High Speed Rail
Mrs Louise Ellman (Chair)
Mr Tom Harris
Mr John Leech
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Steve Rodrick, Chief Officer, Chilterns Conservation Board, Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE, Director General, National Trust, and Professor Roger Vickerman, Professor of European Economics, University of Kent, gave evidence.
Q317 Chair: Good morning and welcome to this meeting of the Transport Select Committee. Could we start, please, by you identifying yourselves with your name and organisation to help our records?
Ralph Smyth: I am Ralph Smyth. I am representing the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Steve Rodrick: I am Steve Rodrick, the Chief Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board.
Dame Fiona Reynolds: I am Fiona Reynolds, the Director General of the National Trust.
Professor Vickerman: I am Roger Vickerman, Professor of European Economics for the University of Kent. I should also mention that I am on the Analytical Challenge Panel of HS2, but I am here in a personal capacity because you asked me to come.
Q318 Chair: Thank you very much. Would each of you tell us, briefly, what your position is in relation to High Speed 2?
Ralph Smyth: CPRE’s case is that the evidence is not there yet for us to come to a final decision. We do not have a national strategy for transport that would set High Speed 2 into a proper context. In addition, we do not have detailed information about particular impacts of the High Speed 2 route-for example, about noise contours or precise impacts of what it will look like, in terms of the landscape, or what the impacts will be on, say, ancient woodlands or features of biodiversity. At the moment, the case is not proven, though, in principle, we are in favour of high speed rail and investment in the rail network.
Steve Rodrick: The Chilterns Conservation Board is against High Speed 2. We are against it because we are given a job by Parliament to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Chilterns. While we understand that national development has to take place, and occasionally that may be in a nationally protected area, we are not convinced that the evidence put forward for the national benefits outweighs the huge and irreversible damage that would be done to the Chilterns.
Dame Fiona Reynolds: The National Trust is neither for nor against High Speed 2. Our position is that if it goes ahead it should be the greenest ever, and we should demonstrate a commitment to a very strong environmental framework and also mitigation against adverse impacts. We, too, have objected on the grounds of it passing through the Chilterns and would have preferred a more open process to the initial route selection. We are also very concerned about the particular impact on Hartwell House, one of our properties held inalienably. The proposal, as it stands, would take inalienable land from the National Trust, which is obviously a very particular concern of ours. We are, therefore, discussing possible mitigation and protective measures with both HS2 and DfT.
Professor Vickerman: My position is simply that I want to see the best possible analytical processes gone through, with a particular interest in ensuring that any of the wider economic impacts that can derive from major transport infrastructure investments are properly evaluated and set against any of the environmental or other detrimental effects that might be perceived by others, so that we have a proper planning framework in order to be able to assess that.
Q319 Paul Maynard: I apologise for jumping in early with my question to Professor Vickerman, but I have a Delegated Legislation Committee to attend at 10.30, so I shall leap straight in. You are clearly an expert in the European aspects of high speed rail. To what extent do you feel that France and Germany are useful models for us to study to understand what the impact could be on the United Kingdom?
Professor Vickerman: That is a very, very good question, because we have to be careful about taking examples and moving them through space. The starting point was very different, in terms of the rail networks of both of those countries and why they needed high speed rail. However, we can see some effects developing there, in terms of the creation of economic benefits that it has had to provincial centres-cities like Lyon and Lille in France. We also have some very preliminary evidence that there are some benefits to intermediate stations, but only in the German case so far.
All of these are good examples of why we need to look at the evidence that has been acquired but then apply it to our particular cases. You cannot generalise and say that high speed rail will always centralise. Clearly, it has not in many of those other cases we have seen. The specific effects have to be examined in each particular case against the economic structures of the regions involved. From that point of view, yes, we can use the same analytical techniques but we cannot blithely take an answer from one and put it to another.
Q320 Paul Maynard: Are there any European examples you would point to that you feel might be instructive?
Professor Vickerman: Yes. The first high speed line in Europe, the ParisLyon, is probably the closest example you would get to LondonBirmingham. They are further apart from each other, but you are talking about first and second cities. The impacts there were very substantial, both in terms of the usage of the service and also in terms of the impact that it had on the ability to regenerate and redevelop the commercial centre of Lyon, the PartDieu development. Although there are some downsides of that within the region, in that you see a degree of centralisation towards Lyon from some of the immediate surrounding areas, I think that is one of the positives. You see it to a smaller extent in the case of Lille, but the Lyon one is probably the best example to use, simply because, to the extent you can get similarities, there are similarities there.
Q321 Paul Maynard: Have you noticed any difference in terms of benefits derived from those lines that have followed existing transport corridors, compared to those lines that have carved their way through what one might call virgin countryside?
Professor Vickerman: No, and I do not think anybody has looked at that specifically. ParisLyon, of course, took the shortest route, because existing transport corridors could not be expanded to take the new line. KölnFrankfurt does follow the motorway and has had an impact on places like Montabaur and Limburg an der Lahn, and it is quite difficult to disentangle whether it is due partly to motorway, partly to rail or the combination of the two.
Q322 Paul Maynard: I have a final question, if I may. You mentioned "first and second city". I am always unwilling to ask witnesses to speculate, but could you possibly speculate on how you think Birmingham’s derived benefits could differ from Manchester’s if they are both connected to the high speed network, and how they, in turn, could differ from the benefits of accessing the network for a city such as Liverpool, which would be close to Manchester, or even, say, Cardiff, which would effectively be nowhere near the high speed network?
Professor Vickerman: I fear we do not have long enough, Mr Maynard.
Chair: As briefly as possible, please.
Professor Vickerman: What one needs to look at very carefully there is the economic structures of those cities, which are different from each other, and the role they play in the national economy. You can see that the benefits for each of those might well be different. I would not be able to speculate in terms of bigger or smaller, but they would be different and one would need to look at that.
Q323 Paul Maynard: When people argue that Manchester will derive an extra economic benefit compared to Birmingham-that is, the real benefits are delivered when you go north of Birmingham-you would not necessarily state that that was conclusive.
Professor Vickerman: On a priori grounds, no, you would not say that. It may well be the case because they have different roles and different regional roles, but that becomes a much more difficult question to analyse.
Paul Maynard: Thank you.
Q324 Jim Dobbin: Whenever there is any development to take place in the constituencies of Members of Parliament or local politicians, there is always a campaign against it. That is what normally happens because people are generally protective of their locality and their local environment. Do you think there is an issue here where there is some nimbyism going on, or are these people luddites?
Chair: Some opponents of high speed rail have been categorised as nimbys and luddites. Do you see yourselves in that category?
Steve Rodrick: If I might answer first-because often the finger has been pointed at me-yes. Plainly, that is an accusation one would expect. In our case we are looking after a particular part of the country and, rightly, are very proud of it because it has national protection. It is an AONB, and for good reason, so we expect it to be given national protection. Bearing in mind that it is national heritage, we are all guardians of somewhere like the Chilterns so we are all nimbys, if you like. At least I would hope everybody is saying, "That matters to me, even if I do not live there."
I am very keen indeed to impress upon you that we, as a board, are made up of people, of whom some are appointed by the Secretary of State to protect the national interest. We are not all local people looking out for our back gardens. We are from around the country. Some of us grew up in Scotland. My chairman is from Manchester.
Jim Dobbin: You could not have grown up in a better place.
Steve Rodrick: It was certainly a wetter place. We are genuinely trying to take a national perspective here, although we are very conscious indeed that some people think we can see no further than our back yards. It is not the case.
Q325 Chair: Mr Smyth, I know you have raised some objections, but you say you are not opposed to this in principle. What do you make of the charge that maybe it is nimbyism or luddite-ism?
Ralph Smyth: The difficulty for many people here is that there is no strategy-no context-against which to judge HS2. If you are supposed to try and work out what the national interest is and whether it trumps the local interest, you need some strategy-some national planning-to help guide that. The difficulty people face is that the first they knew of high speed rail was simply, "Here is the route," drawn along a map, possibly going through your back yard or possibly, in the case of some people in London, underneath it. People were not involved.
Greg Clark, the Minister for decentralisation, at a lecture given to CPRE earlier this year, talked about not simply announcing and defending a proposal but involving people throughout. We feel very strongly that people should have been involved in working out what the transport priorities for the country should be, and then what sort of high speed rail system we might run, in terms of the network and in terms of specifications, rather than suddenly being presented with, "Here is the single option. We would like to build it. What do you think?" That is what we would say has fanned the fire of nimbyism.
Q326 Jim Dobbin: I have another question on another tack. I am a Member of Parliament for the north-west, despite the accent, and we need jobs. The issue is about bringing employment to parts of the country, which we think this can do. Therefore, the argument becomes one of the north against the south. Have you any comments to make on that?
Dame Fiona Reynolds: I wonder if I could respond, in the sense that I think it relates to your earlier question. People faced with a very particular proposal with limited advanced consultation do tend to react defensively. However, if they are engaged in the debate, they are perfectly intelligent and able to take a broader view and are quite sympathetic to finding solutions which optimise outcomes. That might be jobs, environmental mitigation or the quality of the local environment.
I would draw a parallel with HS1, the line through Kent, with which I was involved-rather a long time ago now-where, partly because it was one local authority with a very strong leader, Sandy BruceLockhart, there was incredibly good consultation and incredibly good engagement of local communities. Even if all their needs could not be satisfied, they were much more supportive of the final route chosen, because they felt they had been part of it. Whether the argument is about jobs or the northsouth, people need a framework, as Ralph has said, to engage with it, and it will be more constructive and helpful in that context. Simply being presented with something gets a naturally defensive reaction.
Q327 Chair: Would you say that this consultation is being handled differently?
Dame Fiona Reynolds: We have not yet had the public debate about the initial choice of route. As I say, we share the concerns about the Chilterns and would have preferred to see a much more open discussion about, say, the M1 route, which was ruled out very early. Similarly, although there are individual consultations beginning to take place, if the initial publication had been accompanied by a commitment to have open meetings and open debate, both with locals and with national groups, and with others with a more strategic perspective, we might have got further with the important issue of whether this is the right route and how to make it, as we would say, the greenest ever.
Q328 Mr Leech: Dame Reynolds, you made the point about Kent and suggested that the consultation and collaboration had been far better. How much of it was to do with the fact that people in Kent felt they were getting something out of it, compared with the Chilterns, say, where local people do not feel they are going to see any benefit from HS2?
Dame Fiona Reynolds: That may well be a very material point. The fact is, though, they were really given the chance to get involved. The route was modified, changes were made and people felt better about it as a result of that process. We are, obviously, very concerned not only about the Chilterns but our own particular property. At the moment, we are not seeing much shift in this recognition that there are environmental and other adverse impacts which need to be addressed. There is a feeling that environmental impacts are too expensive and further measures cannot be taken, and that is a disappointing perspective at this stage.
Q329 Steve Baker: Mr Rodrick, as you know, I have a Chilterns constituency that will not be affected by the present route of HS2 but is affected, and indeed blighted, by the M40 cutting through the Chilterns. Is there something we can learn about the experience of the M40 running through the Chilterns that applies to high speed rail?
Steve Rodrick: Had I been around when the M40 was built, perhaps I would be in a better position to respond. I am very conscious of the feeling that if you can put in a railway which hugs an existing motorway-that was certainly the case in Kent and made it more palatable-there might be less opposition. In the case of the M40, the alignment and topography do not lend themselves to that, so we simply cannot look at that as an option. Plainly, one accepts that some of these things are built against opposition at the time and people come to terms with them to a certain extent. However, if the M40 is anything to go by, 30 years on it is still causing problems, because it was done "to us" rather than "with us", if you like. A lot of the design and specifications were not right for the area, and we are still living with it. As you know, it is still a very noisy thoroughfare through beautiful countryside. You would not want it that way if you could avoid it.
Steve Baker: Thank you very much.
Q330 Chair: Professor Vickerman, you wanted to comment on this point.
Professor Vickerman: Yes. I would comment on two points. One is about Kent. It was a mistake to think that Kent was homogenous. Clearly, there were people who thought they would benefit from it and people who thought they would suffer from it. A considerable number of different views had to come together.
