Andrew Tyrie MP letter to Transport Secretary 4 Jan 2017

The largest impact to the benefit-cost ratio for the full HS2 network comes from more recent outturn demand data from 2011 to 2014. It is demonstrated in Figure 1.2 in the Department’s economic case for HS2 that the impact of this increase on the benefit­ cost ratio is 1.6. If the demand update were to be removed, the benefit-cost ratio falls dramatically, from 2.7 for the full network, to 1.1. In other words, without this latest data, the business case suggests that HS2 is scarcely worth the candle.


martincarter‘ post to Telegraph on-line 26 Nov 2015 on:

‘Cost of HS2 rises to more than £55bn’

You haven’t lived if you haven’t travelled between Manchester and Leeds on a bone-shaking Nothern Rail diesel.

What matters is not high maximum speed

From beleben digest for 9 April 2015

On 18 February 2014 Die Welt reported on the introduction of the new generation of Velaro ICE high speed trains in Germany. The story mentioned that the next generation of long-distance trains … would be designed only for maximum speeds of 230 to 250 km/h. For Germany’s economic geography, what mattered was high average speed, not high maximum speed, explained Deutsche Bahn chief executive Ruediger Grube.


Why we need to cancel HS2 now. HS3 is a better bet

 in Money Week 28 October 2014


How the Shinkansen bullet train made Tokyo into the monster it is today

From the Guardian, 30 September 2014

… the bullet train has sucked the country’s workforce into Tokyo, rendering an increasingly huge part of the country little more than a bedroom community for the capital.

The Chuo Shinkansen will cut the time it takes to get to Nagoya to 40 minutes, theoretically putting the central Japanese capital within commuting distance of Tokyo – in much the same way that the proposed HS2 will make Birmingham a bedroom community of London. “The Chuo Shinkansen will make Nagoya feel like a suburb of Tokyo,”


World’s biggest aircraft, Antonov 225, lands at East Midlands Airport

Derby Telegraph, Friday 13th June 2014 + video of landing

The plane, built in Ukraine, landed late on 12th June and will stay overnight before taking off at 10am on 13th. The aircraft is powered by six engines and is the longest and heaviest plane ever built with a maximum take-off weight of 640 tonnes. It has the largest wingspan of any aircraft currently in service. The aircraft has visited East Midlands Airport six times.


Piece by Mark D’Arcy, BBC Parliamentary Correspondent

From BBC News: Politics: 23 April 2014

It is worth remembering that in the 90s, the Bill Committee considering HS1 – otherwise known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link – did in the end decide that the original route proposed was simply not viable, and recommended a completely different line.


Michael Fabricant MP’s proposed Amendment to the HS2 Hybrid Bill set down for debate in the House of Commons on 28th April 2014

From Lichfield Live, April 7th 2014

THAT this House while recognising the ever increasing need for additional north-south rail line capacity to relieve congestion on the west coast mainline and to improve connectivity between major cities and with London, declines to give the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill a second reading because the line as set forth in the Bill

  • (a) is insensitively routed through previously unspoiled countryside unnecessarily damaging the environment including wildlife habitats, ancient woodlands and waterways
  • (b) is significantly more costly than it need be because of the extra mitigation required to reduce environmental damage arising from the current planned route
  • (c) unlike much of the planned route north of the West Midlands and unlike similar lines in continental Europe, does not propose the use of existing transport corridors which would mitigate environmental damage and construction costs
  • (d) fails to connect directly to existing major mainline stations
  • (e) fails to connect directly with potential airport hubs for London and the south-east of England
  • (f) fails to connect with HS1 and the Channel Tunnel
  • (g) fails to provides for sufficient public transport to disperse passengers disembarking from HS2 trains at Euston
  • (h) provides inadequate compensation to those blighted by the route and those whose property is subject to compulsory purchase orders
  • (i) does not provide for construction to start from Manchester and Leeds; and therefore calls upon the Government to produce revised HS2 legislation with a more environmentally sympathetic and cost-effective route.


