The Impact Of HS2 On The UK’s Transport Sector – BinaryOptions

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What Effect Will HS2 Have?

Research Article

Connectivity will stimulate further economic growth, supported by the devolution deal and Government investment.

Six years have passed since a second high-speed line was proposed to address capacity constraints on the West Coast Mainline. HS2, the £50 billion infrastructure project to build a high-speed rail line from London to Manchester and Leeds, via Birmingham, was initially backed by the Labour Government in 2009 and gained the support of the Coalition Government in 2020.

Supporters of the project argue that it will help ‘rebalance the economy’ by attracting investment to regional cities and creating new jobs. The Government estimates that HS2 itself will create 25,000 jobs during construction.

It has also been argued that HS2 will generate local economic opportunities and development beyond the impacts of this direct expenditure.

HS2 Ltd predicts that additional commercial development brought forward as a result of HS2 in areas immediately surrounding HS2 stations could support up to 100,000 jobs (The strategic case for HS2, 29 Oct 2020).

Criticism

However, the project has also attracted plenty of criticism. Critics of the project argue that it represents poor value for money, draws investment away from other local infrastructure projects and risks turning regional cities into dormitories for London businesses, sucking talent towards the capital and sapping regional cities of their local identity, rather than bridging the north-south divide.

In a report published in March this year, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, stated that they: “Do not believe that the Government has shown that HS2 is the best way of stimulating growth in the country.” Peers questioned whether improving regional links between northern cities might not be a more cost effective way of stimulating growth, and called upon the Government to present better analysis to justify the project.

Jeremy Corbyn’s ascent to the Labour leadership raises other questions. The new Labour leader’s voting record shows no enthusiasm for HS2 and he has openly criticised the project in the past. However, given that his Northern Future policy paper makes no specific reference to HS2, it is possible that Corbyn will adopt the Labour party’s stance on the project which had received wide cross-party support before the election.

The Hybrid Bill

The controversy surrounding the line is reflected in the fact that over 120 amendments have been made to the Hybrid Bill which is currently winding its way through Parliament. The Bill to secure the powers to construct Phase One was tabled in 2020 and is expected to achieve Royal Assent by the end of 2020, after which construction will begin.

In the meantime, HS2 Ltd, the team backed by the Department for Transport developing the service, face three assessment reviews by the Government, the first of which was due to take place this autumn but has been deferred until the New Year.

However, the political will behind the project was made clear over the summer by the new Conservative Government who interpreted its election victory as a ‘vote of confidence’ for HS2.

The recent appointment of Lord Adonis as head of the new National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) is a further sign of the Government’s determination to see the project through. Adonis was the secretary of state for transport who initiated HS2 under the last Labour Government and he is still one of the project’s most staunch supporters.

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This paper therefore starts from the proposition that HS2 will happen and focuses primarily on its effects on Birmingham which is the first phase of the project.

Work is expected to start in 2020 on Phase One of HS2 which will run from London to Birmingham and is estimated to be completed by 2026. The second phase, in which the line splits into a V-shape running to Manchester and Leeds, should begin later.

FIGURE 1HS2 high-speed rail network, phases one and two

The UK is “missing an opportunity” by not directly linking High Speed 2 (HS2) to Heathrow Airport, a leading aviation expert has told New Civil Engineer’s Engineers Collective podcast.

Cranfield University senior lecturer in airport planning & management Henrik Rothe has told New Civil Engineer’s the Engineers Collective podcast that failing to connect the rail project with the UK’s busiest airport was “typical” of the country’s disjointed infrastructure planning.

Plans did initially exist for a new rail link to Heathrow Airport as part of the HS2 network, but the option was ruled out in 2020 out by then transport minister Patrick McLoughlin.

Rothe – who leads the Urban Turbine, a design-led research project pursuing airports’ responses to societal changes – made the claim during his guest appearance on the second episode of New Civil Engineer’s podcast The Engineers Collective.

