Tuesday, July 18, 2017

News: How Government is justifying its HS2 route


During the recent HS2 consultation, 271 respondents pledged support for the M18 route, whilst 4,157 were against it, so why has the Government gone with this controversial new route?

The Government has decided that confirming the route as consulted in 2016 supports the strategic aims of serving South Yorkshire whilst maintaining the integrity of the service to the larger markets in Leeds, York and the North East and direct connectivity into northern city centres in support of the Northern Powerhouse ambition.

The Government documents add: "The Secretary of State considers that this route performs better overall than the Meadowhall route against five strategic tests: demand; the needs of Sheffield and the wider region; connectivity with the existing rail network and the wider transport network; topography, urban density and the environment; and cost."

The scheme has an overall price tag of £55.7bn at 2015 prices. The financial case with the latest route states that the adoption of the M18 route results in an infrastructure saving of £858m (£1.2bn including contingency). The saving assumes some of the cost of delivering a loop back to the HS2 line from Sheffield (see connectivity below) with a junction in the Clayton area, but not the costs of electrification of the existing line.

The Transport Secretary confirmed to the House late last night that "the route from Sheffield Midland north to Leeds will also be electrified to ensure that through services can run to Leeds." No date has been given and the electrification of the Midland Main Line north to Sheffield has also not yet been confirmed.

The economic analysis makes a number of other assumptions, including comparing the M18 route with an updated Meadowhall route that was not seen during the consultation and "was not previously published in order to avoid any potential further blight." It also includes a northern loop, with no commitment yet to fund it.

Analysis also adds 1,056 seats per hour out of Euston on the M18 route even though service patterns are not yet decided. The indicative train service specifications show four trains serving Sheffield (two to London, 87 minutes away, with one stopping at Chesterfield, and two to Birmingham (in 49 minutes) and Leeds (27 minutes) using the unconfirmed loop). The Meadowhall route had five trains (two to London and three to Birmingham, with four continuing to Leeds).


Captial costs are lower for the M18 route compared to the Meadowhall route - £24.3bn vs £25.2bn, but operating costs are higher for the M18 route compared to the Meadowhall route - £17.9bn vs £16.1bn. It is expected that a further two units of rolling stock are required over previous assumptions for Birmingham to Leeds services to be routed via Sheffield.

The benefits include increased revenues (£23.5bn for M18 vs £22.7bn for Meadowhall) which comes from meeting the expected demand from Sheffield City Centre and South Sheffield.

The analysis concludes that the business to cost (BCR) ratio for the two routes are both round to 2.6 but adopting the M18 route has increased the overall BCR. The net benefits of the M18 option are £1.5bn higher for the M18 route.

However it adds that "If we were to model a train service that did not use an additional train path [the extra seats to London], the operating cost estimates would be lower. There would also be an impact on benefits and revenues; the size of this impact would depend on the exact nature of the change in services."

Economic Growth
No economic impact studies have been released but the Government believes that "there is an opportunity to boost growth across Sheffield City Region by maximising key growth opportunities in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, logistics & distribution and creative & digital. Key issues in Sheffield will include how best to integrate NPR services into Sheffield Midland station, Parkway station proposals, or for the extension of HS2 services north of Midland station. The government has confirmed that a second tranche of £625k will be made available to Sheffield City Region shortly, now that the station location in South Yorkshire has been confirmed."

Using the M18 alignment for the Eastern Leg of HS2 could significantly improve connectivity between Sheffield and Leeds city centres, supporting a journey time of under 30 minutes. This would require a new junction off the HS2 line to the existing network north of Sheffield and possible electrification. The cost of the junction is already included within the Phase 2b cost estimate but electrification has not (see above).

HS2 Ltd has been looking at options for a potential parkway station to serve South Yorkshire, and possible extensions to HS2 services that would otherwise terminate at Sheffield Midland. Nothing has been confirmed and work is still continuing on these issues.

The documents admits that: "For some towns, including Rotherham, it would take longer to reach Sheffield Midland than via Meadowhall. However this could be mitigated by shaping local services in South Yorkshire around HS2."