I would like to come back to a very important point in this. The danger is we only start advancing our methodologies for appraising these things when we have a specific project in mind that focuses people’s minds on that project rather than the general issues. That is a great shame in terms of improving, for example, the WebTAG guidance which is used for appraising major transport projects. It always strikes me that there is an imbalance between what we can do and quantify in terms of the economic benefits, going back to Mr Dobbin’s question about jobs and so on, as against the environmental effects, which are dealt with, in my view, in a much less satisfactory way because of both the landscape effects and all of the other effects. They are not put on the same metric, and that is why we get into this debate all the time about jobs against the environment. If you are on one side, jobs must win; if you are on the other side, the environment must win. Both are equally important, but we need to get the analytical tools right.
Q331 Chair: Has the appraisal of sustainability been carried out properly?
Steve Rodrick: If I might come in there, we have grave misgivings about the AoS. It is a very highlevel document. When most people read these things, they try to equate what they read with their own experience and the places they know. It is practically impossible with an AoS. We are particularly disgruntled because we feel the impacts on the Chilterns, as an AONB, as a nationally protected area, should have been specifically identified. That is what national policy requires, and it is expected. The AoS did not include a Chilternsspecific section. We were lumped in with West Ruislip and Aylesbury. Lovely places though they might be, they are not the Chilterns. Therefore, we have grave misgivings about that.
It is plain, from our experience and from the public road-shows, that everyone expected a greater level of detail about the impacts than was being given to us. That is not to say the information did not exist. It just was not being given to us. I can give you two examples. The AoS did not anywhere say what the land take would be for this major development. I am sure, if any of you have had any dealings at all with a planning application, it is one of the first things you expect to see-how big it is physically. We are not given that. Again in the Chilterns, a very particular matter to us is the amount of spoil coming out of the tunnels and cuttings- absolutely gargantuan. 11 million cubic metres of spoil would come out. This was not identified in the AoS, nor was it explained what would be done with it. That matters enormously to those of us who are looking after a nationally protected area. If you are a local person living in Great Missenden, you are absolutely terrified at the prospect of having a million trucks going up and down your road.
From our point of view, the AoS was at too high a level for the purposes and did not engage the public. Even for those of us who have a very professional and detailed interest, it did not provide sufficient detail for us to get stuck into. We have had to come up with our own calculations and assessments and tried to debate with HS2 and the DfT on those levels, often being rebutted with, "That is a matter of detail. We will deal with it later on." From our point of view, "later on" is too late. We would like to discuss those things now. Therefore, we have grave misgivings about the AoS.
Q332 Chair: Is the position in relation to spoil the same? Have you been given any information on what is to happen to it?
Steve Rodrick: We queried the one figure in there, which is to do with a particular tunnel. They issued an erratum saying that it was wrong and multiplied the figure by two or three times. It is a quantum out. We are not talking about hundreds of thousands of cubic metres here; we are talking about millions of cubic metres, with all the knockon impacts. I think it is reasonable, when anyone is asked not only about a route but a strategy, that you have some idea of the major environmental impacts. We do not believe the AoS addressed those. When we get to the Environmental Impact Assessment stage, the whole argument will have advanced so far that we do not feel we will be influencing the debate.
Ralph Smyth: I have two points to add there. The first is about the way the AoS did not really deal with alternatives. If you have a highlevel appraisal you would expect it to compare different route alternatives. CPRE and other NGOs were very concerned that these tradeoffs were not transparent on why the route went where it did, rather than using other routes that might have lesser impacts on the natural environment and heritage. That information simply was not there. We would expect at this stage when you are down to one route, that you would have a very detailed environmental impact assessment.
The second point is about carbon. This has been identified already by the Department for Transport as something that communities bash them over the head with. The carbon case is very weak. It depends not only on High Speed 2 but, again-and I am coming back to the same point like a stuck record-whether the wider transport strategy, and indeed the wider environmental strategy, for example, are generating sufficient low-carbon electricity. These things are all interconnected. The AoS simply says, "We cannot work this out. There are too many external factors." That is not really acceptable for something that, as Fiona says, should be the greenest ever project.
Q333 Julian Sturdy: Professor Vickerman, I have listened carefully to what you said when we recently talked about the key arguments of economic growth and jobs versus environment. It seems to me that these are going to be the key arguments as we take this debate forward. In your view, do we have enough information about these two key areas to make an evaluated decision on this? This seems to be where the main debate is going, and I have fears as to whether we have looked at this properly. I know a number of the other panels have raised this issue as well.
Professor Vickerman: Yes, and it is a great shame that it always does come down to jobs versus environment-that these things are opposing-because they could be very much on the same side. An enhanced environment can and should be very good for business. It is about getting things on to the same metric in order to be able to do that. We have two deficiencies there. One is a deficiency about acceptance of evaluation of the environment. It can be done, and it is done in lots of cases, but at the moment, I say the WebTAG guidance is not sufficient on that. Although the Department has been pushed to try and enhance it, it has stayed within the environment of the existing ways of doing that.
The second one is the wider agglomeration effects. We are pretty good now at working out agglomeration effects within urban areas. We can see that in terms of the effect it has on local labour markets. What we do not know-because we do not have the evidence on which to base it-is what happens when you join together two very large labour market areas. Does that lead to some sort of superagglomeration effect, or do the two compete against each other? We do not have sufficient evidence to be able to do that, because the data do not exist yet. We do not have any examples from anywhere that we can really look at to the same extent. There is a little bit of evidence which was done for HS2, the Graham and Melo study, which says it is small. I would tend to agree with that, although I think their estimates are sensible but at the lower end. My hunch is-and it is only a hunch-that there is something much larger than that. But those are areas where we desperately need more evidence. It goes back to the point I made earlier: it is a shame we can only start adducing that evidence when we get into the adversarial process.
Q334 Julian Sturdy: Can we get that evidence, though?
Professor Vickerman: Yes, we can get it. I am going to give you a horribly academic answer. If we could have the money for research that did not only come from a specific project, then, yes, we could start getting that evidence. This demonstrates how important it is, in terms of thinking about how we can potentially move forward, to have a strategic plan for transport development which has brought all of those points in, so that people can see where they fit into this at the local level. That is when a sensible debate can be had at that level. That is probably wishful thinking on my part.
Q335 Iain Stewart: I would like to turn to another aspect of the environmental concerns that have been raised about High Speed 2: noise pollution. Can I ask you, first, how much you are concerned about the potential noise pollution that High Speed 2 would cause?
Dame Fiona Reynolds: Focusing on Hartwell House, which, as I said, is our immediate concern, we were similarly disappointed that the information published was very inadequate on noise levels. Therefore, we have done a bit of work of our own, which has identified that Hartwell House in fact sits in an unusually tranquil area, despite being in southeast England. There is a real question about how seriously the noise issue is being taken. Clearly, one of the options for mitigation is more tunnelling. That comes back to the wider point about whether the business case is "the business case", and then you compromise it by making environmental mitigation, or whether you embrace the idea that environmental mitigation is so important that it is a full part of the business case and, therefore, it is built in from the start that you are going to treat issues like noise, aesthetics and other considerations more seriously. We are feeling, with the noise issue, that we have not been given enough information and that it is not precise enough. Also, it feels like a luxury, rather than something we would say is an essential part of any mitigation strategy.
Steve Rodrick: We are gravely concerned, as you would expect, by noise impacts. We have had to cut our teeth recently over proposed changes to aircraft flying over the Chilterns, and we have found that it is extremely difficult to get across the science of noise to the general public. The decibel system is quite hard to explain because it is logarithmic. But what we have been disappointed with is the paucity of information provided. You would expect something like a noise contour map. We have not had that. We have only had the average noise figures published, and it is very easy to mask the peaks and troughs if you do that. What people are really concerned about are the peaks-the things that wake you up, the things that give you a fright. None of that has been published and, because we feel the noise issues have been played down, the natural conclusion is that they are trying to hide something. It may be, with the design of the trains and the cuttings, that a lot can be done. However, because of the way it has been presented, we are far from being convinced we have something which will be satisfactory.
Q336 Iain Stewart: Have any of you had the opportunity to visit the Arup sound laboratory? I went-the Chair did as well-and was quite surprised that there was not the noise impact I thought there might be. I also made a trip independently to the HS1 route. Again, yes, there was the noise of a train, but it was not particularly obtrusive. Is there a need to have a better explanation and an opportunity for residents along the line to be able to hear this so they can make a more informed decision as to the likely intrusion?
Steve Rodrick: It would certainly help. There are a lot of fears, and it is a fear of the unknown to a certain extent. Again, we did cut our teeth on this aircraft issue, and it is amazing how the impact of noise changes with the weather, the direction of the wind, the time of day and the background noise. I did not go to the Arup laboratories, but I went to the laboratories in the roadshows, and they were surprisingly quiet. I can accept, if all the conditions are right, that is how it is, but we know from experience that it is often not like that. If you have to live with it day in, day out, you want to know what the worst case scenario is, not the best case. That is where we find ourselves at the moment.
Q337 Chair: Does that mean you do not accept Arup’s conclusions that the sound is not as significant as people feared?
Steve Rodrick: I think it depends on where you are, the time of day and so on. What Arup is trying to replicate probably is true for some of the time, but is not true all of the time. We would like to know what the worst case scenario is, not what they presented.
Professor Vickerman: Noise is the one environmental effect on which we have both the best technical evidence-complex though it is-and the best evaluation evidence. But it can always be improved. One of the things that is much more difficult is how you equate the steady rumble of the M40 with the peaks and troughs of a high speed train going through. That is a perceptional matter, but we can measure noise, while we cannot measure in quite the same way the landscape and heritage, and those sorts of things. Noise can be mitigated much more easily by technical advance. That is one area where we have shown we can get both the technical measurement and the economic evaluation pretty close together and have very good evaluations.
Ralph Smyth: I have been to the SoundLab. What was very interesting was the way that sound in urban areas, or sound from cars or planes, often smothered the sound from High Speed 2-or what it was supposed to sound like. However, the modelling has not gone very far in tranquil areas of the countryside, where even a small sound can be picked up. The same goes for urban areas in the evening or at night, when people are more sensitive. They might have bedroom windows open and be able to hear the noise of the train. That is when the noise impact will be particularly difficult. The problem is that High Speed 2 simply modelled the noise levels inside homes, rather than in people’s gardens or along footpaths in the countryside. That is really missing, and we need to know more about it.
Q338 Kwasi Kwarteng: I am slightly unsure as to whether this is a general objection or a specific objection to this particular route. I appreciate your concerns about the environment relating to this particular route, but is there any change to the route that you would be prepared to live with, or are you objecting to the whole idea in principle?
Ralph Smyth: The problem there, as I explained earlier, is that we have not had the detailed information about this route compared to alternatives. It is a key principle, whether for Treasury guidance, planning law or human rights law, that if you are going to go ahead with a decision, you need to structure your reasons and show why you have not considered alternatives.
Q339 Kwasi Kwarteng: My question is more general. You have said that you have objected to this route, and you have said that there have not been any alternative routes given to you. I accept that.
Ralph Smyth: There have been alternative routes, but only at a very, very high level of detail, and that is the problem.
Q340 Kwasi Kwarteng: Generally, is there a route out there, hypothetically, given where we are, that you would be happy with?
Ralph Smyth: We are not railway engineers, but we would like to see, for example, the M1 route considered. That is the only credible alternative that could follow a motorway in the same way that HS1 does, and therefore perhaps have a lower environmental impact but a very similar economic impact.
Q341 Kwasi Kwarteng: You are saying that, if that route were followed, that is something you might be prepared to go along with.
Ralph Smyth: To be able to come to a final decision on HS2-the preferred route-we would need to see other options, in particular an M1 route, in detail. At the moment, we do not feel we have the information to come to an evidencebased decision. We are evidence-based, rather than simply seeing HS2 as an article of faith or something that is intrinsically evil. We need the evidence to come to a decision.
Q342 Kwasi Kwarteng: How much more evidence do you need?
Ralph Smyth: We had a meeting with highlevel HS2 and DfT officials a few months ago. They promised to send us more information about the M1-route they looked at-and we are still waiting.
Kwasi Kwarteng: Thank you.
Q343 Mr Leech: Mr Baker, earlier on, mentioned the M40. I am interested to hear from Mr Smyth what the view of the Campaign to Protect Rural England was of the plans to build the M40 when they originally came out.
