High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Hammersmith and Fulham Council (HSR 38)

1.  What are the main arguments either for or against HSR?

Bringing London closer to other cities—Birmingham 49 mins, Manchester/Leeds 80 mins, Glasgow/Edinburgh 3.5 hours—will help to maintain London's prosperity by giving it better access to the UK's varied markets for labour, goods and specialist services. As well as helping to bridge the north south economic divide, HS2 will also ensure London's competitiveness with other major European cities such as Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid, which are all already at the centre of high speed networks.

The creation of a new destination in Old Oak Common will provide a global employment destination closely linked to Central London, Heathrow and the Greater London transport network, reducing strain on the Central London transport network. The development will be capable of attracting national and global inward investment that will both develop the local labour supply and skills base and provide enhanced access to employment for socially excluded groups. The value this will bring to the immediate vicinity will help enhance important industrial locations, such as Park Royal, as an investment location and natural home to major blue-chip companies.

As well as revitalising the local economy, this will help to rebalance London by providing new employment opportunities where they are most needed. HS2 will be the catalyst for regenerating an area of London containing some of the most deprived communities in England, supporting the creation of an estimated 20,000[1] new jobs in west London and 10,000 new homes.[2]

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?

Cities have become fundamental to the UK economy as traditional industries such as manufacturing decline and sectors such as finance, culture, tourism and higher education, concentrate within city centres have become more important. HSR offers unrivalled possibilities to strengthen inter-urban connectivity and support economic growth in these services, knowledge and consumption sectors.

It is vital that the strategic road network operates efficiently, but investment in this network without corresponding investment in rail would be likely to attract more road traffic, negating any reductions in congestion resulting from the investment. HSR can release capacity on the classic rail network, allowing more freight trains to operate, thereby removing some lorry movements from the strategic road network and improving the efficiency of that network.

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?

HSR in itself can be an effective method of increasing capacity on the classic rail network, by removing some longer distance trains. For example, towns such as Rugby and Milton Keynes will benefit from the first phase of HS2, having more trains and less crowded trains. Towns and cities on the classic network beyond HS2 will benefit, with significant time savings on journeys between, for example, Lancaster, Warrington, Preston and London, with further benefits when the full Y-shaped network is introduced. HSR can also release capacity for freight traffic (see response to Q6.3 below). HSR complements the classic rail network, and will reduce the need for some of the investment in the latter, but it will not eliminate it.

2.3  What are the implications for domestic aviation?

High speed rail travel is a viable alternative to short haul aviation routes and accordingly would benefit both those travelling between the UK's major cities, and people living close to air traffic hubs. For many years, for example, people living on the west London flight paths to Heathrow have suffered from significant noise pollution problems.

In the wake of recent decisions to limit the expansion of both Heathrow and Stansted airports, and the impact of austerity measures on the development of the road network, HS2 is the right option for the future of long distance travel in the UK. Forecasts[3] indicate that the total number of long distance (over 100 miles) road, rail and air trips per person will increase by 36% between 2008 and 2043.

Being the UK's only international hub airport, the direct link to Heathrow via HS2 will provide a viable alternative for those in the north to access long haul flights.

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?

We believe that the methodology used by the Department for Transport is robust and conservative. Direct benefits of £32 billion have been identified with a further £1.6 billion of wider benefits. This is a conservative estimate, as due to the uncertain nature of the wider effects on the economy these benefits are difficult to quantify. It is sometimes claimed that people use time spent on trains productively (eg working with laptops) and therefore the pursuit of shorter journey times is not worthwhile. However, this is only true up to a point. Studies in Europe have shown that a journey time of three hours or less is necessary to enable rail to compete with air transport.

In any case, by enabling some people to transfer from car to train, and enabling some existing rail passengers who have to stand, where they cannot work, to have a seat, where they can HS2 will increase the amount of productive use of travel time.[4]

A conservative estimates of £2 billion for agglomeration benefits. Businesses benefit financially from clustering together, both in terms of actual distance and time. HS2 will bring businesses in the north and Midlands closer to each other and to those in London. Experience has shown from HSR in other countries that the weaker economic regions gain more from this than the stronger ones, for example the arrival of TGV in Lyon, significantly enhanced the economic competitiveness of the city and wider region.[5]

Businesses that currently wish to tap into the London markets tend to congregate within 60 to 80 minutes of London, with back office functions of London firms being displaced to areas within the same time. Bringing northern businesses within these times will mean that they are better able to access London markets while London businesses will have a greater range and choice of service suppliers.

Gross Value Added (GVA), a key indicator of local economic performance, is greater in areas closer to London, by bringing more areas closer to London, HS2 will increase GVA.[6]

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?

Upgrading the West Coast Main Line is likely to cause prolonged disruption to travellers, as was demonstrated by the line's recent upgrade, which took much longer to complete and cost much more than initial estimates suggested. Providing a new conventional line would be unlikely to give the time savings for longer journeys (London to Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow) necessary to affect a significant transfer from air to rail. Advanced rail technologies mean that High Speed Rail need not consume more fuel than conventional rail. For example, the latest Japanese Shinkansen trains (series 700) uses less energy per seat than a West Coast Main Line Pendolino travelling 100 kilometres per hour slower.

