Tuesday, 29 March 2011

HS2 Debate Questions

We had a few of the questions that were submitted in advance answered by the panel at our debate yesterday, but didn't have time for all of them, so I promised to post some of them online today. Here they are and if anyone would like to answer them, then please do so in the comments section:

1) "HS2 is being developed after the main LTP plans have been agreed regionally. What will be the impact of HS2 be on local planning and on funding which could have been used instead to support local transport networks; particularly in the more deprived North of Solihull Borough where its inadequacies are a much greater economic and social barrier to the local economy than the need for a very expensive rail HS2 line?"

2) "223 mph (360km/h) trains use more than twice the power of 124 mph (200km/h) trains, add this to the emissions from construction and the increase in air traffic at Birmingham Airport as a result of HS2 and this will actually result in a substantial increase the UKs carbon emissions over the next 60 years. Should we be spending 34 billion on a transport project that does nothing to help the UK reduce CO2 emissions?"

3) "Why is the Government continuing to promote HS2 when there is a greener alternative, Rail Package 2, that will provide all the forecast capacity needs more quickly and at significantly lower cost?"

4) "The HS2 prospectus tells us that some 40 million passenger journeys into London per year will be slowed down or scrapped as a result of HS2. Will nobody spare a thought for the long suffering rail commuter (I am one of them) and consider upgrading our existing rail network at a fraction of the cost of HS2, so that ALL working class people can have access to a faster train service, rather than enabling a few executives to get from Birmingham to London 10 minutes quicker than they can already?"

5) "Why do we not go for a new line which runs at a slower speed and can therefore avoid damaging environmentally sensitive areas as it won't have to run in a straight line?"

6) "Instead of going to Euston station and disrupting the West Coast Mainline, why doesn't the line go into Stratford and onto HS1 there? Surely that's the way to really get people off planes."

The balance here isn't quite the same as it was in the audience, as there were more people there who were pro-HS2, but they didn't submit written questions. There have been a lot of positive comments about the debate, but many people feel that more evidence is needed to back up the claims by both sides. If you would like to contribute to this, please do.

Joe Peacock

1 comment:

Yes To HS2 said...

Q 1) Despite what critics say HS2 will not “suck” money away from local rail. The government has already set out to spend billions of pounds on local rail projects and new carriages, the list of works to be undertaken before 2019 is a long one. The main point about spending though is that currently London projects alone are costing us £2bn a year every year until 2019. HS2 will begin in 2019 and will cost roughly the same each year, the difference being that HS2 will benefit millions across the North West, Scotland and the Midlands even before the line is even extended north to Manchester and Leeds.

Q2) The double speed = 4 times the energy argument is based on a comparison of like for like. But the trains designed to run on HS2 that have been modelled carry the same amount of passengers as an 11 car Pendolino but are over 100 tonnes lighter”, are much much more aero dynamic and have motors which are 15% more efficient that current ones, all of this means that a 360km/h Alstom AGV uses little more energy per person that the current fleet out Eurostars serving on HS1. If critics of HS2 have no issue the amount of power used by HS1 trains then they can have no issue with the energy used by more advanced high speed trains that will serve HS2.

Q3) RP2 or Rail package 2 does not even come close to meeting expected demand levels. The reality of the complexities of the WCML means that RP2 could fall short of expected demand by as much as 50%. RP2 is not necessarily greener also as it requires and assumes the replacement of 100mph stock with heavier 125mph trains. In total some 90 11 car trains would be required meaning a replacement of some 143 units years before they are due to retire.

Q4) If we do not build HS2 we will see 100% of services slowed down on the WCML as cramming more trains onto a complex track will mean that it will become increasing difficult to run “fast” services. The 40 Millions passenger slowed down is a bit of an exaggeration given that services on the GWML would actually improve, as trains stopping for 2 minutes at Old Oak Common will give passengers greater choice meaning they can get off the train early and connect with CrossRail and Heathrow express. It is not as black and white as simply slowing services down due to HS2.

Q5) A slower line would have less of a business case, something which the critics are happy to argue over whilst mooting an idea for a line that would have a worse business case. In any event the line would only cost a mere £1bn less than a high speed line but would see the benefit drop by as much as 50%

Q6) HS2 before stopping at Euston will stop at a new station at Old Oak Common this station will be a new hub allowing for connections with CrossRail, Heathrow Express and GWML. This station would mean that passengers could alight 1 stop early and commute directly to business centres such as Canary Wharf or commute directly to Heathrow. There will be some disruption to Euston but it will improve a station which is dated and will regenerate an area which is in much need or revitalisation.

If you would like to know more please visit www.YesToHS2.co.uk which contains much more information on the project and will hopefully answer some people concerns about the projects. The site is run independently from both business and the government with no vested interest.

Chris Howe (YesToHS2)