TSC’s areas of concern

The Transport Select Committee’s press release yesterday said that there was a “good case for a high speed rail network, linking London and the major cities of the Midlands, the North and Scotland”.

However they were blunt in their criticisms of the HS2 Ltd’s proposals in their current form.

The report says that there are a “number of areas” which need to be addressed by the Government.

123. Many issues about the Government’s proposal for HS2 and about high-speed rail in general have been raised in the course of our inquiry. We have pointed to a number of areas that we believe need to be addressed by the Government in the course of progressing HS2. These include the provision of greater clarity on the policy context, the assessment of alternatives, the financial and economic case, the environmental impacts, connections to Heathrow and the justification for the particular route being proposed.

So just what areas does the Committee say need to be addressed?

  • greater clarity on the policy context,
  • the assessment of alternatives,
  • the financial case,
  • the economic case,
  • the environmental impacts,
  • connections to Heathrow
  • and the justification for the particular route being proposed.

These aren’t niggles about minor details. These are major questions about the very basic assumptions used by HS2 Ltd when drawing up their proposals.

In addition, the Transport Select Committee said

120. We are clear that the case for HS2 depends on completion of the Y network—London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. In the longer term, we believe it should be expanded to include Scotland, Wales and other parts of the UK.

Answering all these points properly – especially when combined with the committee’s questioning of the proposed speed and the use of time savings to justify the line – means that a rational decision on high speed rail would say the current proposals from HS2 Ltd are a bad project for the nation.

The whole HS2 Ltd proposal needs to be torn up.

PS Justine Greening will be making a statement to MPs about HS2 on 21st November.  We will be having a Lobby Day on the 28th November.  Please write or email your MP – perhaps copying in Justine Greening –  with your concerns about HS2 and ask them if they are going to go to these events.  A tool to help you can be found at http://www.highspeedrail.org.uk/.

35 comments to “TSC’s areas of concern”
  1. @ Peter Davidson,

    I’m just guessing here but would you be the same Peter Davidson that runs Peter Davidson Consultancy ? ( Feel free to google peter davidson cheshire everyone ) If so, and I suspect that you are are, then you are doing no more than peddling your own vested interests and should be brave enough to admit your “professional” status in this debate.You are a professional transport consultant who is only interested in more and more “transport links” as they will inevitably lead to more fees for yourself !

    “Peter Davidson Consultancy provides innovative solutions to the complex transportation problems of the modern world. We cover transport planning, railways, research, multi-modal modelling, market research and software solutions. We are at the cutting-edge of transport technology and are one of the market leaders in understanding transport behaviour, using sophisticated research methods to produce realistic transport solutions, and applying state-of-the-art transport modelling techniques to ensure our solutions really work.”

    I bet you can’t wait to be commissioned to do yet another report……

    • @Si. P

      No I’m not but thanks for sending the information – I’ll be investigating just who this mythical person is and having the link removed if it is a spoof designed to mislead people

    • @Si. P: I’m just guessing here

      Yes, @Si. P – you are just guessing and guess what; you’ve got it completely wrong!!!

      If you’d taken a bit more time and trouble (about 60 second more in fact), you’d have discovered that the person you are referring to, who does in fact seem to exist, has an office probably not so far away from you, in Berkhamsted – follow the link on the contact page


      Perhaps you’d like to go round and give this person a piece of your mind – at which point you’d discover your gross error!

      If you do actually follow these pages you’ll also know that I happen to live in Alderley Edge, my post code is SK9 7**

      Note to Moderator (Penny?) – this is potentially serious stuff

      You should check facts before posting comments (that’s your role!) – this company could issue legal proceedings against STOPHS2 – if I were you I’d post a comprehensive and unequivocal retraction of the comments posted above, toute suite, before removing the original comment and any subsequent responses (including mine!)

    • Both ‘Peter’ and ‘Davidson’ are common names, so it is to be expected that there are a number of people called ‘Peter Davidson’ in Cheshire.

      I confirm that there is no link between the Peter Davidson who posts here and the consultancy firm mentioned.

      Further speculation about individuals is off-topic.

