28 April 2010

Manifestos on Transport - what is on offer after 6th May 2010

With the election just a short time away you have here the policies of the most important political parties, concerning transport, as stated in their manifestos without any "filtering" by the media. You read them and you make the choice.

Labour: Rebuilding our transport infrastructure

Britain needs to invest in modern, high-capacity and lowcarbon transport infrastructure. At the heart of our growth plan is the commitment to a new high-speed rail line, linking North and South. Built in stages, the initial line will link London to Birmingham, Manchester, the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds, and then to the North and Scotland.
By running through-trains from day one, cities including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool will also be part of the initial network. Journey times will be slashed – those from the West Midlands to London will be as little as 31 minutes. We will consult fully on legislation to take forward our high-speed rail plans within the next Parliament.
High-speed rail is not just about faster journey times. It will free up capacity on existing intercity rail lines, enabling more rail freight, commuter and local services. We will press ahead with a major investment programme in existing rail services, hugely improving commuter services into and through London, and electrifying new rail-lines including the Great Western Main Line from London to South Wales. We will complete the new east-west Crossrail line in London adding ten per cent to London transport capacity.
Rail passenger numbers have increased by 40 per cent in the last ten years and
punctuality and quality of service are improving steadily.
We will encourage more people to switch to rail with an enforceable right to the
cheapest fare, while trebling the number of secure cyclestorage spaces at rail stations.
We will welcome rail franchise bids from not-for-profit, mutual or co-operative franchise enterprises and will look to remove unfair barriers that prevent such bids benefiting passengers and taxpayers.

Tackling road congestion is a key Labour priority. We will extend hard-shoulder running on motorways, alongside targeted motorway widening including on the M25. Too much disruption is caused by local road works: we will increase tenfold the penalties on utilities who allow work to overrun. We rule out the introduction of national roadpricing in the next Parliament.

Heathrow is Britain’s international hub airport, already operating at full capacity, and supporting millions of jobs, businesses and citizens who depend upon it.
We support a third runway at Heathrow, subject to strict conditions on environmental impact and flight numbers, but we will not allow additional
runways to proceed at any other airport in the next Parliament.

Through our investment, Labour has put Britain at the forefront of electric and lowcarbon vehicle manufacturing. To promote the rapid take-up of electric and low-carbon cars, we will ensure there are 100,000 electric vehicle charging points by the end of the next Parliament.

Conservatives: Create a modern transport network

A rebalanced
economy requires an extensive and reliable infrastructure. But transport has been a low priority for Labour, and the hassle of getting around is bad for business, bad for families and bad for everyone’s quality of life.
A Conservative government will begin work immediately to create a high speed rail line connecting London and Heathrow with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. This is the first step towards achieving our vision of creating a national high speed rail network to join up major cities across England, Scotland and Wales. Stage two will deliver two new lines bringing the North East, Scotland and Wales into the high speed rail network.

Because travel abroad is so important for our economy and for family holidays, we need to improve our airports and reduce the environmental impact of flying. Our goal is to make Heathrow airport better, not bigger. We will stop the third runway and instead link Heathrow directly to our high speed rail network, providing an alternative to thousands of flights.
In addition, we will:
block plans for second runways at Stansted and Gatwick; and,
• reform Air Passenger Duty to encourage a switch to fuller and cleaner planes.

To improve life for commuters and encourage people to switch to lower carbon public transport, we will reform our railways to provide a better focus on tackling problems that matter most to passengers, such as overcrowding. We will grant longer, more flexible rail franchises to incentivise private sector investment in improvements like longer trains and better stations.
We support Crossrail and the electrification of the Great Western line to South Wales. We will turn the rail regulator into a powerful passenger champion and reform Network Rail to make it more accountable to its customers. And we will introduce a moratorium on building on disused rail lines still in public ownership, so they are available to be re-opened.

