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TOPIC: HS2: Good for the UK or not?

HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #1

Following a recent editors feature from Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, we want to know your thoughts on HS2?

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #2

HS2 is good for the UK. The key argument is for capacity, badly needed now for InterCity and commuter services. Upgrading existing routes has reached its practical limits, especially in respect of capacity at terminals. So something new has to be built, and if building new, it should be built for high speed rather than persisting with Victorian alignments that were made to twist and turn around landowner's estates
at a time when steam engines couldn't do more than twice the speed of a horse and were thought to be a marvel. Then the economic benefits of high speed follow, for almost no extra cost.So-called alternatives such as RP2 cannot provide adequate capacity.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #3

Given the enormous cost and environmental damage which HS2 would cause it is extraordinary that any decision to go ahead should take place without the context provided by a national transport strategy. Such a strategy would clearly identfy whether high speed rail is an essential element of our transport infrastucture. In view of the very modest door to door time saving which HS2 would bring, the actual cash cost to the taxpayer is hard to justifiy. For those who believe it is about capcity rather than speed consider 1. whether in view of advances in IT and the growing real cost of travel we are still likely to be physically moving about the country in such large numbers in 30 years time. I very much doubt it. 2. the demand forecast for HS2 is very optimistic. All forms of travel exeprience a saturation point which will be reached for long distance intercity rail before HS2 becomes operational. 3. There is plenty of scope to signficantly enhance the capacity of existing services. There is far to much talk of full trains. Very few intercity trains are full and even then it is usally a consequence of fare pricing policy. We have so many other more pressing transport needs than HS2 which deserve investment because they bring more benfit to more people more of the time than HS2. Once we are locked into HS2 it will soak up scarce funds for a generation. We have no need to keep up with anyone else. The journey times between our main cities now, are better than comparable countries with HSR. They are trying to catch up with us!

Let us not forget that in this crowded island of ours any project as big as HS2 will cause immense damage to the environment including the nationally protected Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. HS2 will also use large amounts of energy and signficantly increase carbon emssions as a result, and indirectly trigger more long haul flights which would replace any short haul flights withdrawn due to competition from HS2.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #4

No wrong, capacity could be increased if 2nd class carriages were increased and 1st class carriages reduced on existing services. That's easy to do. HS2 is not needed, it's too expensive. It might only be useful to a small number of people within easy reach of the stations, even in London this is a minority of people. People in Middlesex for example will be better off using the Chiltern line rather than travel to Euston first. Similarly people living near watford would be better off using WCML. So who is it for?

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #5

The idea that IT will reduce demand for travel is just wishful thinking. We have had e-mail for nearly 20 years, but in that time rail travel has increased by 40%. The number of journeys that might be avoided by video-conferencing is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, but if IT developments drive economic growth then everything else that comes with economic growth will follow, such as demand for transport.

And, hoping that the demand growth we have seen in recent years will just stop is also wishful thinking, especially whilst the retirement age is heading for 70 and the population for 70 million. 5% per annum growth is historic fact and shows no sign of easing off, whereas the 102% overall increase (which even the anti-HS2 campaign accepts) is less than 2% per annum. And that is just "background" growth driven by GDP, let alone people driven off the roads by fuel prices, or increasing demand for travel through social trends. HS2 business case assumptions are generally conservative, and models have a track record of underestimating deamand. There is no way a conventional upgrade will provide capacity to match even background growth- the best even the most optimistic assessment of RP2, train lengthening, conversion of 1st to Standard etc etc can do is 82% increase in peak capacity. And to achieve that we will see yet more local and regional services squeezed off the railw, hence more car use on motorways and ruyral roads.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #6

There actually is an easy way to increase capacity, increase the number 2nd class carriages, 1st class is mainly empty. High speed rail is a project which will bankrupt the transport budget for many years to come, if it comes into being. Not sure the point regarding IT is correct, as in my company more and more people are working from home, and have meetings using telephone conferencing and the likes. Sure you need face to face meetings sometimes, but they are normally scheduled well in advance, so if you were relying on train you can easily plan ahead using the current system. HS2 is an ineffiencent way of increasing capacity.What is the projected load factor at peak times an off peak.? Why would you be using it if you need to travel to West London from Birmingham (Chiltern Line or the car), or even from Warwick to London. would you travel to the outskirts of Birmingham to pick up High Speed rail or would you use the Chiltern line? Ill thought out, focussing on the wrong things, I am afraid. One thing about estimates of increase in train travel seems to me that it's always an overestimate, whereas increase in road traffic tends to be get underestimated.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #7

Martin, I took extra standard class carriages (up to 12-car length) plus conversion of one 1st to Standard into account when I calculated the (actually 80.81%) increase in peak seats per hour arising from RP2 - that is thus the most optimistic possible assessment of RP2 capacity set against the most pessimistic possible estimate of growth, and RP2 still doesn't do it. I know that people are saying that 1st Class has an average load factor of 20%, but that doesn't mean 100% of trains 20% full in 1st, more likely 20% of trains (i.e. the peak trains) 100% full in 1st class. You must take account of the peaks and so cannot discount 1st Class capacity.

