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“End Predict and Provide” says McNulty

The McNulty study, published yesterday, has a number of suggestions about reducing costs in the railway industry.

He referred to the incentive system appearing “to have a bias towards capital expenditure rather than making better use of existing capacity” (p9 , summary document). HS2 is a capital expenditure project.

Most relevant of these to HS2 is the recommendation to end the existing “predict and provide” model. This is the idea that transport planners say in so many years time, there’ll be this many more people using the trains, so lets spend billions of pounds on a brand new railway.

McNulty – in the level two document, p79 – said there should be

‘a much greater focus on making better use of existing capacity, whether that is through better timetables, pricing or behavioural options, perhaps “predict, manage and provide”.’

He suggestions include looking at where there is spare capacity on the network.

So for Birmingham to London travellers, this means the improvements of the Chiltern Railways Mainline project, increasing line speeds on the railway between Birmingham Moor Street and London, Marylebone.

Oh and maybe it also means the Government should cancel HS2.

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9 comments to ““End Predict and Provide” says McNulty”
  1. It could equally be argued that ‘predict and provide’ never actually had a pulse.

    For example, I have listened many times to people from the Highways Agency saying that road construction will no longer follow a predict and provide pattern any more. I would suggest when we start doicomparing ourselves with our European counterparts and commercial competitors that we are miles (kilometres) off the pace. Check out the Road Users Alliance ‘Roads File’ if you want to study the data. And no, I am not an out and out road nutter before anyone accuses me of that.

    My view is that we have always been good at the predictions for transport but are just rubbish at the ‘provide’ part of it.

    The extension of the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester has had numerous studies, All of which predicted the overcrowding/congestion we have today but provision has never been made. We could have probably built it now for the cost of all those studies that said we need it.

    Clearly the same is true with the rail industry and we are in serious danger of getting the predictions right (i.e there is massive demand for rail) but for the sake of a few minority interests and in the grand scheme of the wealth and future of this nation, we could be headed towards not making the provide bit of the equation.

    Lets not kid ourselves that predict and provide is more than just a catch phrase in the minds of those who are prepared to accept poor transport infrastructure.

  2. in almost every case you can think of predict and provide was not used or if it was the ridership/ usage predicted was way short of the actual amount. needed road and rail capacity has never been provided until after the fact at increased cost and disruption.

    you have to base planning on some assumptions and use recent historical trends. we cant wait until the railways are completely fulll we need to plan for increased capacity now. without more capacity the railway is physically incapable of winning much more traffic from road or air, even with the yearly volcanic eruption !

    part of the problem with hs2 is that you will have the visual intrusion of the line which everyone can see even though many mitigation measures will be taken. with motorways and dual carriageways, which take much more land and are much more intrusive (twyford down anyone) you can see the traffic jams too but you cant see the vehicles emissions from a distance unless there is visible smog. I think that being able to see the railway where there mostly wasnt one before, is better then having your health and your childrens health adversely affected by too much vehicular pollution and of course from pollution from planes which you can see and smell !

    • Nor will you see the co2 used on construction or the electricity which comes from a power statio

      • The current rate of growth of use on the Chiltern route. Marylebone is not a big station and there is a limit to how much can be squeezed out of the line as a whole. The Chiltern Mainline project opens this year and will be a major improvement but it just does not have anything like the capacity offered by HS2.

        Chiltern themselves are very pro HS2…I can’t imagine they would throw away the opportunity of being the alternative to HS2 if they thought it was a realistic option.

  3. On the whole , the report pretty much tells us what the industry already knew, however there are odd occasions where it contradicts itself as below…

    ” Even with the impacts of the global recession on the UK economy, rail demand has remained strong, and there is the clear prospect of significant future growth in freight and passenger traffic potentially doubling by 2030 “.

    Those are Mcnultys own words on p19 of the summary , yet put an end to predict and provide? So if the demand is predicted, and it is well recognised that enhancements simply wont deliver that sort of growth, what do we do ??

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