Britain has the chance to lead the world in making our transport system greener. So we will introduce incentives for electricity network operators to establish a new national car recharging network, making it much easier for drivers to move to electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. We will support sustainable travel initiatives that work best for local communities by:
giving the concerns of cyclists much greater priority;
• encouraging partnerships between bus operators and local authorities; and,
• helping people cut down on work-related travel.
We will stop central government funding for new fixed speed cameras, and switch to more effective ways to make our roads safer, including authorising ‘drugalyser’ technology for use in testing for drug-driving. We will make companies that dig up our roads accountable for the congestion they cause and crack down on rogue clampers. Councils will get more powers to get traffic flowing more
We will consult on the introduction of a ‘Fair Fuel Stabiliser’. This would cut fuel duty when oil prices rise, and vice versa. It would ensure families, businesses and the whole British economy are less exposed to volatile oil markets, and that there is a more stable environment for low carbon investment.

Liberal Democrats: public transport you can rely on

Britain needs a well-run, efficient transport system. Public transport is an

important part of a fair society and the best way to cut carbon emissions from transport without trying to limit people’s opportunities to travel. We want to improve the experience for the traveller and cut carbon emissions.
We will:

• Switch traffic from road to rail by investing in local rail improvements, such as opening closed rail lines and adding extra tracks, paid for by cutting the major roads budget.
• Cut rail fares, changing the contracts with Train Operating Companies so that regulated fares fall behind inflation by 1 per cent each year, meaning a real-terms cut.
• Make Network Rail refund a third of your ticket price if you have to take a rail replacement bus service.
• Overhaul Network Rail to put the interests of passengers first and bring it under the Freedom of Information Act to make it more open.
• Set up a UK Infrastructure Bank to invest in public transport like high speed rail.
• Give councils greater powers to regulate bus services according to community needs so that local people get a real say over routes and fares.
• Include the promotion of safer cycling and pedestrian routes in all local transport plans.

restricting aviation growth

The emissions from rising aviation are a serious problem in the fight against
climate change. But in some more remote parts of the country, flights are
a vital lifeline, and aviation is important for the economy as a whole. Liberal
Democrats believe that we should do all we can to ensure people use alternatives where that makes sense.
We will:
• Replace the per-passenger Air Passenger Duty with a per-plane duty (PPD), so capturing freight movements by air for the first time.
• Introduce an additional, higher rate of PPD on domestic flights for which alternative and less polluting travel is readily available.
• Cancel plans for the third runway at Heathrow and any expansion of other airports in the South East.

a fair deal for motorists

Our planned expansion of public transport will provide much-needed alternatives to private cars, and cut carbon emissions. However, in many places there will always be a need for car travel, so we need to ensure that it is as environmentally friendly as possible.
We will:
• Work through the EU for a zero emissions target for all new cars by 2040 and extend targets to other vehicles.
• Undertake preparations for the introduction of a system of road pricing in a second parliament. Any such system would be revenue neutral for motorists, with revenue from cars used to abolish Vehicle Excise Duty and reduce fuel duty, helping those in rural areas who have no alternatives to road travel. Some of the revenue from lorries would be used to fund further extensions of high speed rail through the UK Infrastructure Bank.
• Introduce a rural fuel discount scheme which would allow a reduced
rate of fuel duty to be paid in remote rural areas, as is allowed under EU law.

• Investing £140 million in a bus scrappage scheme that helps bus companies to replace old polluting buses with new, accessible lowcarbon ones and creates jobs.
• Require airlines to be honest and upfront about pricing, ending the practice of adding hidden charges.
• Cut rail fares, changing the rules in contracts with Train Operating Companies so that regulated fares fall behind inflation by 1 per cent each year, meaning a real-terms cut.
• Make Network Rail refund a third of your ticket price if you have to take a rail replacement bus service.
• Regulate the parking system to remove unfairness and stop private sector wheel-clamping.
• Bring in stop-on-request for night buses. You should be able to ask the driver to let you off between stops, so you’re as close to home as possible.

Scottish Nationalist Party:

....We are fully committed to fair and effective policies such as the
concessionary travel scheme for older Scots and free personal care.

....We will argue for a fair deal for motorists. There should be a fair fuel
regulator so that when oil prices increase motorists are not doubly punished with soaring taxes and prices at the pumps. and the UK should also adopt the same sort of tax derogation on fuel sold in our island and remote communities as exists elsewhere in the EU.

