Posted 12th October 2016 | 10 Comments

HS2 'needed more than ever'

TRANSPORT secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed the government's support for HS2.

The DfT has predicted that construction will start during the first half of 2017, following Royal Assent to the Hybrid Bill which authorises Phase 1 between London and Birmingham, while a decision on Phase 2 to Manchester and Leeds will be taken this autumn.

Mr Grayling said the high speed line is needed to deal with the rail network's 'looming capacity crisis', and that the project will also boost jobs and regeneration.

He has also confirmed plans to make £70 million of Government funds available to support communities and improve road safety along the route.

He said: “We need HS2 now more than ever. We’re facing a rapidly approaching crunch-point. In the last 20 years alone, the number of people travelling on our railways has more than doubled and our rail network is the most intensively used of any in Europe

“We need HS2 for the capacity it will bring on the routes between London, the West Midlands, Crewe, Leeds and Manchester, as well as the space it’ll create elsewhere on our transport network.

“We need it for the boost it will give to our regional and national economies. And we need it for the jobs it will create, and for the way it will link our country together.”

The £70 million budget consists of three separate funds - the HS2 Community and Environment Fund and the Business and Local Economy Fund, which total £40 million, plus a further £30 million for road safety.

The DfT said the Community fund will help improve community facilities and access to the countryside, and also conserve the natural environment along HS2's line of route, while the Business fund will support local economies in areas where businesses may be disrupted during the construction phase.

There will be £15 million for the Central area (Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Buckinghamshire), £7.5 million for Greater London, £7.5 million for the West Midlands (Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry), and £10 million which has yet to be allocated but is expected to be used for schemes which cross the borders of the regional areas or would apply along the whole route.

The allocations were made by Cathy Elliott, the independent chair of the Community and Business funds, following recommendations from the House of Commons HS2 hybrid Bill Select Committee.

She said: “Allocation of the funds in this way allows communities to have an indication of the level of funding available while maintaining some flexibility to ensure that the overarching objective of the funds are met.

“Allocating the funding on a regional level will allow the funding of larger schemes which are likely to deliver a long lasting legacy.”

Community groups, charities, non-governmental organisations and business support specialists will be able to bid for grants between 2017 and 2026, when Phase 1 is due to open.

The separate £30 million road safety fund will be used to make improvements such as traffic calming, safer junctions or better pedestrian crossings.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • David Cook, Broadstone, Dorset

    I have said this before and will say it again to all the HS2 moaners. We need more capacity on our railway system, the current network is at capacity. If you are going to build new railways, there is no point in building slow railways. Faster railways move more people more quickly and use less trains in doing so. We need to put more freight on the railways in order to cut CO2 emissions on roads, and there is no capacity to increase freight on existing lines, let alone speed up passenger trains to 160mph in amongst freight trains as some people think can be done. Mind you, if these same people ever rode from Glasgow to Euston they would already be clinging on to their plates of food at 125, let alone 160 on the endless bends on the WCML. The only guarantee about HS2 is that by the time the detractors have delayed it ad infinitum, they will be able to sit back and moan about how long it has taken to get built.......

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    I'm not fully conversant with the situation at Paddington.; even if, though one or two additional platforms may be needed under my earlier proposals,, this would be a good deal cheaper than what is currently proposed at and around Euston.

    My basic problem with the current HS2 plan is that what is intended as " killing two birds with one stone" ( London - Rugby capacity relief and higher speed to the North ) is in reality more a case of " falling between two stools". It will pprobably be better to have two separate, dedicated schemes that don't have to compromise with each other.

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    "If Birmingham/ Banbury/High Wycombe trains were to divert to Paddington (after Crossrail frees up terminal platforms ) ,"

    Sadly no. The upgraded GWML service has already bagged the upcoming spare capacity at Paddington. Was a reasonable idea otherwise.

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    John Burns, the problem with running trains over 125mph on conventional tracks has very little to do with rolling stock capabilities. IC225s can already do 140mph but don't, and they're not keeping the speed down to 125mph for the hell of it. The big three limitations are level crossings, signalling and track capacity.

