Written evidence from the Institution
of Civil Engineers (HSR 103)|
1. What are the main arguments either for
or against High Speed Rail?
1.1 The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
believes that the current proposals of the UK Government for a
High Speed Rail (HSR) network offers the potential for significant
economic benefits to the North of England, the West Midlands and
Scotland as a consequence of the freeing up of capacity on the
existing congested classic national railway network and improved
connectivity with London and markets with the rest of the European
1.2 The HS2 proposals also offer a sustainable
alternative to domestic and short haul flights providing that
HS2 can compete with air travel on price, flexibility and connectivity.
1.3 Most importantly, the ICE believes the nation's
interests will be well served by addressing the real need to increase
long-term transport capacity within this structured approach to
the nation's transportation planning.
1.4 The performance of a nation's transport network
is a key component of its productivity and competitiveness. Enhanced
connectivity is critical to the economic growth of the nation's
major cities. Fast, integrated and reliable transport systems
help sustain the productivity of urban areas, supporting deep
and productive labour markets, and allowing businesses to reap
the benefits of economic agglomeration.
1.5 Transport corridors are vital to both domestic
and international trade, boosting the competitiveness of the UK
economy. Put simply, better connectivity enhances business value,
increases labour market catchments and workforce opportunities.
This translates into more jobs, greater productivity, higher incomes
and, ultimately, higher tax revenues.
1.6 Inter-urban rail services are expected to
face increasingly severe capacity pressures. Demand for transport
is concentrated on particular places, modes and times of day.
Continued economic success has created increasing demands on the
network, which are putting parts of the system under serious strain.
1.7 Network Rail have estimated that before 2020,
the existing rail lines from London to the North and West of England
will be operating beyond full capacity and the classic next generation
tools for increasing capacity will be exhausted. This would constrain
the economy, and continued growth in demand.
1.8 Put simply, capacity growth on congested
corridors will soon be essential if the UK is to continue to grow
and prosper both physically and economically.
1.9 However, there is a counter-argument to suggest
that the funding which would be put forward for High Speed Rail
would be better spent on upgrading the existing classic network.
1.10 There is an additional argument which questions
whether we will actually need to travel as often in the future,
in light of improved telecommunications and increased home-working.
The responding argument is that cities and business clusters will
continue to be as important in the future as they are today, but
the question should be addressed.
1.11 We see High Speed Rail as a sustainable,
economic and environmentally acceptable solution to achieving
the necessary step change in capacity.
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?
2.1.1 The Eddington Transport Study, produced
in 2006, stated that there was clear evidence that a comprehensive
and high performing transport system is an important enabler of
sustained economic prosperity: a 5% reduction in travel time for
all business and freight travel on the roads could generate around
£2.5 billion of cost savings, which was quoted as being some
0.2% of GDP.
2.1.2 Travel demand in the UK over recent decades
has grown rapidly due to its continued economic success. This
has created increased pressure on certain parts of the road network
at certain times of the day. The rising cost of congestion could
potentially waste an extra £22 billion worth of time in England
2.1.3 The nation already has some of the most
crowded roads in the world. In 2007, the Green Light Group, which
was facilitated by the ICE, published its report on Road Pricing,
which identified the need for measures to be taken to reduce congestion
on the UK's roads. Traffic congestion in the UK is worse than
in any other of the 15 members of the EU before enlargement. In
Germany, 7% of road users experience congestion, while that figure
is only 4% in France. In the UK, 20% of road users experience
congestion, making UK roads much less reliable.
2.1.4 The Green Light Group suggested some clear
options of what could be done to mitigate this. These options
better use of our roadssuch as driving on the hard shoulders
of motorways and ensuring the use of all lanes of motorways and
in new or improved public transport routes and services;
working from home, teleconferencing and driving at non-peak hours;
people to walk or cycle instead of travelling by car;
new development in areas well served by public transport and limit
the amount of town development;
demand through parking schemes and road pricing.
Since the production of this report, further steps
have been taken to encourage sustainable transport options within
towns and cities. However, measures to provide an attractive alternative
to car travel between urban agglomerations have not yet been taken.
2.1.5 The Green Light Group considered that a
restructuring of the way in which transport services are priced
and the way we paid for them was essential. A road-pricing scheme,
which took into account the costs and environmental externalities,
could lead to greater efficiency, as well as greater investment
into both roads and public transport. The introduction of road
pricing beyond local schemes designed to deal with local problems
should be complemented but a restructuring of vehicle and fuel
2.1.6 However, in May 2010, the Transport Secretary,
Philip Hammond, rejected calls to introduce road charging on England's
motorway network and described the existing fuel duty regime as
an effective "pay as you go" system. In addition, although
the Government objective to promote the electric car is a welcome
step in terms of reducing carbon emissions, this will not impact
upon reducing road congestion.