...Since the Scottish election the SNP government has implemented almost three quarters of our headline manifesto commitments. These include:
• Abolishing tolls on the Forth and Tay Bridges
• Completing the M74
• Accelerating the electrification of the central Scotland rail network

...Connecting Scotland is also an important part of our approach to economic growth. The new Borders Railway will provide direct access for many communities to Edinburgh, boosting local jobs and local economies. Similarly, the faster journey times by train from Aberdeen and Inverness, the improvements on the A9 and A96 and the green light
for the Aberdeen by-pass will also deliver social and economic benefits for communities in the north and north east. and we will take forward the crucial Forth Replacement Crossing, in the face of the cuts proposed by the government in London.

...Clearly Scotland’s rural communities and economy have specific needs and the SNP is working hard for rural interests. That is why we have introduced road equivalent tariff on routes to the Western Isles, and will look to protect this important initiative from the proposed Labour and Tory cuts.

Plaid Cymru:

...Our action plan would bring high-speed electrified
railways to Wales, develop an infrastructure for electric vehicles

...Sustainable Travel
We cannot tackle climate change without considering the impact of transport. The UK will not achieve its target of 80% carbon emission reductions by 2050 if air travel continues to expand.
Plaid Cymru opposes plans for a third runway at Heathrow, which is another example of incoherent and divided thinking by the Labour government in Westminster. We call for the removal of hidden subsidies for air travel and the introduction of tax on aviation fuel. The revenue generated should be invested in improving the public transport network and in reducing rail and long-distance bus fares substantially.
Plaid Cymru has demonstrated in government that it is committed to building an all-Wales, modern, integrated public transport system. We recognise that the railway system will never achieve our environmental objectives unless it is both
cheap and attractive to use, and that will not happen without a significant and ongoing commitment of public funds. We reiterate our call for the railway system to be brought back into public ownership.
With much of the responsibility for the rail network still resting at Westminster, the UK Government must play its part too. We need cheaper and faster high-speed electric rail links from Wales to mainland Europe. We call for a review of the National Assembly’s powers over freight transport and a phased transfer of heavy freight from road to rail.Because Plaid Cymru recognises that in many parts of Wales road travel is unavoidable, we are committed to upgrading key
major road routes, especially north-south links.

UK Independence Party:

4) A transport investment programme centred on high-speed rail lines, reopened railways, new bypasses, road improvements and port and airport links. The lion’s share of this investment would go to British-based firms.

...· Incentivise and support electric road vehicles, the comprehensive electrification of rail lines and accompanying infrastructure.

12 Transport
UKIP believes the British people have a right to a reliable public and private transport system at an acceptable cost. UKIP will invest in a transport network that meets the needs of the British people and Britain’s economy.
UKIP will:
· Invest an extra £3 billion p.a. in the UK’s transport infrastructure, using money made available by leaving the EU and saving the £6.4 billion net Britain pays every year in EU membership contributions
· Invest in an enhanced and safer road network, building new bypasses and widening major roads
· Offer a ‘Windfall Return’ on fuel duty above a set world dollar oil price. When this level is reached, government receipts from oil duties will be returned to motorists as fuel tax cuts
· Be fair to motorists by subjecting parking charges and revenue-raising devices, including speed cameras, to greater democratic control
· Repeal EU-generated road directives that impose unnecessary and expensive burdens, such as the new Road Transport Directive
· Introduce a ‘Britdisc’ which foreign lorries will have to pay for using major British roads.Currently, many of these lorries pay nothing for the wear and tear they cause
· Veto EU attempts to force the UK into accepting EU lorries that are a third longer and a third heavier than currently allowed - up to an unacceptable 60 tonnes
· Invest in three new 200mph plus high-speed rail lines including a new line between London and Newcastle with a spur to Manchester, a London-Bristol-Exeter line and a linking route via Birmingham
· Expand the rail network by re-opening rail lines where there is a proven need
· Improve passenger rail franchises by demanding higher standards of customer satisfaction, and by extending standard franchise terms to up to 20 years to encourage greater investment and stability
· Encourage a major transfer of freight away from road and onto rail and canal
· Invest in better rail and road links to ports
· Oppose a sixth Heathrow Airport terminal and third runway and the expansion of
Gatwick and Stansted in favour of a major new Hong Kong-style Thames Estuary airport with motorway connections and a high-speed rail service to London, the UK and the Continent.

