We need a long term plan for the Brighton Main Line

5 April, 2017

The long-awaited Department for Transport report into the future of the Brighton Mainline was finally published last month (ref 1). It rules out the idea of a new relief route – ‘BML2’.

Dated April 2016, long-suffering commuters may well conclude that a good deal of water has passed under the Balcombe Viaduct in the meantime.

The report addresses Read on »

Navigating uncertainty in demand forecasting

27 February, 2017

A continuing complaint facing those involved in long-term infrastructure planning is the argument that it is impossible to forecast the future at all accurately. Adjustments to business case rules to counter ‘optimism bias’ were written into Treasury rules some 15 years ago. But scepticism runs deep.

One response is to point to experience. To those who doubt the likelihood that there will be continuing demand growth for HS2 to accommodate, the experience of the Virgin West Coast Trains’ franchise is relevant. The forecast made at the outset of this franchise in 1997 was for an unprecedented Read on »

2017 will be the year high-speed rail takes a great step forward in Britain

16 January, 2017

Whatever 2017 brings it will be a tremendous year for HS2, with Royal Assent to Phase 1; a start to preparatory works with over £9bn construction contracts to be let and 14,400 jobs committed in a boost to the UK economy; the National College for High Speed Rail opening in September; and the bill for powers to build Phase 2A submitted before Parliament in 2017 as well. Read on »

Phase 2b route largely confirmed, but questions remain

21 December, 2016

The latest command paper on HS2 saw the welcome confirmation of the majority of the Government’s preferred route for Phase 2b – the completion of the two legs of the Y-shaped route, from Crewe to Manchester to the west, and the West Midlands to Leeds in the east, with junctions onwards to the existing network.

The command paper marks a welcome shift in emphasis from new infrastructure to what can be achieved with it. The separate announcement of the ‘West Coast Partnership’ – the new franchise for the west coast to be let from 2019 – is also highly significant. Read on »

Lessons from HS1

28 November, 2016

How often do we hear that we should learn from projects already implemented? In the case of HS2 of course, HS1 comes to mind.

The patient and wise might suggest that it is still too early to be definitive.  If the Paramount leisure park proceeds at Ebbsfleet, what currently looks a pretty dismal response to HS1 in regeneration terms might look rather different (as did Stratford before and after the decision to host the hugely successful 2012 Olympics there).

One clear lesson is to hand, however. We learned this key HS1 lesson from Jeremy Candfield – who has just retired after a distinguished career at DfT, then at Union Railways working on what became HS1, and then as head of the Railway Industry Association (RIA). When we asked Read on »