Transport’s number one climate change resilience project

6 January, 2021

In the closing days of 2020, Dr Nicola Forsdike reminded us, in a paper written for the Rail Reform Group, (see ref 1) of an important thesis set out by Mark Casson (see ref 2).  His conclusion was that Britain’s railway network – the world’s first which today we like to celebrate as a magnificent inheritance – was in fact incredibly inefficient.

Nicola points out the typical failure to develop single hub stations in our major cities: compare and contrast with the continental European model where state-planned networks were the fashion, unlike the British private enterprise model. She cites London, Manchester and Leeds (but could have added Glasgow, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool…).

But she doesn’t mention the other striking inadequacy: the tendency to

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Tavistock Okehampton Reopening Scheme announced as Devon’s ‘Green Main Line’

10 December, 2020

Greengauge 21 welcomes and endorses the Tavistock Okehampton Reopening Scheme (TORs) announced today as Devon’s ‘Green Main Line’. This is a project whose time has come, says Greengauge 21 Director Jim Steer: “it’s essential to any concept of a resilient national rail network”.

“The problem is climate change, and here it’s for real. As sea levels rise, this is the most vulnerable rail connection we have. In Italy along the Mediterranean coast, a new line has already been built inland. We need to do the same for the West Country”.

The whole of Cornwall and South and West Devon – a huge part of England – has a single rail connection that is precarious.

The railway along the coast (Dawlish-Teignmouth) is at risk from a combination of

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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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