I can quite accept that IT may mean less daily commuting to London - I work from home myself, but my experience is that as a result I make a wider variety of longer journeys than someone who works in a conventional office, depending on the constantly-changing mix of clients.

Honestly, our track record in this country is of underestimating rail demand, be it small schemes like Stirling - Alloa or Ebbw Vale - Cardiff, or nationally where the growth of the last couple of decades is beyond any modelled forecast. And the peak demand we see is what is there even after quite massive peak pricing - noone catches a peak train who doesn't have to.

I would have to check what is forecast for HS2 load factors, but when the RP2 proponets claim lower load factors for RP2 than for HS2 they are really admitting to ineffcient use of capacity in their plans and inability to handle the peaks - their 12-car trains off-peak will just make half-full train one-third full, whicj benefits noone.


Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #8

HS2 is the wrong project in the wrong place at the wrong time. We live in a small country where journey times between our major cities are quicker than the equivalent in Europe – because we are a small country. By 2026 the time saving of HS2 over traditional rail could be 11 minutes. Is that really worth spending £17bn on (or whatever as it would end up more based on historical comparisons) and desecrating parts of our countryside? The existing infrastructure and capacity can be improved more immediately and at a significantly reduced cost compared to HS2. In addition what is needed is improved management of the railways to solve operational anomalies.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #9

Upgrades of existing routes will never provide the same capacity as HS2.

Where do you get this 11 minutes from? If from Andrew Gilligan in the Sunday Telegraph, also see my letter the following week.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #10

Virgin have said they will have a journey time of 60mins & well before 2026.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 2 months ago #11

I thought that was it! A Bransonism. Fastest time now is 72 minutes, one train each day in one direction only, achieved by not stopping anywhere. Not even a train back in the eveing in the same time, because spectacular high speed runs amongst normal ones that stop at stations wreck capacity. Now do some arithmetic, and find that doing the whole distance at 140 mph instead of 125 mph saves only about 6 minutes. So I can't see 60 minutes in any circumstances.

Now follow the logic through, and, as any such run if becoming normal instead of a once-a-day spectacular, must be non-stop, you would have to put on extra trains to serve the stations it misses, which are Birmingham International, Coventry, and one of Rugby, MK, and Watford. But ... you can't put on extra trains because there is no capacity for them!

So it's a super-fast service for Birmingham and nothing for the intermediate stations, even worse than now when MK gets only one train per hour to Birmingham. Or a new line for the super-fast trains and and decent service for the intermediates, more frequent than now in most cases.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 1 month ago #12

Buckinghamshire county councillors took a united stand on their response to the government against High Speed 2, the proposed £32bn high speed railway that would cut a swathe through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Leader Martin Tett said that while the council was not opposed to the need for higher speed rail per se, and acknowledged the need for strategic improvement to the rail network, it could not agree with the current proposals as the economic and environmental benefits were not at all credible.

'We do not believe that they are in the best interests of the UK as a whole in terms of the benefits claimed in the business case,' said Mr Tett, who called on the council to send a clear message of unity and determination.

'The business case rests on the premise that every minute spent on a train is wasted. With mobile phones and laptops we know that time spent on trains can be very profitable,' said Mr Tett.

'Is the green and sustainability case well founded? Have reasonable alternatives been examined? Does this stand the test of being in the national interest? On all these the government have been found wanting.'

Lesley Clarke (Abbey) who seconded Mr Tett's proposal, pointed to a legacy of losses with High Speed 1, the Channel Tunnel rail line, and questioned the benefit local communities would get from HS2. 'Just think what £32bn could do for our infrastructure nationally!' she said.

The government’s public consultation on proposals for HS2 ends on Friday July 29. Mr Tett said: 'We're sending a clear message that we are united, we are determined, and we will win on behalf of the residents of Buckinghamshire.'

The county council, and its district council partners have consistently opposed HS2. Buckinghmashire councils were founding members of 51m, the alliance of 15 councils that submitted evidence to last week's Transport Select Committee inquiry into high speed rail.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 1 month ago #13

All forum users should take a look at an opinion piece we have from the Institute of Economic Affairs now on out transport channel, let us know your thoughts

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 1 year, 1 month ago #14

There is nothing new in this - it has all be said and answered before.

Working on the train: A sick joke on the trains I use, they are too crowded and even when not full the seating designed for high desnity occupation makes using a laptop impossible. This will only get worse as trains become more crowded. The OXERA report to the Transport Select Committee quoted studies that had found working on trains to be about 20% as productive as office work. And the arguiment cuts both ways - if you think that people can work effectively on trains, then you must accept that increased productivity from reducing crowding and capturing traffic from road is a benefit of HS2.

