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Britain leads the way...

by DoDo Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 08:16:23 AM EST

The UK has been at the forefront of pursuing infrastructure projects in a public-private partnership (PPP) construction, a model now spreading across the EU. This despite rather negative experiences in Britain's rail sector: one should remember the bankruptcy of two of the three private companies whom London was forced to sell maintenance of London Underground infrastructure, the high price tag of High Speed 1, or indeed the collapse of infrastructure manager Railtrack (which was a listed public limited company, unlike its successor Network Rail). But, who cares, the goal is to privatise profits and socialise losses, after all?

Well, last week, the government of Gordon Brown led the way into another direction – without too much fanfare.

Railway Gazette: Inter-city electrification planning to start immediately

UK: An immediate start of detailed planning for electrification of the Great Western Main Line and Manchester Victoria - Liverpool route were announced by Secretary of State for Transport Lord Andrew Adonis on July 23.


The 񊸱bn total investment will be funded by Network Rail with government support.

Wait, it gets better: it's not that private companies are excluded for lack of profit to make!

Adonis said electrification will be self-financing in the medium term though lower train maintenance, leasing and operating costs, and as a result it can be undertaken without reducing planned infrastructure enhancement to 2014.

The timeline details for the affected:

Great Western

Detailed planningImmediate
Early works2012-14
Main construction2014-16
Electric services from London to Oxford, Newbury, Bristolend 2016
Bristol Swanseaend 2017

Liverpool Manchester

Detailed planningImmediate
Main construction2011-13

Even if the timeline is long, I must say this is more than I expected.

The background is a study prepared by Network Rail.

The electrification of the rail network of the UK is relatively low in a European comparison: only the busiest mainlines radiating from London to the north are under overhead line, but mainlines to the west or in transversal direction aren't.

  • Lines in purple: 25 kV, 50 Hz overhead line (the dashed Glasgow–Edinburgh line is in advanced construction)
  • Lines in green: 750 V DC third rail
  • Lines in yellow: diesel

The Network Rail study indicated thorough benefits.

  • The vehicles running the same traffic would be faster;
  • fuel costs are half of that with diesels;
  • maintenance costs are less by a third;
  • track wear is less, too;
  • presently most freight trains run with diesels even on electrified lines because they continue beyond those lines, but with enough connections, that would change.

With these, Network Rail found positive benefit/cost ratios for most mainlines in Central England.

Lines in red: priority projects (including Crossrail), blue: for later
The devolved Scottish government pursues its own projects; dashed red is ongoing, fixed plans in green

But, I did not expect the government to get enthusiastic and give the go-ahead to one of their two proposed priority projects (the other being the Midland Mainline) and one they hoped for in a second stage, and that this soon.

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

...and what goes on in Denmark in the meantime? The local conservative government and the management of the national railway have long foiled grander plans. But recently, the government endorsed an investment plan that includes a new high(er) speed line (one cancelled a decade ago), and the prospect of electrification. (Albeit only after 2020, after a questionable other grand project is finished: the installation of the ERTMS signalling/train control system across the network.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 08:22:40 AM EST
Wales really needs the investment in track infrastructure - especially so for electrification of the track for the Swansea-London line which we've been told isn't possible because of the tunnel.  It's good to see this as a priority... but no plans for the rest of the country?
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 08:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Adonis is not a huge fan of the franchising system, and actually has an interest in getting things done. He wasn't good at Education, but he seems to be making some waves at Transport.

The trick with electrification is that it lowers the requirements for a next generation intercity train to replace the current HSTs - which are probably the best trains the UK has ever had.

HST2 has been in the planning stage for something like three years now, and the original spec called for an impractical do-everything hybrid. Electrification more or less kills any need for HST2, which is bound to be a saving, not to mention a relief.

Current HSTs will be cascaded to the remaining non-electrified lines and there are rumours they'll still be in service ten or twenty years from now. Any generic mid-spec intercity electric set will work on the new lines.

The one downside is that electrification will be an upgrade to conventional lines running at conventional speeds. Direct high speed Euro-links to Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Wales would be a useful long-term investment, but aren't part of this project.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 08:55:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes to all. I quibble that the hybrid version HST2 will come earlier than even the priority electrification projects, but indeed the study indicated that the government would buy less of these and more of the electric-only version.

That express passenger rail considerations are focused on electrificating conventional lines is indeed a downside, but, electrification of those is needed for freight and local trans, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 10:37:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last I heard was that HST2 was pretty much dead now - hence the electrification plan, and the plan to continue using original HSTs on non-electrified lines.

And for those who think nationalisation can't get anything useful done - I'd like them to explain how it produced the most successful and popular train design of the last 35 years, which will likely have had a 50-60 year working life by the time it's finally retired.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 11:16:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last I heard was that HST2 was pretty much dead now

Nope, it's only called "Super Express" now -- and is much closer to reality, the builder having been chosen. This was covered in a Salon (with me adding some background); but here is it from Railway Gazette:

Agility Trains to supply Super Express fleet

12 February 2009

UK: Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced on February 12 that the Agility Trains consortium of Hitachi, John Laing and Barclays has been selected as preferred bidder for the supply of `up to 1 400' vehicles as part of the government-led Intercity Express Programme.