Download the full Transport policy from the Policies section of www.ukip.org
The Green Party:

...• Introduce VAT and fuel duty on aviation,
raising £7bn in 2010 and £10bn by 2013.
• Replace vehicle excise duty by a new graduated purchase tax on vehicles that heavily penalises over-sized or over-powered vehicles. Overall this would be tax neutral.

...On Government spending we have first of all a modest programme of savings...
£1bn initially rising to £3bn on road-building (page 38),
...we have a programme of additional expenditure...
investment in public transport (£4bn, rising to £5bn; page 38),

...• Every young person under the age of 18 and in full time education should be entitled to free off-peak bus fares, to encourage public transport habits in young people early on with a view to making this a behaviour for life.

Promoting safety and sustainability
The emphasis in transport policy should be upon improving access to local facilities and everyday transport.We would prioritise transport modes according to the following hierarchy:
1. Walking and cycling
2. Public transport (trains, trams and buses) and rail freight
3. Cars
4. Heavy goods vehicles
5. Flying
To encourage walking and cycling for shorter journeys and improve road safety we would:
• Reduce speed limits (e.g. to 20mph in built-up areas, including villages).
• Make streets safe; make them public spaces again. Plan for mixed-use developments where shops, housing and businesses are closely located and connected by pavements and cycleways.
• Introduce a maximum speed limit of 55mph on motorways and trunk roads, and
40mph on rural roads, to make them safer for all road users.
• Introduce schemes such as Home Zones, Safe Routes to School and pedestrianisation.
• Ensure that at least 10% of transport spending is on securing a shift to more active travel like walking and cycling.
• Reallocate the £30 billion the Government has earmarked for road-building over the next 10 years. Spend the money on a programme of investment in public
transport over the Parliament.
• Provide affordable, cheaper local transport that is accessible to those with disabilities by investing in buses and subsidising some routes. Make public transport public.
• Reregulate bus services nationally.
• Assist businesses with green workplace travel plans.
• Give higher priority to railways and plan for a growing railway network.
• Open additional stations on existing routes.
• Invest in new Light Rapid Transit systems (using appropriate technologies).
• Simplify fares for all public transport, with discounted fares for off-peak journeys and for those with low incomes.
• Support free local transport for pensioners.
• Return the railways, tube system and other light railway systems, including both track and operations, to public ownership.
• Support in principle a new north–south high-speed line, which would reduce
the number of short-haul flights within the UK.
We would make the cost of private cars more effectively mirror their environmentalcost to wider society:
• Abolish car tax and replace it with a purchase tax on new cars that reflects their
emissions. That way we would affect the types of car chosen at the time that matters, when they are bought new.
• Prioritise public transport, then if necessary work towards the introduction
of road pricing schemes like the London congestion charge.
We would reduce heavy freight and shift it from the roads to the railways:
• Reduce the demand for freight transport by localising the economy.
• Expand the rail freight network and make greater use of waterways, where suitable.
• Safeguard land adjacent to railways for use in freight distribution projects.
• Introduce road user tolls for heavy lorries.
We would reduce air travel:
• Introduce taxation on aviation that reflects its full environmental costs. Failure to tax aviation fuel, and choosing not to levy VAT on tickets and aircraft, amounts to a subsidy worth around £10bn every year in the UK alone.
• Stop airport expansion and shift shorter air journeys to the railways (45% of all air trips in the EU are under 500Km) .
• Ban night flying.