Growth forecasts - these are actually very conservative, and well below the levels we are actually seeing now and have seen for 15 years.

The comparison with HS1 (I think they actually mean Eurostar here) is not valid. The passenger forecasts were made by a bidder to build the rail link and operate Eurostar trains - we have a competitive tendering process designed to ensure that to win you must be optimistic, if you don't inflate the figures you don't win. The actual high speed element introduced in 2007 with completion of HS1 through to London has clearly boosted Eurostar traffic, its problem is that it is a percentage increase of a low base. The new competition that Eurostar faced was a step-change resulting from development of low-cost airlines, which quite out of the bounds of a relatively well-understood rail market. The forecasts for HS2 did assume a level of service on the classic routes. There is a large base of rail traffic already so that the uncertainty in forecasting is much less than for Eusrostar or the South Eastern high speed services, both of which were largely aimed at markets that were new to rail.

Distribution from Euston - HS2 is the only project that actually has a means of diverting passengers away from Euston by allowing them to change onto Crossrail at Old Oak Common. The traffic is coming one way or another - it is doing nothing or implementing RP2 and its suggested variants that pushes all WCML passengers into Euston. TfL accept that Phase 1 of HS2 does not call for additional tube capacity from Euston, whilst for Phase 2 what they are after is diverting the already planned and justified Crossrail 2 through Euston, very sensible, and the additional cost attributable to HS2 is virtually nil.

Conventional alternatives - the IEA seems to be saying that its solution to rail crowding is to price people off. So-called incremental investments cannot cope with even the most basic forecasts of growth let alone the actual levels of demand increase that we are actually experiencing (for a full analysis see www.williambarter.co.uk/pdf/RP2%20cannot...kground%20growth.pdf). Those who say they can are depending on sexy eye-catching headline figures for load factors and capacity increases generated on the thoroughly false basis of adding capacity at times of day when it is not needed, ignoring 1st Class which does fill in the peaks, and comparing with forecasts made in 2007/8 which have been exceeded by a factor of 2 or 3 in each year since then.

Re: HS2: Good for the UK or not? 4 weeks, 1 day ago #15

The simple answer is that it doesn't - HS2 is not sustainable. Quite apart from the destruction of protected landscapes, ancient woodlands and SSSIs that will result from its construction, in terms of sustainability HS2 is a non-starter. even HS2 Ltd doesn't claim that it will reduce carbon emissions and recognises that it could actually increase carbon emissions. The Transport Select Committee Report (November 2011) on HS2 concluded that the impact on carbon emissions was hard to predict but 'likely to be very small'.

High Speed trains emit twice as much carbon as conventional inter-city trains. The sustainability case for HS2 rests on the notion that it will result in a modal shift in long distance travel from cars and planes to train. In the case of car travel the TSC Report concluded that 'The percentage of UK car trips that might transfer to HS2 is, in overall terms, very small.' With regard to aviation there are, of course, no commercial flights between London and Birmingham so HS2 Phase 1 will have no impact. Virgin Trains are already running a 4 hour service from Edinburgh to London, which is as fast as HS2 will be, so no impact there either. Where domestic flights into London airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick are cancelled the slots will be taken up by international flights, thus increasing carbon emissions. In particular, Birmingham airport is looking to HS2 to support its expansion – it is planning to double its capacity. It hopes to become London-Birmingham airport, so HS2 will be directly facilitating an increase in air travel and hence carbon emissions. The TSC Report concluded, in bold, 'The Government needs to make clear how HS2 fits into its wider aviation strategy. It is not clear that even the Y-network will substantially reduce demand for domestic aviation.'

The Business Case for HS2 depends not simply on modal transfer but also on an absolute increase in the number of people travelling - passengers making journeys that they would not undertake if HS2 weren't there. This flies in the face of the Government's own Travel Reduction Policy, announced in September 2010 by Philip Hammond, the Minister for which is Norman Baker MP. Given the need to reduce carbon emissions it seems totally irresponsible to build a case for any transport infra-structure project on the generation of additional journeys that otherwise would not be made.

Finally is seems to be generally agreed that there is a need first to develop a national Transport Policy and then to fit aviation policy and High Speed Rail into it. Discussions about Transport, however, almost always ignore the existence of new technologies that provide an alternative form of communication. Philip Hammond himself said, as Secretary of State for Transport, that people should be encouraged to use video-conferencing as an alternative to long-distance travel. Hence what is needed is a Transport and Communications Policy. £33 billion is an enormous amount of money to spend on a one-off project. Further thought is unquestionably needed about whether this is the right way to spend such a huge amount of money, or whether there are better, more sustainable, ways of using it..
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