Ralph Smyth: Dame Fiona may know better than me, but as I understand it, CPRE objected to the particular alignment of the first stage of the M40-that is, up to Oxford. By the time it came to the second stage-Oxford to Birmingham-CPRE was not simply questioning the detailed design; it was questioning the actual principle of a further extension of the motorway network as opposed to, say, rail improvements. Perhaps I can be corrected.
Dame Fiona Reynolds: No. That expresses it very accurately.
Q344 Mr Leech: Mr Rodrick, if the Chilterns Conservation Board had been in existence when the M40 was built, what do you think the view of the board would have been?
Steve Rodrick: I think we would probably have objected on the grounds that it was a nationally protected area, and you have to show that the benefits outweigh the damage. I gather the M40 started not as a motorway but as a bypass to High Wycombe and grew by subterfuge, if you like.
Q345 Mr Leech: Would the panel, in general, suggest that the environmental effects of the M40 have been as bad as the concerns raised before it was built suggested, or has it not been as bad as you might have considered before it was built?
Steve Rodrick: To be honest, I do not think we can answer that, because we did not have a year zero. A lot of us were not there to make that comparison. I can say, for example, that not only does the M40 go through wonderful countryside, but, for those of you who know it, it goes through the deep cutting at Aston Rowant, which is a national nature reserve. You do not want to be doing that, no matter what the pressures are. We are a small country. We have some fantastic heritage. You are supposed to look after it, which is why Parliament designates all these things as nationally important. You have to come up with options that avoid that, so at least you can make that comparison. That is what we are saying with HS2. We are not given the choice. We are given the one route that carves through this nationally protected area. Let us look at what an alternative might have been, avoiding it.
If I might just finish the point, one of the difficulties has been that the specification of this route-that it should go up to 400 kph-meant that you are pretty much choosing straight lines. Therefore, you do not have the flexibility in the route planning you would have liked so you could come up with the choices we face today.
Q346 Mr Leech: I asked the question because, in one of your earlier comments, you mentioned local people not wanting a million lorry movements in their area. I am interested to know how much of the disbenefit is the actual disruption during the construction, rather than the longterm legacy of HS2 for the Chiltern areas.
Steve Rodrick: Those are two big issues. I think you are right to draw attention to the disruption during the construction phase, because I do not think that has been taken into account nearly enough. If this particular route is chosen, it will require an awful lot of excavation work, and you will have to move a lot of the materials, whether it is the construction materials themselves or the spoil that comes out, on local roads. It will not be moved on motorways. It is moved on the A road up the Misbourne Valley and, depending on where it goes, maybe even B and C-class roads. That is our worry. That is an enormous disruption. It is not the main reason why we are objecting, but I have to say we think the disruption itself is being understated. A reason for not supporting improvements to the West Coast Main Line, in part, was the disruption that might cause. It is certainly being referred to at Euston where, obviously, there will be a lot more platform construction work. Their disruptions are referred to, but not ours.
Q347 Steve Baker: Mr Rodrick, you mentioned the design speed. Could I ask the whole panel whether you know, or have considered, how much the design speed would have to be reduced by in order to make the route environmentally acceptable to you?
Ralph Smyth: It is worth saying that it is not only the design speed deciding the route but also the two stations-that is, the Old Oak Common station and the Birmingham Interchange station-deciding very much where the route goes. Yes, we are concerned about the design speed, but it is also station location. In particular, there has not been a wider discussion about whether there should be a station outside Birmingham in the green belt, which would mean it would have to go through a lot of lovely countryside in Warwickshire.
Q348 Steve Baker: Are you opposed to the station being at Old Oak Common, full stop?
Ralph Smyth: It is difficult to judge that one, because it so much depends on the wider national transport strategy, particularly because the Old Oak Common station could give real benefits to South Wales and the West Country by allowing an easy interchange on to the high speed rail network. We are opposed to the Birmingham Interchange station but support the town centre one.
Q349 Steve Baker: Would anyone else like to comment on the design speed and the location of stations?
Dame Fiona Reynolds: The only thing I would say is we are very aware that one of the reasons why there is such limited room for manoeuvre is the design speed. I could not say-I am not a technical person-what it would need be reduced to, but it does seem to be limiting the scope for environmental mitigation. Thus, we are reduced to expensive propositions such as tunnels, which obviously we would like to see, but it is all tied up with a mix of issues around both design speed and the extent to which multiple interests, as we have discussed earlier, can be satisfied.
Q350 Steve Baker: What would you say to those who argue that it only affects a narrow corridor?
Steve Rodrick: We are already seeing that the blight is going several miles away from it. Over time, no doubt, the impact will narrow down much closer to the fencetofence corridor, if you like, but certainly during the design phase-the fears that go with that and the fear of the unknown-we are talking miles, not just yards. When it comes to some aspects of wildlife, which is hardly getting mentioned at all-this is an area where, for example, herds of deer move across and mammals-that is a great disruption. It is not getting an airing at all. It has been described to me as a Berlin Wall for wildlife, which it is, plainly. If you put a fence up along a railway and dig a deep trench, wildlife does not move around. It has a much bigger impact than we are talking about. On some days the noise will go miles. As you know, with the M40, you can hear it five or six miles away.
Q351 Steve Baker: Finally, with all of that in mind, to what extent were you reassured by the extra mitigation the Government built into the London to Birmingham section before the public consultation?
Steve Rodrick: Do you mean the deeper cuttings?
Q352 Steve Baker: Yes, and so on.
Steve Rodrick: Deeper cuttings certainly help but have the downside of creating more spoil to get rid of. If you cannot see it, you cannot hear it, and you do not know it is there, then that is a better railway from our point of view. We are concerned about some of the noise barriers and bunds that are talked about. These are not attractive features, and in an AONB you do not expect to have ugly features. There has to be a different way of dealing with it.
Q353 Iain Stewart: I would like to ask a devil’s advocate question. If High Speed 2 did not happen, and the country did need additional transport capacity from London to the Midlands and the north, and it is not High Speed 2, what would you build instead? Would it be another motorway or more aircraft?
Steve Rodrick: I am not a railway engineer, but I am well aware that there are proposals talked about-Rail Package 2 plus, for example. I have to say, an element of the debate which I do not think has been covered enough is whether or not it is the right thing to encourage travel at all costs at all times. We know the Government, for example, have a policy on reducing the need to travel, thus video conferencing. We are all in that game now of trying to reduce costs and trying to reduce carbon. That idea of reducing the need to travel is not much talked about, and surely that would have an impact on demand forecasts in a way that has not been built in yet. I cannot design a railway or a transport system, but it seems to me, certainly from reading what others have come up with-not least, Sir Rod Eddington-that there are lots of other things which should be done first to get things moving. Transport, in itself, is not the end; it is what it achieves, after all.
Q354 Chair: Does anyone else have any views on alternatives to High Speed 2, apart from not travelling as much?
Professor Vickerman: That, clearly, is part of it. Of course, it is not only people who travel; it is also goods, and it is about making sure the capacity is there. What it comes back to is this idea that we are looking at projects on a projectbyproject basis and not looking at things in terms of the total transport needs of the country as a whole, and, I would say, from the point of view of the economy as a whole. It may well be that in some cases more high speed rail is relevant and in other cases more roads are relevant. In other cases, it may well be a reshifting of where the hub airports are, and that is all taken together. That is where one needs that strategic view of the question one is trying to resolve. The danger is that we have these debates around single bits-even single bits of bigger projects-rather than trying to think about it as a whole.
Q355 Chair: You think we are not in the position where we have that strategic view.
Professor Vickerman: I do not think we have that as yet. One advantage one can learn from the way other countries do this is that they do try and have a strategic transport plan. I am not saying they always follow it to the last letter, but at least you have a vision as to where bits fit together, so people can see where the tradeoffs are taking place. Everything, as we have heard this morning, is clearly a tradeoff somewhere. What I would like to see is that we are able to measure those tradeoffs in a single metric, so that we can genuinely provide a better overall answer. It will not remove all objections, though.
Q356 Chair: Mr Smyth, you want to comment on something.
Ralph Smyth: Yes, quickly, about the common metric point. I do not think that is possible. We have tried money, and one of the Department for Transport’s less well-known studies tried to cost the value on the Chilterns of a fictional high speed rail line. The answer was £14.32 per household as the socalled landscape value, based on a "willingness to pay" methodology. We have to be transparent that we cannot reduce everything down to a common metric.
In terms of capacity, a lot of the opponents of High Speed 2 have said they can get capacity by other means. They are simply talking about seats on longdistance services. If you want to go from, say, Milton Keynes to Rugby, extra seats on a train going from London to Glasgow that does not stop until you get past Birmingham is not much help. That is why we think the really important part of the debate is about the local train services that could be improved if space on the lines was freed up by taking the very high frequency high speed trains off them.
In terms of reducing the need to travel, yes, there is a point there, but the big issue is to try to shift some travel from road to rail. Even if you reduce the total amount of travel overall, we would hope and expect to see a big increase in rail if we are going to meet our carbon reduction targets.
Q357 Julie Hilling: Mr Smyth, you have touched on a point I wanted to ask the panel as well. Apart from increasing carriages on the longdistance trains, there is a view being put forward, certainly by Network Rail, to say that part of the west coast is virtually at capacity. It will not be that people cannot travel from Manchester to London, but that people cannot travel from Milton Keynes to London, or Northampton to London. What is the view of other members of the panel on the need for that shortdistance travel as well-people commuting into London?
Steve Rodrick: Certainly Sir Rod Eddington identified that the priority should be to get people moving in and around major cities. It is the commuting journey-the journey to work-that is the priority. It is an area where we are seeing great changes. We are seeing more flexible work patterns. We are seeing people working from home. We are seeing people using IT a lot more. Over time, certainly over the time period of this railway, that should have a big impact on those traveltowork patterns.
Sir Roy McNulty put it this way. If you find yourself in a position like this, one of the objectives you should have as managers is to balance demand and supply and try and get the best out of your current supply. At the moment, that is not happening. He was very clear that there are some perversities from the market system, where you end up with some peak trains full to standing point and others empty. There is a long way to go in balancing out those peaks. If you overlay that with some of the different work patterns and traveltowork patterns that we are seeing, you can get a lot more out of what we have.
Q358 Julie Hilling: You do not think we have to build anything at all.
Steve Rodrick: I am not saying we do not have to build new railways-maybe in the fullness of time-but I am saying HS2 is not one that, personally, I am convinced is necessary.
Professor Vickerman: Could I reiterate the point about it not only being about passengers, but about freight? It is very important to ensure that there is freight capacity on the existing network, and by taking some of the longdistance passengers away from it, you improve that situation. But I would certainly agree with the view that local rail services are also important, in thinking about it as a network as a whole and trying to ensure that people get out of their cars in accessing that. The danger is when you start getting these more flexible working patterns and all sorts of things like that. Unfortunately, the evidence so far is that it increases people’s propensity to travel, if you take passenger kilometres into account, not reduces it.
Chair: Mr Baker, you can have the last question in this session.
Q359 Steve Baker: It is about economics, of course. Professor Vickerman, could you explain the disparity between the claims that have been made by the Government, business organisations and local authorities in the midlands, north and Scotland-claims that HS2 will be good for their economies-with the evidence we have heard from academics and others? Can you explain the disparity, because the academics are telling us that they are unsubstantiated claims?
Professor Vickerman: I think most of them are unsubstantiated claims. Obviously, if you feel that something is going to do good for you, you big it up. We saw that with HS1 in Kent as well, as to all the effects it was going to have. I have to say, they are not visible to the naked eye. Yes, of course, it is about creating a view whereby people are going to invest in an area because it is going to be better connected. There is something psychological about that which is very important, and so you will get that. The danger is that you finish up with everybody running after the same jobs, and there is a real concern about this. That is why we need to make sure, if there is a displacement of jobs going on, where those jobs are coming from. They are not all going to be net new jobs. Some of them are going to be displaced jobs. It is very important we look at the net jobs effect, but also at where those jobs are going to be. That becomes a strategic decision for the Government as to whether they are going to be prepared to lose jobs in one area in order to see jobs gained in another area.