Rothe said: “I think living in Camden and seeing the massive infrastructure implication it has on the extension of Euston train station, I would have expected a little more connectivity achieved by the system, connecting directly to airports along [the route].

“This would have been very much in line with what we are thinking of in the Urban Turbine, to think in urban transport terms, not isolated transport systems. I think we are missing an opportunity here to link aviation to train connectivity.”

He added: “It indicates a typical pattern of I would say thinking which needs to be overhauled. Why do we invest in this infrastructure if we miss so many opportunities?”

In response to Rothe’s claims, a HS2 spokesperson said: “HS2 will directly serve some of the UK’s busiest airports and bring air travel within faster and easier reach for millions more people. This will open up options for people making holiday plans abroad and trying to find the best deal on flights. And it will improve accessibility to export markets and give business people more options when flying to or from the UK.

“There will be dedicated high speed rail stations at Birmingham and Manchester airports. Heathrow airport will also be an eleven minute connection from the HS2 station at Old Oak Common. East Midlands, Leeds-Bradford and Doncaster-Sheffield airports will be accessible via onward connections from HS2 stations.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Following a Airports Commission review saying an HS2 spur would likely not support Heathrow expansion, the department chose not to directly link Heathrow with HS2.

“Passengers on HS2 will still have excellent access to Heathrow from Old Oak Common Station via connections to regular services on the Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express.”

Similar complaints have previously been raised by London City Airport in relation to the lack of a Crossrail station at the airport. Speaking at New Civil Engineer‘s Future of Rail conference last month, London City Airport chief development officer Peter Adams confirmed that talks are ongoing about the prospect of including a station on the proposed Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet.

However, Adams has previously gone on the record labelling the lack of a Crossrail station at the airport as a “missed opportunity”, with the initial opening of Crossrail due to pass around 300m to the south of the airport.

Burnham said he would like to see the case for HS2 rebuilt around this proposal, while speaking at an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) panel discussion about the contents of the National Infrastructure Strategy which is currently being drafted by the government.

Episode 2 of the Engineers Collective also explores ongoing issues around the validity of High Speed 2, debates the decision to cancel the £1.4bn bypass of the M4 around Newport, presses the case for more investment in Northern Powerhouse rail and challenges the three-year closure of London’s historic Hammersmith Bridge.

  • Keep up to date with all the industry news and views, via The Engineers Collective monthly podcast.

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5 comments

Are we really going over this again? The HS2 Heathrow spur would only been able to run a couple of trains per hour (most trains would still need to run to central London). It makes more sense to use Old Oak Common as the railhead for Heathrow because it gives a far better frequency of service, and saves the cost of building the spur.
The alternative would be to divert HS2 directly through Heathrow but that would have pushed the cost up even more.

Much more sensible to join HS2 straight through to HS1. Then I can get on a train at Crewe and d go to Paris, Brussels, etc! This is what was promised all those decades ago when the Channel Tunnel was going through its due process

Andrew correct, James incorrect. Had HS2 been seen as an extension of HS1, with a south-facing spur into Euston as well as a north-facing spur into Birmingham and forks further north, not a separate line then the Kent (not continent) through link would serve a wider UK domestic market with a cross-London Stratford-Old Oak Zone 1-avoiding bypass. It was always nonsense to conceive the link between two domestic lines as for international services only when there was, although possibly one day might be, no demonstrable market for the former yet two independent consultancies demonstrated there would be an immediate market for the latter.

Correction: latter and former transposed! Beg pardon!

HS2 estimated the spur costing around £1.8-1.9bn in 2020, but even the author of this article fails to mention the fact that the financial viability of this link could be more forcefully made if the line continued south to Gatwick via Guildford (pop. 137000) then Brighton (p 275000), and also Basingstoke (p. 168000), Southampton (p.237000) and Portsmouth (p. 205000), while also piggybacking partly on the track of the western connection from GWR costing £600m. The airports should be asked to help fund the link in exchange for permitted growth in takeoff and landing slots from the third runway at Heathrow and likely extra runway at Gatwick.

