Sustainable Inter-Regional Travel – Can the Train Take the Strain?
UPDATE: SSM discussion paper on investing in transport infrastructure.
Now available HERE
A discussion paper by Dominic McCann Click here for the report: Long Distance and Inter-Regional Travel final (second edition)
This discussion paper was written by Dominic McCann in response to a debate on twitter about capacity issues on the West Coast Mainline and the High Speed Rail proposals. We at Steady State Manchester see his paper to be a coherent and challenging contribution to the debate. We do not necessarily agree with all the assumptions made, nor with all the conclusions Dominic reaches, but we welcome the systematic analysis that he makes based on an engineer’s understanding of the issues. Indeed we consider the report a model of the kind of contribution that is needed to inform democratic debate and decision-taking on our social and economic future. Of particular interest is that Dominic looks at transport options from the perspective of a modal shift from cars and flights to rail (and bus) transport. He also takes seriously the Steady State perspective and the need to de-carbonise transport.
Steady State Manchester invites constructive responses and debate on this topic, with particular reference to transition to a local and regional economy that supports ecological, social and economic well-being. You might want to consider the following questions. Are the assumptions about the rate of de-carbonisation sufficient? Does such a transition mean more or less local and inter-regional travel, and how does this relate to future projections and needs for inter-regional rail travel? What about freight: how will a reduction in unnecessary consumption, a rebalancing of production and distribution on a more regional and local basis, and the de-carbonisation of road haulage interact an shape the need for rail? And how would a re-localisation of he economy impact on passenger travel? How will increasing and qualitatively different kinds of virtual communication reduce the need for meetings where people are all physically present? Will people actually be able to afford to travel on this new railway? Will HS2 tend to suck resources out of the region (as has been the case with other high speed railways elsewhere)?
We are also making available a spreadsheet that enables you to explore the model that Dominic has used. For example you can propose a greater rate of reduction in journeys or a faster shift from road to rail. Dominic has not assumed any economic growth – reasonable in our view, but you can explore the impact of varying levels of growth by putting in an annual percentage figure (we assume a linear relationship between growth and travel – debatable of course, but the government does the same. The spreadsheet is not a finished product, we would like to develop it further, for example by adding in a variable for the rate of re-localisation of the economy, but this will prove difficult since we need to simultaneously look at re-localisation global-to-national and re-localisation national-to-regional.
Click for spreadsheet: Long distance transport projections for modeling
Finally here are some links that you might find helpful – mostly about High Speed rail (HS2)
Paul Salveson, The National Network: Is High Speed the Answer? Chapter 8 in Railpolitik: Bringing railways back to the community
The National Audit Office critical report on the economic case for HS2 http://www.nao.org.uk/report/high-speed-2-a-review-of-early-programme-preparation/
New Economics Foundation alternative report on HS2 http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/is-hs2-really-the-best-way-to-spend-33bn
John Tomaney. The Local and Regional Impacts of High Speed Rail in the UK: A Review of the Evidence http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmtran/writev/rail/m14.htm
The government’s original economic analysis of HS2 benefits https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-economic-appraisal
Zero Carbon Britain – includes analysis of how to decarbonise transport http://zerocarbonbritain.com/
HS2 Action Alliance – with various alternative statistical analyses – although they are definitely not making a de-carbonisation case http://www.hs2actionalliance.org/
51M an alliance of mostly Southern local authorities (now why would they oppose a new railway to the north) but with some useful material (and some broken links) http://www.51m.co.uk/
Another forecasting spreadsheet from Wendover HS2 action http://wendoverhs2.wordpress.com/spreadsheet-tool/
Christian Wolmar, rail and transport writer (and Labour candidate for London Mayor) some interesting material here too. http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/tag/hs2/
Right lines charter – pro HS2 but critical of both sides of the debate http://rightlines.org.uk/
We haven’t linked the neoliberal Institute of Economic Affairs or Institute of Directors critiques, you can find them easily enough, if you must.