  2. Pingback: STOP HS2 | Institute of Directors – survey shows their members unsure about HS2

  3. if you say you support high speed rail but not any of the proposed routes then you arent a supporter. look at the response to labours proposed route ! i dont know why they thought that a route which passes much closer to major towns without serving them would be less controversial then the route most likely to be chosen ! – we know you are upset about the line passing through a field in the distance so we thought you would rather have in it in your back garden ? strange thought process.

    if you build a new route you will disrupt some people and ruin a few peoples lives for some time no matter where it is, even if it is along existing routes. and they will rightly complain. there is no way of avoiding this. some people will be very unhappy wherever you build or upgrade which is really the same thing. people in west london dont want another railway line even though others already exist along that route. this is an upgrade yet some in west london are as annoyed at this proposal as are some of those in the chilterns.

    an example close to me is the welwyn viaduct. some in the chilterns suggests “upgrading” this instead. so you care about countryside but only particular bits. and you are willing to push it on someone else and disrupt many passengers for many years. there are houses right under the viaduct so i dont see them welcoming stop hs2 with open arms ! for the record i would support this if it were necessary although i am not under it myslef though some of you probably wish i were ! so if you want to call me an IMBY please do ! and i’ll call you DBIH BISE – dont build it here build it somewhere else !!!

    • @vtiman

      Exactly! – this is precise aspect of the debate conveniently glossed over. The spurious claim that somehow moving the route next door to an existing artery will miraculously result in zero disturbance and disruption, compared with the presently proposed pathway – this is mendacious nonsense!

      In fact, building next door to an existing transport artery (the M1 is often mentioned in this respect) will result in higher overall costs and a significant increase in the total number of households / communities / businesses affected by the construction process – of course they’ll be different households / communities / businesses far away from the leafy Chilterns – so that’s OK then!!!

      • Have you got some proof that going down the M1 and linking in by Milton Keynes and Luton would cost more ? Have you got proof that it would effect more people ? There is a comment I recall from the consultation document that says it might if they didn’t tunnel under Luton . But have you got some facts and figures ?

        Replies of less than 1000 words would be appreciated .

        • I suppose it is fairly obvious. Something to do with the massive costs of going across all those motorway road junctions and that most large community areas are based alongside motorways (Milton Keynes Luton etc).

          • Could be. But don’t you think we are entitled to see some costed numbers before finalising ” what is probably the largest single investment in UK transport infrastructure in modern times “? HS2 Ltd should do the work and find out .

            If you are right and if building alongside a motorway were to be prohibitively expensive then that would also rule out using the M6 and M1 corridors up to Manchester and Leeds respectively .

            • @MartinH: “HS2 Ltd should do the work and find out”

              errrrr……………..they (HS2 Ltd) have done the work – did you think they settled on Route3 via the back of fag packet?

              Here you can find a link to a report entitled “HS2 London to the West Midlands Appraisal of Sustainability – Non Technical Summary” I direct you to page 17 of this 33 page document; section 6.1 and sub-sections, which describes some of the processes undergone to arrive at the final preferred. A myriad of factors were considered during their deliberations – too many to mention here.

              You can also find specific summaries of three alternative routes rejected during this process at the following embedded URLs, mostly on the basis of projected additional cost factors;
              Route 1.5
              Route 2.5
              Route 4.0

              I’m still trying to find references to alternative routes utilising the M1 corridor but they seem to be non-existent; probably because they were dismissed out of hand very early on in the sifting process as hopelessly inadequate, unworkable and or too expensive. You only have to take a cursory look at the map to see why – the M1 passes right between Luton and Dunstable, smack through the middle of Milton Keynes and skirts past the edge of Northampton, further north the M6 passes through Coventry. All of these areas would require extensive and very expensive tunnelling pushing up the total cost.

              The final clincher is stunningly simple – the geographical reality that following the M1/M6 is not the most direct route!

            • I wouldn’t go for 1.5 , 2.5 or 4 or any of the other options looked at by HS2 Ltd . They all require speeds of up to 250 mph which is the main fundamental flaw and as a consequence none of them make any serious attempt to follow a motorway . The consultation paperwork talks about a noticeable impact on demand of the extra three to four minutes that 1.5 takes compared to route 3 ! They even talk about the measurable impact on the “benefits” of the extra one and half minutes that route 2.5 takes !! That sounds like nonsense to me and speaks volumes about the approach taken by HS2 Ltd .

            • @MartinH

              In other words you don’t agree with the result they arrived at so instead you try to undermine the methodology and criteria used.