With Boris Johnson’s support for NPR, now is the time for a more detailed analysis and optimisation of the savings that could be made with better HS2/NPR integration. The whole eastern leg of Phase 2b could be postponed to fund not only the above airport to town and city links (LHR and LGW two of the world’s busiest airports), but more importantly realign HS2/NPR stations and upgrade the ECML with grade separation, Digswell viaduct bypass, ERTMS2, and 140mph-155mph running. The Manchester HS2 station should be realigned so that it is a through station that allows through connections to Leeds, where the Leeds station would similarly be a combined HS2/NPR through station that connects onward to the ECML at York or north of York. Teesside, underserved by rail already, doesn’t even get a connection to NPR even although her population is 670000 versus York’s 198000, far more useful NPR stops there than York.

As for tunnelling, the Bologna to Florence high speed line with underground 4 platform station in Bologna puts the Birmingham section under question too. It cost €5.2bn for 78km with 94% of it in tunnel. The Bologna HS station cost €400m. 15 miles of HS2 track spur to Curzon St could have been completely eliminated had HS2 gone in a tunnel from the NEC, under Birmingham city centre with a station there, and back toward Lichfield/Stafford.

The financial reappraisal should be made by some outside organisation like SNCF Reseau, the Italian’s, Spanish or Japanese because this scheme has just badly failed to manage costs and puts future expansion of HSR at risk.

HS2 crucial to meet UK transport needs

Posted: 29 October 2020 | | No comments yet

Britain cannot meet its future transport needs without HS2, according to new evidence published by the Government today…

Britain cannot meet its future transport needs without HS2, according to new evidence published by the Government today.

Even with over £50 billion of planned transport investment over the next six years the country’s railways will be overwhelmed. ‘The Strategic Case for HS2’ sets out in detail the need for a new railway line to provide the vitally needed extra capacity.

Central to the case is new data that reveals the true extent of the crisis facing the UK rail network and the impact alternatives to building HS2 would have.

The document outlines how demand for rail travel will continue to grow. By 2026 on commuter services into London during the evening peak, 40 per cent of passengers will be standing, while research by Network Rail and Atkins shows that the alternative to HS2 would result in up to 14 years of weekend closures on existing lines and deliver only a fraction of the additional capacity.

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said:

“We need a radical solution and HS2 is it. A patch and mend job will not do – the only option is a new north south railway.

“HS2 brings massive benefits to the north, is great for commuters and the alternatives just don’t stack up.

“Now is the time to be bold and deliver a world class railway which Britain deserves and can truly be proud of. Future generations will not forgive us if we fail to take this opportunity.”

The East Coast, West Coast and Midland Main Lines can only carry a finite number of trains each day before they become clogged. HS2 will add 18 trains an hour between Manchester, Leeds and London and will allow significantly more freight onto the wider rail network.

The new railway is also estimated to deliver an annual boost to the economy of up to £15 billion as a result of productivity benefits to business from faster journeys and reduced crowding. There will also be benefits of increased production efficiency from businesses being closer together. The analysis shows that the railway is vital in rebalancing the economy benefiting the north overall more than the south.

The Government expects considerable regeneration around stations delivering jobs and growth similar to the experience of HS1 (the Channel Tunnel Rail Link). The Strategic Case points to £10 billion private sector investment around the new HS1 station sites as well as Google, the Crick Institute and other major international firms moving in to the area around King’s Cross and St Pancras demonstrating the likely economic investment expected along the HS2 route.

The Government has updated the benefit to cost ratio (BCR) of the railway, valuing it at 2.3 or providing two pounds worth of benefits for every one pound spent. This is similar to Crossrail and higher than the benefit cost ratio for some other major projects when approved, such as Thames Link and the Jubilee Line extension. The BCR will increase to 4.5 if rail demand continues to rise until 2049.

