High Speed Preparation Bill

Written evidence by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) on behalf of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (SCR) (HSR 31)

The Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership supports the Government’s plans to construct a national high speed rail network. Rail connectivity is essential for our advanced manufacturing and growing service sector economies. The significantly reduced journey times that high speed rail will provide between the Sheffield City Region and London, as well as to other regional cities, will help support economic growth and regeneration in our City Region. If planned well, these direct benefits will lead to additional wider benefits to the City Region economy through the attraction of new businesses and the strengthening of connections between business and their supply and labour markets.

The City Region supports any initiatives to implement high speed rail as rapidly as possible and welcomes the Preparation Bill as an important step in enabling expenditure on the project. Starting work on the introduction of high speed rail in the Sheffield City Region at the same time as Phase 1 construction, would demonstrate commitment to delivery for stakeholders, businesses and future investors

We want to ensure that the scope of the Bill includes the necessary planning and works required on the ‘classic’ rail network and tram systems, as well as the local highway network to ensure that high speed rail becomes part of an integrated transport system.

High speed rail will release capacity on the ‘classic’ rail network, increasing potential economic benefits by allowing the development of services which will connect the wider Sheffield City Region with the proposed high speed rail stations. In addition to providing long distance capacity, improving inter-regional services north of Birmingham will open up markets which previously felt too distant. We believe that there is scope for more flexibility for the approach to high speed rail on the eastern arm, to maximise the use of the line’s capacity by serving a wider range of urban centres and would like to see this considered by Government. For example, splitting trains to serve multiple destinations and using sections of the eastern leg for inter-regional services.

Given the importance of high speed rail to the Sheffield City Region’s future economy, it is essential that the Government is able to provide HS2 Ltd with the resources it needs to develop and implement the project efficiently and expeditiously.

We also recognise that some business and residential properties will be adversely affected by the proposed high speed line and it is right that there should be compensation which is paid in a timely way and reflects the true value of affected properties. Insofar as possible, blight should be avoided. For these reasons, Sheffield City Region strongly supports the High Speed Rail Preparation Bill.

1. Preparatory Expenditure

(1) The Secretary of State may, with the approval of the Treasury, incur expenditure in preparation for a high speed railway transport network.

Commitment should be made to provide a full list of activities which will incur expenditure in preparation for the High Speed Rail network. Recent analysis on behalf of SYPTE and Metro [1] has recommended that full economic benefits can only be realised should the Government invest time and resource into the following comprehensive set of objectives;

Objective

Means of delivery

Maximise high-speed and existing rail connections

Making sure that getting from existing stations to HS2 stations can be done as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Maximise station access and enhance attractiveness of City

Regions in advance of HS2

Review local transport plans and make the case for Government support to improve the provision of local transport from across the City Regions to the stations.

Review the station proposals to make sure that new and existing businesses can grow and flourish with improved transport links.

Maximising the use of HS2

Consider further how the HS2 line can be integrated with our existing railways to make sure it can be used to maximum benefit. This could see improved regional services and more investment in the existing railways.

Maximising access to stations from across the region

Develop plans to improve road access (motorway infrastructure, car parks, and coach links) to the High Speed Rail stations and make the case for Government support to provide the best possible links from across both City Regions.

Assess the local impacts of HS2

Study the likely local economic effects of HS2 so that plans can be put together to make sure any new development will complement HS2 and boost the local economy.

Understanding and realising the economic benefits described in the Governments economic case can only be achieved by providing the funding mechanisms to Local Authorities which will assist the delivery of economic growth plans.

As with other significant national projects, past and present, the HS2 infrastructure will benefit the country for future generations. At the present time Sheffield City Region are concerned that the preferred station location may not deliver the maximum economic benefits. Further work is required to demonstrate that the benefits of the preferred location are at least comparable with recognised alternatives and the preparatory expenditure should include funding for this.

(2) The network referred to in subsection (1) is a network which

(a) Involves the construction of railway lines connecting at least

London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds, and Manchester, and

(b) Connects with the existing railway transport network.

Providing physical connections should not be the only objective the Government seek to achieve early on. We would support and welcome Government providing reassurance to areas which are not directly served by HS2 with a ‘classic’ rail service pattern which is no worse than they receive now, when HS2 is operational. This will create certainty for those areas, that important transport connections and services will be in place to facilitate and support their growth plans.

A study recently undertaken on behalf of SYPTE and Metro [2] has indicated that there are alternative classic rail service patterns to that shown in the HS2 Economic Case, that provide additional economic benefits of between £300m and £800m (2010 present value), This study provides alternative options based upon conservative and optimistic scenarios of classic line expenditure pre HS2 and is meant as a comparison to the Governments economic case to demonstrate that more can be achieved. We believe as a result of this work, Government should invest in substantive work to assist integration of the existing rail network with HS2.

(3) The expenditure which may be incurred under subsection (1) includes expenditure on-

(a) Preparation for the construction of any railway line and any other infrastructure proposed to be included at any time in the network referred to in subsection (1), and

(b) Preparation for the provision of services as part of that network.

Although we welcome the provisions set out here, we feel it is somewhat restrictive as currently proposed; only allowing for direct spending on the development of the high speed railway. Our research has demonstrated that the full benefits of HS2 will only be achieved through ensuring appropriate connectivity to the HS2 stations and we feel that the Bill as written precludes advance spend on connectivity packages or similar.

In particular, there are a number of areas where we believe advance spending will be beneficial, or necessary, to successfully achieve the full realisation of benefits. These areas are:

· Plan for strategic transport schemes which could benefit city regions in the short to medium term and deliver connectivity with HS2 once operational. Part of this funding could be sourced from business contributions when new developments are planned.

· Provide a single funding stream for Local Authorities to develop HS2 connectivity packages and bid for on a competitive basis.

· Assist and fund Local Authorities and City Regions to master plan their regions in preparation for HS2.

(4) The expenditure mentioned in subsection (3) includes expenditure incurred

(a) on pre-construction activity (such as surveying and design),

(b) in acquiring property, and

(c) in providing compensation in respect of property likely to be affected.

A thorough examination of property costs, both domestic and commercial, is required to be undertaken in each region. Home and business owners must be able to relocate to a property that makes the individual no worse off than they were before the intervention of HS2.

The fundamental principle underlying compensation provision is that claimants will receive compensation neither greater nor less than their loss. This is particularly important in the Sheffield City Region, as some locations where the proposed route will cause blight, suffer from higher levels of deprivation and lower levels of income than the national average.

The local business communities want more reassurance that HS2 will serve their region with as much certainty as possible. We would like to see HS2 Ltd and the Government begins to do more active work on phase 2, with land assembly and construction around the potential northern stations. Safeguarding the land as soon as possible will allow businesses to start their contingency processes, otherwise there is a concern that it could affect the businesses plans for investment and potentially lead to a loss of long term orders.

July 2013


[1] the economic case for high speed 2: Leeds and Sheffield city regions WSP - July 2013

[2] post HS2 timetables options study – SDG July 2013

Prepared 19th July 2013