              You (and STOPHS2 / AGHAST / HS2AA) believe you know better than the experts with years of experience in this specialised field of engineering / passenger & traffic demand forecasting / demographics etc. etc. Unfortunately for your viewpoint it looks very much as though the Minister is going to side with the experts in this instance – they almost always do.

            • But Peter, if you read the article again, you will see that the Transport Select Committee – who have years of scrutenising transport projects – agree that there are huge numbers of questions about HS2.

              They say the problems of HS2 “include the provision of greater clarity on the policy context, the assessment of alternatives, the financial and economic case, the environmental impacts, connections to Heathrow and the justification for the particular route being proposed.”

              So if Justine Greening takes note of the TSC, what she should do is tell HS2 Ltd that their proposed railway won’t work and they should start again from scratch.

            • @Joanne

              Can I suggest you read again the Committee’s broad conclusions – this time without your anti-HS2 tinted spectacles on?

              Yes, the Committee did raise many concerns about HS2, primarily the lack of an overall transport strategy, into which, HS2 might seamlessly integrate

              However, the Committee gave a ringing endorsement of High Speed Rail and agreed that HS2, or something very similar, is the sole credible solution to many of Britain’s long term transport woes.

              They specifically rejected the proposals put forward by anti-HS2 groupings, which focus on upgrades (not that many of these are already being undertaken anyway)

              Now you might like to believe that the Minister will just throw away several years preparatory work on HS2 and “start from scratch” but meanwhile back on planet reality I believe the Minister will approve HS2 more or less in the form currently proposed – see my remarks elsewhere for clarification of what I mean by that.

      • I think that you and VTIMAN are missing the point(s) here.
        Laying a wide area track through AONBs breaks the government’s own principles.
        If the most direct and level route is the reason behind building the line then bury it as it would be able to go as straight and as level as is posssible and maybe even increase the time saving from around 10 to 15 minutes to maybe 20.
        Pro HS2 supporters at this point will claim that tunnels will push the cost up…it is already too expensive so a little or a lot more will not matter.
        There is little green countryside left around London and there are plenty of existing rail lines that could be improved both speed and capacity wise without too much environmental damage (The Chiltern line for example have an expansion plan)

        Overall people who object to this and who come from the Chilterns object to the whole thing full stop not just that the proposed route goes through some of the nicest countryside left within easy reach of the capital.
        So I guess that makes them DNBIAAs Do not build it all……there are better things to allocate the money to.

        • @Ian S
          The principles about having an impact on an AONB is clealry covered by Planning Policy PPS7.
          The argument for going through the AONB is the fact that HS2 is in the national interest. Simples!

          • Yes being in the national interest could support the case for devastating the Chilterns AONB with HS2, but there is no definitive proof made, as the TSC report clearly reveals, that the current plans are in the national interest and there also has to be no other option than that proposed. The first requirement is not proven therefore and the 2nd requirement has not been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. So the DfT/HS2 Ltd have no case made for putting any HS2 route through any AONB.

      • No, it’s not OK either. The TSC report and many others have serious concerns about the value of the whole project. The TSC say unless simultaneous funding is made to support regional business, commerce, skills and employment IN ADDITION TO HS2, then potential regenerational benefits won’t happen. It’s not a stand alone regeneration project, so to fulfil Government aims, WILL NEED MORE MONEY WHICH HAS NOT BEEN ALLOWED FOR IN THE HS2 FISCAL PLANS, along with other essentials such as onward transport needs at Euston.
        There are transport professionals who raise serious questions about the accuracy of HS2Ltd’s forecasting & it is perfectly reasonable for any person to question anyone’s figures, whoever they are, if they seem unreasonable, doubtful or of dubious provenance. The NASA flight where the highly skilled space engineers muddled imperial and metric measurements disastrously is a case in point.

    • Are you saying that the Transport Select Committee don’t really support high speed rail because they don’t support any of the proposed routes or have I misunderstood?

  4. The transport committee say there is a good case for high speed rail,and there is, but Not HS2.People confuse the two.Yet again today trains are disrupted due to signal failings.It is essentail that the whole rail system is updated before any large scale project to destroy so much ,is considered.Those who want this hs2 seem to have rose tinted specs on,abit like longing to be on holiday without the hassle of the journey getting there.They ignore the years of disruption and the teething problems that will enevitbly happen.

