Investing in the railway - Transport Contents

8  Connectivity with HS2

65. The benefits of the enormous investment in HS2 will only be realised fully if the benefits of HS2 are spread as widely as possible, by building additional links between the conventional and high speed network and if the capacity released on the West Coast Main Line can be used to best effect. Witnesses warned however that CP5 has not prioritised this connectivity. The Association for Consultancy and Engineering warned of a "significant lack of connectivity to the classic network" with HS2 Phase 1, a concern shared by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.[227] The Freight Transport Association cautioned that clarity on the use of the additional capacity released by HS2 was "absolutely missing".[228] Lindsay Durham, Head of Rail Strategy at Freightliner, expressed concern that, as there was no transparent procedure for allocating the released capacity on the West Coast Main Line, freight would lose out to passenger rail. [229] John Smith, Managing Director, GB Railfreight, cautioned that when capacity had been increased on lines in the past, it had been "consumed by increased passenger usage".[230] Ms Durham said the economic benefits of extra capacity for freight needed to be considered alongside increase passenger capacity.[231] Even on investments which had been specifically funded through the Strategic Freight Network, we heard that there was no way of reserving the increased capacity for freight, in light of increased demand for passenger services.[232]

66. Clare Moriarty, Director General, Rail Executive, Department for Transport, told us that work with Network Rail and the rail industry to maximise the connectivity between HS2 and the rest of the rail network was "one of the central planks" in the early planning for Control Period 6.[233] Ms Moriarty also sought to reassure us that the planning for HS2 will consider how released capacity on the classic network can be used for freight.[234] That this only emerged from our questioning demonstrates the need for the Department for Transport to make its long-term plan and thinking about the railway public, as we recommend in paragraph 19.

67. In June the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne, said that the "transport network in the north" was "simply not fit for purpose", noting that it was quicker to travel by train between London and Paris than to travel less than half that distance between Liverpool and Hull.[235] The Chancellor added that the Government was undertaking "a series of massive investments in the transport infrastructure in the north", but that it was necessary to consider a "new high speed rail link east-west from Manchester to Leeds". The route would be based on the existing route, but would have new tunnels and infrastructure to increase speed—the Chancellor described it as "a third high speed railway for Britain". This prospect has blurred the lines between the classic and high speed rail network. While the Chancellor has spoken of HS3 the DfT civil servants we heard from made clear that he was not referring to a new line, but instead "the potential on an existing alignment to find ways of speeding up services significantly so that you get a high-speed service".[236] Maggie Simpson warned that while needed, the freight opportunities from greater trans-Pennine connectivity would come from a new line, not simply an enhancement of the current line.[237] The length of the new route—or improvements to the existing lines—was not clear. The Chancellor's initial speech referenced a new line between Manchester and Leeds.[238] The Secretary of State, told us, however, that "Manchester and Leeds are used as shorthand for the most important cities in the north", adding Ministers meant to include Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull, in addition to Leeds and Manchester.[239]

68. We welcome the proposals to improve East-West connectivity. We call for clarity on whether these proposals will be truly East-West: extending from Hull to Liverpool, with the benefits that would bring for freight and passenger rail. It is also not at all clear whether these proposals—HS3 as the Chancellor has referred to them—will entail a new line or improvements to existing lines. The Department should clarify this point, and also make clear what long-term objectives it has for improving East-West connectivity across the country.

69. The Government should set out the details and timing of planned investment in the classic network in order to maximise the benefits of HS2; improving rail access for all passengers and increasing capacity for freight. The planning process should consider HS2 and trans-Pennine improvements as part of one overall rail network.

227   Association for Consultancy and Engineering (IRW0050), The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IRW0031) para 31 Back

228   Freight Transport Association (IRW0041) Back

229   Q395 Back

230   Q396 Back

231   Q395 Back

232   Q409 [Lindsay Durham] Back

233   Q23  Back

234   Q54 Back

235   HM Treasury, "Chancellor: 'We need a Northern Powerhouse'", 23 June 2014, accessed 15 January 2015 Back

236   Q90 Back

237   Q429 Back

238   HM Treasury, "Chancellor: 'We need a Northern Powerhouse'", 23 June 2014, accessed 15 January 2015 Back

239   Q529 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2015
Prepared 23 January 2015