Dame Fiona Reynolds: Could I come in on the critical relationship between these arguments and the environmental proposition again?
Q360 Chair: Could you tell us, too, if there are any circumstances in which the National Trust would withdraw its objection to High Speed 2?
Dame Fiona Reynolds: Yes, indeed. I will come to that, of course. The point I would make rather goes back to the points about the M40. The A14 was another very controversial major road intrusion, as was the M3-we all remember St Catherine’s Hill and Swampy. We learned from those very controversial transport road investments-they were still built-how to design roads in a much more sensitive way in relation to environmental and other factors. What is interesting here is that we are almost repeating some of those arguments about the straight line through the protected area that we thought, in a way, transport policy had gone beyond over the last 20 years. It is important that we see the bigger picture around jobs, economics and environment as a means of trying to integrate and reconcile those tensions, rather than it having to be a kind of business proposition and then running round trying to mitigate and moderate some of the environmental impacts.
There are definitely circumstances in which high speed rail could be put in, I am convinced, and would be acceptable environmentally. We have all said that in principle it is not something we oppose, but it means starting to think about the environment from the outset, not as an endofpipe reaction as the route goes through. The National Trust is currently objecting, as I said, on two grounds. One is the Chilterns and the other is Hartwell House. For us, the real issue will be about whether the mitigation proposed-and we are still in dialogue-is sufficient. In the case of Hartwell House, a bored tunnel would be our aspiration, which would also help the people of Aylesbury. It is not only about our interests; it would be very much welcomed by the local people. We have not yet had a conclusion of those discussions, so I cannot speculate on where that may go.
Chair: Thank you very much to all of you for coming and answering our questions.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Niall Duffy, Head of PR and Public Affairs, Flybe, Allan Gregory, Surface Access Director, Heathrow Airport Ltd, Jonathan Young, Programme Director, Group Strategy, Manchester Airports Group, and Steven Costello, Director Heathrow Hub Ltd, gave evidence.
Q361 Chair: Good morning, gentlemen, and welcome to the Transport Select Committee. Could you please identify yourselves with your name and the organisation you represent? This is for our records.
Jonathan Young: I am Jonathan Young, Manchester Airports Group.
Niall Duffy: I am Niall Duffy from Flybe.
Allan Gregory: I am Allan Gregory, Surface Access Director, Heathrow Airport Limited.
Steven Costello: I am Steven Costello, Director of Heathrow Hub Limited.
Q362 Chair: Could each of you give us a brief summary of your views in relation to High Speed 2 and where you stand on it?
Jonathan Young: We are broadly supportive of High Speed 2. Our support primarily related to two areas: first, concern about serious capacity shortfalls in the medium term on the existing network and the additional capacity high speed rail will bring to that and, secondly, support around the rebalancing of the economy and bringing the northern economy closer to the economic mass of the southeast.
Niall Duffy: We are all in the business of looking for improved infrastructure and better transport links, so Flybe recognises the fact that high speed rail could indeed bring a social and economic value to the nation. In terms of the economic value, there are certain weaknesses, particularly given the fact that we all provide our own infrastructure costs and we all pay for our own capital costs. Our fear, as the biggest domestic airline, is that the economic benefit may not be enough to justify tens of billions of pounds being pointed at the southeast, in terms of the impact on the rest of country.
Allan Gregory: From our perspective, globalisation is changing our world and economic growth is increasingly dependent on international connectivity. There are three strategic benefits that we see with high speed rail if there are direct connections to Heathrow. The first is to reconnect the UK regions to Heathrow and the global links that we can offer, and that connection is not good at the moment. The second is the potential to reduce carbon emissions by replacing shorthaul flights with high speed rail. The third one is that it can contribute to taking cars off the road, in terms of road congestion and access to Heathrow.
However, there are three key issues to achieving that. The first, as earlier witnesses said, is a real need for a joinedup transport system-air, road and rail. We do not see those in competition. The second is that, in terms of Europe, we believe we are already behind. Other European hub airports all have high speed rail connections right through the airport. We see that they set the current benchmark for air-rail integration-although an earlier witness said we should not copy exactly. The third point is that we see high speed rail as complementary to the hub airport but, to be clear, it is not a substitute for the additional hub capacity we think the UK needs.
Steven Costello: Our support starts from a little higher up the policy tree, which is initially with the very welcome political consensus that has emerged. That is a real credit to our politicians. Credit is also due to HS2 Ltd and DfT for moving us a very long way in a very short space of time. Having said that, interestingly, the previous witness from the National Trust referred to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and we think that, in many ways, we have been here before.
The first proposal, the British Rail alignment from the Channel Tunnel portal to London, was not quite right. It was a good first shot, but often the first thing that you draw, or the first thing you propose, is not quite there. It throws up a lot of issues which then need another iteration. With a particular view to the session today, we think the focus should be on an integrated transport solution. HS2 Ltd’s remit was very narrow. It was simply a pointtopoint railway from London to Birmingham, and the ability to go north with the Old Oak Common station actually preconceived in the then Secretary of State’s instructions to HS2 Ltd.
Bearing in mind this is an aviation session, we would argue that the missing piece of the jigsaw here is Heathrow, and this is not arguing for some narrow special interest. Heathrow is the UK’s hub airport. It is not London’s airport. Mr Maynard’s paper on UK aviation is very helpful in emphasising this. The Treasury, a few years ago, ranked Heathrow up there with the English language, the UK’s time zone and the English legal system as one of the four key national economic assets that we have. We ignore that at our peril. It seems incredible, frankly, when we talk to our colleagues in Europe, both on the rail and aviation side, that we should choose, with HS2, to ignore it when there are no compelling reasons to do so.
Q363 Chair: Thank you. I just wanted to get a general view at this stage on where you stood. What would the impact of High Speed 2 be on air travel in the UK? Would it increase air travel? Would there be a modal shift from planes to rail? What would the impact be?
Allan Gregory: If I can speak, first of all, from Heathrow’s perspective as a hub airport, currently we have no internal flights in the UK from Birmingham, so for phase 1 there would be no change in terms of domestic aviation with regard to Heathrow Airport. In phase 2, as currently envisaged by Government, we do not have any internal flights from Leeds, but in terms of Manchester, to give you a flavour, there are about 9,000 flights that come from Manchester to Heathrow. In fact, 80% of those are hubbing and they go on to longhaul distances. To give you a feel for quantification, that is about 2% of our overall flights.
In terms of the UK, from the hub airport perspective, the real significant change in aviation would be that many flights-we believe there are about 35,000 to 48,000 flights in the north-currently fly to our European competitors, and high speed rail could replace them and keep the economic benefits within the UK. That relies on connections to the north, and indeed that be would enhanced if there were further connections to Scotland. Therefore, it is about connecting the north to Heathrow via high speed rail, which would replace shorthaul flights to the European hub airports.
Q364 Chair: Do you think that effect would take place under phase 1, or would it need phase 2?
Allan Gregory: No, we think there would be no effect in phase 1 if it just goes to Birmingham.
Jonathan Young: From the Manchester side we agree, in terms of abstraction from air to rail; that has already happened, in part, in recent times with the opening or the completion of the upgrade of the west coast route modernisation and the impact of the APD. The people who are currently travelling to Heathrow by plane are, as Allan said, connecting to onward flights. However, we also take another view, in that one of the benefits, when high speed rail comes to Manchester, is that it will improve our own connectivity. Where we would see some value is in improving our catchments, particularly to the north and the midlands. It would help develop our existing longhaul network and start to beef up the traffic on some of our thinner routes. Therefore, we do not see it as a threat in that respect in any shape. As was pointed out earlier, less than 50% of our domestic traffic is around London. About 54% is going to other points, including Belfast and the southwest, where there are no benefits from high speed rail at all.
Q365 Chair: Again, would there be an impact from phase 1, or would you be waiting for phase 2?
Jonathan Young: One of our concerns is the fact that phase 2 does not, on the current timetable, come to Manchester for nearly quarter of a century, so phase 1 would not impact on us in that regard, other than in terms of one of the objectives-narrowing the competitive gap between the north and south. It is just a delay to the benefits coming to the north.
Niall Duffy: Perhaps I can give you a bit of context before I answer the question. We fly from 38 UK airports, right from Sumburgh at the very top down to Newquay at the bottom. We operate four times as many domestic services as any other airline and our business model is slightly different. We do not fly into Heathrow. We could not afford to land at Heathrow. Looking at the current configuration of the planned Y, it will have no impact whatsoever. We will still be flying from Manchester to Southampton, we will still be offering services from Exeter to Belfast and we will still be offering services to a number of your colleagues, whom we fly to work every week, because we fly to London from places that high speed rail will not touch. Thus, from our domestic aviation perspective, it is going to have very little impact.
Steven Costello: With permission, may I slightly expand your question?
Q366 Chair: I would like an answer to this one, but there are other questions that other Members will put.
Steven Costello: One of the key issues with high speed rail that we very much agree with is the idea of rebalancing the UK economy. I come from Tyneside and my whole memory and my family’s memory-
Q367 Chair: How would this affect aviation? That is this question.
Steven Costello: It is not simply a question of taking existing routes that serve corridors which HS2 might serve. A very key benefit to the UK could be improving access from the regions to the UK’s hub airport. That consistently shows in surveys as being one of the key drags on regional economic competitiveness. Certainly the Chambers of Commerce and the SINEI (Surface Infrastructure of National Economic Importance) study a few years ago showed this. Therefore, we do think it is a slightly wider issue than simply which flights from current airports would move to rail.
Q368 Steve Baker: To what extent do you accept the need for the Government to drive people away from air travel and towards rail travel?
Niall Duffy: I am happy to start. A few years ago, before a lot of the investment was made by airlines like ourselves and other carriers, there was a genuine case for that, but we fly the right aircraft on the right sector. You will not find Flybe trying to cram 150 people on a onehour flight. Rather, our business model is that we fly one of the youngest fleets in the world, partly manufactured in Belfast, and we fly people on those regular, highfrequency services-from Inverness to London, from Belfast to Manchester and from Birmingham to Glasgow-that are not offered by the train operators. We are based in Exeter, and I came up yesterday by train because there is no point competing with that. As to the market, the fact is that people are simply too time-conscious to worry about whether to take a chance on getting their connection at Birmingham New Street or whether it a better bet for them is to fly from Manchester to Newquay. Those things have been assisted by the Government, but essentially, the timeconscious traveller wants high frequency, and they want it quick. Since fuel is so expensive, we have reaped the benefit of investing in loweremitting, lowercarbon and lowerfuelburn aircraft.
Q369 Steve Baker: Does anyone else want to comment on this need to drive modal shift?
Jonathan Young: The way we have looked at modal shift is not around driving people out of aviation, but in fact the increased connectivity of High Speed 2, along with the other infrastructure out there, in terms of the existing rail network, would, we hope, start modal shift in people accessing the airport. 60% of our emissions are from people accessing the airport. That is the area of focus for Manchester Airport.
Steven Costello: I have three points. One is that putting Heathrow, for instance, and Manchester on the direct HS2 alignment in the right way-connecting them properly-would help HS2’s business case, which is one of the key issues that objectors have latched on to. The second is that expanding airports’ catchment gets the most appropriate mode for the most appropriate journey. Certainly, in the case of Heathrow and Manchester, it would help strengthen those airports’ competitive positions in a very competitive global market. Airlines have very mobile assets. They can move them anywhere in the world. Third is this slightly wider perspective of shorthaul flights to Europe. One way in which Heathrow could potentially gain some capacity but also, most importantly perhaps, some resilience, is if some shorthaul flights, that are well within the threehour to fourhour window that high speed rail can capture, could transfer to rail. Then I think there is a winwin. It is an integrated solution.
Allan Gregory: Can I add to that? There are three dimensions to this, in terms of how people travel. The first dimension is obviously intercontinental, travelling round the world; the second one is within the continent, either in Europe or the UK; and, thirdly, within the major cities. The challenge for us in each of those dimensions is an optimised carbon solution. Therefore, we have to look at all the respective modes and make sure that we have the optimised solution using all the modes at our disposal. It is interesting that there has been a recent European Transport White Paper released which called for the core airports in Europe to be connected to the rail networks, including high speed rail, by 2050. That recognises high speed rail has a key part to play within the continent, feeding the hub airports that release those longhaul flights which are needed to access the globe.