2.1.7 Therefore, alternative methods of reducing
congestion on the road network must be sought, and High Speed
Rail would provide a suitable and attractive alternative for inter-city
business and leisure travel. The ICE and its membership will be
considering these issues in greater detail before responding to
the DfT consultation.
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 It is fundamental that the UK continues
to improve the "classic" rail network. High Speed Rail
will only be able to work to its optimum if part of a complete
network. This requires that the existing "classic" network
acts as a complementary feeder to the high speed network. High
speed trains will be able to access parts of the classic network
to reach principal destinations.
2.2.2 The provision of High Speed Rail would
release much needed capacity on the "classic" network
to be used for more local and interconnecting services. This should
provide a far better service in the vicinity of the HSR corridor.
Also, if the proposals for High Speed Rail are approved, there
would be the need to operate some high speed trains on the existing
classic network. Therefore, the infrastructure would need to be
improved sooner rather than later to reap the benefits of increased
speed on the classic network before any high speed line is implemented.
2.2.3 Connections must be seamless if High Speed
Rail is to be effective. Therefore, if High Speed Rail is to be
introduced, the "classic" network should not be considered
as a separate entity, but part of an holistic rail network, with
additional integrated transport solutions applied for inner-suburban
and urban travel.
2.3 What are the implications for domestic
2.3.1 In 2010, the ICE published its report Rethinking
Aviation, which aimed to stimulate debate and highlight actions
required to improve UK Aviation and Airport Infrastructure. Whilst
it recognised the importance of aviation to investment in the
UK economy, it documented that runway capacities at the busiest
airports in London and the South East of England were severely
constrained. This not only caused delays, but impeded the UK's
global connectivity, and ability to attract new long-haul services
to and from emerging economies.
2.3.2 As the UK emerges from recession it is
essential to find new commercial opportunities in emerging markets.
The ICE has encouraged strategically placed airport capacity to
guarantee international connectivity for passengers and freight.
More importantly, in relation to this Inquiry, the ICE supports
the gradual surface-based substitution of short-haul flights within
the UK. To enable this transition, more surface transport infrastructure,
such as low carbon rail and road would need to be developed to
not only ensure the UK meets its ambitious carbon reduction targets,
but also to maintain regional connectivity as domestic air travel
2.3.3 In 2009, the ICE produced its Aviation
2040 scenarios report, aimed at challenging industry and government
to challenge their beliefs about what the future of air transport
and infrastructure holds. The most significant message drawn from
this report was that international long-haul aviation, in particular,
is highly valuable to the UK economy and vital for maintaining
the UK's global competitiveness. However, unrestrained growth
in aviation would lead to damaging long-term effects such as increased
carbon emissions, higher noise levels and air pollution. This
leads to the need to develop strategies that facilitate the provision
of valuable long-haul business without extensive airport expansion.
2.3.4 Air travel and demand for air travel has
risen in the UK, with respect to both domestic and international
journeys. This is clearly putting pressure on airports and airspace.
If a successful modal shift were to be achieved for short-haul
domestic aviation, this could have significant implications for
domestic aviation and reducing the environmental impact of increased
air travel. It would be some time before High Speed Rail would
be able to compete competitively with international short-haul
flights, but, in the long-term, additional international short
haul flights could be migrated onto rail. The success of the Eurostar
High Speed Rail link from London to Paris/Brussels clearly illustrates
the viability of this.
2.3.5 Therefore, the ICE would encourage the
establishment of a network of fully integrated, low-carbon surface
transport infrastructure solutions to provide alternatives to
domestic short-haul air services in the long-term.
3. Business case
3.1 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?
3.1.1 The assumptions and methodology appear
fairly robust. Our members have commented that the level of detail
they have received is comprehensive and far beyond the level provided
in previous consultations. However, with regard to operational
costs, these were based on 2009 prices. The costs of oil have
risen somewhat since this time, due partly to the 2011 "Arab-Spring"
and the instability of Governments within the Middle Eastern region.
This should be borne in mind. Of course, the energy mix of the
trains being used would dictate the operational costs and it is
not possible to predict how far energy costs will have risen by
2026. The key issue is that high speed trains would be powered
by electricity and, that it is up to current energy strategists
in government and industry must ensure that, in the future, UK
grid electricity will be generated with the lowest carbon impact.
As far as possible, this should be insulated from political manipulation.
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 Upgrading the West Coast Main Line or adding
a new conventional line would provide additional capacity, but
it would not match High Speed Rail for speed, and would not be
as effective in encouraging a modal shift from air/car travel
to rail. Congestion on the WCML is only a significant problem
southeast of Rugby, so the high-speed route must take account
of that section.