Their ‘seams’ to be a connectivity problem
Beleben daily digest for 11th March 2014

Local connectivity to HS2 stations will be ‘crucial’ in the regions, according to the Greater Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership.
( Local connectivity to HS2 stations will be crucial in regions – Greater Birmingham LEP — Transport Committee (@CommonsTrans) March 10, 2014 )
But if ‘local connectivity to HS2 stations is crucial’, with “seamless connections”, why has HS2 been designed to run to separate and / or periurban stations, such as Curzon Street in Birmingham and ‘Birmingham interchange’ in rural Solihull?


HS2 Is The Wrong Scheme In Wrong Place

Christian Wolmar

March 6th 2014, Rail Magazine

My principal concern about HS2 has always been that the scheme was devised without any real context, either in terms of the country’s transport needs or the existing railway. Even some of its most fervent supporters recognise that this is a fundamental weakness. The attempts to justify the route and the design of the line at 400 kph have always been unconvincing.

So too has been the new emphasis on capacity rather than speed. A Freedom of Information request has revealed that on a typical autumn weekday, there remains plenty of spare capacity for both suburban and long distance services at all times. Moreover, numbers arriving and departing at Euston were pretty much the same in 2012 as they were in 2011 which suggests that the demand forecasts of 2.5 per cent which is used to justify HS2 is optimistic. The availability of extra capacity is particularly marked on off peak suburban services where only around a third of places are filled. This is important because with changing work patterns and the premium charging structures for peak travel, it may well be that there will be a move towards much more off peak travel.

Other aspects have continued to trouble me. As the response to the second section of HS2 by Railfuture argues, the location of stations is clearly designed to minimise cost rather than improve accessibility. People do not like to travel to parkway stations as demonstrated the unpopularity of those such as Avignon on the French TGV network and yet the HS2 designers have put forward out of town stations serving Sheffield, Birmingham, Nottingham and Derby. Rail’s key advantage is as a form of city centre to city centre transport and therefore the out.


Speakers at Huddersfield University conference clash with their views on

HS2: is there owt in it for t’North?


Organised by the Business School at the University of Huddersfield – a major centre for the study of transport and logistics – it invited speakers from across the spectrum of opinion: Lilian Greenwood MP, Barry Sheerman MP, Jason McCartney MP, Chris Stokes and Professor Andrew MacNaughton for HS2.

Sessions were introduced by Professor Paul Salveson and Professor Colin Bamford 

Mon, 18 Nov 2013


Peter Woodman in the Independent

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Lord Heseltine says “What possible case is there for the public purse to carry the cost of the stations?” … the Government “should immediately declare Urban Development Corporations in the appropriate areas thus not only capturing the planning gain for the taxpayer in order to further reduce the cost but also to transfer the costs of stations to the private sector”.


Beleben Blog
30 October 20132009/2010 LENNON data on southern WCML traffic volumes

So what is the passenger demand distribution on the West Coast Main Line? The 2011 Network Rail diagram (above) provides some insights. In essence:

  • volume north of the city of Milton Keynes was half that of Hertfordshire / Greater London
  • on WCML tracks north of Stafford and Stone, there were only 5 to 10 million journeys.

If WCML demand were to quadruple, the numbers travelling beyond the London commuter belt would still not be particularly large. Given the low level of demand, intermediate stops on West Coast intercity must be essential for revenue purposes.

Investing billions of pounds in infrastructure for a dedicated high speed line to Manchester makes no sense.


The cavalry on the charge to rescue HS2 – but can they?

Christian Wolmar, October 5th 2013
Rail Magazine

There are two other ideas worth considering which might help the HS2 cause. The first would be to postpone or cancel the section between Euston and Old Oak Common and use Crossrail as the connecting service. This would save billions and greatly simplify the construction task. The argument in favour is that Euston is slightly out of the way anyway with poor Underground connections on the east west axis and therefore it would not make that much difference. Obviously, the objection is that this would leave central London without a high speed station.

The other idea is that the line should be built from the north downwards. This is appealing to many people in the north and would be a way of showing that the scheme is all about breaching the north-south divide. There are, though, issues about practicability, too.