Q370 Steve Baker: Can I put it to you, though, if I have heard Mr Duffy correctly, that he seems to be suggesting, on certain routes, air actually is the carbonoptimised solution?
Niall Duffy: It certainly can be. A study by Southampton University looked at our particular aircraft, which is a turboprop and therefore uses a lot less fuel, and compared it to cars, trains and also coaches. It surprised a few people that our full aircraft was better than the car and the coach. It is not quite as good as the train, but that is why we will not compete with the train on particular given journeys. The market has driven that, partly because of fuel.
Q371 Steve Baker: Would you say that London to Manchester and Leeds was such a journey you would not wish to compete with?
Niall Duffy: We tried Gatwick to Leeds. For two or three reasons-it was partly down to landing costs at Gatwick, but also partly because we just could not compete with the train-we did not continue. We are, as colleagues have said, the best example of integrated transport with places like Gatwick and Southampton in particular. Southampton is fantastic in terms of a genuine hub that works. For that reason-we do a lot of postcode analysis-we are already seeing people from Surrey, Kent, Sussex and even from southwest London choosing to get on the train at Waterloo and come down to Southampton, rather than have to worry about going through a less pleasant experience at some of the bigger airports in the southeast.
Steve Baker: Thank you very much.
Q372 Paul Maynard: I hope my first question is relatively simple. Do any of the panel think it possible accurately to predict the aviation market in 2032?
Chair: Who wants to answer that one?
Niall Duffy: No.
Jonathan Young: No.
Steven Costello: No.
Allan Gregory: No.
Paul Maynard: That is a universal "no". Thank you. That proves my point.
Chair: It is a unanimous "no".
Q373 Paul Maynard: The second question is this. The Northern Way-the late, lamented Northern Way-put a lot of effort into evaluating the differential merits of airport parkways and city centre termini for high speed rail, and reached a conclusion that there were more agglomeration benefits to be had if high speed rail were to terminate in a city centre location. Given that you all represent air interests, what is your perspective on that argument? Would you counter it in any way? What are your views on why you should have a parkway station at an airport, if that is what you do argue? Maybe Mr Costello can start. He is champing at the bit.
Steven Costello: It is very difficult for your Committee, because you have been faced with wildly opposing claims, apparently based on evidence. In this case, we are very fortunate that we have real examples. If we look to Europe, not just in terms of the policy to which Allan referred, but real examples, you can see that it is both. High speed rail must serve city centres, subject to the right onward connectivity, but we need to start thinking of major transport nodes as pearls on that necklace. Frankfurt Airport is extremely successful, even though the distance from the city centre is comparable to Heathrow’s distance from the city centre.
We must not forget that Heathrow is the UK’s single largest traffic generator, and it is forecast to grow, despite Government’s very worthy objective of "better, not bigger". It is due to grow 40% simply through organic growth. We should count ourselves very fortunate in that. It is a key asset. I would hope that the right connection to Manchester and other airports could similarly help those to grow, too. I do not think it is an either/or case. I do not like the term "parkway", simply because it suggests a reliance on road connectivity. The wider benefits of a Heathrow interchange were not properly considered by DfT and HS2 Ltd. It is not only a connection between high speed rail and Heathrow airport.
It is interesting to wind back to the political consensus that existed at the time of the Government announcing that HS2 Ltd had been formed, which was very deliberate: a fourway direct connection between Heathrow, the Great Western Main Line, Crossrail and Heathrow. I do not know whether you saw The Sunday Times on Sunday, but what seems to be happening now is that, rather than an integrated solution, as Professor Vickerman alluded to earlier, the silo thinking which is embedded in our transport planning means that we have HS2 bypassing Heathrow, then we are bolting on a spur and now, most recently in Sunday’s newspaper, this idea of a new western connection being bolted on again, at the cost of another half a billion pounds, to try to get connectivity between Heathrow and the Great Western Railway. I am sorry I have diverged from your question, but there is a very strong argument, certainly in the case of Manchester and Heathrow, for direct connection between rail, including classic rail, and the airport.
Q374 Paul Maynard: Do you have a Manchester view?
Jonathan Young: Yes. Taking the airport specifically, the Manchester view is that there is a demand for both, in terms of the opportunity to serve a broader catchment and picking up Merseyside and Cheshire. Also, we have recently been awarded-or Manchester airport has-enterprise zone status. Having a station at the airport would add value to that particular development. We also recognise the broader needs of the north and the connectivity you get through Manchester city centre station.
Q375 Paul Maynard: Do you think it unhelpful if Government seek to portray the options at termini as either/or-either you have an airport terminus or a city centre terminus?
Jonathan Young: I would say, specifically talking about Manchester, I can see the value in having both, and the benefits for High Speed 2 in having both.
Allan Gregory: May I add one point? As TfL mentioned in earlier evidence, London is facing a considerable challenge in any case, in terms of congestion within London. The way that the UK railway system has developed is that a number of passengers have to come into London to get a connecting rail service out of London to somewhere else. They do not want to be in London; that is not the purpose of the journey. However, with the way the railway system has evolved, that is what they are forced to do. Strategic interchanges around the capital, whether it is Heathrow or elsewhere, provide the opportunity for people to avoid adding to the problem of London congestion by giving them a choice of a different route. In terms of the interchange, that is a possibility.
Q376 Iain Stewart: We have talked so far primarily about the relationship between domestic UK air travel and high speed rail. If High Speed 2 was connected to Heathrow and High Speed 1, I would be interested in your views on the potential to achieve a modal shift in air transport from the midlands and Heathrow to the near continent-to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, for example. As you see it, with the current plans, is that going to be credible?
Allan Gregory: From a Heathrow perspective, we are in competition with the other European hubs. We see those as Heathrow’s competition and, in terms of where passengers select to go, and use their journey to go around the world, it is really about the service offering. What is the best proposition? If the best journey being offered for people in the north, shall we say, is to go via Frankfurt or Amsterdam, they would do so. The challenge for us, in the UK, is to offer a better alternative that has both economic and environmental benefits by going through the UK hub. We would see ourselves in competition with the other European hubs, rather than complementing them.
Q377 Iain Stewart: If someone wanted to travel from Birmingham to Paris, for example, if they built High Speed 2 to connect to High Speed 1-the channel tunnel-is that going to be a viable alternative, or is it going to be too long a journey? The Government are currently planning to expend quite a lot of money on building the link to High Speed 1, and I am trying to get a sense of whether that is going to be a white elephant.
Niall Duffy: Passengers are a pretty savvy bunch and they know and work out quite quickly the most efficient way to use their limited time. An example of that is when the-
Chair: Could you give as brief answers as you can, please?
Niall Duffy: A specific example is when the Eurostar terminal transferred from Waterloo to King’s Cross St Pancras. We noticed that passengers south of the river were not prepared to add that extra 20, 25 or 30 minutes’ journey time going to Europe. We noticed our Southampton services to Paris and to Amsterdam going up, because they had done that calculation. I do not know the answer to your question, but the passenger will work it out pretty quickly. It seems to me a big gamble to spend that money on the chance that they might go from Birmingham through to Paris, because there are plenty of examples to show that they will work out the quickest way themselves.
Steven Costello: May I add something which I hope is helpful? It is very difficult, in the way that HS2 Ltd has currently approached the proposal, to be definitive. In a way, it reflects the fact that HS2 Ltd had no aviation representative on the strategic challenge panel or any of the other challenge groups, so it is very much approached from a rail perspective. Certainly, from aviation’s point of view, it is the worst of all possible worlds at the moment, simply because a line from Birmingham, bypassing Heathrow, through central London to HS1 and Europe would be, in aviation terms, a thin route. There would not be enough traffic from point to point to sustain services at a frequency that is going to generate modal shift. If, however, you have seamless connectivity-and, hopefully, there is consensus here on this-and you could go from Birmingham to Heathrow, London and on to Europe, then each of those services is doing more than one job. There is a risk to UK aviation as well in the way that the proposals are currently envisaged, in that the spur appears only to have a northfacing chord. You could get from Birmingham in the north to Heathrow, but there is no way, until a loop is eventually constructed, of getting rail services from Heathrow to Europe. Therefore, there is a danger that that places Charles de Gaulle or Schiphol at a competitive advantage.
Q378 Chair: How should it be done?
Steven Costello: The argument is that each node should be one of these pearls on a necklace. Therefore, as in Germany and France, an airport is an interchange directly located on the through line, but with high speed through lines so that not every train needs to stop. As soon as you start getting into branch lines or spurs, you start to lose that seamlessness and the ability to generate modal shift.
Q379 Mr Leech: Mr Young, I know that Manchester airport is keen to expand its longhaul flights. Is there a danger, if it is a lot quicker to get from Manchester to London, that there is a disadvantage for Manchester airport, because there will be more of an incentive for people to get on high speed rail to get to Heathrow?
Jonathan Young: I am sorry, I missed part of that. There was a bit of noise.
Q380 Mr Leech: I know that Manchester airport is keen to expand its longhaul routes. Is there a danger, if Manchester is closer by rail to London than it is currently, that we increase the likelihood of longhaul flights staying at Heathrow?
Jonathan Young: There would always be a risk of that, but what we will be looking at is not only the London market and Heathrow. It is about improving the connectivity to the north of Manchester and into the midlands, trying to attract traffic from there on to our longhaul network. There will always be a risk, but Manchester airport’s role will be to respond to that and to look at high speed rail as an opportunity rather than a threat. As we said, it is quite a long way off before it comes, so there is an opportunity for us to do something about that.
Q381 Mr Leech: Would you agree that the risk is reduced if there is a direct link to Manchester airport?
Jonathan Young: The risk is significantly reduced if there is a direct and good-quality link to Manchester airport-there are good connections into the airport itself-yes.
Q382 Mr Leech: Finally, with the Manchester section of high speed rail being so far in the future, is there a danger that you lose a competitive advantage with Birmingham?
Jonathan Young: There is very much a risk in that intervening period between the completion of High Speed 2 phase 1 and then the phase 2 north. That is why I said, earlier, we very much advocate looking at the acceleration of the programme overall, but also at the acceleration of the section from Birmingham to Manchester.
Q383 Mr Leech: Finally, in terms of the general issues surrounding high speed rail, if there are direct airport links to the areas that high speed rail goes to, what competitive advantage does it give to those specific airports and what disadvantage is there to those airports that will not be covered in those regions by high speed rail?
Jonathan Young: I am sorry, I did not understand the question.
Q384 Mr Leech: For instance, if there is a direct link to Manchester airport but not Liverpool airport, which is a direct competitor with Manchester, how much of an advantage would Manchester be at in comparison to Liverpool as a result of having that high speed link?
Chair: Do you want to answer that for Manchester Airports Group?
Jonathan Young: No, I do not actually.
Chair: We will excuse you from that one then.
Q385 Jim Dobbin: I want to ask a question on the back of both John’s and Paul’s questions here, and it applies to both Heathrow and Manchester. You have both talked about the perceived benefits of having a link from high speed rail into the airports. Would your airports be prepared to support it by offering some finance?
Jonathan Young: Notwithstanding the benefits, I would like to point out that High Speed 2 also benefits from the previous investment the airport has made in infrastructure, in terms of investment in the station, recently in Metrolink and the M56 and local road widening that we are committed to as part of our Runway 2 commitments. We have already invested £160 million circa-
Q386 Chair: Following that principle, would you be ready to help to pay for High Speed 2?
Jonathan Young: I would suggest, at this stage, we would feel we have already invested significantly. Where we would be prepared to support-and we have done successfully in the past-depending on the location of a station at Manchester airport, would be in the application for TENs funding.
Q387 Chair: You would make a contribution yourself as well.
Jonathan Young: Through any TENs funding grant we were successful in securing.
Q388 Chair: Through the TENs funding, okay. What about Heathrow?
Allan Gregory: In terms of the benefits, as we have mentioned earlier, they are national strategic benefits. Positioning Heathrow in a capacityconstrained environment, there is, to be clear, a limited commercial case for a contribution from Heathrow. However, there has already been a significant contribution in terms of, although it is not visible, Terminal 5-
Q389 Chair: Would you pay towards High Speed 2?
