Cost comparison - High Speed v Conventional Rail

J Marriott made this Freedom of Information request to High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

In the March 2010 Command Paper it states :-

"2.45 The net costs of a new conventional line are only marginally lower than those of a high speed line."

In the Economic Case published in February 2011 it states :-

"6.1.1 In addition to the sensitivity tests on our central case assumptions that we present in the next chapter, we have also appraised the case for a new railway line operating at a conventional speed (a new classic line). This was carried out at a high level: we applied cost and journey time assumptions reflecting conventional speeds to our preferred route for the high speed line.
6.1.2 Apart from speed we used the same specification as for the high speed line, for example the service levels and station stops, to assess this alternative. The design criteria were also similar given we assumed that a new line would be built fully compliant with the Technical Specifications for Interoperability, as is current UK Government policy for all new lines.
6.1.3 This led us to conclude that the cost of constructing the scheme to conventional speed would only save about 9% of the costs of the high speed line. We assumed that operating and maintenance costs would be comparable with the exception of train power costs."

Information Paper A1 Development of the Scheme states:-

"The most significant element of the technical specification that affects the choice of the HS2 route is the maximum design speed, as any curves in the line need to be shallower for higher speeds and this requirement could reduce the scope for modifying the alignment locally, for instance to avoid environmentally sensitive areas.

It was concluded that a conventional speed line would not offer a reasonable alternative as the economic and transport benefits of high speed would be far greater and any environmental advantage would be relatively marginal."

Having regard to all the above statements, I have the following questions.

1. When was the comparison carried referred to in the 2011 Economic Case carried out?
2. Who carried it out?
3. What speed was used for the conventional railway option?
4. If the conventional speed was not 200kph, why was another speed chosen?
5. What speed was used for the high speed railway option?
6. If the high speed option was not 400kph, why was another speed chosen?

7. What route (where to where) was used for the comparison?
8. If it was not the same route for each option, please state why they were different and state what routes were used for each.

9. What values were used for the minimum radii (horizontal and vertical) and maximum gradient for each option?
10. If these were the same, were any alternatives considered using values appropriate to the speed of each option? If not, why? Who made the decision?
11. What differences were there between the options with regard to:-
• track separation;
• rails, track and trackbed construction;
• tunnels, including tunnel diameter, length, number of bores, portal design, safety standards, etc.
• electrical power capacity to the route, including feeders, substations and overhead line equipment;
• mitigating measures;
• cost of trackwork associated with junctions & stations and any necessary additional land take or construction work needed;
• cost of trains.

12. It is assumed that the "high level study" used for the comparison must have included some unit costs based on estimates of works required for each option. Please provide :-
• the quantity of each factor / item included in the comparison;
• the estimated cost / rate of each factor / item considered;
• the total cost of the above factors (quantity multiplied by the estimated rate).

13. Having regard to the scheme that is now the subject of the Hybrid Bill :-
• what factors and / or rates have changed significantly since the original comparison that produced the 9% figure was made? Provide details and quantities / costs.
• what factors, if any, were largely, or totally missing from that comparison? Provide further details and quantities / costs.

The February 2011 Economic Case assumed that operating and maintenance costs of each option would be the same, with the exception of train power costs.

14. What basis was there for making this assumption for :-
• maintenance costs?
• operating costs (excluding power)?
15. What was the difference in power costs?
Provide details of any relevant reports.

16. Over the last two years, what consideration has been given to constructing the line to a lower speed to save money? Please provide full details of all meetings and reports.
17. What speeds have been considered?
18. What was the outcome of all such considerations? Please provide full details.
If no consideration has been given to reducing speed to save money please explain why.

19. Does the HS2 line have to be TSI compliant because of a European directive?
20. What is the estimated additional cost for constructing the route as currently proposed to be fully TSI compliant rather than one capable of accommodating 12 coach (or similar length) UK gauge trains, such as are likely to be purchased for other main line routes in the UK?
21. Has any consideration been given to seeking a derogation from TSI requirements? If so, please provide full details.

Yours faithfully,

J Marriott

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd. Your email has been received by the
helpdesk. We aim to respond to all enquiries as soon as possible.

 

For more information please visit our website - [1]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

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HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Ms Marriott

Thank you for your enquiry. We are treating this as an Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) Request and will respond by 10 March.

Please note your reference number for this request is FOI15-1257.

Kind regards,

G Walsh

Freedom of Information Team | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
High Speed Two (HS2) One Canada Square, London E14 5AB

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HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Ms Marriott

I apologise for the delay in responding to your request. We are unable to provide you with the requested information at this time. Under Environmental Information Regulations we are able to extend the due date when dealing with complex requests. I will endeavour to reply to you at the earliest possible time but no later than 7 April.

Kind regards

G Walsh

Freedom of Information Team | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
High Speed Two (HS2) One Canada Square, London E14 5AB

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Dear HS2Enquiries,

Cost comparison - High Speed v Conventional Rail

By law you should have responded by 10th March but your initial response only said that you would reply by 7th April 2015 which has now passed. You have had plenty of time to answer my questions. If I do not get a full and proper response by 13th April I will take further action.