    • the signal failures are mostly caused by cable theft which needs to be tackled but is no reason to not have hs2 – in fact it shows the need for a separate right of way such as hs2 so that at least some trains can keep running!!

  5. I think you should define what you mean by ” more or less in the form currently proposed ” PD.

    How about ( 1 ) Justine Greening says she is going to go ahead but along a completely different route that follows a transport corridor with speeds of somewhere between 155 mph and 180 mph that means the journey times between Birmingham and London and Manchester and London are ( for the sake of argument – because I don’t think the work has been done ) 1 hour 5 and 1 hour 45 mins. Is that ” more or less in the form currently proposed ” ?

    What about ( 2 ) she says she is minded to do ( 1 ) but needs to go away for another 12 months and do some more work on the route ? What about ( 3 ) she says she is minded to do ( 1 ) but needs to go away for another 18 months and bring the section North of Birmingham into a consultation ?

    It seems to me that all of the above are entirely consistent with the Transport Select Committee report , the Labour Party policy and the Conservative manifesto ( not that political parties stick to those anyway ) .

    Most of the Campaign for High Speed Rail supporters might support ( 1 ) but I’m not sure you would since you have always said the most important thing is to be able to whizz round Europe quickly. ( 2 ) and ( 3 ) have the political benefit of avoiding a party split until we see for sure whether the fall out from the collapse of the ill conceived monetary union project means that all bets are off .

    Don’t get too cocky just yet — or do you know something we don’t ?

    • @MartinH

      It’s not a question of being cocky – simply putting 2 and 2 together and getting 4, and no, I don’t know anything you don’t. I have no special position (or financial/other gain flowing from the implementation of HS2), just an interest in this matter because I wish my Region (NW.England) to be directly linked into the emerged pan-European HSR network because this will significantly improve its future prospects.

      For the record, here is my best educated guess (and that’s all it is) at what will unfold in the next three months or so (I could be spectacularly wrong – but my intuition tells me otherwise);

      1. The Minister will give a briefing (most of which will stay private) to MPs on the 21st of this month. She will inform them that whilst cognisant of the profound concerns expressed across those constituencies most acutely impacted (ie. those through which the proposed route passes), she is on balance minded to proceed with HS2. MPs in these constituencies will make lots of public reassuring noises, between 21st November and mid-December (see point 2) about how they are working hard to get the best deal for their constituents – well they would, wouldn’t they?

      2. The Minister’s announcement to the Commons, sometime around mid-December (14th has been mentioned?), will broadly follow the terms of the aforesaid briefing. I believe that most of the present proposals will be retained so none of the (hopeful?) scenarios you describe will come to fruition. If there is going to be a significant change I think it will relate to the section between Old Oak Common and Euston, which involves a disproportionately large percentage of the total budget and the largest single concentration of disruption, in terms of housing/local community resources. There may also be some acknowledgement toward the concerns expressed by the TSC regarding HS2’s construction timetable, in order to allay genuine fears of any precipitous/politically expedient cancellation of phase 2. This might include the passage/content of the Hybrid Bill and/or speeding up the consultation process for phase 2, enabling a smaller time differential between completion of both phases – it might be that a revised timetable will see the early stages of phase 2 construction begin prior to completion of phase 1.

      3. The announcement described above (timed to coincide with a period when the House is not sitting) will herald a veritable tsunami (at least it will seem that way because of the undue media coverage) of protest emanating from well organised Chiltern based campaign groups, threatening legal challenges / judicial reviews / civil disobedience / throw in the kitchen sink – in other words lots of hot air but very little substance because all of these threats will ultimately come to nought.

      4. The next significant step will be the announcement, sometime in April 2012, of the preferred route for phase 2. This will begin a new stage in the campaign on both sides as existing protest groups in Bucks, Northants and Warks attempt to garner support from their more northerly cousins. Then things might just get interesting because there will be a greater balance of opinion amongst the public – both Manchester and Leeds and their environs stand to be the biggest beneficiaries of HS2. Where I live (East Cheshire) will be particularly noteworthy because we will be able to see both sides of the coin – the line will pass through some similarly tranquil/picturesque (to Bucks) rural areas but we will also have a station close by at Manchester Airport.

      Interesting times ahead?