Other benefits of the railway included in the document are estimates from Network Rail that over 100 cities and towns could benefit from new or improved services as a result of capacity released on the existing rail network. These include:

  • additional commuter services into London from places such as Watford, Milton Keynes, Rugby and Northampton;
  • new commuter services into Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester;
  • new longer distance services, for example providing new and better links between Bradford and London; Lincoln and London; Shrewsbury and London; and Leeds and Cambridge; and
  • more paths for rail freight, with at least 1,000 lorry-loads a day carried on the network.

In addition, the Government will also aim to ensure that all towns or cities which currently have a direct service to London will retain broadly comparable or better services once HS2 is completed. The Government intends to launch a study to recommend how this can be done and also how services can support long term economic growth.

Find out what else the government is doing to support and grow the UK economy

Impact of Brexit on the transport sector

Publication | July 2020

Inside Brexit blog insights

Aviation: the ability of UK airlines to operate to and within the European Union
Arguably the UK’s access to the European Single Aviation Market has been a key factor in the rise of low-cost carriers (LCCs) over the last twenty years. They have benefitted from the freedom of establishment rules to set up business in countries with low labour costs and from the ability to operate anywhere in the EU without any limitations as to pricing, frequency or capacity.

Upon Brexit, UK-licensed airlines will cease to be “Community air carriers” for the purposes of Regulation (EC) No. 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community and will cease to benefit from the terms of the Multilateral Agreement on the Establishment of a European Common Aviation Area (ECAA). Unless other arrangements are entered into between the UK and the EU, upon Brexit UK-licensed airlines will lose their right to fly to and from the EU and between the remaining EU Member States.

Rail: the ability of UK rail operators to bid for franchises and operate in the EU
Following Brexit, the ability of UK rail operators to participate in franchise tender processes in the EU may be determined by the nature of the relationship which will emerge between the UK and the EU. Given that international trade rules (including in relation to government procurement) tend to operate on the basis of reciprocal treatment, the rights of UK operators in the EU are likely to mirror those of EU operators in the UK.

In our view, it is probable that many EU governments would be keen to allow UK (and other non-EU) rail operators to tender for rail franchises – irrespective of the Brexit model adopted – in order to ensure ‘value for money’. Therefore, UK rail operators are likely to retain the ability to participate in tender procedures for rail franchise in the EU (particularly once all rail franchises are required to be competitively tendered in 2020/2022) so long as the rail operator in question continues to comply with the regulatory framework applicable to the EU rail sector such as meeting the relevant technical and safety rules. In any event, even if restrictions were to be introduced, there may be opportunities for UK operators to tender via local affiliates or in partnership with local operators.

Shipping: the ability of UK shipping companies to trade within the EU
Brexit will not impede the right of British shipping companies to carry goods to or from EU ports. Being part of the EU offers UK companies access to a single European market, with no taxes or duties payable on goods moving across internal EU borders, and the benefit of legislation intended to promote the single market, such as the right of EU member states to offer maritime cabotage services (i.e. transport services) across the EU (pursuant to Council Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92). Given the UK Government’s stated policy on the single market and the customs union, it is unlikely that the UK will receive the benefit of this harmonising legislation after the UK has left the EU. This would mean that, whilst British shipping companies could of course still trade within the EU, some aspects of this trade might not be as straightforward post-Brexit. For example, there are likely to be taxes and duties payable on goods moving between the EU and the UK, which may affect trade. It also seems highly unlikely that any form of maritime cabotage rights within the EU would be available to UK companies, which could have an impact on shipping companies which operate in these areas.

What impact will Brexit have on the taxation of aviation, shipping and rail transactions?

The likely consequences of any Brexit depend upon its form.