Yours sincerely,

J Marriott (Mr NOT Ms)

Paul Thornton left an annotation ()

EIR section 7 is explicit that the time to provide a response can only be delayed where the information is not only complex but also voluminous. That is clearly not the case in respect of this prevarication.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/...

It is also pertinent that while the 20 day period provides a clear maximum, it is predicated by an overarching obligation to respond "as soon as possible".

This request should have provoked the near immediate publication of the analyses that will contain most of the requested information (and more) and which clearly must be held. If further components of the requested information are not included in those existing analyses, they might be sought and provided slightly later.

Dr Paul Thornton

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Marriott,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

We apologise for the delay in responding to your request. Mr Walsh has
left the organisation,  but I will endeavour to provide you with the
information requested as soon as possible.

 

Kind regards,

Manzoor

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[1]image002Manzoor Shams | Freedom of Information Team | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | [2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn
High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, One Canada Square, London E14 5AB |
[5]www.gov.uk/hs2  

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Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of High Speed Two (HS2) Limited's handling of my FOI request 'Cost comparison - High Speed v Conventional Rail'.

I submitted my request on 10th February and received an acknowledgement. About a month later I received an email saying that I would receive a reply no later than the 7th April. I chased this up a few days ago and have now received a response saying that a different person is now looking at my request. FOI EIA responses should be dealt with promptly and in any case within 20 days. Over 60 days have now elapsed and no information whatsoever has been supplied in response to any of my questions.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

J Marriott

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Marriott,

 

Please see the attached PDF for the response to your Freedom of
Information request FOI15-1257.

 

Kind regards,

Manzoor

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[1]image002Manzoor Shams | Freedom of Information Team | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | [2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn
High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, One Canada Square, London E14 5AB |
[5]www.gov.uk/hs2  

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Dear HS2 Enquiries,

FOI15-1257 HS2 Costs and Speeds

Thank you for your extremely belated reply dated 5th June to my request submitted in early February. It has taken you 4 months to respond. I submitted a request for an internal review some time ago as I had received no response to my original questions. I have yet to receive a response to my request for a review.

Your response to my orginal request was incomplete and I am seeking clarification to some of your replies. In accordence with the EIA Regulations I expect you to provide a full response as soon as possible, and certainly in no more than 20 working days.

The numbers below refer to my original questions.

2. What exactly is "the HS2 Chief Engineer's organisation"? Who actually did the work and what was the brief? Please provide a copy of the report produced by the Chief Engineer's organisation.

6. I understand that the "passive provision" for trains to travel at 400kph relates to the horzontal and vertical alignment. Has any other provision has been included to enable trains to travel at 400kph, particularly in terms of tunnel diameter & design, power supply, overhead line equipment, track construction, noise mitigation etc.? What is the estimated cost of all the "passive provision" that is required to enable trains to operate at 400kph compared with the currently proposed maximum speed of 360kph?

7. Only 114km of the original Phase One between route between London and Birmingham was designed to have a 400kph design speed. The maximum time saving by travelling at 400kph compared to 360kph over this distance would be less than 2 minutes. Was any specific calculation carried out to compare the cost of the the "passive provision" with the likely benefits that it would achieve? Has any consideration been given to reviewing the case for such "passive provision" having regard to more recent reductions in the value of time savings? Tunnels on Phase One now seem to have a design speed of 360kph or less? Does this mean that trains would not be able to travel through tunnels anywhere on HS2 at more than 360kph?

9. Stating that you used "typical values" does not answer the question. What values would be used for the minimum radii (horizontal and vertical) and gradient at 200kph, 250kph, 300kph, 350kph and 400kph?

10. Who was on the Executive Team at HS2 Ltd when the decision was taken? What information were they given prior to making their decision?

11. Please state what "typical values" were actually used. What values were not covered by GB Group Standards for new lines?

12. Who did the "high-level study"? If you do not hold the information who does? What checks did HS2 carry out to understand how the costs of the comparison had been carried out?

13. Your answer does not answer my question. Please supply the details requested. Your answer refers to operating and maintenance costs which I asked in question 14.

14. You did not provide any response to this question but in your response to question 13 you said that the February 2011 Economic Case assumed that maintenance and operating costs of a 400kph line would be the same as a 200kph line. Does a line designed for 400kph have to be maintained to a higher standard than one for 200kph? Does a train travelling at 400kph cause more damage to the track than an identical train travelling at 200kph? Please provide the information that underpinned that assumption that maintenance and operating costs would be the same. Is it still considered to be valid?

15. Page 73 of the 2013 Economic Case does not contain any information on power costs so it does not answer my question. To clarify I would like to know what the difference in power costs was between the 200kph conventional speed alternative and the proposed 400kph scheme and how they were derived.