3.3  What would be the pros and cons of alternative means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?

Managing demand for rail travel by price would be likely to increase travel by less environmentally sustainable modes, ie car and air, and would have negative distributive effects in that lower and middle income people would have less opportunity to travel by train. The north/south divide would become more pronounced as businesses in the northern regions would be less able to take advantage of London's economic strengths, and resulting overcrowding and congestion in London may in turn adversely affect the latter's economic vitality.

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?

The government should study other major transport projects, both in the UK and abroad, to see which ones have been on time and on budget, and which ones haven't and why. This will help them determine the common causal factors in each and follow best practice. The West Coast Main Line upgrade is an example of a project that ran over time and over budget, which may be related to the fact that it involved working with an existing, heavily-used railway. HSR, by providing new lines, will avoid this difficulty. HS1 is a very relevant example of a project which was delivered on time and on budget.

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) intermediate stations?

The case for Old Oak Common station is overwhelming given the unrivalled transport connections (Crossrail, Great Western Main Line, Heathrow Express, with further links to the West London Line, North London Line and Bakerloo tube). The interchange will allow passengers to disperse—taking pressure off the main London terminal at Euston—which is vital for a Central London HS2 terminus to work. Without Old Oak the underground system will not cope given that an HS2 train can carry 1,100 people, with a frequency of 12 trains an hour.

The Old Oak interchange would also properly link Heathrow to the rest of the transport network through the nation's first truly integrated high-speed hub. Journey times to the airport would be just 11 minutes. Approximately 90% of the London rail network would be accessible from Old Oak Common either directly or with just one change. It will be possible to connect to Paddington with one stop on Crossrail thereby creating a link between HS2 and all points west (Bristol, S Wales, S West).[7]

Old Oak Common is very close to the West London line, TfL and HS2 are looking at the options for direct connections, including Gatwick and the south. A station at Old Oak Common would also be compatible with a longer term station at Heathrow, which could be served by a spur, and in the very longer term, by an HS3 line to the west of England and South Wales.

4.2  Which cities should be served by an eventual high speed network? Is the proposed Y configuration the right choice?

The Y-shaped network will link the key cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as direct links to the HS1 line and into Heathrow Airport, this will provide a real alternative to current road, rail and air links. With demand for long-distance rail travel rising, not only will HS2 increase rail capacity, easing overcrowding, but it will slash journey times and enable the UK's key urban economies to improve their productivity, attract new businesses, and access more directly the economic strength of London and the South East.

4.3  Is the Government correct to build the network in stages, moving
from London northwards?

Building the network in this way makes sense by capitalising on the existing HS1 line, allowing users travelling from the continent to join up with the new HS2 line, and facilitating people from all over London to access HS2 for direct high speed access to Birmingham and beyond. For example, Canary Wharf to Leeds will take just 1 hour 40 minutes. Given the issues with capacity on the tube lines servicing Euston, the early construction of Old Oak is key.

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?

Yes. It makes sense to connect HS2 to the existing HS1 line as part of Phase 1 of the project as connecting the south east (and links to the continent) with the north of the country has to be the priority for HS2. Moreover, demand for a high speed link to Heathrow will naturally be stronger when the second phase of the network—extending to Manchester and Leeds—is in place. This is further supported by the fact that there is still some work to do to agree the construction of the proposed spur into a station at the airport that would allow HS2 services to start at Heathrow and split on route to serve a number of destinations in the Midlands, the North and Scotland.

5.  Economic rebalancing and equity

5.1  What evidence is there that HSR will promote economic regeneration and help bridge the north-south economic divide?

The first phase of HS2 alone would support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs[8] and contribute to major regeneration programmes in Britain's inner cities. None more so than Old Oak Common, which is located at the eastern edge of Park Royal, within the Park Royal Opportunity Area. Park Royal is the largest and most important industrial location in London, employing around 40,000 people in over 2,000 companies across a 649 acre site.

Park Royal is identified in the Mayor of London's planning framework as an Opportunity Area with the potential to provide an attractive location for industry, business and logistics, supported by mixed use developments at the gateways to the site. Park Royal's long term sustainability is critical for the future of London. There is obviously a significant opportunity to develop further businesses across the 90 hectare site, and in the White City and Earls Court Opportunity Areas directly to the south should HS2 bring the Midlands, the North and Heathrow within easy reach.

5.2  To what extent should the shape of the network be influenced by the desirability of supporting local and regional regeneration?

HS2 will present an unparalleled regeneration opportunity for Old Oak Common—a major inner city brownfield site in an area greatly affected with employment and housing issues. The fact that the scheme will enhance transport connectivity and exploit the potential of significant underappreciated natural assets such as the Grand Union Canal and Wormwood Scrubs without affecting them adversely only goes to heighten the offer to prospective residents, developers and businesses.

5.3  Which locations and socio-economic groups will benefit from HSR?

A new station at Old Oak Common will transform a part of London with employment rates well below national levels and includes communities where over half of residents lack basic qualifications[9] necessary to compete in a modern labour market.