Investing in public transport
Expansion of public transport (and walking and cycling) is critically important to decarbonising our transport infrastructure, which is the only sector in which climate-altering carbon emissions are currently growing.
We would divert money currently being wasted on huge road projects and put more of the UK’s transport budget into public transport, and especially into local schemes for walking, cycling and bus travel.
We would spend £1.5 billion subsidising existing public transport to make fares up to 10% cheaper, and £30 billion over the Parliament on investing in a better system. This will have the effect of strengthening communities, promoting a greater appreciation of place, reducing crime, improving the health of the population and reducing traffic fatalities. It would also create 160,000 jobs.
The new investment in public transport should itself be in low-carbon technologies as far as possible.

Other Manifestos:
BNP: http://bnp.org.uk/pdf_files/BNP-Manifesto-2010-online.pdf
SDLP: http://www.sdlp.ie/images/files/41562_Manifesto_Final.pdf
DUP: http://www.dup.org.uk/DownloadManager.asp?file=DUPManifesto2010.pdf&force=true
ULSTER CONSERVATIVE & UNIONIST NEW FORCE: http://www.voteforchangeni.com/index.php?command=FILES_DOWNLOAD&download=eb222ceb6341a079116bbfca8e639143
Alliance Party: http://www.allianceparty.org/resources/sites/
Traditional Unionist Voice: http://www.tuv.org.uk/files/TUV-Manifesto.pdf
English Democrtas: http://www.voteenglish.org/assets/Uploads/PDF/English-Democrats-Manifesto-2010.pdf
Scottish Socialist Party: http://www.scottishsocialistparty.org/new_stories/election2010/ssp-mini-manifesto.html
other manifestos not published.

12 April 2010

High Speed Rail 2 - White Paper (4 - and northwards)

The White Paper on HSR2 (11-3-10) has very little on which to comment concerning the plans northwards from Birmingham.The only definitive plan for HSR2 north of Birmingham is the connection from the Chiltern line to the WCML at Lichfield. From here everything is extremely vague with one line going to Manchester and the other to Leeds. However, the HSR2 Ltd. documents do have more suggestions so can be commented on.

The line to Manchester ( "and on to Scotland")
has, at this moment, neither a definitive nor even a provisional alignment from Lichfield. The probability is that a dedicated line would go through (or near) firstly Stafford then Crewe or Stoke-on-Trent and on to Manchester with a possible intermediate stop at M/C airport. If there is a stop at the airport then the better option would be to go through(or near Crewe). Building into the scheme the possibility of a stop at Crewe might be advisable for the sake of flexibility.

The question of the line being extended to Scotland is accepted but not clarified. Will it run through Manchester and up through Bolton and Preston? Or will it diverge from the line at Crewe to go north through Warrington and Preston? If th
e latter is the case then the need certainly exists for building in a stop at Crewe.

Whether the line goes directly through Manchester or from Crewe through Warrington then both routes imply massive works. In Manchester the only logical solution (for a high speed line) is to tunnel directly under the city. Even then there are tremendous problems to find a route through the outer boroughs of Greater Manchester and on to Preston - almost all the route would necessarily be new to Preston. Choosing the other alternative gives no insurmountable problems through Warrington and Wigan to Preston. The problem would be Crewe station itself. Since it is a junction with lines converging from all the points of the compass then the separation of some lines, particularly the WCML, from the othe
rs would be essential to ensure smooth running and avoidance of crossovers.

The Manchester Station itself presents problems. If this is a terminus station, at Piccadilly, then the present platforms are not long enough to accomodate 400m trains. The solution presented mentions combining platforms to provide the length necessary with the constructio
n of 4 new platforms in the car park north of the present station but adjacent to it.
However, if the station were not a terminus but a through station then it could be constructed underground or on a different sight. This latter would mean greater destruction of property and the need for some tunnelling anyway.
Whichever solution is chosen it mean
s extensive construction.