Allan Gregory: In terms of us being a regulated airport, we would have to have consultation with the airlines. The decision would be by the regulator, which is the CAA. In answer to your question, we see a limited commercial case for any private investment.
Q390 Chair: So that means yes.
Allan Gregory: There would be a limited case-
Chair: So that means yes. I think that means yes.
Q391 Kwasi Kwarteng: I noticed that some of my colleagues were asking very regionallyspecific questions. In this vein, I would like to do the same. I represent a seat in the southeast that is very close to Heathrow. Do any of you think that high speed rail offers an alternative to airport expansion in the southeast, and particularly at Heathrow?
Allan Gregory: In terms of Heathrow, high speed really would not release a significant number of slots. In terms of flights from Manchester, which we mentioned, it could release about 2% of the existing slots. Obviously any release is better than none at all, but in addressing the capacity issue, we do not see high speed rail as a solution to that, in terms of Heathrow.
Steven Costello: With permission, may I go back to the previous question? There is perhaps one element that is missing.
Q392 Chair: No. We have moved on from that. Can you answer this one?
Kwasi Kwarteng: I have asked a very specific question and I would like to hear the panel’s view on that.
Steven Costello: If Heathrow, for instance, was seamlessly connected to the European high speed rail network, there would be potential for shorthaul European flights to transfer to rail. Obviously that is something the Government have no levers or control over, but as we have seen with Paris and Brussels, the market could well decide. However, it would rely on seamless connections, so that you feel as though you are making an airtoair connection at Heathrow, for that to work. It would not work going on another train to Old Oak Common, and it would not work if there was a very infrequent service via a spur, for instance.
Niall Duffy: I am happy to answer the question. The industry is already finding a way round the fact that there is less capacity than we would like in the southeast. We are already in a codeshare partnership with Air France and we are in effect creating a virtual hub for UK passengers in Paris. Whether that is good or not for UK plc is entirely another debate. The industry has already responded to that. We have made that decision. We are flying more to Amsterdam and to Paris and, with those codeshare links, literally just yesterday we had our first flight from Inverness to Amsterdam. We are already taking those decisions and getting on with it.
Kwasi Kwarteng: Thank you for giving a very definitive answer to what I thought was a simple question.
Q393 Julie Hilling: If you are talking about having airports as pearls on the chain, you are presumably talking about a different route for the route from London to Birmingham particularly and, potentially, the other bit.
Steven Costello: Yes.
Q394 Julie Hilling: What is the consequence of that alternative route?
Steven Costello: It is cheaper. It is cheaper even using the Government’s figures. However, the Government’s figures do not seem to take into account, first of all, the environmental disbenefits of the current route and, secondly and more specifically, the need still to bolt on a western connection to get classic rail access into Heathrow. That is not a cheap thing to do. It also does not take into account the fact that when we started the Heathrow hub project about five years ago, long before Government was really engaged with the idea of high speed rail, it was simply as a privatesector project. I am not here to promote any narrow commercial interests as that would obviously be inappropriate, but something that is missing from the HS2 debate is the way in which privatesector investment can be leveraged. There are plenty of examples starting to emerge. Southend airport, for instance, is an entirely-
Chair: I am sorry, Mr Costello, we need not go into the detail.
Steven Costello: The other benefit of going via Heathrow is time. HS2 has suggested there is a threeminute time penalty in going via Heathrow, which we would argue with. However, because a direct Heathrow station would allow trains to go through at line speed, rather than being forced to stop at a remote interchange like Old Oak Common, it would be quicker between London and the north on a route via Heathrow. Therefore, there is a package of benefits. When you add in the monetised benefits that people like British Airways have suggested in connecting the UK’s regions to the UK’s hub, it does become, to our mind, quite an overwhelming business case.
Q395 Julie Hilling: In terms, then, of areas of outstanding natural beauty, in terms of the National Trust-the mansions that it would go through, palaces and all the rest of that stuff-has there been an assessment of how that route would have to change through those bits? Am I right in assuming that it would change significantly?
Steven Costello: It would. We have looked at broad corridors and it would open up more options, including the options of paralleling existing motorway corridors or other ways. I hesitate to give any detail simply because you do not want to be seen as introducing blight. The other issue, in terms of environmental impact, which has been raised by the Mayor, is the impact on northwest London from the existing route. A surface high speed route through London’s suburbs.... and a route via Heathrow would simply extend the existing tunnel that is already proposed from Euston to Old Oak Common and keep going a bit further. We do not see any overwhelming disbenefits of a route via Heathrow, but we do see what seem to us to be quite overwhelming benefits.
Q396 Kwasi Kwarteng: I want to ask a Heathrowspecific question. If HS2 does lead to a reduction in UK flights to Heathrow, how will these slots be reallocated?
Allan Gregory: In terms of the control of the slots, that is at the airlines’ commercial discretion. It would not be under BAA’s control, but I think Government do have an option, in terms of protected routes, to specify some. Our view would be that the small number of slots that would be released-about 2%-would be taken up very quickly, and certainly by 2020.
Chair: Thank you very much, gentlemen, for coming and answering our questions.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Garry Clark, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Housing and Transport, the Scottish Government, Tony Page, Campaign Co-ordinator, West Coast Rail 250, and Mark Barry, Advisor on Transport and the Economy, Cardiff Business Partnership, gave evidence.
Q397 Chair: Good morning, gentlemen, and welcome to the Transport Select Committee. Could we start, please, by you identifying yourselves, giving your name and the organisation you represent? This is for our records.
Tony Page: I am Tony Page, Campaign Coordinator for the West Coast Rail 250 Campaign.
Garry Clark: I am Garry Clark, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
Keith Brown: I am Keith Brown, Minister for Housing and Transport from the Scottish Government.
Mark Barry: I am Mark Barry, representing the Cardiff Business Partnership in respect of transport and the economy.
Q398 Chair: Could you briefly tell us your approach to High Speed 2, and what your views are, to start with? Who would like to begin?
Mark Barry: If I may, Cardiff Business Partnership is broadly supportive of investment in transport infrastructure as a means of enabling economic growth, rail included. However, we are concerned that High Speed 2 is very much focused on a corridor from London to the midlands and to Scotland and completely ignores those significant numbers of people living in Wales and southwest England. The only data we have seen to examine the economic impact on that part of the country shows quite a big deficit, or impact in a negative way, from high speed rail.
Q399 Chair: Thank you. Minister, would you tell us your views?
Keith Brown: From the Scottish Government’s position, we are very supportive, but we do believe that Scotland’s case is central to the business case of High Speed 2. We argue that the strategic network proposed by the Department for Transport does not really go far enough at this stage and that, at this early stage, a network plan needs to be established that includes both Edinburgh and Glasgow. That is because we believe the major benefits from High Speed 2 will be realised when it goes to Scotland, because of the modal shift that can be achieved there and the business advantages.
Garry Clark: I think very much as the Minister has outlined there. From a Scottish perspective, our members are very keen on high speed rail, particularly coming to Scotland, but we are supportive of the initial plans to build high speed rail throughout the rest of the United Kingdom. We would like to see Scotland, obviously, included at the earliest possible stage in that, but we are very supportive of the principle of high speed rail, and we are certainly very supportive of the initial plans to get high speed rail development under way in the United Kingdom.
Tony Page: West Coast 250 was formed by and represents over 40 local authorities along the line of the West Coast Main Line, from Scotland and north Wales down to Milton Keynes in the south. We did have Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire involved, but our views on High Speed 2 meant they decided to detach themselves.
We have consistently campaigned for the upgrading of the West Coast, and the West Coast Main Line is now very much a victim of its own success, as you will be aware, with major capacity problems. We are very strong supporters and campaigners for a new high speed line to provide extra capacity on the existing classic line as well. We feel strongly that the national case for a high speed line also needs to promote the major benefits that can then accrue to the classic line from day one of High Speed 2. There are major improvements to be had, and we believe that a national context needs to be given to the line.
I very much endorse the comments that were made earlier about the need for a national picture and for national leadership to deliver that national vision for a line with national benefits. A new high speed line will obviously benefit travellers on that line, but it will and can deliver, from day one, major benefits to the existing line and to communities all the way along it. That case needs to be made in tandem, so that HS2 is not promoted as some sort of elite service that would enable the opponents to make much more headway than we believe they are entitled to. We wish to see much more emphasis placed on the day one benefits to the existing line, as well as, obviously, the major benefits that will accrue economically and environmentally along the line.
Q400 Mr Harris: Minister, from what you said, the Scottish Government do support high speed rail in general throughout the UK, but obviously to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and I am with you on that. Did the Scottish Government make any submission to the DfT consultation on this?
Keith Brown: Yes, we did, along the lines I have suggested, with a number of other points made as well.
Q401 Mr Harris: Is there a particular reason you did not submit anything to this inquiry?
Keith Brown: We knew we were going to get the chance to give evidence. We had also given that previous position to the DfT and we thought that would be available to you.
Q402 Mr Harris: Does the Scottish Government accept that High Speed 2 phase 1 from London to the west midlands, even before any more is built, has a benefit to Scottish passengers, in terms of journey times?
Keith Brown: It is bound to have, and it gives extra resilience and capacity to that route, which obviously is a route through to Scotland. We are also very aware of the delays that are possible in the course of very large transport projects. We have one in Scotland that has been subject to quite a significant delay.
Mr Harris: Let us not talk of that.
Keith Brown: Being aware of that, we have formed the view that a partnership group, which I have asked to come together, should also be looking at what we can do in Scotland in the meantime to raise a possibility that, if there are those problems with the infrastructure and land acquisition on that part of the line which you have mentioned, then why not start it from Scotland? The West Coast Main Line is going to have to be upgraded in any event, so-
Q403 Mr Harris: This is exactly what I want to lead on to. Is there any appetite for looking seriously at the prospect of building southwards from Glasgow? I would suggest Glasgow.
Keith Brown: There have been representations from the industry to do that, for the reasons I mentioned. The partnership group is trying to work from the context of the current proposal, but certainly we should look at the question, in any event, of where you are going to start on the line. If you are going to have the line right the way through to Edinburgh and Glasgow, where is the best place to start? Is it best to start in different places at the same time, which there is an argument for as well? It is the case that we are going to have to upgrade the West Coast Main Line through to Scotland in any event because of capacity constraints, notwithstanding the money that has been spent on that? Why not look at what is, in a way, the easier part of the project to do-coming down from the north that way? In the meantime, it also helps the other things that have to happen for the line that you have mentioned already, so there is a case for it.
Q404 Mr Harris: How much work have the Scottish Government done on the financial difficulties, because they are fairly immense even for the UK Government? Presumably, Barnett is not going to cut it, in terms of a 100mile line from Glasgow and Edinburgh down to Carlisle.
Keith Brown: First of all, you have to establish the principle, but you are right to say that the financial situation is going to be absolutely crucial to that. As is much the same for the rest of the line, you could take a number of financial models for doing it. For example, serving the track access charges for HS1 has raised around £2.1 billion. Again, there could be money raised through that. The cost to the Scottish Government is very hard to quantify right now, but when I spoke to the Secretary of State for Transport, he agreed the point that the UK Government would be responsible at least up into the border, which is a change from the previous position. Depending on the estimates-and it is probably not right to get into estimates now-you are talking of £7 billion or £8 billion for Scotland, which is way beyond anything we have heard just now. Therefore, that would have to be met by changes to the fiscal arrangements in Scotland, which may mean proper borrowing powers. The biggest capital project we currently have is the Forth Bridge, which is less than £2 billion. However, as I say, there are different ways to fund that. The industry can be involved and you can sell back the benefits of the track once you have built it as well. Therefore, we have to establish the principle of what we want to do first and then look at the financial situation at that time.
Q405 Mr Harris: I have one more question. I am delighted with what you are telling me about the Secretary of State saying that the UK Government would be responsible for the line right up to the border. Obviously, that would not be the case if Scotland were independent. How on earth would Scotland be able to build a line if they were independent? Presumably the English Government would not build anywhere north of Manchester.
Keith Brown: That would be a decision for the English Government, but if we document the financial situation in Scotland, we would not be constrained in the way we are now. I used to be the leader of a very small council in Scotland which has greater borrowing powers than the Scottish Government, which is an absurdity. If that were to arise, the fact is that after independence, Scotland and England, of course, are still going to be the dearest and nearest neighbours they have to each other. We are going to have to work together on those things. I cannot imagine a UK Government being so shortsighted that they would not want to improve their transport links to their nearest neighbour.