      • Whatever Justine Greening announces in December we can agree on one thing Peter. It won’t be the end of the matter either way.

        • Of course not @MartinH – I expect the announcement of HS2 phase 2 will provide a new chapter in the story of this project – there will be some (relatively minor changes as far as the Chilterns are concerned) along the way, after all – construction of phase 1 isn’t going to start before 2016 at the earliest – doubtless we’ll have all sorts of shenanigans going on before the first hard hats are sighted in the Misbourne Valley – legal challenges on the basis of human rights infringements (it’ll be amusing to see that one tried by a crowd routinely hostile to such PC stuff – wonder how the Daily Mail editor will play the headline?), judicial reviews etc. etc.

          I am at a loss to understand how HS2 will be politically damaging for the current Coalition administration (as @hsno claims below). This displays a frightening ignorance of how politics works here in the UK. All of the main parties – in fact all of the parties bar UKIP and Greens (not certain about the English Democrats and not really interested in that bunch of jokers) are in favour of High Speed Rail so apart from the issue of routing, where are the alleged thousands of outraged voters in Middle England going to find a new home – the notion that some new slate of anti-HS2 candidates is going to emerge in the next three years and sweep the existing mainstream political elites away is simply laughable – the retention of First Past the Post in May’s referendum all but guarantees the continued incumbency of the current crowd – there could be a change of govt (I have a sneaking suspicion that the next general election result will deliver a similarly inconclusive outcome to that of 2010) but so what – a change to another resident in No.10 who will simply carry on with the current project, particularly after X amount of Parliamentary time has been invested in passing the Hybrid Bill required to facilitate construction?

          You see, unfortunately those who reside in HS2 land live in a relative bubble – if you live in very close proximity to Route3 I can see how it might dominate your life but for 99% of teh UK population they simply couldn’t give a monkeys about the topic – they don’t yet perceive its importance and it certainly won’t affect the way they will cast their vote (if they actually vote) come 2015!

          • In fact I think there is every chance that the Conservatives would lose some seats over this. Either to independents who are against HS2, or possibly to UKIP who are against HS2 ( and against a background of continuing trouble in the Eurozone — I expect ) or even, speak it quietly, to Labour with the possibility of tactical voting to try and get the route switch. That might have been quite a clever Miliband ploy in the long run.

            I agree that the majority of the British public are not engaged yet on the subject of HS2 but that isn’t really the main point. It will be the perception of Cameron as being isolated and fighting battles with just about everyone that will do the damage. The public sector unions, the police federation, army generals, the health service, the national trust, Merkel and Sarkozy ( or whoever else is in charge ) , Europhobes , all against a backdrop of continuing hard times. Add to that HS2 opponents. Remember more than 50 % of Tory party members were against the scheme in a recent survey.

      • I rather think all they will do at the end of the year is delay any decision and blame it on economic circumstances, not the right time e.t.c. e.t.c…..because I think they are waking up to the genuine opposition to this wasteful project. They will struggle to justify the spend when you’ve got public sector workers striking over pay and conditions…This project could be very damaging for this coalition and when it comes down to it that is what polticians really care about.

        • I would like to agree but I think the focus is on having the Hybrid Bill passed before the next general election which implies no delay. That way all the main parties are forced to vote yes or no before the local electorate get a chance to vote. This makes it much harder for the Lib Dems/Labour to stir up trouble as it becomes untenable to argue for another route whn you have already voted for route 3. Not that I think this would swing the election anyway, but it would be a major distraction in constituencies that would otherwise require little attention from Conservative HQ. Delay also runs the risk of having to rework what is already some quite old analysis or run the risk of a legal challenge on the basis that circumstances have changed.

          Labour is, in my view, playing typical opposition politics with its alternative route and the Conservatives did the same before the last election when they refused to review Labour’s proposals.

  6. The whole HS2 Ltd proposal needs to be torn up.

    STOPHS2 might like to draw that conclusion from the TSC’s report – unfortunately that’s not how the report has been generally interpreted

    Try this or this or even this

    I realise it’s inconvenient for STOPHS2 but when Justine Greening stands up in Parliament (approx eight weeks from now) and announces the go ahead for HS2, more or less in the form currently proposed, what is your campaign group going to do, in practical terms, to assist impacted communities by demanding the very best mitigation possible?

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