There may well be other ideas, too. HS2 Ltd needs to show that it has considered all the options and that therefore its plan is the best one in all respects.


A new north-south line is necessary, and it will have to be built.

Patrick Twist
Greater Birmingham and Solihull Business Transport Group

The population of England was 53 million at the census in 2011. ONS projections say it will be 60 million by 2030 and 67 million by 2050. Most of this increase will be in the core cities. At the same time, passenger rail usage has been on a consistent upward trend since 1983 and the number of passenger journeys has doubled in the last 20 years. The best way to travel between cities is by rail, and there is insufficient capacity to deal with an entirely predictable increase. A new north-south line is necessary, and it will have to be built.


HS2 “is the wrong answer to the wrong question”

Liam Halligan, 24 August 2013


Professor Tomaney’s evidence to the Parliamentary Committee on HS2

Planning Professor John Tomaney gave evidence to the Parliamentary Committee on High Speed Rail 2 on Tuesday 9th July 2013. Prof. Tomaney’s findings focused on whether the Government’s claim that the HS2 will redress regional inequalities could be substantiated by way of comparisons with countries such as Spain, South Korea and Japan, where similar high speed rail networks have been developed to connect capital cities and provincial cities.

His report addressed the issue of likely economic impact on northern economies – something not well addressed in the wider HS2 debate. This involved looking specifically for evidence from the UK Government and elsewhere in the world to substantiate the the Government’s claim that the HS2 would “heal the North-South divide.”

Prof. Tomaney’s report concluded that “it’s difficult to find robust evidence that HS2 will have a transformative impact on the economic geography of the UK.” Instead he advocated the development of better regional transport systems which he argued would provide a more tangible economic boost to the northern cities than the HS2 would. He went on to conclude that the probable net economic benefits of HS2, given his comparative studies, would most likely flow to London and the South.

Read Prof. Tomaney’s report on The Local and Regional Impacts of High Speed Rail in the UK.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 16 May 2013

“It’s too early in the High Speed 2 programme to conclude on the likelihood of its achieving value for money. Our concern at this point is the lack of clarity around the Department’s objectives. The strategic case for the network should be better developed at this stage of the programme. It is intended to demonstrate the need for the line but so far presents limited evidence on forecast passenger demand and expected capacity shortages on existing lines. It is also unclear how High Speed 2 will transform regional economies by delivering jobs and growth..”

Michael Bell on getting more out of the route

Michael Bell of Beaverbell

The stated reason for building HS2 is to increase capacity on the London-Birmingham leg. Another is … “To spread London’s wealth to the North” working on the theory that faster journey times to London increase a town’s wealth. But … if it were true, Birmingham would be wealthier than Manchester which would be wealthier than Newcastle.

Faster trains will not spread out wealth from London, but linking the towns of the North (with a high-speed ring) will set them up to create their own wealth. At the speeds which HS2 plan for, you will be able to go anywhere in the ring and back in an afternoon …. A working personal or business relationship can be built up when the parties are so near. That makes a single city.


A plan to get the North noticed

Guardian Northener: September 21 2012

… The north and south of England are drifting ever more steadily apart, yet regional MPs squabble and local government is weak. Ed Jacobs, the Guardian Northerner’s political commentator, calls for a united front to match those of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales


Tim Montgomerie

The Tory Diary: September 14 2012

…the party has no excuses for not thinking deeply and urgently about the party’s northern machine, northern ambassadors and pro-northern policies.


The Economist, Sep 15th 2012 : The north of England

The great divide

Economically, socially and politically, the north is becoming another country

… The Institute for Fiscal Studies, a think-tank, estimates that local authorities in the North East and North West must cut their spending by around 12%, compared with just 4.6% in the South East. IPPR, another think-tank, estimates that 86% of the government’s spending on big transport projects is in London … although infrastructure spending has been cut everywhere, in the south several large projects have been left intact, including Crossrail, Thameslink and the Olympic games … The big infrastructure debate at the moment is over whether it would be better to expand London’s Heathrow airport or build an entirely new airport in the south-east.

