Is the Department for Transport misleading us?

In their January 2012 announcement that High Speed Two would be going ahead, the Department for Transport set expectations that train services on classic rail would be improved as a result.

“High speed rail will bring a wide range of benefits including:

  • Released space on the conventional railway for new commuter, regional and freight services”

Analysis by rail experts paints a different picture. Amongst the stations identified that would have a less frequent (classic) service once HS2 is introduced are the following:

  • Coventry
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Warrington
  • Wigan
  • Wilmslow
  • Stockport
  • Leicester
  • Chesterfield
  • Wakefield

Furthermore 16 stations would experience extended journey times on classic rail following the introduction of HS2. More details are available here:

Further investigation reveals other stations will also experience less frequent services. Alongside each is the percentage reduction in the number of direct train services to/from London compared to current services.

  • Hemel Hempstead 15%
  • Berkhamsted 14%
  • Northampton 22%
  • Wolverhampton 33%

Each of the stations listed above handled one million or more passengers in the year 2010/11 according to data from the Office of Rail Regulation. There will be other stations losing out with smaller passenger numbers. Existing train services have been taken from 2012 timetables and anticipated future services have been taken from the Demand and Appraisal Report published in April 2012 which is available from the HS2 Ltd website. Communication with Northamptonshire County Council has indicated that the latter document is a reliable source of information.

Project 110 will introduce faster commuter trains (110 mph) and more frequent services at peak times for users of London Midland. From May 2014, morning peak time capacity will be increased by 10% and evening peak time capacity by 20%. So in 2026, rail travellers from Northampton will see even bigger decreases in service frequency than those indicated in the previous paragraph.

The bad news does not stop there. Since the Demand and Appraisal Report was last published, the DfT has revised the HS2 business case. In doing so, it has increased the “efficiency improvements” (service cuts) from £5.1 billion to £7.7 billion i.e. by approximately 50%. So there will be even more cuts to services on classic rail than those already listed.

Are we not having expectations set by the DfT concerning classic rail services which will simply not be delivered?

Andrew Bodman

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30 comments to “Is the Department for Transport misleading us?”
  1. Peter how can this be I do not think the people in phase one will be happy if project two get offered a better package for there route I went to a meeting on Friday and it was there understanding there would not be another consultation after the closing date I know what you say but you need to think how hs2 and the government minds think they could say after the end of the month we gave the public chance to put there views forward

    • @J.davis
      The present consultation process (ending 31st January) is limited to those impacted by phase 1 of the project.

      Can’t comment on your claim that there will be material differences between the compensation packages offered to residents impacted by each construction phase – don’t see how there can be material differences because this would be open to legal challenge. It would interesting to discover if there is any individual affected by both phases; someone in close proximity to the planned junctions for the two arms of the Y phase 2 extensions?

      Of course each claimant’s case will be considered individually anyway, ie. how far away they are plus physical/environmental impacts, but the basic “rules of engagement” will be the same for both phases of the project.

      • Yet another example of incompetence and malpractice

        If those on phase 2 are to be treated broadly the same why hasn’t the route been announced and road shows held so they can make their views on compensation known.

        Why isn’t it being treated as one project to be built in 2 phases and why are people south of Birmingham going to be forced to move without any approval in parliament to phase 2

        As it stands they will be evicted (and yes that is the correct word) for a London to Birmingham ultra high speed train line.

  2. Will there be a second consultation on compensation for the people when the 2nd part of the route up north announced or do they need. To fill in the forms now before the end of the closing date5

    • @J.davis
      The Hybrid Bill enabling legislation scheduled to be laid before Parliament later this year only covers phase 1

      My understanding is that there will be new consultation processes undertaken for all aspects of phase 2; including the preferred route and compensation – phase 2 is effectively a separate project. Think about it – how can those impacted by phase 2 respond if the preferred route isn’t even in the public domain at this juncture?

  3. Peter Davidson says
    ‘Could it simply be that the line of route chosen, combined with mitigating design features, has resulted in a relatively benign impact upon concentrations of residential property – but of course no route can physically avoid everybody, everywhere?’

    If its so relatively benign I presume you support the property bond as it won’t cost much?

  4. I always thought that the govenment was there for the people of the land not to rip them off like the minster nick boles is asking developers to buy land on the cheap due to our govenment bringing us hs2 and not paying householders along the route proper compensation it’s a insult to the people

    • @J.davis
      The government is there to implement policy decisions on behalf of UK plc

      That means its actions will find strong support from some and outright hositily from others, with many shades of opinion in between.

      It is utterly unreasonable to expect that the government delivers policy decisions that please all of the people all of the time – there are always winners and losers – that’s life?

      You seem to be attempting to conflate your wishes with those of everybody else in the UK, which is simply not the case – the debate revolves around the numbers potentially benefitting against those who lose out – you are one of the losers so it’s hardly surprising to find that you display a negative outlook?

      • Peter I have no problem with hs 2 the point is them trying to do it on the cheap by not paying the people along the route there intilement to fair deal and before you say the country can not afford it I see we are about to help the French fight another war with all the consequences that has to our country and people

        • @J.davis
          If you look back over my history of comments contributed to this site (when I’m allowed to by the site moderator), I think you will find that I have been consistent on this point.

          I always said that full and fair compensation should be paid to those directly impacted by the scheme, where mitigation is simply not an option.

          Where a property is directly in the pathway of the new line, such cases are unequivocal. Property owners will receive full, pre-blight valuation + 10% on top – can’t see a problem with that outcome, although I accept that for some it will be a big emotional wrench to move away from a property in which they may have lived for 10, 20, 30 years or more.