The Liverpool extension: The need to connect Liverpool with the high speed line was recognised but not the way to do it. Four possibilities have been mentioned all terminating at Liverpool Lime St..
1- Direct from Manchester which would most likely use the, then, recently electrified Chat Moss line through Earlestown-St.Helens Junct.-Huyton .
2- From Crewe through Warrington BQ - Earlestown -St-.Helens Junct. - Huyton.
3- From Crewe through Warrington BQ then connecting with a new chord to the CLC line to run through Widnes and L/P South Parkway.
4- The classic line from Crewe through Runcorn and L/P South Parkway (for the airport). Each option has its own difficulties.
1- Means somehow connecting M/C Piccadilly with the Chat Moss line either with major works (under) in the city or through the slow connecting lines through the city.The advantage of high speed is thus lost. Connecting to the CLC line at Piccadilly would be possible but entail the electrification of the line from Piccadilly through Warrington Central to L/P South Parkway.
2- This is an easy possibility except for the connecting cord at Earlestown where trains would have to slow to a snail´s pace to turn the corner
. A new faster(i.e. wider) chord is not an option. Some advantages of high speed are lost.
3- This is probably the worst option as it means constructing a new chord from the (lower level) WCML to the (higher level) CLC line, which crosses the WCML nearly in the town centr
e of Warrington and eating up land (if not buildings) of the District Hospital - thus increasing the noise level in just the wrong place. It would also mean electrifying the line which would logically be filled in as well from Warrington Central to M/C Piccadilly
4- The classic line from Crewe through Runcorn is by far the shorter distance of the four options and most probably the fastest. Upgrading the line to faster speeds and the wider width and height gauges plus platform lengthening would present substantial work though this would be no greater than on the other lines, probably less.

The Liverpool station:
Liverpool Lime Street station presents great problems as all the platforms are too short to accomodate 400m trains. The station neck itself precludes platform extension,or major works to widen it, while neither are works possible at the main entrance end.
What has not been mentioned (nor apparently thought about) is the increased traffic into an
already overcrowded station with the electrification of the Chat Moss line to Manchester(Transpennine trains) and the Huyton-St.Helens-Wigan infill (Liverpool-Glasgow/Edinb. services). Even without the HSR trains there will be difficulty in finding train paths and platform space for all the demands.

The solution we offered was mentioned in a previous blog (Fast Trax 4 - 28/2/10) in point 15. This mentioned the possibility of reopening the old Liverpool Central (High Level) station to alleviate the pressures on Lime Street.The tunnel into the centre of the city still exists and is in partial use by Merseyrail. Since the original line was four-track there should be no difficulty separating the third rail DC services of Merseyrail from the overhead gantry electrified AC services of Network Rail. Some work would be necessary as we point out in that blog but options 3 and 4 of our previous point are both possible - without
excluding the possibility of a new line option(as we have also previously mentioned in Fast Trax 3 - point 2 paragraph 2 - 28/02/10) under the Mersey from Chester.

The Leeds extension:
The HSR2 line divides in the Midlands - exactly where we do not know - to continue to East Midlands (airport) Parkway. From there it continues through or near Nottingham up to Sheffield and Leeds. To fudge the issue and not make committment to enter into any city HSR2 Ltd. just mentions an East Midlands and a South Yorkshire Interchange before Leeds. We welcome the idea of a HS line from East Midlands Parkway to Leeds as we stated in a previous blog (Fast Trax 3 - point 5 - 28/02/10) but this would only form part of the MML from St.Pancras to Leeds.

The section connecting the East Midlands Parkway to Birmingham we envisage as part of the Cross Country route on to Bristol as we stated in Fast Trax 4 - point 14(28/02/10). We said then and still hold the position that this route will not be built in the foreseeable future if ever. The principal reasons for this are that the options for the MML and ECML to be upgraded to high speeds make for a more realistic approach as we stated in Fast Trax 3 - points 4-6 (28/02/10).

It is relatively easy to upgrade the whole of the ECML to high speed from London to Newcastle if it is ensured that it is four-tracked in its whole length. From Newcastle to Edinburgh a new line is a better solution as mentioned below. The MML, on the other hand offers greater possibilities. If this line were upgraded to the East Midlands Parkway the cost would not be prohibitive. However, if a new line were built from EM Parkway to Leeds there would be a serious alternative to the ECML also providing additional capacity.

The other more radical idea we proposed was for the line to divide at EM Parkway with a new line being constructed from there to Derby and then Stoke, then connecting to the WCML to Manchester. This would subtract traffic demand from the WCML to Stoke. We still consider this a better, cheaper and more effective solution.

