Latest Rail News

06.10.17

Griffiths: Future of northern transport hinges on HS2 links with NPR

The future of transport in the north will be defined by how HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) will work together, Paul Griffiths, managing director of HS2 Phase 2 has argued.

During an informative address to delegates at the TransCityRail North conference in Manchester yesterday, Griffiths called for an end to the economic imbalance between London and the north, and stated that NPR will be central to HS2’s success in connecting up businesses and passengers in the region.

Having taken over the reigns as managing director of the route between Birmingham and Manchester in September, Griffiths’ speech was a key opportunity to reach out to the suppliers and businesses who will be central to delivering the mammoth £54bn project.

It also came in the same week that chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £300m to improve local connections to HS2 in the north and ensuring the high-speed line can link up to NPR.

“The extra £300m will futureproof HS2 and to build in the provisions to allow NPR to interact with HS2 and that’s really important,” Griffiths told the audience. “It will link with Midland connections and keeps open options for projects like improvements at Manchester Piccadilly.

“Northern Powerhouse has been fantastic in joining up the north and making a single connected market that can compete with a population similar to that of London.”

But Griffiths later went on to say that the key debate was not around how the north and London should compete for infrastructure funding, but rather that the rail networks needed to link up to be as efficient and successful as possible, working as one.

“The future of transport in the north is about HS2 and NPR and what they can achieve together,” the HS2 Phase 2 lead said. “The north will develop capacity and productivity that will allow it to connect from this city here to other cities in the south.

“It will give confidence to the business community and those who want to work in the north, expanding labour markets and creating more job opportunities.

“We are all working together to ensure these major investments do link up and provide better connections. We’re looking forward to working with Transport for the North to further refine their network and take that work to the next stage.”

Paul Griffiths HS2 transcityrail

UK rail should compete with European networks – not each other

Another key point to take away from Griffiths’ speech was that the UK’s rail industry needed to stop bickering between itself about infrastructure funding and instead find ways to compete with other rail networks in countries across Europe.

“London continues to outgrow the north in terms of GDA by a significant margin,” he argued.  “Britain has some huge regional disparities, much wider than those in other western nations.

“Many companies are finding it harder to compete working for the north than they do in the south east.

“To a great extent that imbalance is self-reinforcing, as direct investment, R&D spending and even where to put your HQ gravitates towards London and really exacerbates that imbalance.

“We really should not be thinking about competing the north against London – it should be about how we cope with cities in Europe like Hamburg and Leon,” Griffiths continued.

“Those slow links that don’t allow us to compete are something we need to focus on. When we ask businesses about what effect bad transport has on them, they tell us that it’s harder to collaborate, it’s harder to get the supply chain to come to them and it’s harder to get the pool of talent they want to come and work from them.”

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Comments

Ian Watkins   06/10/2017 at 14:12

So HS2 goes to London rather than seeing London as a stop on the way to the Continent. More joined up transport thinking by the London-centric DfT.

Huguenot   06/10/2017 at 14:44

So why no plea for electrification of those local rail links to HS2? Toton, Sheffield, and in part Leeds, will all rely on diesel feeder services. No-one will want to drive to Sheffield or Leeds city centres to catch HS2, so those feeder services have got to be really good. Incidentally, "Having taken over the reigns as managing director ..." -- is Paul Griffiths really king of all he surveys?

Graham Nalty   07/10/2017 at 13:15

When HS2 was first announced the task for HS2 Ltd. was to show that a high speed railway was viable in the UK. That meant concentrating on the largest traffic flows, which means routes to London to achieve the highest BCR in the business case. This is not necessarily what the country needs to grow the economy. But is satisfies the accountants and economists in the Government that it brings the best financial return in a very narrow aspect of transport investment. By contrast the UK first needs to speed up the very many links between large cities that average less than 40 mph by rail. This has to be followed up by much better transport links around cities. These slow links hinder businesses visiting their suppliers and customers and innovating by joint collaboration. HS2 Ltd has always seemed to want to marginalize Sheffield in order to gain BCR brownie points by delivering faster journey times over longer distances. Their inaccurate quoted figures for the time saving by serving Meadowhall rather than a Sheffield city centre station of 7 minutes were compounded by the unachievable interchange time at Meadowhall of 5 minutes for reaching Sheffield city centre. These were essentially a way to skew the figures to favour their choice of Meadowhall. If these were replaced by accurate figures based on the real railway, then the analysis would almost certainly have favoured a city centre station. The £300 million offered by the Chancellor is merely money to go some way to correcting the failures of HS2 to integrate with the NPR when it was first designed. Paying for mistakes. For HS2 to be properly integrated with NPR, the first thing to be done is to serve Sheffield AND Leeds by the same HS2 trains. Otherwise there are going to be far too many trains from Leeds going south. And damaging the Shimmer estate can be avoided by routing HS2 via Doncaster, whether via the station or bypassing it. Building the section to York would be much cheaper by following close to the current Eat Coast main line.

Malcolm Watt   07/10/2017 at 15:58

We really should revisit the plans set out by UK Ultraspeed.

Andrew Gwilt   08/10/2017 at 11:37

I mostly agree with Huguenot.

John   15/01/2018 at 13:43

@Huguenot The city with the best feeder services for HS2 is Liverpool, with its Merseyrail metro - but of course it was left off HS2. That is with Merseyrail as is. One third of Merseyrail was not built in the 1970s. The trackbeds and tunnels await rails and trains.

John   15/01/2018 at 13:43

@Huguenot The city with the best feeder services for HS2 is Liverpool, with its Merseyrail metro - but of course it was left off HS2. That is with Merseyrail as is. One third of Merseyrail was not built in the 1970s. The trackbeds and tunnels await rails and trains.

John   15/01/2018 at 13:48

For HS2 to be properly integrated into NPR, NPR rail to be designed first (and have it STRAIGHT). Then join HS2 into it. Currently the tail is wagging the dog.

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