The most obvious impact is on VAT. VAT raises around a fifth of the UK’s tax revenue, so it is most unlikely that it would be abolished, but the UK and the EU’s systems may diverge over time. Exports of goods and services outside the EU are generally excluded from VAT, however EU Member States do generally charge VAT on the import of goods and services from outside the EU. We would expect that once the UK has left the EU, the EU Member States would apply that treatment to imports from the UK.

UK membership of the EU has impacted on other areas of taxation, for example, the introduction of cross-border loss relief and the substantial shareholding exemption. Whilst over time, changes to the tax rules may take place, it should be noted that the UK’s tax system will continue to be influenced by both Europe and the rest of the world. Particularly, where multi-nationals are concerned, there will be continued pressures for the UK to remain competitive. For example, the UK could introduce more flexible incentives to invest in shipping and aviation if concerns about State Aid were removed.

Will Brexit affect the UK’s relationship with non-EU countries in the transport sector?

Aviation
As well as intra-EU air traffic rights, the UK benefits from the air traffic rights negotiated at the EU level with third party countries. The most significant of these is the EU-US Open Skies Agreement, which allows EU and US airlines to fly between points in the EU and the US (and, in the case of US airlines, to operate intra-EU flights, although EU airlines cannot operate intra-US flights).

If the UK wishes to retain the status quo, it will need to (i) sign up to the EU-US Open Skies Agreement in the same manner as, for example, Norway or negotiate a bilateral agreement with the US (although this would necessarily be more limited and could not cover, for example, flights from Paris to the US), (ii) negotiate new bilateral agreements with other non-EU countries to replicate those which it currently benefits from as an EU member, and (iii) decide whether to retain the EU nationality clauses which it has in its existing bilateral agreements with non-EU countries. Removal of any such EU nationality clauses would risk destabilising the UK’s relations with the EU and would represent a move away from market liberalisation.

Rail
We do not envisage that Brexit will affect the UK’s relationship with non-EU countries in respect of the rail sector. The UK is currently a member of international rail organisations, such as the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), and is likely to remain so.

Shipping
Given the global nature of the shipping industry we do not expect that Brexit will have a significant effect on the UK’s relationship with non-EU countries in the shipping sector.

What effect will Brexit have on the regulation to which UK transport companies are subject generally?

The UK has announced plans for a “Great Repeal Bill” pursuant to which all EU-derived legislation will be converted into UK law. This will come into effect only after the UK has left the EU. The Great Repeal Bill has three primary aims:

  • To repeal the European Communities Act 1972, which currently establishes the supremacy of EU law in the UK;
  • To preserve EU law where it stands at the moment before the UK leaves the EU. The UK Parliament will then be able to decide which elements of that law to keep, amend or repeal; and
  • To enable changes to be made by secondary legislation to those laws that would otherwise not function sensibly after Brexit.

This approach is intended to avoid the significant gaps and consequent uncertainty if all EU-derived law was repealed without replacement. However it is not without limitations.

As such, in the short term it is likely that the UK will continue to conform to EU laws and regulations, but going forward there may be some regulatory divergence as the UK extricates itself from the jurisdiction of the CJEU. The need to maintain the evolution of the regulatory frameworks of the UK and the EU so as to facilitate continuing trade was one of the issues highlighted by the UK Prime Minister in her letter invoking Article 50. It can be expected to feature in the ongoing Article 50 negotiations and in discussions on a comprehensive free trade agreement between the EU and the UK.

In addition, the UK will of course still be subject to its obligations under any international treaties such as the Convention on International Civil Aviation 1944 (the Chicago Convention) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

Aviation
Following Brexit, the UK will cease to be a member of European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the entity which, amongst other things, issues type certificates for aircraft on behalf of EU Member States.