Located in the Western Wedge Growth Corridor (London Plan), Old Oak Common is well positioned for future west London development and urban growth opportunities. An interchange would open up the opportunity of redeveloping 90 hectares of land situated alongside the Grand Union Canal and produce a major increase in accessibility to regeneration and opportunity areas at White City and Earls Court.

While close to a number of prosperous neighbourhoods, Old Oak contains some of the most deprived communities in England. At the time of the last census only 55% of 16-74 year olds living within 2km of the Old Oak site were in employment, falling to 47% for those living within 1km. Across much of the 2km zone between 20-39% of people aged between 16-79 did not hold level 2 qualifications and overall Old Oak is in the bottom fifth of the most deprived areas in Britain with one part of Old Oak falling within the 1% of most deprived areas nationally[10] It goes without saying that the projected 10.000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs created by the high speed rail station would have a significant positive affect on the area.

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 EU's TEN-T programme would seem to be a logical source of funding for the project. A CIL (Capital Infrastructure Levy) should be devised to capture development gains from the project, although this should not be set at such a high rate as to threaten the viability of the development.

6.  Impact

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

The overall impact of HS2 on UK carbon emissions is estimated to be between 24 and 28 million tonnes over 60 years.[11] This is dependent upon the level of reduction of car journeys and flights that HS2 encourages and facilitates. The latter is particularly relevant to journeys made from the North and Scotland to London, and visa versa.

The extent to which the electricity powering the high speed trains can be generated through low carbon technologies such as nuclear and renewable sources is also a significant factor. The lower figure of 24 million tonnes is based upon the most pessimistic scenario of no improvement in the carbon efficiency of electricity generation and no reduction in flights. Needless to say, given transport accounts for 21% of UK carbon emissions and bearing in mind high speed trains give rise to low CO2 emissions compared to other transport, HS2 can only have a positive impact.

6.2  Are environmental costs and benefits (including in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business case?

Yes, although it is worth making the point that the business case naturally concentrates on the noise generated by the high speed trains, but there should also be some consideration given to the noise generated by road and air traffic that will be moderated as a result of HS2. Residents in Hammersmith and Fulham, and other areas close to major airports such as Heathrow, have long complained of noise pollution. Given HS2 will undoubtedly persuade more people out of planes by providing an excellent alternative, it should be recognised as part of the environmental benefit to the country.

6.3  What would be the impact on freight services on the "classic" network?

We believe that the impact on freight service on the "classic" network will be positive, particularly on the West Coast Main Line, which is Britain's busiest freight route. By removing some of the longer distance passenger trains from the WCML, HS2 will enable greater use of that line by freight trains as well as medium distance passenger trains. In particular, this could result in the growth of intermodal traffic which could achieve a major switch away from road haulage.[12]

6.4  How much disruption will there be to services on the "classic" network during construction, particularly during the rebuilding of Euston?

This would depend on the detailed construction plan, but one great advantage of a completely new line, as opposed to piecemeal improvements to the "classic" rail network, is less disruption. An example is the recent upgrading of the West Coast Main Line, which caused major disruption to the classic network.

There are several options to minimise the disruption caused by the building of Euston, notably diverting some of its services to other termini during the building works. The LSE RUS recommends a second branch of Crossrail along the west coast main line, eg via a connection in the Willesden Junction/Old Oak Common area and if this were provided in advance of the HS2 works at Euston, it could remove a large number of shorter distance services, eg from Northampton and Milton Keynes, from Euston, enabling building works to take place. Other options could include diverting some of these trains into Waterloo via the West London Line, making use of the disused international platforms there, or diverting trains into Marylebone or Paddington via the Chiltern Line, or St Pancras or Kings Cross via the North London Line.

May 2011

1   Source-Department for Transport "HS2 Consultation Summary", p18 Back

2   Source-AECOM Design and Planning, 2009, "Old Oak Common: Regeneration Case for a High Speed 2 Interchange", p114 Back

3   Source-Department for Transport "Economic Case for HS2", p16 Back

4   Source-Urena, J, Menerault, P and Garmendia, M (2009). "The high speed rail challenge for big intermediate cities: a national, regional and local perspective" Cities Back

5   Source-Chia-Lin Chen, Peter Hall, (2009) The Impacts of High-Speed Trains on British Economic Geography, UCL Back

6   Source-Chia-Lin Chen, Peter Hall, (2009) The Impacts of High-Speed Trains on British Economic Geography, UCL Back

7   Reports by Lord Mawhinney (Jul '10) and David Ross et al (Jun '10) concluded a route through Old Oak is the most cost effective and practical solution for the initial London to Birmingham HS2 line. Back

8   Source-Department for Transport "HS2 Consultation Summary," p3 Back

9   Source-Census 2001 Back

10   Source-Census 2001 Back

11   Source-Department for Transport "HS2 Consultation Carbon Factsheet", p2 Back

12   Source-Greengauge 21 report "High Speed Rail: Capturing the Benefits of HS2 on Existing Lines", p15 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 8 November 2011