Q406 Mr Harris: They would still build the line up to the border?
Keith Brown: That is what the Secretary of State said they would do.
Chair: We are getting into other realms here. Mr Harris, are you satisfied with the answer you have there?
Mr Harris: Yes.
Q407 Julian Sturdy: Mr Page, you mentioned in your opening remarks that you did not want to see HS2 based as an elite service, and we have to make sure we focus on the improvements that HS2 would bring to the more traditional lines-the West Coast and the East Coast as well, I would say, as a York MP. However, if HS2 is going to be a faster service, which it will be, is it not naturally going to happen that it is seen as an elite service? Does that not bring in the consequences that we are potentially going to have a twotier service? If that is the case, how do you propose to stop it happening?
Tony Page: Similar comments were probably made ahead of the channel tunnel opening. Pricing, obviously, for the railway operator, will be looking to fill as many seats as possible across the whole day, not only peak but off-peak. Therefore "the elite" was referring more to the nature of the journey. The fact is that the classic line will have major benefits given to it from the release of capacity. The current line is almost full-a point to which one of your colleagues alluded earlier. What we are looking to promote is the greater use of rail travel, and we want to enhance the connectivity within the West Coast Main Line and the regions so that more freight and local journeys can be made. Those benefits need to be set out by the Government; effectively, a mini franchise spec should be delivered, so that communities along the line can see the potential benefits. Milton Keynes has suffered recently from the upgrade, with fewer direct services, but, as the Greengauge study showed only a few months ago, there are major improvements in the number of fast services that could be offered to Milton Keynes and many other communities along the line. Thus, the freeing up of capacity by delivering HS2 offers enormous improvements from day one along the West Coast Main Line. That case needs to be made in tandem. The point I was making was that there is a real danger the debate around HS2 is seen as only about HS2 and serving a particular market when, in fact, the benefits can accrue across the country from day one.
Q408 Julian Sturdy: Obviously, you talked about the opportunity for increasing freight, and that has been mentioned before in the debate we have had. Are you also saying that you would like to see more stops on the classic lines as well, so you are opening up new potential areas for people who have not been served by these lines in the past?
Tony Page: That needs to be looked at as well. I have the Greengauge report in front of me-Capturing the benefits of HS2 on existing lines. It has a very useful table, right at the start, which shows the sorts of improvements that can be delivered along the line, starting as far south as Wembley Central and going up to Birmingham. That is just for that stretch of the line. Then, clearly, the potential, with new capacity available on the classic line, for looking at new stations is there, and that can be planned in advance. Our view is that, with the enormous growth in demand we have seen recently, at a time when the economy is flatlining and when there has been a great improvement in reliability-a doubling of passengers in six years-the growth potential is enormous.
The "staying at home" argument we heard earlier is a bit of a canard, because we are looking at much more leisure and tourist travel, and are representing authorities in north Wales, the Lake District and Scotland. We are not only talking about business travel. We are talking about a huge growth in the leisure market. With people retiring earlier and all sorts of demographic changes and population growth, we believe there is a huge market still to be tapped, and that may also deliver new stations.
Q409 Julian Sturdy: I have one last point. Do you believe there is a danger, though, for the classic lines over the next 10 to 20 years that there will not be the development within them if HS2 goes ahead?
Tony Page: There is a real danger, which is why, in our submission and consistently- first to Railtrack and then to Network Rail-we have made the case that the partial upgrade that has now been delivered needs to be maintained. There has to be regular investment in the line to maintain the current reliability. We now have better reliability, with occasional exceptions, than we have seen for many years, which is delivering the huge growth, and that has to be paid for. We must not sit back and allow the sort of starvation of investment that happened for periods under British Rail, through no fault of its own, because of the financing mechanisms in those days. There is regular money that still needs to be spent on the West Coast Main Line.
Julian Sturdy: Thank you.
Q410 Chair: Have you made any assessment of how much money should be spent on the West Coast Main Line to achieve what you are asking for?
Tony Page: Yes, but I am afraid I do not have those with me, Chair. I could certainly let you have those.
Q411 Chair: Could you let us have those?
Tony Page: Those are mainly based on work that Network Rail has done in the course of the recent RUS study.
Q412 Chair: It would be helpful if you could let us know what kind of amount of funding you have in mind on that.
Tony Page: Yes.
Q413 Iain Stewart: I would like to touch on the potential for freight transport on rail to be increased if High Speed 2 goes to Scotland. Is there currently a capacity problem on the West Coast Main Line at the Scottish end that a high speed line could alleviate?
Garry Clark: I was speaking to some of our members who are active in the rail freight sector. The capacity issues are less at the Scottish end and greater the further south you go on the line, in terms of through traffic from Scotland to the south coast ports, etcetera. There are certainly constraints the further south you go in the network, obviously. We would see high speed rail creating additional capacity and hopefully freeing up some existing track space for freight services, which could be beneficial to freight transporters within Scotland.
Q414 Iain Stewart: Is it only an issue of capacity at the southern end of the line which is inhibiting a transfer from road to rail, or are there other issues we need to be looking at about access to ports and other destinations for freight?
Garry Clark: There are certainly some access issues. I know there has been some work to improve access to, for example, Southampton over the past couple of years in terms of freight gauge and so on. Hopefully, if we see additional capacity we would see greater numbers of services able to be provided point to point from Scotland to the rest of the UK, and we would hope to see investment in rail freight terminuses in Scotland as well, which would, again, improve the capacity of the network to handle greater amounts of freight and take that freight from the roads.
Q415 Iain Stewart: I have one other Scottish question, if I may. I can see how Glasgow and Edinburgh are very enthusiastic about high speed rail coming there, but what about other cities and towns in Scotland? Do they fear they might be disadvantaged-that Glasgow and Edinburgh would suddenly attract more and more business to the detriment of Dundee, Aberdeen or elsewhere?
Garry Clark: Speaking on behalf of a network of 21 Chambers of Commerce across Scotland, we have pretty universal support throughout the network, from Caithness in the north to Dumfries and Galloway on the borders in the south, in favour of high speed rail. What we do need to see is continuation of the investment that the Scottish Government and Network Rail are providing through the EGIP project in order to improve connectivity within the central belt, first of all, to improve services between the central belt and Aberdeen and Inverness, reduce journey times and increase service times, all of which ScotRail, the franchise operator, is promising at the moment. If we see those enhancements-particularly the central belt electrification, which is currently under consultation-that will alleviate any concerns, or certainly a large number of the concerns, in terms of favouring Glasgow and Edinburgh. Certainly, EGIP itself, in terms of central belt electrification, would open up the market for high speed rail to 3.6 million people within Scotland.
Q416 Chair: Mr Barry, you have told us about the anticipated problems for the Welsh economy. Have any compensatory measures been suggested, or are you seeking any specific actions?
Mark Barry: Not in detail. I would welcome the opportunity to give you a Welsh perspective. I believe all the Members here are representative of northern or Scottish constituencies. From a Welsh perspective, we saw the Great Western Main Line upgraded in the 1970s and nothing since until the recent announcement on electrification. In the 1980s, journey times from Cardiff to London were faster than those from Manchester to London by at least 30 minutes. Since then, we have seen a £9 billion upgrade of the West Coast Main Line and the electrification of the East Coast Main Line, so Cardiff and Bristol are getting further from London in respect of connectivity. That is important.
One of the companies I represent, Admiral Insurance, chose to locate in Cardiff in 1993 because it was less than two hours from London on a train. That company now employs 3,000 people with a market capital of nearly £4 billion. They would not choose to locate in Cardiff today because it is further from London and there are other major locations in which it could have chosen to base itself. We were sitting in Cardiff-and it is the same, I think, at Bristol-watching this debate. It is always about northsouth, ScotlandBirmingham and Leeds versus Manchester. Yes, we support investment in infrastructure, but the questions that arise are: if you have £32 billion to spend on improving the rail infrastructure of the UK, what do you do? Where do you do it to ensure we get an even distribution of economic impact throughout the UK, as George Osborne and the coalition Government have stated is their objective?
We see that the only analysis undertaken on the economic impact was not by the DfT, which presented very highlevel figures-30,000 to 40,000 jobs and the £40 billion positive impact-but by Greengauge’s work, of which I am a big fan. I applaud Jim Steer and Julie Mills for making the case for high speed rail. Their analysis of the economic impact shows that Wales and southwest England could lose 60,000-plus jobs. If you are a Welsh taxpayer, you are thinking, "We are going to be paying £1.5 billion towards this £32 billion scheme and we are going to be short-changed by 21,000 jobs, and the Bristol/southwest region by 40,000 jobs." We are thinking, "That is not really good enough." The Greengauge analysis, as you are probably aware, had assumed the Great Western Main Line would be electrified.
Therefore, from our perspective, while we support the principle of investment in rail and high speed, the key issues, like access to Heathrow, connectivity with Heathrow and what you do to improve journey times within Cardiff, Bristol, London and Heathrow, need to be addressed. The HS2 approach has been very narrowly defined and has missed opportunities to do something more strategic for the UK. The Heathrow question is fundamental.
Q417 Chair: Are the suggestions you are putting forward instead of HS2 or broadening the concept?
Mark Barry: They are broadening. I think we should broaden this debate to a high speed rail debate for the UK. I do not know how many billions of pounds in that £32 billion are to mitigate environmental impacts in the Chilterns, but if that is justified, how much, in terms of billions, should be spent on mitigating the economic impacts in those areas not receiving a direct benefit from high speed rail?
Q418 Chair: That is being left out at the moment and you feel it is not being considered.
Mark Barry: That is being left out. I would prefer the DfT honestly to present the impact of this investment across all the regions and major conurbations of the UK. We have five million people living Severnside-Greater Bristol, Greater Cardiff and Greater Swansea. We are all taxpayers and we want to see the country develop and get out of the recession. We feel uncomfortable that, at the moment, we are not even part of the debate. Therefore, while we support it in principle, the scope of HS2 needs to be broadened to be more strategic and include things like the Heathrow access question. More passengers need to fly from Heathrow from Wales and southwest England than any other region in the UK proportionately, yet that was not included in the thinking about access to Heathrow. That could have been included and given a different outcome in terms of the result of that assessment. The Heathrow hub scheme, for example, which was discussed earlier, might have been seen in a different light if a more strategic view had been taken of that whole assessment.
Therefore, I am uncomfortable with the narrowness of the approach and the fact that Cardiff is going to be disenfranchised economically, when it is quicker to get to London from Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Liverpool and Birmingham than from Cardiff and Bristol. How can we compete? We are the most disadvantaged part of the UK and we need to remove those inequalities.
Chair: Thank you very much for that perspective.
Q419 Graham Stringer: Tony, the opposition to High Speed 2 in this place and, I understand, from at least one west midlands council, does not only come from people who are opposed to the environmental impact on the Chilterns. It comes from some people who believe that you can solve the capacity problem on the West Coast Main Line by parallel running for local trains and for freight and by an increase in the gauge. It is a cheaper solution. What do you say to those opponents?
Tony Page: From all the work that we have done, we would reject that, and certainly our submission makes that clear, because it will not deliver anything like the additional capacity which is needed in the next few years. It might be a palliative, and clearly in the intervening period between now and 2026 one needs to look at possible enhancements in capacity, but the experience of the West Coast Main Line upgrading-and remember it was only partial upgrading-was huge dislocation. Mr Harris, as a former Minister, will remember the problems that existed-the weekend working, the dislocation to travel, the huge number of complaints-to deliver that upgrade and the limited benefits. It was very important, particularly in reliability, but was not delivering huge increases in capacity. We will obviously see more capacity with the Pendolino lengthening, and that is very welcome, but we cannot go much beyond that.