Mr Osborne … has pledged to “rebalance” the economy away from the financial sector and the overcrowded south-east corner of England.


Christian Wolmar:
Hs2 Speculation Suggests Need For Plan B

 24 June 2012:

The expansion of Heathrow or other London airports has, however, nothing to do with the kind of transport demand which HS2 is supposed to meet. While motorway widening is possible, the expansion of the roads programme would be unpopular and expensive, and will not improve the connectivity between major cities which the railways can offer. The rail industry, therefore, must be prepared with a Plan B to show other ways in which the capacity problems can be resolved – and these mean more than just focussing on the West Coast main line.


Will Hutton piece in the Observer

17 June 2012

Infrastructure is beautiful. A great airport, a breathtaking bridge, a high-speed train network, with celebratory stations to match, or a well-organised port are not just economically purposeful. If designed and built well, they lift the spirit. Good infrastructure indicates a national community that knows the value of collective action, believes in its future and is prepared to invest in itself. It signifies national self-belief.

But Britain does not do great infrastructure, or certainly has not since the great Victorian investments of the 19th century. There are indications of what could be – St Pancras station, the Tyne bridge, the Jubilee line, Heathrow‘s Terminal 5 and even the Olympic Park – but in the main the story is of penny-pinching and lack of ambition.


Andrew Gilligan piece in the Telegraph

14 Jan 2012

… the former head of the CBI and trade minister, Lord Digby Jones, told The Sunday Telegraph that it (HS2) would not benefit the economy of his native West Midlands, as ministers have claimed, and the wrong route had been chosen.

“Let nobody in Birmingham think this will boost the Birmingham economy,” he said. “They are going to have to get used to being the northernmost suburb of London. I’m still in favour of high-speed rail, but not on this route. Why not use the existing pollution corridor [the M1 or M40] rather than raping some of the loveliest countryside in England?”

Lord Jones’s opposition is highly significant because less than a year ago he signed a letter strongly supporting HS2 and saying it would “give the economy a much-needed boost, particularly in the North and Midlands”.


Danny Wright piece in Selby News

1 Dec 2011

Campaigners have called for investment in a high-speed trans-Pennine rail link …. rather than the government’s proposed London to Birmingham route .. (HS2). Yorkshire Against HS2 believe the plans would do little to narrow the north-south divide and help the Yorkshire region, despite plans to branch the line further to Leeds and Manchester.

Samuel Fisher, director of the campaign …. highlighted research that said a high-speed line across the Pennines would help a connected north compete better with London.

He added: “…. Before a decision is made by government on HS2 we would like a public consultation upon alternative options such as a trans-Pennine route… What if Leeds and Manchester were in the centre of a high-speed rail link incorporating Liverpool, Sheffield, York and Hull? It is time to break from the orthodoxy of providing infrastructure to support a London-centric economy.”

The Guardian: Northerner Blog: Martin Wainwright

8 Nov 2011

At a time when support for the coalition government appears to be weaker the further you go from the capital, the chairman of Metro, the West Yorkshire PTE, Councillor James Lewis, puts two and two together.

He says: ‘To unlock its huge forecast economic benefits, HS2 needs to link its northern destinations of Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester with Birmingham and London at the earliest opportunity, which would mean starting construction at both ends of a planned route as soon as possible.


Yorkshire Post piece by Jonathan Reed, Political Editor:

8 Nov 2011

The Government should consider starting to build its high-speed rail network in the North and pushing southwards according to an influential committee of MPs who conclude there is a “good case” for the controversial £32bn scheme.

Work should be carried out “as a priority” to investigate whether starting building in the North would help rebalance the economy, according to the Transport Select Committee.”

Report (HSR 14) to the Transport Select Committee

Prepared 21 May 2011

Quotes by Professor John Tomaney and others

3.2 Regional inequalities in the UK are longstanding, comparatively wide and entrenched … rail in general (4.10) and high speed rail in particular is generally patronised by higher income groups, as demonstrated by the Sustainable Development Commission, using UK data. These groups are overrepresented in London and the South East and underrepresented in the Midlands and the North. Regional income inequalities and the relatively high costs of using high speed rail are therefore likely to shape the net regional benefits of HSR.