Rothbiz featured the expected impact of the M18 route through Rotherham when it was initially announced in 2016. The latest documents show that HS2 "considered new corridors to the east of the existing M18/Eastern Route as part of efforts to avoid impacts at Wales, Aston, Bramley, Mexborough and Barnburgh. These new corridors would introduce impacts on new communities without delivering any improvement in the overall performance of the route."

The maps show two discounted routes, one over the M18 and one even further east, that would have crossed the M1 at Woodhall Services and continued on embankments between Wales and Harthill before crossing the train line and B6059 near Kiveton Park. Heading North the route would have crossed over the A57 and through areas at Todwick, Laughton Common and Thurcroft. Closing back to the M18, the route would have passed Hellaby and Maltby over the former brickworks before heading North to Micklebring and Cadeby before looping back to join the 2016 line at Thurnscoe.

At Aston, where the proposal is for a 430m long, 27m high viaduct over a tributary of Pigeon Brook and the A57 Aston bypass, HS2 has discounted a bored tunnel which "introduced additional engineering and operational challenges, as well as additional cost." The report adds that "a cut-and-cover tunnel option could be considered in more detail during hybrid Bill development alongside further work to assess other potential mitigation options and highways realignments."

During the consultation, much of the response in South Yorkshire related to property demolitions, as well as calls to revert to the previous Meadowhall route.

Local leaders and MPs have reacted strongly to the announcement and the consultation.


Replying to Doncaster MP, Ed Miliband, Chris Grayling MP, The Secretary of State for Transport, said: "I give him my personal assurance that I have considered the matter very carefully. The truth is that, when it comes to consultations, there are strong views against an option when it affects a particular community. There is no doubt about that at all.

"I have considered the regeneration issues around Meadowhall as compared with the current route, and I have considered the engineering challenge of building a large station in the Meadowhall corridor. I have also been mindful of the potential benefits of the direct connection between Sheffield Midland and Leeds for northern powerhouse rail. My judgment, after much consideration and listening to the advice of the HS2 leadership team, is that this is the best option. This was a sincerely taken decision.

"The towns and cities to the west of South Yorkshire prefer one route and the towns and cities to the east of South Yorkshire prefer another. We have tried to take a balanced decision based on what we think is in the best interests of the country. I have given an assurance to the people affected, and I echo it to the right hon. Gentleman’s constituents, that we will seek to do the right thing by them. I understand that a project like this is difficult. We need to take decisions in the interest of the country, and we then need to do everything we can to look after those affected."

HS2 Ltd website

Images: HS2


Anonymous,  September 6, 2017 at 8:17 AM  

One final thought on the lies told about the costs of the M18 Eastern Route in order to justify it.
1) It would be £1 billion cheaper to construct than the comparative Meadowhall route (BIG FAT LIE)
In Fact as a result of the recent cancellation of the Midland Mainline electrification (an assumption of the route proposal) and the disclosure that the £212m cheaper Refined Meadowhall route was the actual Meadowhall route used in comparison for the decision, the M18 Route is about £127 million more expensive to build (before mitigation) than the Refined Meadowhall Route. Also as the Economic Case for Phase 2B states, the operating costs for M18 are 11% higher than Meadowhall (16.4 v 14.7) and that 40% of the economic benefits of the M18 comes from spurious time savings for business travellers (who work on trains) . As for time savings : M18 increases the journey time from Birmingham to Sheffield by 12 minutes (37 v 49), from Leeds to Sheffield by 12 minutes (15 v 27), from London to Sheffield by 18 minutes (69 v 87), Birmingham to Leeds via Sheffield ( 54 v 78) by 24 minutes. What a result Sheffield has achieved for their £285,000 lobbying.
As the operating costs on M18 are higher, over the 60 year operating period, the combined capital/operating cost of Meadowhall and M18 are identical even on the incorrect capital saving figures ( p40, CS866)
Also since the route has now only 2% tunnel compared to 21% for Birmingham to Manchester, 29% for London to Birmingham and 24% for High Speed 1 in Kent, our glorious Yorkshire countryside is being destroyed to save money, as they are dodging spending the necessary billions of tunnel to pay for the tunnels down south. For Example, the 7,000 population Town of Wendover in Bucks has a tunnel while Crofton Village of 6,000 doesn't. We are paying for mitigation down south.

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