16, 17 & 18. You say you do not hold any information in relation to these questions. This is implausible.
In a session in front of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on 13th January 2015 Sir David Higgins was asked about lower speeds. He said "one of the first things I did when I arrived was to go to the chief engineer and say, “I have been briefed by various quantity surveyors who are not involved in the project that we could save substantial money; I want to see all the reports”.
He then went on to say "I do not believe we are paying a high price. If I thought we were we would
really challenge that extra cost. What we are talking about is the difference between 350 or 360
kilometres per hour and 400 kilometres per hour. If I thought there was a 10% saving on the
entire project by eliminating that 400 kilometres per hour speed, we would seriously look at that,
I can assure you."
Lord Lawson of Blaby asked "Are you seriously looking at it?"
Higgins response was "We are looking at everything."

From this interchange it would seem that HS2 Ltd must have looked at the savings that could be achieved by building the line at a reduced speed during the last year. Presumably consideration has been given to design speeds on Phase Two. Please explain why you not hold any information? Please provide details of the reports that were shown to Higgins in response to his request. Higgins also seems to be referring to the difference in cost between 350 or 360kph and 400kph. Was this looked at and were any other speeds considered to establish what operating speed might achieve the best BCR?

(Section 5 of the 2013 Environmental Statement does not provide any useful information. 5.1.2 repeats the claim that it would cost £1 billion less but does not say how this was arrived at. 5.1.4 repeats the claim that it would take 15 minutes longer without showing how this was arrived at. 5.1.5 refers to mitigation but does not provide any indication of what mitigation measures were proposed or what they would cost.)

19. You say "New or upgraded railways in the UK are required to comply with the relevant TSIs" and that they are "binding on member states". Does the Borders railway under construction in Scotland comply with the relevant TSIs? If it does, why could a new route in England not be designed to comply with the same TSIs?

20 I will clarify the question. The question was about the cost of constructing a line to be fully TSI compliant compared with one constructed to suitably appropriate standards for a train conforming to the UK loading gauge and therefore capable of running on the most of the current main line network. I mentioned the length of the train to show that I was referring to trains that could fit into typical main line UK stations. It is material to the question because the TSI requirement is for stations to accommodate 400m trains, necessitating the construction of entirely new and expensive stations.

21 I will rephrase my question. It is clear that constructing the HS2 route and stations to be fully TSI compliant is going to cost well over £10 billion more than a new route designed for the UK loading gauge, 260m trains, and speeds up to 300kph or more. If you do not agree with that figure please state why it is not valid. HS2 does not connect with HS1, so continental trains could not proceed beyond St Pancras. If such a link was provided eventually, and HS2 Phase Two is built as planned, then continental trains could only reach Manchester and Leeds. Converting more of the UK rail network to take TSI compatible trains would be very expensive and disruptive. The TSI compatible network would have negligible resilience as continental gauge trains would not be able to use alternative routes or stations. UK Border Agency rules require all passengers to de-train for passport checks prior to entering the country and the prospect of this being relaxed seems remote. The supposed benefits of TSI compatibiliy cannot justify spending many billions of pounds. If the government is seriously considering ways to keep HS2's cost under control then it should be fully aware of the additional costs of TSI compliance and ought to have considered seeking a derogation. If not, you should explain why it has not been considered.

Yours sincerely,

J Marriott

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd. Your email has been received by the
helpdesk. We aim to respond to all enquiries as soon as possible.

 

For more information please visit our website - [1]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, One Canada Square, London, E14 5AB, England. This
email is sent subject to our disclaimer which can be accessed via our
website at [2]www.hs2.org.uk/email-policy

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hs2
2. http://www.hs2.org.uk/email-policy

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Marriott,

Please find attached our internal review in relation to this request which includes responses to your follow-up questions raised below.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding to this request.

Kind regards,
Jane Ivey

Jane Ivey | Freedom of Information Manager | HS2 Ltd 
Tel: 020 7944 4908 | [email address] | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, One Canada Square, London E14 5AB  | www.gov.uk/hs2

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HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Marriott,

 

I attach our response to your complaint in reference to your information
requests (our reference FOI15-1257 and FOI151276R).

 

Kind regards,

Jane Ivey

 

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Jane Ivey | Freedom of Information Manager | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | [1][email address] | [2]Facebook | [3]Twitter
| [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, One Canada Square, London E14 5AB  |
[5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

 

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J Marriott left an annotation ()

10 Feb 2015 Request submitted to HS2.
14 Apr Requested internal review.
5 June HS2 responded. Incomplete and raised more questions than it answered. Links provided to other documents were either to documents I was already aware of to ones that did not add anything very useful.
13 June I sent follow up questions.
16 Sep HS2 responded. Still lacking any real detail or useful answers. Internal review response provided. Sorry for delay. Lots of personnel changes.
11 Nov Unprompted 3rd response adding very little to Sept response. Some corrections and additions to previous info.
13 Dec Sent in another response. Rather long because of lack of information provided. Had to submit it as a new request as WDTK website would not allow me to add it to this request but the new request includes original reference number 15-1257 in title.