Railways in the News

Robin Summerhill
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:36 am

Re: Railways in the News

Post by Robin Summerhill » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:47 pm

As this is a railway-related forum, we are spared the “views” of some of the anti-HS2 brigade I encounter on more general forums. Whenever I read comments such as “just increase the capacity of existing lines” or “just run longer trains” or “the money would be better spent upgrading the rest of the railway system” or such like, I usually post a link to Realtime Trains for somewhere like Rugeley on any given day and ask the question “OK chum, how are you going to fit any more trains in between that lot?” It usually shuts ‘em up...

It is good to see that the government has come out with its final backing to the plan. The only fly in the ointment is that as no Parliament can bind its successors, and there are going to be a few more elections before HS2 opens for business, you can never say anything is for certain.

The Bristol Airport expansion is a more difficult issue. Whilst I think by now that most people accept the need for action against global warning, human nature being what it is they expect somebody else to make the sacrifice and not them. It’s not totally dissimilar to people moaning about road congestion and wanting something done, whilst what they really want is fewer other cars getting in their way when they are driving.

The crux of the matter, if not the elephant in the room, is that people want to travel, and travel they will. You could argue that it was the Stockton & Darlington and the Liverpool & Manchester Railways that started it, bringing the first mass transit opportunities to ordinary people. That particular genie has been out of the bottle for the best part of 200 years, and it ain’t going back in just yet. OK, you might get a few Union Jack-waving ultra Brexiteers chucking Benidorm for Bognor (at least the beer’s warm...), but personally I can’t see your average Wayne and Tracey Smith from Hartcliffe turning their backs on Majorca and going to Mablethorpe instead if they can afford the package deal to the sun.

So people are going to fly. And if Bristol Airport runs out of capacity then they’ll fly from somewhere else. Rhoose would love to pinch the business; so would Birmingham, and Gatwick, and Luton and all the rest. And in getting to any of those other airports they’ll be increasing their carbon footprint in travelling there by road or by train. So would Bristol Airport like a slice of this business? Of course it would. I suspect the present decision will be overturned on appeal, but not of course before a lot of lawyers have stuffed their pockets with Council Taxpayers money in fighting it. And those lawyers are more likely to travel first class from Heathrow to the Cayman Islands or similar with their legally-gotten gains.

Funny old world, innit?

the green mile
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: Railways in the News

Post by the green mile » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:32 pm

Funny as in strange definitely! A lot of valid points there Robin especially the limitations of the fixed term parliament. I was only thinking earlier that a future government could decide to rip it all up before we get to the point of no return. I still have doubts that the northern sections will ever materialise in anything other than some enhancements and upgrades to the existing network.

Thinking about the number of people who want to travel takes me back to a scenario I was on the fringe of in 1977. I was seconded to the Advanced Passenger Train design team in the Technical Centre at Derby. It was becoming clear that the planned 14 car formations were beset with technical problems in picking up sufficient juice from the overheads. A pragmatic solution proposed was to restrict the formations to 10 cars which was about the maximum which could be accomplished with a single pantograph. It was seriously suggested that anticipated demand for seats could be reduced by charging a supplement on the normal fare. Translate this to demand for air travel and maybe air fares are simply too cheap. Or taking it one stage further perhaps there are too many people on the planet leading to unsustainable demand! ;)

Of course every action has a reaction. If we put air fares up to make them less affordable, less people will go abroad for their holidays so the M5 towards Devon and Cornwall will become even more gridlocked from July when the schools break up.

Roy

the green mile
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Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: Railways in the News

Post by the green mile » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:41 pm

Just spotted on the news that a group of eco-warriors has now occupied a wood somewhere along the HS2 route (Cubbington) and are not going to be moved. Remember the bypass near Newbury on the A34 and more recently the save the trees group on the Bristol Metro-Bus route?

railwest
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:54 pm

Re: Railways in the News

Post by railwest » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:49 pm

Maybe I have missed it, not paying attention to every word written about HS2, but.....

Once HS2 is up and running and all the long-distance travellers swop to it, thereby releasing all this extra capacity on existing lines to provide more by way of local services etc (or so the fairy-tale goes), where is the money coming from to renew the rollings-stock and infrastructure on those lines ???

Robin Summerhill
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:36 am

Re: Railways in the News

Post by Robin Summerhill » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:06 pm

Yes you've missed someting :mrgreen: Its not an either/or situation

There is no pot of government money that is going to be lavished on HS2 at the expense of everything else. It will be paid for by means of long term loans, perhaps over 50 ir more years. In time, when the project is up and running, there will also be a return on capital invested through traffic receipts. The other point ro remember is that, even if there was a pot of government money, whilst £62bn to £100bn would seems a lot to you or me if it landed in our bank accounts, it is loose change down the back of the sofa to the Treasury.

Look at it this way - if it were true (but it isn't and I'm just using this as an example) the UK really had been paying £350m a week to the EU, then you'd get up to £1bn in less than three weeks. So £100bn would be less than 300 weeks cotribuions, or a bit less than 6 years.

As regards eco-warriors declaring UDI at Cubbington, I think the authorities have learned enough from experiences like Greenham Common, Twyford Down and the Newbury bypass to legally sort them out in short order.

It just crossed my mind - I hope the biggers didn't use motor vehicles to get there...

Robin Summerhill
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:36 am

Re: Railways in the News

Post by Robin Summerhill » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:19 pm

the green mile wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:32 pm
...It was seriously suggested that anticipated demand for seats could be reduced by charging a supplement on the normal fare. Translate this to demand for air travel and maybe air fares are simply too cheap. Or taking it one stage further perhaps there are too many people on the planet leading to unsustainable demand! ;)

Of course every action has a reaction. If we put air fares up to make them less affordable, less people will go abroad for their holidays so the M5 towards Devon and Cornwall will become even more gridlocked from July when the schools break up.