5.5 …. Following Puga (2002), the proposed UK model is a clearly a hub and spoke one centred on London. According to this analysis, there is therefore a high probability that London will accrue the majority of the benefits of the investment.

5.7 Steer Davis Gleave (2009) for the Northern Way argued that to improve the productivity gap between the North and the rest of the UK, northern cities needed to work together more effectively, and highlighted investment in transport infrastructure within the North as a priority.

The Northern Way work suggests that improved cross-Pennine rail links would be necessary to derive benefits from improved North-South links. Moreover, removing bottlenecks, providing increased capacity and reducing journey times would all deliver benefits to large and small cities across the North.

For the Northern Way, improving the Leeds–Manchester rail corridor is a priority and it could be argued that it is packages of schemes such as this which form the real alternative to HS2.


Michael Ward: Rebalancing the Economy: Smith Institute

March 2011

The eight northern city regions contain 90% of the North’s population and more than 90% of its wealth creation. By working across administrative boundaries, they therefore provide a clear basis for delivering better economic policy outcomes in areas such as transport, housing, skills, employment and regeneration.

The Northern Way Transport Compact

March 2011

4.4 The most significant opportunities to enhance trans-Pennine connectivity are with the rail network. Work for the Northern Way found that a 20 minute improvement in rail journey time on the trans-Pennine corridor between Leeds and Manchester would result in a GVA uplift of £6.7bn across the North of which just £2.7bn is captured in the two city regions. This helps to demonstrate the value of the benefits to improvements to the North as a whole. As part of its development of a strategy for the national high speed rail network, HS2 Ltd has also identified the significant economic benefits that can come from enhancing trans-Pennine rail, although in-part because of topographical difficulties the trans-Pennine corridor does not feature in the proposed national high speed rail network.

The Northern Way Transport Compact: The Economic Case for Transport Investment in the North

Nick Clegg in a Rotherham speech, quoted by Michael Ward above

February 2011

“.. we .. need to ensure that economic growth is not lopsided in terms of geography … in the decade up to 2008, for every private sector job created in the Midlands and the North, ten were created in London and the South”

Chris Stokes, former Deputy Director, Network Rail SE

Radio 4, 10 January 2011:

‘The forecast demand growth on the London-Birmingham-Manchester route could be met by extending the current length of trains from 9 cars to 12 cars and by replacing the first class seats of one car in each train with standard class seats. The cost of these line and train upgrades would be £2-3bn.

Euston Station is well able to cope with the demand growth’

Tom Allan (aka the late Allan Bailey)

Guardian, 25 November 1971

Together in the North

Michael Wand made an early name for himself by winning the RICS President’s Prize in 1965 …. He … recognises the magnet of London and sees its effects on other parts of the country. London, he says, is a magnet because it offers everything in large quantities and because it is cohesive. Most cities outside it offer bits of this and bits of that and alone cannot compete…each one (with) its own little axe to grind.

The corridor from Liverpool to Hull, taking in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, possesses all the ingredients of a competitor to London. Major ports serving both Atlantic and North Sea trade, industry which within the corridor as a whole is diversified and reasonably well balanced, good and improving communication with one principal exception, and an almost comparable population. It has strength in its educational centres, its own culture, it has some beautiful country – certainly more beautiful than London’s commuter hinterland – and it has the capacity for massive growth.

But…. its administrative diversity is awful to behold and this is its weakness. Give it a single-minded administrative structure and it would immediately begin to counter London’s pull.

Of course, the corridor still needs some investment. Its east-west communications system is just not good enough to knit the areas together. It needs a really good airport – perhaps two. Once it began to exert its own magnetic influence (more) industry would come.

The area has plenty of talent, plenty of spokesmen. If they, the MPs, the councils, the unions, the chambers of commerce, put pressure on in a unified way, it could be a start.

It’s a nice idea – it would be better if the Northern cities could show common cause and begin the movement to build the great counter-magnet.


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