And on to Scotland:
It never was our intention to consider the high speed line extensions to Glasgow and Edinburgh last. However, since the importance, in detail, is much less in the White Paper than the connections to the North West and Yorkshire, then that is the way the blog has turned out. It does not mean our opinion about the importance of the connections to Glasgow and Edinburgh is diminished, quite the contrary.

Part of the reasons given for a high speed line to Scotland is to reduce the road and air traffic, and thus noise and pollution, while obtaining a reduction in the use of already overcrowded trunk roads/ motorways, thus reducing the need to construct new ones.Therefore, cannot we construct (or upgrade at the very least) where it i
s easiest?

There is a tendancy to look at all problems to be solved as starting from London. This means we
always look at the problems from south to north, from bottom to top. That is not wrong but we can get a better perspective if we turn the map round with Glasgow and Edinburgh at the bottom while London is at the top. If we go upwards from Glasgow we see that there is no city of note before Carlisle. If we go upwards from Edinburgh then the same is true until Newcastle.



We consider, then that a new line could be constructed across the Lowlands more directly to Newcastle. This would follow the corridor of the A68 road to Galashiels, continue to Kelso, round the northern part of the Northumberland National Park to Wooler, then down through Morpeth and Newcastle airport and into Newcastle itself. This would complement the present ECML line from Edinb. -Dunbar-Berwick-Newc. The Edinb-Newc. line could have stops(for regional traffic) at the places mentioned thus providing passing points for the fast traffic over the slow.



The line from Glasgow would follow the present WCML route through Motherwell - Moffat - Lockerbie - Gretna - Carlisle. By building a double straight rail line in the same corridor as the present WCML there would be sufficient capacity for both freight and passenger traffic (both long distance and regional). However, this might prove too much to ask initially. An upgrade of the present WCML line to ensure the maximum width and height gauges would probably be more realistic in the mid-term. New sections of line would only be constructed to supplement the worst "bendy bits" so they could then be used as passing points for fast traffic over slow traffic.

The net result of these constructions would increase line speeds, increase the frequency and quality of the services provided(both long distance and regional), absorb the projected increase in traffic on the north south routes, very probably increase market share of all the north south traffic(road, rail and air), reduce atmospheric pollution, probably reduce traffic congestion and thus reduce the need for new roads, and draw the two countries closer together.

The present 75min. journey from Glasgow to Carlisle could be reduced by up to 20mins. while the 90 min. journey from Edinburgh to Newcastle could be reduced by up to 40 mins.. This would then make the journey times from the two Scottish cities to the two English ones about 50-55 mins. - a substantial saving - at not such an exaggerated cost.

From there the next stages could be tackled. The WCML needs work done from Carlisle to Lancaster - principally to be four-tracked - which would result in a new line in the same corridor but not so irregular. From Lancaster to Crewe and down the Trent Valley four-tracking is the essential work, with gauges, signalling and platform lenghthening but not so urgent if we have the alternatives.

The alternatives are the MML about which we have already mentioned the basic ideas, and the ECML. The major problems on the ECML is from Newcastle to Darlington where a new straight line needs to be built to complement the existing main line thus making it a four-tracked corridor. From Darlington to York, Doncaster and Kings Cross the line is straight and so should be four-tracked all its length. The difficulty is at Welwyn where the line is a bottleneck and must be four-tracked (even for local and regional traffic).

The construction of any new rail line has to be done realistically in stages. If a strategy is followed (and this White Paper is anything but a strategy document) then the pieces can be put together where needed and where feasible without slavishly following Treasury limitations. Though not the best of comparisons but still useful, the motorways were constructed that way. As long as you look at the compatibility of trains running on high speed and classic lines then the high speed network can get off the ground and make an impact on transport usage in the next two to three decades.

08 April 2010

High Speed Rail 2 - White Paper (3 - the West Midlands Termini)

With the London termini found to be wanting, for the new HSR2, then we turn to The West Midlands´ proposals to look at them critically.

The line from London needs a new station called Birmingham Interchange some distance from Birmingham International Airport station to which it is meant to connect. This is ridiculous duplication and waste - the proposed station is not even on the west side of the M42.