          The problem comes in cases around the periphery, those just outside the 120m dividing line. I have sympathy in such cases but a line is a line for a very good reason – to protect the wider interest of the UK taxpayer. The guy from HS2 recently interviewed put forward the principles involved very well.

            • @Peter Delow

              Did I say CPO was straightforward – don’t think so?

              I was referring to the principles involved, nothing more

              The process of CPO is a different matter entirely from HS2 if only because it affects all infrastructure projects

          • The wider interest of the UK taxpayer would be better protected if the government didn’t commit to spend £ 39 billion on HS2.

            And a line is a line for a very good reason , drawn at 120 metres so that almost no one ranks for compensation. Check the maps.

            • @kingsnewclothes
              You’re entitled to your opinion – I happen to disagree with your viewpoint. Crucially, it seems that those making the decisions here concur with me, not you.

              I have looked at the maps – have you considered another reason why the 120m threshold results in relatively small numbers of properties?

              Could it simply be that the line of route chosen, combined with mitigating design features, has resulted in a relatively benign impact upon concentrations of residential property – but of course no route can physically avoid everybody, everywhere?

        • @peter fry
          How have you arrived at that conclusion, in advance of the long awaited announcement on a preferred route for phase 2, or do you have privileged access to inside information sources?

          Something tells me you are making an educated guess, which is only what I’ve been doing for the last two years.

          I have a good idea where phase 2 should go, to deliver the most cost effective / beneficial outcome, but perhaps Mr. Osborne has interfered with the route, I don’t know – at this juncture I think both of us are in the dark?

  5. My feeling is that a dedicated freight railway would be better than HS2. The maximum capacity of a railway is achieved when all trains run at the same speed. As things stand the west coast main line has Virgin trains running at 125mph, London Midland at 110mph and freight trains running at 75mph. The freight services are also much loner than the passenger services and are slower accelerating and braking. They take up a disproportionate amount of the available line capacity.
    By removing the freight from the WCML a massive increase in line capacity would be achieved at much less cost than HS2. Much of the infrastructure required for a trunk freight railway already exists, some currently used but much now just an empty, but recoverable, formation.

    • I live in rural Spain and read the present national debate concerning expanding high speed passenger routes and rail freight haulage, irrespective of present cost constraints. The Corredor Mediterraneo proposals have been reviewed by the Ministry of Development. The need for people to travel at 350 kph at high fares is debatable, compared to 200 kph on tracks which with new developments will permit freight train movements. Encouraging freight haulage off roads onto rail has far greater economic and environmental benefits than reducing passenger travel times between Valencia and Barcelona by 20 minutes, as one example. Passengers other than businessmen would be happy spending 20 mins longer on a train at lower fares, and still be faster city centre to centre than air travel. I suspect in Spain the period of spending billions on ´proyectos grandes´ is ended after some rational thinking.
      The HST trains in Spain boast a high passenger load factor and excellent reliability, but fares are expensive (180 euros return Malaga – Madrid so hardly a family day out trip). The AVANT medium distance trains have maximum speeds of 250 kph and the fares competitive to encourage people not to use their cars. The HST network is a result of quasi-political reasons (linking the autonomous provinces but seemingly not impressing the citizens of Barcelona) and huge expenditure on track construction partly funded from sources outside Spain. The losses of the operating company RENFE continue to rise. The remedy – cutting many local services to the legal public service order minimum.
      If a bespoke freight route could be devised as Peter Phillips suggests the WCML could be uprated for 255 kph passenger trains at a fraction of the HS2 cost and avoid the physical environmental damage anticipated. ERTMS signalling permits a greater volume of traffic on existing track. Also, there is now sufficient evidence from European HST routes that track maintenance costs per km rise for speeds above 250 kph.

  6. It seems there is no way of stopping this government building HS2. They seem to have unlimited funds, take no notice of peoples concerns – when you hear they are digging up graves and sending letters to homr owners saying they intend taking control of their homes and lives, changing the law that protects them. Making us all work past 70 to pay for it. Sure;ly if it was such a good idea the big companies would be building it with their funds, allowing the government to get on with what they should be doing, sorting out the country and getting us back on our feet – not prioritising travel for a few businessmen to save 30 minutes – especially when technology is changing so much and fewer and fewer will need or want to sit on a train.

  7. todays announcement for network rail for 35b and the costs of hs2 at 32b to 80b depending what phases are include and say 10b to 20b for crossrail all suggest the need for plans
    to make the uk more efficient should be
    based on meeting community and regional needs with direct and relevant service. Hs2 phase 1 route does not do this. Poor use of front end remit developments and lack of regional rail commutet knowledge has not helped.

    Hs2 has not excelled in the opportunity and dft could have realised it has the means to do so. Hopefully wisdom will prevail in 2013.

  8. I never get a straight answer from Dft
    They will not confirm exactly what services will transfer to HS2 nor will they say what additional services will run on wcml
    and yet Ms Munro can issue a press release making wild claims for extra services for Milton Keynes after hs2.
    Why wasnt this addressed properly by the TSC and why did it take judiucial reviews to prise out details of wcml peak loadings
    What the hell are we are we all paying for and why does nothing change!!!

  9. RE: Chester and North Wales I suggest your “expert” reads section A1 par 1, #hs2 #factsplease

    “Released capacity changes to the Phase 1 network are shown in Table A2. With the exception of services between Euston-hester/ North Wales and between Birmingham New Street – Glasgow / Edinburgh (and reverse) which are assumed to remain in place with HS2”

      • My colleagues recently completed high level job interviews entirely using video conference facilities. Business travel will be seen as a luxury in the future and will be avoided. Affordable travel for the masses is what is needed.

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