Roy
There are a lot more issues than that. If you put air fares up to discourage flying you will only discourage those who can only just afford it. So poorer peole will be put at a disadvantage whilst those with a shekel or two in the bank can still be off jet-setting it around the world.

Not to mince words, in a democracy where everybody gets a vote, even poor people, it will be a very brave politician who canvasses on a line of "Vot for me - I'll stop you flying by putting up fares whilst City Whizz Kids can still clear off to the Seychelles five times a year"

I can see that going down well at election time on the doordsteps of Withywood and Southmed...

the green mile
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: Railways in the News

Post by the green mile » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:08 pm

By its very nature, poor people will always be at a disadvantage! The motivation for being well off is that it gives you choice.

On a slightly different tack, I have heard that Gipsy Patch Lane underbridge just south of Patchway station is to be renewed over Easter. Apparently in connection with road improvements which will allow the Metro Buses to connect between Parkway, Cribbs Causeway and the new housing estates in the Filton airfield area.

76026
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 pm

Re: Railways in the News

Post by 76026 » Wed Feb 26, 2020 2:07 pm

the green mile wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:17 am
Re Portishead, I was browsing through last Thursday's Bristol Post when I came across a full page announcement regarding a Development Consent Order in respect of the proposed reopening of the branch for passenger services. Even if I had the time and patience to wade through the 185 page document I found on the North Somerset Council website, I'm sure I wouldn't understand a lot of the gobbledygook. It looks like a consultation which was started back in 2015 so the fact that it appeared in the media last week does that mean that wheels are slowly starting to turn? Any planning experts out there?
I’ve been looking at one of the Development Consent Order documents for Portishead reopening (now online at https://infrastructure.planninginspecto ... ion=advice )

The Planning Inspectorate’s ‘advice following issue of decision to accept the application for examination’ is interesting and a bit worrying.
I’ll try to be concise, but please bear with me: the devil is in the detail.

The Inspectorate questions two details of North Somerset District Council’s application for a DCO:

1. it’s predicted future flood risk

2. it’s failure to specify ‘flood compensation’ measures relating to two specific features which will each ‘displace existing floodplain storage’:

-‘ramps into the Clanage Road maintenance and access compound’
-the increased ‘footprint of the railway embankment within the Easton-in-Gordano Stream floodplain’

The Inspectorate ‘recommends’ that the District Council responds to these concerns by 21st March. Hard to know at this stage whether the Council will be able to address the Inspectorate’s concerns without adding to the cost of reopening.

I am very much in favour of railways being reliable irrespective of weather, so planning for flood protection does make sense to me. I also accept that such planning has to rely on predictions which can’t be exact. In this case, the National Planning Policy Framework guidance provides a range of predicted increases in rainfall intensity, peak river flow (the Severn in this case) and sea level, and recommends which values should be used; the District Council has in some details used a lower than recommended value (i.e. a lower predicted increase in rainfall, river flow or sea level).

For example, predicted increases in peak flow for the Severn for 2040 to 2069 are 20% (‘Central’ value), 25% (‘High Central’ value) and 40% (‘Upper End’ vale); no figures are quoted in the Inspectorate’s letter for ‘Low Central’ or ‘Lower End’. NPPF recommends that ‘Upper End’ peak river flow ‘allowances’ should be used for essential infrastructure in the particular flood zones in question, the District Council has chosen to use the ‘Central’ allowance (20%) – half of the recommended value- for its prediction for 2075. Hence the Inspectorate’s concern, I guess.

The key questions for me are:
- Who chose the timescale over which flood protection remains successful? (in this case the District Council has planned for flood risk until 2115,
and the Inspectorate uses the NPPF rainfall, river flow and sea level predictions for 2125)
- Would a road proposal also be judged by it’s flood resilience up to 2125, and would it also be judged by comparison with ‘Upper End’ predications?

I’m generally skeptical about conspiracy theories, but I do recall the Dornoch Crossing, which opened as the Dornoch Firth (road) Bridge in 1991. It was originally proposed to be a combined road and rail bridge but the viability criteria –particularly in respect of lives saved / lost- were tougher for rail than those for road, and the rail provision was not pursued.

the green mile
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: Railways in the News

Post by the green mile » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:33 am

Thanks for taking the time to unravel all that detail. Would I be cynical in saying that we have become so risk averse these days that it's a miracle we actually do anything before the downside exceeds the benefits and it fails to be financially viable.

There are two expressions which spring to mind:-

'Don't make a decision in case you make a mistake' - very relevant in these days of litigation.

'The person who never made a mistake never made anything'.

Perhaps we should ask the Chinese to step in and do it! :lol:

76026
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 pm

Re: Railways in the News

Post by 76026 » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:36 am

Yes, I wonder what a cost / benefit analysis or our current litigation culture would look like? It certainly feels as though it encourages blame.

Following on from your two fine expressions, I agree that a decision to do nothing is far from a neutral position- inaction has costs too.

I hope the authors of the Development Consent Order were savvy enough to warn of the costs of kicking the Portishead project into the long grass once again- perhaps by flagging the avoidance of those costs as a benefit. That said, I'm not currently planning to read all 185 pages of the DCO to find out!

If only that nice Mr Beeching had used cost / benefit analysis, and that nasty Mr Marples hadn’t been Minister of Transport, and the Portishead Line had survived until the 1968 Transport: it might just have benefitted from the provision to subsidise ‘socially necessary but unremunerative railways’…

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