    Level crossings are relatively easy to remove. Upgrading to in-cab signalling *might* enable speeds of over 125 mph to be possible (it's believed that 125 mph is the maximum speed that drivers can safely see lineside signals), although the benefits of upgrading conventional lines are currently unproven. But capacity is the big problem. When you're trying to run too many fast and slow trains together on the same track, the entire line becomes a bottleneck, and the only way of overcoming it is to build an extra pair of tracks i.e. something like HS2.

    With regard to your MK-Mcr example, I counted 17 services north and 19 services south, not the 24 you claim. Under the illustrative service specification used for the business case, this is replaced with an hourly service. True, this is slightly less than the current service, which goes up to half-hourly at peak times, but this is largely offset by MK-Mcr passengers getting the service to themselves, and not having to share it with most Lon-Mcr passengers going on HS2 instead. (And, of course, Man-MK is going to be boosted by rerouting XC services via East-West rail anyway.) Contrast this is the massive increase in services between London and Milton Keynes and there's really no contest.

    I'll take your claim seriously that removing a few bottlenecks will solve the problem when you tell me exactly which upgrades you propose and what benefits you think it will bring. Good luck if you want to try, but I'll warn you now it'll be a lot harder than you think it is.

  • John Burns, London

    Parts of the ECML can run up to 160-170mph and drop to lower speeds on other sections, giving an overall high end to end speed.

    Getting the London Glasgow train off the WCML in the NW makes matters better for freight out of the Port of Liverpool. An uprated ECML and a later HS section from the NE of England to Scotland would benefit Scotland

    Yes, the Great Central alignment from the Calvert junction is intact up to the WCML at Rugby/Nuneaton and could divert Birmingham/Wolves trains into Marylebone. However the existing Chiltern, when uprated, could do it just as well and keep the trains right off the WCML. But reinstating the GC does give great options for routing and spreading the inter-city load over many lines.

    The HS2 fanatics keep carping on about that we will run out of capacity. Reinstating that section of the GC will sort that out.

    A true high-speed HS3 is the key. It adds a new dynamic in that it would intersect the WCML, ECML and the MML. Manchester trains can go back to their old route of up the MML and west across the Pennines.

    Merging onto HS1 can be via the ECML - much easier to construct. Liverpool, Mcr trains could go HS3, ECML, HS1 and onto the Continent.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    High speed ( over 140mph) is most cost- effective when new markets are catered to ( new day-return opportunities . competitive with aviation).BBirmingham, Manchester and Leeds are already well within day-return ttimes of London, so higher speeds won't bring any sea-change in benefit.

    A version of HS2 with half its mileage resignalled existing ECML with the other half 200mph cut-offs could give such sea-change in benefit for the longer journeys to Teesside, Tynesside, Edinburgh, Glasgow with spin-off benefit for Leeds, Bradford, , Hull,etc. 2 3/4 hrs to Edinburgh and 3 1/4 to Glasgow should be feasible.

    For WCML capacity relief, another much cheaper solution might be to relay, as a 125/140mph conventional line, the ex-GC north from Aylesbury / Calvert to junction with WCML south of Nuneaton. If Birmingham/ Banbury/High Wycombe trains were to divert to Paddington (after Crossrail frees up terminal platforms ) , then Marylebone could have at least 4 terminal platforms on offer for trains diverted from WCML.

    All at substantially lower costs - no need for high speed tunnels under NW Greater London and Chiltern Hills, for example.

  • John Burns, London

    The mainlines running north from London can be 140-160mph expressways when inter-city trains are put back on their original lines, instead of most being on the WCML. The APT over 30 years ago was designed to run at 155mph on existing tracks. Trains have advanced a hell of a lot to reach high speed on existing tracks.

    The existing lines can take more traffic if the major bottlenecks removed. Building HS2 the length of the country, with stops in few major cities will not alleviate any congestion. A lot of long distance traffic comes and goes from towns and cities that will not be on HS2. There is a very real need for the long distance services, that many think will no longer be needed, to be continued on the existing lines after HS2 is built.