The real issue is whether or not we have the wish to promote the huge benefits in capacity from a new line. That is a combination, obviously, of a business case and a political commitment. At the end of the day, the time period that we are talking about requires a political judgment, and leadership as to whether or not this is going to be in the interests of the country. I certainly endorse the comments that have been made about the need for a national picture and a national vision around the development of high speed lines. We have had the TransEuropean Network for many years and, clearly, the Great Western Main Line is part of that. However, in terms of this particular project-HS2-it needs to be put in a national context, it needs to show there are national benefits for Scotland, north Wales and the other regions from the improved connectivity and, above all, it needs to show the extra capacity and the attendant benefits this will provide. I would trust that the Government, with the hopefully continuing tripartisan consensus, will be able to promote that case, because it is critical. We must not allow the case for HS2 to be detached from the existing services and major benefits that can be delivered to the existing line from day one, because there is no reason why through services should not operate from Scotland using High Speed 2 from day one. It is not just LondonBirmingham we are talking about; we are talking about the whole country benefiting from day one. That case has to be made. It is critical to selling it to the country.
Q420 Jim Dobbin: If we can relate back to the previous conversations that we had with the representatives from Heathrow and Manchester airports, I have two short questions. What impact would the development of HS2 have on Glasgow airport and Edinburgh airport? Would that have an impact? Would it be beneficial?
Keith Brown: One of the things I would say is the absence of that link right now is having an impact on Glasgow and Edinburgh. We have seen the withdrawal of the British Midland flight from Glasgow to London Heathrow, and that is in large part because socalled regional services cannot command the kind of fees or the return that these slots can command if they are longhaul ones. Thus we are seeing a diminution of services to Edinburgh and Glasgow currently through the absence of a high speed rail line.
I mentioned the point that the biggest dividends for this come if it goes to Glasgow and Edinburgh. If you do that, you can get a really substantial 60% to 90% modal shift from air to rail, which helps us all in many ways. That shows the need for that kind of infrastructure to be there. Certainly during the past winter, when Heathrow was in some trouble, as were parts of Scotland, the Secretary of State said the reason why passengers going to Scotland were shunted first was because they had other means of getting to their destination. This, of course, was at the time when both the East Coast and the West Coast Main Lines were out of action, as was the motorway over Cumbria. Therefore, high speed rail would have an impact, but I think what you would see is that if you do not have that alternative it is having an impact anyway. We are losing the slots that are there at Heathrow now, so it would give us a real alternative.
Q421 Jim Dobbin: Briefly, if it was possible to have a link from HS2 into either, both or one of those airports, would you want that to happen?
Keith Brown: As Garry has mentioned already, what we are trying to do between Edinburgh and Glasgow is the EGIP project, which is going to give an improvement in journey times and electrification. That is what we are concentrating on at this stage. Part of that will involve the new junction at Gogar on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which will improve things out to the airport. I suppose those things could be looked at then.
Q422 Steve Baker: Mr Barry, you talked about the consequences to Wales and the southwest of High Speed 2. Can I confirm it was your evidence that you think 60,000 jobs would be lost in those regions?
Mark Barry: They are not my figures. They are Greengauge’s and KPMG’s figures from their report published last year, Consequences for employment and economic growth. I took the data from that report because I trust their work and analysis.
Q423 Steve Baker: What I am conscious of is that most of the other regions of the UK not served by HS2 are not alive to these consequences. What was it that prompted you and those you represent to pick up on these numbers?
Mark Barry: I used to run a business and spent a lot of time travelling back and forth to London to meet investors. The interaction between south Wales, Cardiff and London is important because people use it for business. Therefore, I have been very aware of the high speed rail debate, Greengauge’s perception and the progression, and I have watched with dismay as the debate progressed without any real dialogue or engagement with those of us in the Cardiff city region, Swansea, Bristol or southwest England. It’s been like, "Oh, we’ve forgotten about you guys," and it has not been included. Even in Greengauge’s work it was bolted on and assumed it would only be an electrified Great Western Main Line. The only group that has looked at a more strategic impact upgrade is the Bow Group in its report last year, The Right Track, which I was quite supportive of, in terms of its incremental approach: upgrading the existing infrastructure, using Brunel’s legacy, to deliver, effectively, a high speed rail line for a fraction of the cost of High Speed 2.
Q424 Steve Baker: What would you say to those regions of the UK that have not picked up on these numbers?
Mark Barry: They need to start listening, talking, engaging and doing some reading. That is what I did. The data are out there. You have to pull it out, analyse it and present it. Then it is quite clear. It is the elephant in the room. We do not have an holistic UK high speed rail strategy, or a rail strategy for that matter. We need to step back and have a look at what we are doing for the whole of the UK and in what order, so that we do not disenfranchise one part of the country for the benefit of another-just abstract activity from one place to another. That is not what we want to see. We want to see an even impact, even growth, throughout the UK. Then we can all engage and buy into that. What we have now has not done that.
Q425 Steve Baker: Thank you very much. Mr Clark, I think you said that all of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, with perhaps a few exceptions, are in favour. I think Mr Brown told us that it would cost about £8 billion to get the high speed rail line from Glasgow and Edinburgh down to the border. At the moment, if I have heard you correctly, it would cost Scotland £8 billion to put high speed rail in. But let us say that it costs £8 billion to £10 billion for the UK, England, to extend high speed rail up to the border. It feels to me like it is costing about £40 billion for England to put high speed rail up to Scotland and costing Scotland about £8 billion. Does that sound about right to you?
Garry Clark: I think we have to look at it holistically in terms of a single project for the UK. As I say, we want to make sure that Scotland is very much part of the map when it comes to high speed rail. We do not think that what is on the table at the moment goes quite that far. Obviously, there are financial issues that need to be hammered out between the Scottish Government and the Westminster Government.
Q426 Steve Baker: What would you say to those people Mr Barry represents and those people in the southwest who are going to lose those 60,000 jobs? What is your argument to those people who are bearing the costs in order to support Scottish businesses?
Garry Clark: We have said that a UKwide high speed rail network would have to include the likes of Cardiff and Bristol at some stage. We need to start somewhere, and certainly the initial LondonBirmingham stretch is the start that we need and support. Without that we would not get anywhere. Having said that, from the Scottish perspective, we want to see Scotland very much part of those plans.
Q427 Steve Baker: You would like to see high speed rail everywhere-everywhere that makes sense.
Garry Clark: We would like to see it connecting the key conurbations within the United Kingdom.
Q428 Steve Baker: Over what time scale do you think that would take place?
Garry Clark: At the moment we are looking at 2033 to finish the Y network. We would certainly argue that we ought to be able to commence building south from Scotland at least during that period or, at worst, as a phase 3 thereafter. Ideally, we would like to see construction work start in Scotland to meet with the rest of the United Kingdom.
Q429 Steve Baker: Finally, if I may, would you say the pitch to the people of Wales and the southwest is that they should hang on for 40 or 50 years because it will be good for them eventually?
Garry Clark: They need to be part of the network. The network has to start somewhere. If I was representing my colleagues in the Chambers of Commerce in Wales, I would be fighting tooth and nail to ensure that Wales was very much part of the picture. At the moment, I am fighting for Scotland.
Steve Baker: Thank you.
Q430 Chair: How important do you think it is that these schemes should be phased differently? I accept the problems in relation to Wales and the southwest that we have been told about, but in looking at the general strategic approach-the proposed phasing, the Y shape-is all of that reasonable, or should it be done completely differently?
Keith Brown: One of the problems is that the capacity on the West Coast Main Line currently is due to be breached, if you like, around 2024 and work is going to have to be carried out on that line anyway. What you could end up having is a situation of spending £26 billion or £30 billion on a line that you would then have to upgrade north of that afterwards at substantial numbers of billions. That helps to make the case for it.
I should also say that if those figures were correct, and we are a long way from it-and one thing I have learnt from my short time in this job is not to make very definite projections about figures on public capital projects-and if you were looking at £40 billion and the Scottish Government were to contribute £8 billion, of course under current rules it would also be contributing towards the £40 billion as well, because that comes from the UK Exchequer; that would be one sixth, and substantially more than Scotland’s share of it. Therefore, I do not think there is any case that Scotland would not be paying its way on this. That is an idea of how important it is to us. For those reasons, and the reasons I mentioned earlier on in terms of your point, Chair, about phasing, why not start where it is easiest to start from and build from the north down south?
Q431 Chair: Mr Barry, are there any other points you would like to make?
Mark Barry: As a general point, if you look at the UK and its major conurbations, you should then look at the major transport corridors and analyse them. Where do the most capacity constraints currently exist? What are projected? Therefore, where do you need to remediate? Clearly, the West Coast Main Line, I acknowledge, has a problem, but that is probably on the lower section between London and Birmingham. The most congested services currently, according to the ORR’s figures, are on the Paddington line out of London to the west. You need to look at the network as a whole and the strategic corridors. Where are the most capacity constraints? Maybe what you do is go to Birmingham. Then phase 2 is not up to Leeds or Manchester but to another route out of London, or a bypass on the Great Western Main Line or a route across the Pennines. I do not think we have looked at this in a strategic way, at where the major pinch-points are and what can have the most impact.
Also, you have to consider urban rail networks and rail systems to improve connectivity within major cities, because that has a huge benefit if delivered. If you have £32 billion or more perhaps to spend, maybe you are spending it all on connectivity between major cities and not enough on the regional dimension within cities.
Chair: Thank you.
Tony Page: Clearly, there is an assumption about phasing in this country, which is taken over a longer time span than in some other countries, and there is a debate to be had about the way in which we deliver national infrastructure projects. Projects have to be phased, but we should not necessarily assume we will always take as long to deliver projects of this sort. Hopefully, we will not. I think we would all agree-certainly our campaign would-that we want to see the timetable accelerated as far as possible, and we strongly support any initiative to start building the line in Scotland at the same time. After all, the channel tunnel was dug from both ends, and they even met. The argument for starting north of the border is very compelling.
The funding is another debate. There seems to be an implicit assumption that somehow this will be public expenditure. It need not necessarily be. We have spoken to private sector funders or potential funders who see quite an attractive proposition. It is the delay and the time in delivering these projects that is the deterrent, not the business case per se.
The final point is about crowding. If you look at the most recent ORR statistics on crowding outside London, Manchester and Birmingham, and then Manchester, are shown as having the biggest problem. Birmingham, hopefully, will be dealt with in the first phase, but clearly there are other major problems along the West Coast, as you will know. Certainly our view, and that of all the companies that we have spoken to that are bidding for the current franchise-that process is under way at the moment-is that there is huge latent potential on the West Coast Main Line. I repeat what I said earlier: we need to make that case so that the benefits cascade around the country and to the current line as well.
Mark Barry: I have one more point on the Great Western Main Line. As you alluded to, we could wait 40 years for an £18 billion high speed line from London to Cardiff, and maybe we do not want to wait that long. There is a much more pragmatic approach to the Great Western corridor. Looking at Brunel’s legacy, from my understanding, a lot of that route could cope with faster speeds. If we could invest judiciously in appropriate upgrades and gradeseparated junctions and a change to the franchise terms, we could achieve significant benefits in terms of journey times and capacity. If we could achieve the same average speed on the Great Western Main Line between Cardiff and London as currently exists on the West Coast Main Line today between Manchester and London, we could shave half an hour off the journey time.
Therefore, I am not saying I want a brand new £18 billion line now ahead of you guys. That would be nice, but I am realistic. Let us be more pragmatic and look at what a series of incremental upgrades can deliver for far lower cost, with much more benefit and impact: Heathrow access, four-track on certain sections of the Great Western Main Line, and upgraded signalling, reducing congestion at certain points. You will then be able to offer, effectively, a high speed service for a fraction of the price and deliver huge benefits to all those people in that part of the world who are currently being missed out.
Chair: Thank you. Are there any other points?
Q432 Kwasi Kwarteng: Forgive me if this topic has been raised before, but do you think that the implementation of a high speed rail line would cut the number of flights from Scotland to Heathrow?
Garry Clark: It would certainly generate modal shift, looking at examples in other countries. Currently, the numbers, in terms of rail journeys from Scotland to London, are something like 15%. Looking at examples in other countries, that could probably change to upwards of 60% that would be carried by rail.
Q433 Kwasi Kwarteng: Do you really think it would go from 15% to 60%?
Garry Clark: Yes, minimum.
Keith Brown: The tipping point has a lot to do with the journey time. If you can get it below three hours, then it is even further modal shifting.
Chair: Thank you very much, gentlemen, for coming along. Thank you, Minister, for coming here to speak to us.