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Sunday 15 September 2013

Gilligan On HS2 – Pants On Fire

[Update at end of post]

Into the debate over the HS2 project today has blundered Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan, and he does not disappoint, dispensing falsehood and misinformation generously. “HS2 will clog up the rail system, warns freight expert” he claims, citing the words of Rail Freight Group (RFG) head man Tony Berkeley. So the RFG is against HS2, is it? Let’s check out their UK Rail Capacity Inquiry evidence.
Just standing outside on the off chance, Andy?

That doesn’t sound like a warning that HS2 will clog anything up. And how about Tony Berkeley’s comments from earlier this year: “We are pleased that Government is making progress on the second phase of HS2, and that the need for additional capacity for rail freight on our rail network has been recognised”. Gilligan does not cite a source for his claim. Draw your own conclusions.

It gets no better when he tries to bad-mouth HS2’s termini: “In five of the seven main provincial cities it is supposed to serve, HS2 will not stop at the main station in the city centre. In Birmingham and Leeds it will serve new-build stations on the edge of the centre”. Curzon Street in Birmingham is in the city centre and close to Moor Street and New Street stations.

And the Leeds terminus will be next door to the existing station. But do go on: “Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, HS2 will not serve the city centre at all, but will run only to suburban ‘parkway’ stations up to 10 miles away”. Derby only, I’m afraid: Nottingham is nowhere near ten miles from Toton, which in any case will be connected to the city’s tram network when HS2 is completed.

As for Sheffield, Meadowhall is most definitely not a “suburban ‘parkway’ station”, but an existing city transport and retail hub. But Gilligan is not done yet, as there are scare stories to spread, such as “In the North West, HS2 will not serve Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith or Carlisle”. Bullshit. HS2 trains will pass through all four stations. Is anyone suggesting they will all run non-stop to Glasgow? Come off it.

Then comes Gilligan’s rewriting of the cost benefits from last week’s KPMG report, which he skilfully “deflates” to 2037 prices. Strange that, while other costs and benefits increase in numerical terms with inflation, New Improved Gilligan benefits go the other way. But it’s good to see that someone is prepared to spend so much time making the anti-HS2 case look so clumsy and dishonest.

After all, Gilligan’s experience in that area is unsurpassed, so that’s all right, then.

[UPDATE 17 September 1620 hours: the RFG has, to no surprise at all, put out a "position statement" on their HS2 stance - the day after the Gilligan attack. The statement does not name him, but the intention is clear. It begins with the words "The Rail Freight Group (RFG) strongly supports the development of HS2".

Their concern is to see the Government and HS2 Limited demonstrate how the benefit of additional freight capacity will be delivered - including modelling of the timetable, especially following the opening of the first phase of the new line.

You can read the RFG statement HERE and note the gulf in inference between what they say, and what Andrew Gilligan claims their head man says. I told you so]


Caspar LUas said...

Regarding Toton, please note the four (yes, four) "classic rail" platforms to be built there under the HS2 plans for connecting services across the East Midlands region and beyond. These are additional to the planned Nottingham tram connection.

Regarding Meadowhall, please note the four (yes, four) "classic rail" platforms that are already there and provide connecting services across the South Yorkshire region and beyond. These are additional to the existing Supertram connection.

Caspar Lucas said...

Regarding Toton, please note the four "classic rail" platforms that are an integral part of the HS2 plans for providing connections across the East Midlands region and beyond, in addition to the planned Nottingham tram connection.

Regarding Meadowhall, please note the four "classic rail" platforms that are already there providing connections across the South Yorkshire region and beyond, in addition to the existing Sheffield tram connection and bus interchange.

SteveB said...

There is a slight possiblity of the freight paths north of Lichfield being at risk. It will occur if they build phase 1 to Brum and Lichfield as planned but then bottle out and drop phase 2. The phase 1 work will create an increase in passenger demand from further north which would lead to a conflict in priorities and having spent the money they will have to side with the passengers.

There is also the odd feature that I haven't really heard discussed. Phase 1, by basically killing off the current WCML Intercity business between Birmingham and London,will free up lots of freight paths south of the West Midlands. Which could soak up all the capacity in freight terminals further south before phase 2 is done. So when the north gets the promised extra network capacity for freight I'm not sure where the trains will go to.

Chris Neville-Smith said...

If I recall correctly, HS2 ltd propose that if only phase 1 goes ahead, some £500m of upgrading works north of Lichfield should be carried out instead. (They also said that some small savings could be made elsewhere, such as a smaller Curzon Street station and one less junction at Lichfield, but those savings were negligible.)

Anonymous said...

There is enough time and opportunity to link the new Leeds station with the existing one.

They look far apart now, but getting from St Pancras to Kings Cross used to be a less than pleasant experience, all changed now of course.