3.2.2 However, a further upgrade of the WCML
would be extremely disruptive to the existing train services during
construction, as occurred during the previous upgrade. Upgrades
can also be far more costly, relative to the benefits accrued
than new railways. It will always be more expensive to work on
an existing railway where trains are still required to operate.
This is even without accounting for any compensation which would
be liable to rail operators and/or customers, where the cost penalty
can be huge.
3.2.3 A new high speed railway would provide
a step change in travel times and route possibilities for many
potential users, particularly once the line is extended further
north. Research indicates that significant modal shift to rail
from other modes can be achieved once journey times are reduced
to below three hours. New convenient direct services would be
possible between our major cities.
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 This would be a short-term option which
would do little to increase the UK's competitiveness, and would
do little or nothing to increase economic growth or resolve the
real need for additional transport capacity. Rail travel should
be encouraged as a reliable, effective and affordable source of
travel, not limited to the wealthy.
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 Government should ensure that a new
high speed line is built to standard specifications used previously,
such as for High Speed 1 or a French LGV. This reduces risks of
use of new technologies, which can delay projects or lead to cost
escalations. High Speed 1 (the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) was built
to time and to budget on that basis. The ability for the track
to cater for double-deck rail carriages should also be considered
3.4.2 High Speed 1 was successful in terms of
its construction planning and execution. There is substantial
information available publically on lessons learned and of course
this is directly comparable to HS2, being a high speed railway
to be constructed in the UK. Infrastructure UK (IUK) has investigated
the reasons why construction costs are relatively high in the
UK and the ICE is working with IUK on implementation.
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)
4.1.1 The ICE West Midlands regional office is
currently considering whether these are the best locations for
a High Speed Rail route. High Speed Rail will be most effective
if it travels quickly from city-centre to city-centre, and allows
seamless interchange to allow passengers to arrive at their destination.
Curzon Street should allow this assuming that increased public
transport connectivity is provided.
4.1.2 A stop at Birmingham International would
seem a sensible option. Birmingham Airport is a Strategic National
Asset and is running at less than 40% capacity. There is spare
capacity at Birminghamenough capacity to take another nine
million passengers immediately and an anticipated 21 million plus
passengers in future years, as capability is enhanced in line
with existing Planning Consents. Currently, London Euston is only
70 minutes from Birmingham Airport. With a High Speed Rail link
between London and Birmingham in place this could be reduced to
just 38 minutes. This would provide a realistic solution to alleviating
capacity shortages at airports in the South-East.
4.1.3 The Old Oak Common station would seem a
sensible option to provide a link to Heathrow Airport, if a direct
link to Heathrow is essential. Appropriate junction engineering
works would be included to make it possible for a High Speed spur
to Heathrow to be built at a later date.
4.1.4 With regard to the case for more intermediate
stations, this should be assessed by considering whether or not
these impact greatly upon the journey time between city-centres.
The key attractions of High Speed Rail are speed and capacity.
Increasing journey times would slow the service and reduce line
capacity, therefore making the service less attractive to long
distance travellers. It would be far better to add stations to
the classic lines where this would increase overall accessibility
to the rail network once High Speed 2 is operational, for example
on the Chiltern Line or the West Coast Main Line.
4.2 Which cities should be served by an eventual
high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right
4.2.1 This is an issue we are currently discussing
with our members. It is vitally important that we consider, at
this stage, whether this strategic route is the right option for
providing a truly national High Speed Network. HS2 has to be designed
to the correct holistic railway engineering principles. The key
points on which the new railway has to perform are on the attached
4.2.2 Regardless of the cities served, good connectivity
from those not served will be essential. There must be frequent,
fast and reliable connections between cities and any HSR hubs.
The resulting overall journey times for real passengers must be
competitive with the alternative transport modes such as road
or air. The requirement to provide airport links, particularly
to Heathrow, has a huge effect on the ultimate "high speed"
solution. We have to prioritise the key aim, which is to end up
with an efficient, high-capacity, inter-conurbation railway.
4.2.3 Connectivity outside London, inter-regionally,
is a major shortcoming of current UK rail transport. Improving
this situation needs to be a key objective of any new rail development
whether high speed or not, if the UK is to achieve worthwhile
modal shift to rail.
4.3 Is the Government correct to build the
network in stages, moving from London northwards?
4.3.1 In our view, yes, because this would lead
to staged resource requirements at each stage, eg for design,
procurement and construction, and reduces the timescale for Stage
1, which leads to earlier benefits for all.
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 Yes. A link to HS1 would be difficult and
intrusive to construct at a later stage; would bring immediate
benefits of reduced journey times for passengers travelling from
the north to the continent, and reduce the number of passengers
travelling through the London terminal stations. However, we consider
that the link, as provided for in the current proposal, is inadequate
and should be enhanced to improve capacity from that envisaged
in the current proposal.