However, the “Basic Regulation” as set out in Regulation (EC) No 216/2008, under which EASA operates, contemplates that EASA is open to participation by European third countries which are non-EU Member States (such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), provided that they are contracting parties to the Chicago Convention and have concluded agreements with the EU whereby they adopt and apply EU aviation safety rules. If the UK became an EASA member state under this arrangement, it would not have voting rights in the EASA decision-making process and would need to comply with all EU law in the aviation safety field, unless negotiated otherwise. This may prove incompatible with the stated desire of the UK Government to extricate the UK from the jurisdiction of the CJEU and for the UK to regain sole control of law making.

Rail
In the rail sector, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is responsible for both economic and safety regulation in Great Britain. Much of this regulation derives from the EU and is therefore designed to be a ‘one size fits all’ for all European rail networks. In the absence of this system, the ORR could in theory seek to modify the regulatory framework in a way that it considered better suited to the rail network in Great Britain. One potential area that ORR might seek to change concerns the regulatory framework for access charging. The EU access charging rules contain strict provisions on how infrastructure managers should set access charges for operators. A consequence of these rules is that it limits Network Rail’s ability to discriminate in the way it sets charges for different operators, even if there is an objective justification for such discrimination. If these rules no longer applied, there could be scope to increase open access in rail by setting the access charging framework in a way that promoted open access operators and increased on-rail competition. This might be attractive to the ORR given its policy to promote more on-rail competition.

What impact (if any) will Brexit have on the regulation to which UK transport companies are subject in the field of environmental or health and safety?

Rail
Following Brexit, the UK is likely to retain a role in developing common technical specifications and common approaches to rail safety for the rail sector in Europe, irrespective of the Brexit model adopted.

All electricity used by the UK rail industry, whether for traction or other purposes, is subject to the EU ETS. The only rail operations not covered by the EU ETS are the operation of diesel trains and road vehicles used to support rail operations. Irrespective of whether or not the EU ETS continues to apply following Brexit, we consider that the UK rail industry will seek to continue to improve its environmental performance and reduce emissions in line with the UK Government’s policy.

Shipping
The primary regulations governing safety at sea and environmental issues are contained in international conventions: SOLAS 1 (in relation to safety at sea) and MARPOL 2 (in relation to environmental issues). UK shipping companies will still need to observe and operate within this international regulatory framework irrespective of Brexit. It is likely that, regardless of an exit from the EU, UK shipping companies will still have to comply with at least some current, as well as future, EU maritime policy by virtue of trading to, and using ports within, the EU.

Whilst the EU ETS does not currently apply to the shipping industry, the EU has introduced Regulation 2020/757, which creates an EU-wide legal framework for the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO 2 emissions from maritime transport. This is part of a three step strategy:

  • monitoring, reporting and verification of CO 2 emissions from large ships using EU ports;
  • greenhouse gas reduction targets for the maritime transport sector;
  • further measures, including market-based measures, in the medium to long term.

UK shipping companies using EU ports are likely to be subject to such measures whether or not such measures are adopted more generally by the International Maritime Organisation.

What impact will Brexit have on the taxation of aviation, shipping and rail transactions?

The likely consequences of any Brexit depend upon its form.

The most obvious impact is on VAT. VAT raises around a fifth of the UK’s tax revenue, so it is most unlikely that it would be abolished, but the UK and the EU’s systems may diverge over time. Exports of goods and services outside the EU are generally excluded from VAT, however EU Member States do generally charge VAT on the import of goods and services from outside the EU. We would expect that once the UK has left the EU, the EU Member States would apply that treatment to imports from the UK.

UK membership of the EU has impacted on other areas of taxation, for example, the introduction of cross-border loss relief and the substantial shareholding exemption. Whilst over time, changes to the tax rules may take place, it should be noted that the UK’s tax system will continue to be influenced by both Europe and the rest of the world. Particularly, where multi-nationals are concerned, there will be continued pressures for the UK to remain competitive. For example, the UK could introduce more flexible incentives to invest in shipping and aviation if concerns about State Aid were removed.

Footnotes

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (as amended by the Protocol of 1978).

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (as amended by the Protocol of 1978).

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