Under the £7·5bn train service provision contract, for which the financing is due to be put in place by the end of this year, the consortium will introduce a fleet of 200 km/h Super Express trains for inter-city services on the East Coast Main Line from 2013 to replace existing IC125 and IC225 trainsets. The trains would subsequently be introduced on the Great Western Main Line between London, Bristol and South Wales, with widespread operation expected from 2015...

The Super Express fleet will be formed of electric, diesel and bi-mode trains, all with a maximum speed of 200 km/h. Following succesful trials of the Hayabusa powercar equipped with onboard battery energy storage, the diesel and bi-mode trains will use hybrid technology to reduce fuel consumption by `up to 15%'...

Note: there were actually three versions planned (electric, diesel, hybrid). As for the balance between them, here is what I referred to from the Network Rail study (with my emphasis):

...A fleet of new
long trains known as Super Express is to be
procured as part of an Intercity Express Programme
(IEP). The DfT has announced that the fleet will
consist of electric diesel and bi-mode variants. The
development of an electrification strategy has direct
relevance to
decisions on the balance of the
different types of trains within the new fleet

Section 4.3 deals with the question in more detail and with graphs. Now, those are projections; as for actual decisions, Adonis was explicit -- again from the Railway Gazette article quoted in the diary:

The Super Express Trains to be delivered from 2013 under the Intercity Express Programme 'will now be predominantly electric powered on the London to Swansea line', allowing 'sub-optimal' replacement with a diesel-only fleet to be dropped in favour of electric trains and 'bi-modal' trains [read: hybrids] with a diesel generator at one end and electric transformers at the other; these will serve Worcester, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Carmarthen and the southwest beyond Bristol.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 02:08:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
..as for my wondering about a delivery schedule starting in 2013, well indeed:

Railway Gazette: World rolling stock market April 2009

UK: The Hitachi-led Agility Trains consortium selected to supply up to 140 Super Express Train inter-city trainsets from 2013 launched a consultation process on March 11 to select European partners and component sub-suppliers.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 02:57:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you talking about the Copenhagen-Ringsted line?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 02:08:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 02:09:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some relevant news articles...

  1. the original project (put on hold by the right-wing government):

    Railway Gazette: Ringsted expansion launched

    01 February 1998

    DANISH rail infrastructure authority Banestyrelsen launched a public consultation on January 12 into options for increasing capacity on the 64 km København - Ringsted main line running west from the capital. The Folketing passed a law last May authorising the start of planning for the project.

  2. Revival of the project, still with an alibi upgrade as first option:

    Railway Gazette: Capacity boost is needed

    29 October 2008

    DENMARK: September 22 saw the start of a public enquiry into plans by the national rail authority Trafikstyrelsen into ways of expanding capacity on the country's busiest line between København and Ringsted...

    After considering a number of alternatives, the government selected two options for further evaluation in March 2007. Adding a fifth track on the existing line to Høje Tåstrup, remodelling at Roskilde and four-tracking between Adamshøj and Ringsted would cost DKr5bn. But this would only accommodate four or five extra trains per hour, and the extra capacity would be used up by 2017. The alternative is to build a 64 km double-track line from Ny Ellebjerg to Kværkby alongside the Holbæk motorway and then parallelling the existing line into Ringsted. This would cost DKr9bn, but could accommodate up to 13 trains/h...

    The public enquiry is due to be completed by December 1, and the government is expected to make a formal decision between the two options during the second half of 2009.

  3. The ERTMS/ETCS plans (note: the problematic version is Level 2):

    Railway Gazette: ETCS Level 2 for entire Danish network

    19 December 2008

    DENMARK: Banedanmark has announced plans to replace all signalling on the country's national rail network by ERTMS over the next 12 years...

    The favoured option, which has been presented to the government for formal approval, will see all main lines and branches equipped with ETCS Level 2... All lineside signals will be removed, and a completely new set of operational rules will be developed...

  4. 10-year plan approval:

    Denmark approves 10-year infrastructure plan | International Railway Journal | Find Articles at BNET
    International Railway Journal, March, 2009

    THE Danish government has approved by a large majority plans to invest nearly DKr 100 billion ($US 17.2 billion) in transport infrastructure between 2010 and 2020. Most of the investment is destined for public transport, reflecting the need to tackle the investment backlog and provide additional capacity to cope with projected increases in demand.

    Under the plan, infrastructure manager Banedanmark will invest DKr 24 billion in a nationwide rollout of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which will replace existing systems by 2020. Initially ERTMS will be installed on the Copenhagen-Malmo (Sweden) Oresund link to coincide with the opening Malmo Citytunnel, which will be equipped from the outset with ERTMS...

    As part of the one-hour model, a new 200km/h line will be constructed between Copenhagen and Ringsted with an intermediate station at Koge. The DKr 10 billion line will open in 2018, when the Fehmarn Bridge between Denmark and Germany is due to be completed.

