HS2 Questions

Examining the issues around the proposed High Speed 2 route

Posts Tagged ‘Norman Baker

When will Norman Baker get up to speed on High Speed 2?

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Norman Baker says HS2 is good for the environment and needed for capacity reasons.

It seems he is exceptionally poorly briefed on HS2 for a senior minister. His view that HS2 will benefit the environment is two years out of date – even the Green Party are against it. And the idea that we are running out of capacity is over a year out of date. The 51m alternative meets DfT demand forecasts. Furthermore, First Group say they will start their franchise with only a 35% loading and will easily cope with a doubling of demand to 2026.

As someone who championed the growth of telecommuting, it seems strange that he is supporting such an old fashioned and inefficient transport project, especially as the benefits, calculated using DfT guidelines, are only 40p for every £1 of subsidy. The alternatives cost 1/10th as much and produce over £5 of benefit for each £1 cost. HS2 is unnecessary and bonkers.


Written by hs2questions

September 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Response to comments by Norman Baker on HS2

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Norman Baker has recently made some ill informed comments on the HS2 proposal and the broad and growing opposition to HS2.


Norman Baker said:

“We simply haven’t got enough space for the demand, we haven’t got the capacity,” he said. “It is not an option to fiddle around with the west coast main line again, nor the east coast main line for that matter.

Fact: Changes to the rolling stock, timetable and work at just four specific bottlenecks on the West Coast Mainline creates at additional 215% standard class capacity, compared with the forecast of 102% growth to 2043. Some of the current overcrowding cannot wait until 2026 when HS2 opens. See “A Better Railway for Britain” part 2, at www.betterthanhs2.org


Norman Baker said:

“You end up with the idea that you need a new line and if you are going to have a new line the cost of it is only marginally more if you have it high speed than if you have it conventional speed.

Fact: There is no need for a new line until at least the second half of this century so HS2 is the wrong priority.


Norman Baker said:

If you have high speed, you start attracting people who wouldn’t normally be attracted to the railways. Rail is having a renaissance in terms of high speed. You start reducing journey times and people start saying: ‘Hang on a minute, why am I taking the plane?’ and you start making inroads into that market”

Fact: there are no flights between Birmingham and London, and few between Manchester and London as the train already has most of the market. BAA say any domestic landing slots freed up will re-allocated to international flights. Meanwhile the energy required for HS2 trains is much higher than conventional trains. Significantly, the Green Party are opposed to HS2.


Norman Baker said:

“There are also economic development benefits.”

Fact: There may be some benefits for London. The mainstream view is clearly expressed by the Economist (3 September 2011): “‘In most developed economies high-speed railways fail to bridge regional divides and sometimes exacerbate them. Better connections strengthen the advantages of a rich city at the network’s hub: firms in wealthy regions can reach a bigger area, harming the prospects of poorer places.”


What does concern me is that people who have legitimate concerns about the route are not saying this is affecting me personally or affecting my land. I don’t mind them saying that. But what they are saying is this doesn’t make economic sense or it’s bad for carbon. They are finding spurious reasons to oppose.”

Fact: The growing range of organisations unconnected with the route that have expressed serious problems with the economic and environmental case include: The Tax Payers’ Alliance, the IEA, The New Economics Foundation, The Sustainable Development Commission, National Trust, Countryside Alliance, 13 environmental organisations under the Right Lines Charter and many publications including the Economist, The Telegraph and the Financial Times.


There are better ways of spending money to increase capacity and speed on our railways – particularly at a time when the public finances are so limited. These alternatives can meet forecast demand, aid economic growth, and benefit more people, more quickly, and at a much lower cost than HS2.

Written by hs2questions

September 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Norman Baker: out of touch with the facts

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Response to speech made by Norman Baker at Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference – 17.10, 19th September 2011


1.      Future capacity demands

We can meet all growth in capacity demand needed to 2043, and beyond, by train lengthening, and very limited infrastructure works.


We need extra peak time capacity in Milton Keynes andNorthamptonnow – not in 2026.


There are no real issues with 12-car trains. 12-car commuter trains run on WCML fast lines in the south, 15-car sleepers run toScotland, and WCML long distance trains (Pendolinos and Voyagers) have selective door opening – so can cope with short platforms if necessary.


The HS2 trains that use the classic infrastructure simply won’t have enough capacity for their projected demand.  They would have less capacity than the trains that they would replace.


2.      Economic growth

HS2’s economic benefits have been massively over-estimated as they assume all time on trains currently is wasted and uses a no-change to 2043 comparator, instead of a realistic one.


There is no evidence of benefits from regional redistribution – the evidence is it would helpLondonnotMidlandsand North.


HS2 Ltd’s own advisor, Prof Vickermann, thinks there is no evidence to support the government claims and said as much to the Transport Select Committee.  There is no credible support for government claims that HS2 will benefit theMidlandsand North.


3.      Emissions

Even the DfT say HS2 is only carbon neutral at best.  This calculation does not allow for the extra car journeys to stations; assumes any freed-up runway slots are not reused and that electricity emissions are based on average not marginal (dirtier) emissions.


On the Government’s figures HS2 induces much more new travel (22% of HS2 journeys) than it achieves modal shift (7% from cars and 6% from air, giving only 13%).


High speed rail simply isn’t green.


4.      Disruption with up rating the existing railway

Lengthening trains and re-allocating a carriage to standard class is not disruptive.  Completely re-building Euston for HS2 while you are trying to use it at full capacity would be extremely disruptive.   If HS2 is finally built it will lengthen the journey times on all the Great Western trains.



Written by hs2questions

September 20, 2011 at 8:54 am

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