    E.G., on an average weekday there are 24 trains per day travelling from Milton Keynes Central to Manchester and other destinations along the way, with a journey time of 1 hr 38 mins. All those long distance fast trains will still be required on the existing network after HS2 is completed. HS2 will not reduce congestion on the existing network or create capacity for more freight or local stopping services at all.

    If there was any reduction in the frequency or speed of long distance trains on the existing network, it would result in a sharp reduction in the quality of the service. The upshot is that we would be spending billions for a worse service overall than exists now.

  • Peter Davidson, Alderley Edge, NW.England

    "Grayling keeps saying that rail travel has doubled in 20 years. It will not double in the next 20 years unless the population rises exponentially. The graph is flattening out."

    Wrong - in fact the rate of increase in general ridership seems to be accelerating, not slowing down - consumer take up of rail is driven not just by population increases but modal shift from road to rail - rail has routinely played a relatively small role in consumer journey choice (less than 10% of journeys are made by rail) but this small proportion is inexorably increasing as younger people don't learn to drive, yet alone actually get round to buying a car.

    As for modern trains rendering new track build redundant, what planet are you living on Mr. Burns - those would be modern trains restricted by the UK's smaller loading gauge, antiquated track layout (passing through every small town and hemmed in by urban sprawl) and signalling.

    Only new track build, constructed to 21st century standards and weather resilient (so it doesn't shut at the first sight of high winds, snow or heavy rain - sounds familiar?) can offer the massive uplift in capacity required for future demand trends

    HS3 not integrated with HS2 - that would be something to do with the fact that HS3 is still very much a project in its infancy - no specified route yet - so how do you expect a published plan.

    In short, your critique is ill-founded, ill-informed and irrelevant!

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    John Burns, I've already seen you write exactly the same comment on the Birmingham Mail story (with just a few words changed). A few points:

    * We haven't needed a doubling of population to double rail use for the last 20 years, so why is it needed for the next 20 years.

    * Even if rail growth did suddenly stop tomorrow, the southern end of the WCML is way over capacity now, with commuters of the LM trains taking the brunt.

    * Why does the lack of every last detail on HS2 phase 2 (and its interface with HS3) preclude building HS2 phase 1? Did anyone oppose building the first section of the M1 because they hadn't worked out every last bit of design up in Leeds?

    * The full phase 2 LDN-MCR journey time will be 1:08 as opposed to 1:27 for phase 2a. So your tilting rolling stock idea would need to shave 19 minutes off a 38-minute journey from Crewe (minus however many minute you consider a "few").

    * In any case, phase 2 isn't just about journey times, it's also about capacity. The Manchester-Stockport corridor is struggling, and running faster trains along a mixed-use line will only make things worse.

    * The new ECML trains have a top speed of 140mph, not 160mph, and whilst you could conceivably do that between Peterborough and Doncaster, you'll be very hard pressed to work in 140mph trains south of Peterborough and north of Doncaster where the line is shared with local services. No way you'll get 52 minutes off a 2h 20 journey.

    * Bearing in mind Crossrail costs 18bn for one line, what exactly do you think you'll get for 42bn shared around all the cities of the north and midlands?

  • John Burns, London

    Grayling keeps saying that rail travel has doubled in 20 years. It will not double in the next 20 years unless the population rises exponentially. The graph is flattening out. The Tories, aka May & Grayling, will not be in charge as the project runs on. The Tories will be voted out at some time, and a new governments may look at the zero value for money, drop it, merging the track with the existing network ending it once and for all.

    HS2 has not even bee properly designed yet. It is supposed to merge with HS3 and no details have yet been released.

    The eastern section of the "Y" will not be built as modern trains on the East Coast Mainline, when the few bottlenecks are removed, can make Leeds in the same journey time from London as HS2 using the new 160mph trains.

    It is highly unlikely that any new HS2 track will be built north of Crewe as Alstom tilting HS2 trains can make the trip to Manchester from London only a few minutes less than HS2 using existing track from Crewe.

    Why aren't Liverpool, Birmingham and Leeds screaming at the DfT to join up all the commuter lines entering the cities in new tunnels under the city centres forming a proper metro. This is where money should be spent, where people see the benefit on a day to day basis.

    Modern trains have overtaken the need to lay new HS track.