Rush hour congestion

Last Tuesday, Stop HS2 supporters went to The Age of Energy Transport Debate, organised by Shell and the Telegraph newspaper.

The speakers included Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, and Mark Gainsborough of Shell.

During the course of the debate, Philip Hammond commented that Britain’s motorways and railways are not congested most of the day. It’s just for one or two hours with peak traffic.

Christian Wolmar said this as well, at the Stop HS2 convention. However, he compared the situation to Tescos – also overcrowded on a Friday evening. No-one suggests solving that problem by building new Tescos stores, he said.

Earlier this year, the Department for Transport published details of the most crowded trains, in response to Freedom of Information request. One common theme is the times of day that the trains are overcrowded – they are either busy during the times when commuters are travelling into London, or when commuters are traveling home from London.

Obviously, the people who use those trains will feel like the railways are overcrowded. Many of these people make the same journey every day, so every day their impression will be being re-enforced. But if they could choose to make the same journey every day at lunchtime they would have a very different impression.

Yes, there is a problem for commuters.  But there are also many solutions.

11 comments to “Rush hour congestion”
  1. Why do you pro-HS2 lot continually refer to the Chiltern NIMBYs, as if they are the only objectors? What about Camden, Primrose Hill, Ruislip, Hillingdon, …etc etc etc?

    Wait until the folk north of B’ham realise what’s going to be slicing through their beautiful countryside (blissfully unawre at present) and then there really will be a stink.

    I’m sorry, but this is a real duffer and the govt. will soon be looking for a way out without leaving serious egg on their faces.

    • Because they are by far the most nakedly self-interested and quite happy to spout any old rubbish as ‘evidence’ to support their cause. ‘We’re fine so stuff the rest of the country’ seems to be the order of the day.

  2. I was actually reading a Commons Select Committee report today – the link is on here but its heavy going I must admit.

    The report is not specifically about HS2 – its rather the general picture up and down the UK, so I zeroed in on some of the comments from the Northern interviewees, in particular relating to freight traffic. A common theme was that their support for HS2 was based on the fact that capacity would be released for freight – which led to some stating it might not be a bad idea for a freight only route running over the proposed high speed line as opposed to high speed trains.

  3. @Simon: sorry that statement about the HSL-Zuid situation is not quite a fair reflection of the situation. NS Hispeed has not yet operated a single domestic high speed train, mostly because the HSL-Zuid project has been struck by a series of problems that have not been seen on any other HSl and which, indeed, would not be applicable to HS2 either.

    NS Hispeed is trying to charge premium fares for a loco hauled service running at 160 km/h over parts of the new line. Understandably people don’t want to ride it for zero time gain. Its plan to introduce 250 km/h trains ahs been scuppered by a poor choice of rolling stock from a manufacturer with a very poor reputation. Many of the company’s recent deliveries have been beset by production problems (eg Danish IC4 inter city diesel trains), and so this is an issue which is not HSR specific.

    HSL-Zuid did have some signalling difficulties too at the start because it is a cross-border railway, and the Dutch and Belgian suppliers chose different sig suppliers which caused interface issues. Again, this cannot affect HS2.

  4. Sounds about right for Christian Wolmar. He’s in the “I live in the home counties and don’t want any of my taxes spent on helping the north” camp. There’s been a whole host of those types given coverage in the press just recently. They were all silent on the billions spent on Crossrail and the Olympics. If the Olympics isn’t a “vanity project” then I don’t know what is. Those projects were in the south-east though, so that’ll be why.

    • Not so sure about the Olympics being a vanity project….the stadium itself has acquired a use after the games, and heading out east down the Thames are plans for further investment. Stratford station may well become a major player on the back of that. We had the same up here when the Commonwealth Games were held in 2002, that has been a nice catalyst for a variety of projects – social housing being one of them.

      • Anti-HS2 people are very keen on talking about “cost-benefit ratios”, and the CBR of the Olympic games will be abysmal whichever way you look at it. Building expensive sports stadiums is never the best use of lots of money. It will provide zero benefit to me in the north. Same for Crossrail, but when the tax payer is asked to put some money twoards a better tranpsort infrastructure for the rest of the country, our friends in the south-east and along the route don’t want to know and trot out every excuse under the sun not to build it. It’s pathetic.

  5. I think it’s the false justification for HS2 given by its supporters that you need to be seriously considering Ian.

    Even the Dutch high speed rail is nearly bankrupt according to New Civil Engineer magazine and China is questioning whether its passnger demand forecasts are correct.

    Qui s’accuse s’excuse.

    • Hmmm…well that is the danger of using sweeping statements to argue your case. They actually undermine any real arguments. The Tesco comment is just plain laughable.

  6. @Ian, you can’t criticise Christian Wolmar on this site! It’s pure sacrilege. Why, Christian is not only ‘Britain’s leading transport commentator’, he is also a noted regular on trains up the HS2 corridor! Barely a week goes by without me remembering some pearl of wisdom where Christian recounts some great voyage to the cities of the North — Manchester, Leeds, Preston, Ormskirk!

    Now of course if Christian had spent most of the past decade foresnically analysing the mere £2bn bill for the Tube PPP and steadfastly ignoring the WCML debacle which punched a five times bigger hole in the taxpayers’ coffers, I’d be worried…………

  7. What planet is Christain Wolmar on? ‘…Tescos don’t build more stores when they’re full at busy times’. That is utter rubbish when you consider that Tescos build stores the minute a space is available.

    Gerrards Cross didn’t want a Tescos, but they got one mainly because Tescos were concerned they’d lose trade as Amersham is so busy. Tescos even built that on a space that wasn’t really there by building over a railway cutting.

    If Wolmar thinks that sort of reasoning makes sense, I’d give his ‘support’ a wide berth if I were you.

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