Approaching the West Midlands conurbation it is logical to reduce speed to stop at such a station so a lower line speed limit can be applied thus aiding the flexibility of the track layout to permit its entry into Birmingham International Airport station. The trains could then continue up to Lichfield as
envisaged. The paper gives us to understand that trains into Birmingham and those onwards to places further north would all stop at the Interchange thus making this proposal realistic.

This would then make Birmingham International the best option (a) to serve the airport and (b) to serve as an out of centre station for those trains that continue northwards.

As can be seen from the DfT proposal on the map from the HSR2 line into central Birmingham a chord is constructed at Water Orton to make use of the present corridor into the centre of the city.

The disadvantage of this is that it makes the line a cul-de-sac. This makes it essential for any traffic from the south to enter down the corridor and if that trafiic is intended to continue northwards then it has to backtrack through the same corridor to connect with HSR2 on towards Lichfield. Thus with this proposal the Birmingham International station is the only realistic option for through traffic.

However, that does not necessarily have to be the case. If HSR2 were directed through Birmingham International then it would connect to the WCML into the city centre. Whether the services terminate at New Street or not wouild depend on the need or desire to construct interconnecting lines in central Birmingham or even a new station at Curzon Street/Fazeley Street.

Is this a realistic option? or can the present inner-city stations be used?
What better than to quote the "do minimum strategy" report by ATKINS
(High Speed 2, Strategic Alternatives Study, Rail Interventions Report, March 2010)
"Birmingham New Street is largely at full capaci
ty. The local timetable has been optimised. It would be difficult to operate extra terminating trains.
The Birmingham Gateway project will resolve the passenger congestion issues at the station but is not designed to increase train capacity (except in so far that it assists with passenger (un)loading). Given the constrained nature of the Birmingham New Street site (it is largely underground and surrounded by tall buildings); it is
probably more cost effective to build extra platforming capacity elsewhere in Birmingham.

Birmingham has three City Centre stations. In addition to Birmingham New Street station, there is Birmingham Moor St and Birmingham Snow Hill. One advantage of Birmingham New Street is train connectivity. Because many services pass through New Street there will remain a level of demand of for London services to remain at New Street to allow connections with local and inter-regional services.
However in package 3 it is not possible to route trains to Birmingham New Street without them having to run via Leamington (even if non stop), Coventry and Birmingham International, and still maintain competitive end to end journey times. In package 3, because Coventry and International still have to be served, 2 tph will go via the (slow) Leamington, Kenilworth, Coventry, International and New Street route, and 2 tph will run on the faster, direct route to newly reconne
cted platforms at Birmingham Moor Street (Chiltern Railways´ main Birmingham terminus)

Birmingham New Street and Birmingham
Moor Street are within sight of each other. A direct pedestrian route exists between the stations takes less than 5 minutes. A mobility impaired route has also been built.

Having an extra 2 tph call at Moor St will require extra platform capacity. Three new platforms have already been built and need simply to be (extended and) reconnected. Snow Hill was considered as a terminus but rejected because of the difficulty of pathing more trains through Snow Hill tunnel and the lack of platforming capacity. Work commissioned by Centro seems to indicate that more platforms could be built to the west should the three platforms be required by Chiltern Railways"

The traffic pattern, as envisaged by the ATKINS report,offers various alternatives (packages) depending on how much investment is involved (not just on the Chiltern HSR2 line). As we indicated in the previous blog (White Paper 2) the most likely options are Packages 3 and 4(Appendix A pages 77-83). These offer services from the London termini, Marylebone, Paddington and Euston into the Birmingham termini, New Street and Moor street. The destination mix depends on the number of services offered in total. However, in this document There is no proposal to build a new station in Birmingham and the Chiltern line would have only the necessary investment to upgrade - not a new HSR line.

The White Paper offers no clarity on the service patterns and says no more than that a new station is to be built and all Birmingham HS services will go there. More work has to be done on this. It is far too vague. The ATKINS proposals offer concrete solutions and are compatible with the construction of the HSR2.

The public deserves a better thought out document.