Levelling up to zero carbon

3 December, 2020

It all come out last week. A Budget (understandably set for one year only); a National Infrastructure Strategy (Government’s formal response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s advice from 2018); and a review of HM Treasury’s Green Book. Each of them has great significance to the transport sector, and each contains revealing insights into the post Coronavirus outlook.

For transport, the Budget was mainly about funding support for rail, bus and LRT/metros through the Covid-19 crisis. Implicit in the Treasury view is that Covid-19 will be gone after 2021/2. But you can imagine Treasury feeling a little sore about transport funding.

The National Infrastructure Strategy acknowledges that post Covid-19,

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Anglo-Scottish rail development needs joined up thinking

6 November, 2020

In setting out Scotland’s priorities as input to the Integrated Rail Plan for the English North and Midlands, the Transport Scotland (TS) submission interestingly starts with railfreight. And very relevant this is too, given the expected demand for up to 13 extra cross-border freight paths /day once the (now under construction) International Freight Park at Mossend is completed.

The challenge on the Anglo-Scottish cross-border routes is capacity; the opportunity is for more freight by rail and faster passenger services, both of which will make a significant contribution to Government carbon reduction targets. The trick is

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What lies ahead for HS2?

25 September, 2020

In the final session of last week’s Transport Times UK Rail Summit, chair Professor David Begg reflected on the aim set out by the Northern Way for HS2 back in Autumn 2009 – to get Leeds as well as Manchester with a transformed connection to London in a similar timescale.

The following is Greengauge 21’s response:

The equality of timescale ambition is long lost. While North West England will benefit from Phase 1 and 2a in the first half of the 2030s, as the conference interview with HS2 CEO Mark Thurston made clear, the Eastern Arm of HS2 from the Midlands to Leeds can only come later, hopefully by the 2040s. And when it does come, the western arm

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What is the purpose of HS2’s Eastern Arm?

30 July, 2020

The Eastern Arm of HS2 is a critical part of an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands but its role and function can be significantly strengthened says a new report by Greengauge 21.

The report from Greengauge 21 calls for clarity on the role and function of HS2’s planned eastern arm.

“Ten years ago, the aim was to get an HS2 London-Leeds journey time to match Manchester’s”, says report co-author Jim Steer. To achieve this, trains would pass through the East Midlands and South Yorkshire non-stop. This means that the key intermediate cities of Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield would need to be served by new connections to the HS2 line, to be funded outside the HS2 project.

“The original ambition is

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Cities, Coronavirus and Public Transport

16 July, 2020

In our latest short new report, Greengauge 21 examines the impact of Coronavirus on cities and public transport.

The current restrictions on public transport use – for essential journeys only – are now being  eased in a measured way. Cities depend on public transport. Their economies will not be able to recover until public transport is fully operational. and judged safe to use.

In this extract from an upcoming report for the UK2070 Commission on the transport revolution needed to ‘level up’ the national economy, we summarise the likely effects of Coronavirus on travel demand. We argue that a restored, healthy and improved public transport service is central to national economic recovery and to compliance with Government commitments on climate change.

You can read the full report here: Coronavirus Cities and Public Transport

While a lot of interest has centred on ‘work from home’ instead of commuting to offices, the report points out that journeys to work account for fewer than 1 in 5 of all journeys and office-based work accounts for a minority of jobs.

There are some practical steps for Government that will help economic recovery. The report provides evidence that government itself is a crucial city-based activity that spawns its own business infrastructure. This is an added reason why dispersal of central Government functions – as well as devolution of powers – is so crucial to regional growth. “These are suitable tactics to help regional economic recovery” says Jim Steer.

In the initial stages of re-opening the economy, Government has felt it

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International Energy Agency calls for investment in high-speed rail

18 June, 2020

In a report published today, the IEA says that the world has only 6 months to change course with the climate crisis. The stimulus packages being created this year to address the economic downturn from Covi-19 risk a sharp up-turn in emissions unless policies are well-directed.

A ‘sustainable recovery plan’ would however create 9m new green jobs each year, according to the IEA. Measures taken in the long-distance transport sector could contribute 0.65m of these new jobs annually.

As the IEA report notes:

“Some governments have started to support the aviation sector by providing financial relief packages to try to limit job losses: a co-ordinated approach would also consider investment into alternatives modes of transport such as high-speed rail (HSR).”

There are around 60 000 km of HSR in operation today, and around 32 000 km HSR lines are under construction or planned around the world.

“Accelerating plans for new HSR lines would spur new employment and could, if well prepared and executed, provide long-term economic and environmental benefits.”

Previous IEA reports have shown that around 10% of flights in Europe could be displaced by high-speed rail. This shift brings an environmental dividend. According to the new IEA report:

“An estimated 18 grammes of CO2-eq would be saved for every passenger kilometre travelled by high-speed rail rather than by air. High-speed rail, on average, is at least 12-times more energy efficient than air and road travel per passenger kilometre.”

Greengauge 21 Director Jim Steer adds:

“High-speed rail must be part of the national economic recovery plan and part of the country’s own ‘Green Deal’ given the opportunity that the IEA report emphasises to cut carbon emissions.”

You can read the report here.