4.4.2 Given that the London Heathrow to Manchester
and Leeds routes have much greater potential to attract modal
shift than London Heathrow to Birmingham, it would appear sensible
for the construction of the LHR link to be constructed as part
of Phase 2. Also, the interchange at Old Oak Common onto Crossrail
will allow immediate benefits for passengers travelling to Heathrow
from the north. Additional reductions in journey time through
a later direct link to Heathrow can be added in stage 2 when demand
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 Lille is an example, as it was in economic
decline until the arrival of the LGV to Paris and the Channel
Tunnel Rail Link. It is now France's third most prosperous city.
The arrival of the High Speed Line would benefit the regions that
it serves ie Birmingham, the North West (Liverpool/Manchester),
the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East, all of which
would help bridge the North/South divide.
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 Its route should be influenced by where
the demand is greatest, but the exact locations should be agreed
with the local authorities to fit in with their local regeneration
plans and where there is, or will be, good connectivity with other
5.3 Which locations and socio-economic groups
will benefit from HSR?
5.3.1 Potentially all, from businessmen on the
high speed trains; those using the route for leisure; through
to those able to make more local rail journeys because of the
freed up capacity on the classic routes. Another argument is that
without HS2, capacity on the rail network may end up being regulated
via escalating fares, which could lead to rail travel only for
the rich. This is something that Government will need to address.
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?
5.4.1 HS2 should be funded centrally as a national
strategic project, free from local funding uncertainties. If European
Union (EU) funding is available then it would further improve
the business case.
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 The proposals states that the impact on
greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the implementation of
high speed rail will be broadly neutral and we have no evidence
or reason to disagree with this conclusion. We would like to state
strongly, that every effort should be made now to ensure that
carbon emissions are kept to a minimum during construction and
6.1.2 High Speed Rail lines would be electrified,
which provides the possibility of using a carbon free source of
energy, whereas inter urban road and air transport are currently
dependent on oil. Electrically powered trains are also free from
local air pollution, except for a small amount of particulate
matter from braking at the point of use, although the visual intrusion
and noise from a new high speed line is often the subject of controversy.
6.1.3 In terms of energy consumption, High Speed
Rail has a substantial advantage over air, car and conventional
rail travel. HS2 trains would have fewer stops, and most of the
energy consumption occurs when trains accelerate.
6.1.4 Diverting traffic from roads does not simply
affect greenhouse gases, but also reduces road noise, accidents,
local air pollution and congestion. The biggest external benefits
of HSR are likely to come where road or air is highly congested
and expansion of these modes is difficult and expensive in terms
of environmental costs.
6.1.5 Ultimately for High Speed Rail to reduce
greenhouse gases, it must depend on a non-fossil fuel source of
Electrified high speed rail will be low carbon or carbon free
automatically to the extent that the nation's power generation
system becomes so.
6.1.6 The embedded carbon, representing the carbon
emissions associated with construction operations has been accounted
for in the appraisal of sustainability. Although the source is
subject to uncertainty, there is scope to reduce emissions by
the selection of plant equipment, and every effort should be made
to reduce carbon where possible.
6.2 Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
6.2.1 The environmental costs and benefits are
sufficiently accounted for, although we would have appreciated
further details of the energy mix which would be used for High
Speed Rail. We believe also that the impact of noise during operation
has been sufficiently accounted and justified.
6.3 What would be the impact on freight services
on the "classic" network?
6.3.1 HS2 would release additional freight paths
on the classic network. This again has further environmental advantages.
Overall rail produces less than 1% of the total U.K. emissions
of carbon dioxide, the principle green house gas, compared with
21% from road transport.
Tonne for tonne rail freight produces 90% less carbon dioxide
than road transport.
With pressure on the classic network reduced owing to the reduction
of long distance trains on West Coast Main Line there would be
great potential to increase the number of train paths available
for freight services, leading to increased capacity and reliability
of freight services and further possibilities of modal shift from
road to rail for freight.
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 It should be possible to follow a phased
construction sequence as at St Pancras International, whereby
the new terminal platforms on the west side of Euston are constructed,
then the existing services are switched to the new platforms whilst
work on the existing platforms is carried out, then the existing
trains switched back to the refurbished side. This could be done
with a few blockade weekends at bank holidays without too much
interference to existing services
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Study, The Case for action: Sir Rod Eddington's advice to Government Back
The Green Light Group, (2007), Road Pricing: What are the facts? Back
Institution of Civil Engineers (2010): Rethinking Aviation Back
Network Rail (2008): High Speed Rail Investment; an overview
of the literature Back
Nash, C (2010), When to invest in high-speed networks and rail
DfT Ports Policy consultation (2010) - Rail freight's role Back
DfT Ports Policy consultation (2010)- Rail freight's role Back