in journey times, and crowding, reductions in
road congestion, environmental improvements and the economic benefits
arising in the release of capacity on the conventional rail network.
It also includes the beneficial effect on the productivity of
businesses through changes to employment patterns and agglomeration
5.1.2 There are examples of European cities that
have not benefited economically from HSR but what these cities
have in common is that they took little or no other action after
gaining an HS service. Cities which co-ordinated their social,
economic and planning policies and activities to capitalise on
HSR have benefited.
5.1.3 In Scotland, necessary actions were identified
by a study by Halcrow for the Glasgow-Edinburgh Collaboration
Initiative. Furthermore, we believe that the social, economic
and cultural infrastructure of Central Scotland is such that it
has the potential, given the right infrastructure, to unlock greater
5.1.4 Greengauge 21 identified a reported upsurge
in businesses relocating to Ashford after completion of HS1. The
South East England Development Agency expects it to be the fastest
growing economy in Kent in 2010-11.
5.1.5 HS2 serves city centres and should, given
the right conditions, promotes urban regeneration.
5.1.6 Nations across Europe are investing in
HSR, and this is both a threat and an opportunity: it makes other
countries a better location for investment, but it offers the
prospect of getting multiplier benefits from our own investment
by linking to European networks.
5.2 To what extent should the shape of the
network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local
and regional regeneration?
5.2.1 HSR is about making areas outside south
east England accessible and economic development balanced so it
is inherently linked to strategic regeneration.
5.3 Which locations and socio-economic groups
will benefit from HSR?
5.3.1 In absolute terms, all. However, relatively
the Midlands, north of England and Scotland will particularly
benefit. A study by KPMG work showed changes in average wages
following construction of HSR, comparing a scenario with Greengauge
21's H network with no HSR at all.
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?
6.1.1 See above. The Edinburgh and Glasgow -
London flows alone account for a quarter of total UK domestic
6.2 Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
6.2.1 Overall, HS2 has taken a very cautious
6.3 What would be the impact on freight services
on the "classic" network?
6.4 How much disruption will be there to services
on the "classic" network during construction, particularly
during the rebuilding of Euston?
6.4.1 See above.
Atkins; Because Transport Matters (2008).
Atkins; High Speed Line Study Summary Report (2004).
City of Edinburgh Council: Local Transport Strategy
2007-2012 (March 2007).
Glaeconomics; Reviewing the evidence on carbon emissions
from rail and air travel (2010).
GECI/Halcrow; High Speed Rail Wider Economic Benefits
Greengauge 21; Fast Forward: A High Speed Rail Strategy for Britain
HS2 Ltd/DfT; reports, 2009-2011.
Network Rail; New Lines Report (2009).
Network Rail; West Coast Main Line Route Utilisation
Strategy Draft for Consultation (2010).
Network Rail; London and South East Route Utilisation
Strategy Draft for Consultation (2010).
Network Rail; East Coast Main Line 2016 Capacity
289 Atkins was commissioned to study the feasibility
of a north - south HSL. The full network option included Glasgow
and Edinburgh Back
Rail's study was designed to identify how to relieve congestion
on the WCML and proposed a high speed line to Glasgow and Edinburgh
with spurs to Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester Back
Proposes the most comprehensive HSR network of the four studies,
and a benefit:cost return (BCR) of 3.5:1 . GG21's H shaped network
assumes 200mph operation and a London-Scotland journey time of
2hr 40mins Back
The UK is less densely populated than Taiwan, South Korea, the
Netherlands, India, Belgium, Japan and Vietnam but more densely
populated than Germany, Italy, China, Indonesia, Russia, Portugal,
France, Turkey, Morocco, Iran, US, Sweden and Saudi Arabia. Back
Measured as Gross Value Added using NUTS 2 data Back
'Our Cities, Our Future', Core Cities Group 2011 www.corecities.com
High Speed Rail: Consequences for employment and economic growth.
KPMG for GG21 Back