  5. On electrification, read this article in Danish (or Google translate). The article (and the minister's rhetoric) actually focuses on a delay of all electrification, which IMO is idiotic; but, considering that there wasn't any planned seriously, while there was plenty of talk from airheads about the superiority of diesel, there wasn't much to be delayed really -- so what's noteworthy for me (and for some not online rail journals where I read it) is that they talk of it as one to happen anyway -- even arguing that it would be 15% cheaper after signalling is in place. The background is, the ministers' denials notwithstanding, the IC3 debacle.

  6. Go-ahead for part of the Copenhagen-Ringsted corridor capacity increase:

    Railway Gazette: Consultants appointed for København capacity increase

    30 June 2009

    DENMARK: Infrastructure manager Banedanmark has appointed Atkins and Grontmij Carl Bro as design and engineering consultants for a DKr800m project to increase capacity on the western approach to København's main station...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 02:55:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When speaking of Denmark and rail, I'm reminded that the Swedish Europakorridoren project has recieved new attention, partly due to climate change and the Fehmarn Belt bridge bing greenlighted. It's still essentially a paper product supported by business and local authorities, but we've had debate on it in the major papers this summer, and a government report on it is due this fall.

It's essentially a true HSR system for southern Sweden, with linkup to to Germany via Denmark. Total cost around 10 billion euros, half of that for the Swedish part, but something tells me that might be far too optimistic, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the cost ends up at 10 billion euros just for the Swedish part.


The distance and population density of Stockholm-Copenhagen is a remarkable carbon copy of Madrid-Barcelona IIRC.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 03:14:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 03:23:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 08:03:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ad 5: You're talking about the IC4 debacle. IC3 have been running well and fine for the next best thing to ten years by now.

A bunch of mayors along the current Copenhagen-Ringsted line have been running around trying to toss a spanner in the works of this routing, by the way. They favour a capacity upgrade for the current line, and are busy burning the village to save it.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 03:34:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're talking about the IC4 debacle

Yes, sorry for the typo. The IC4 deserves another recent newsquote.

Railway Gazette: DSB reaches IC4 settlement with AnsaldoBreda

21 May 2009

DENMARK: A year after issuing an ultimatum to AnsaldoBreda over the protracted delays to the delivery of its IC4 diesel multiple-units, on May 20 state railway DSB announced an agreement to restructure the troubled procurement contract.

The delivery timescale for the 83 IC4 trainsets and 23 IC2 derivatives for regional operation has been extended to 2012, and AnsaldoBreda will compensate DSB for its increased costs. As a stop-gap, DSB is leasing an additional 45 double-deck push-pull coaches, plus an extra three ICE-TD trainsets from DB.

In its May 2008 ultimatum DSB required AnsaldoBreda to deliver 14 IC4 sets by May 2009 for commissioning for single unit operation, plus at least one set approved for coupling to other units. All 15 have now been delivered, and DSB is operating three daily departures with single IC4s on Mondays to Thursdays. The extra set for the coupling tests began running earlier this month, but only has 'qualified' type-approval, and AnsldoBreda has been asked to submit additional documentation to regulatory body Trafikstyrelsen by July 27.

That's a delay of 7 (seven) years for the last unit to be delivered...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 04:49:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah well, if you do bizniz with stupid gits like AnsaldoBreda, then you're kinda sorta asking for it.

These are, after all, the same gits that broke CERN.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 01:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, I was not aware of the Ansaldo Components involvement with those magnets...

In the case of AnsaldoBreda, beyond production quality and management issues, the failure to deliver the IC4 had an extra reason: a case of cascading problems. The theory is that AnsaldoBreda gave priority to another customer and another troubled product: the E.403 locomotives for state railways FS (last I heard, those are still not operational).

But, to not let up Danish authorities: their error was to go with the cheapest offer... an error amazingly repeated by the Dutch-Belgian high speed consortium.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 03:57:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ansaldo-Breda screwed up the Gothenburg tram order too IIRC... Eternal delays, and really bad quality when they arrived. Still, they do make world class naval guns.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 04:23:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Word class by what measure? Any practical applications in the last half century? ;-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 06:06:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was of course thinking of the War Nerd's classic U Sank My Carrier! (and its follow-ups Take America's Navy Battle Group...Please! and This Is How the Carriers Will Die); though you may think of smaller calibre.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 06:25:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mixed it up with the famous Otobreda gun, made by Oto Melara.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 07:01:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always liked this freight project

Central Railway

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 09:22:48 AM EST
Amidst the Latvian mess, one chink of light it seems - and from the IMF at that, which has been demanding a cessation of PPPs in Latvia.

And why?

by MaBozza (greig.aitken AT gmail.com) on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 07:31:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Repeat after me: "Public-Private Partnerships" are a way to put public money in private pockets.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 at 07:48:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But: for the benefit of public investment, or 100% private investment?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 01:31:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to remind everybody that this is a suggestion from a British government about spending that is scheduled to begin long after it has left office. I believe this is gonna happen as much as I believe that we will voluntarily reduce our CO2 emissions by 2050.

There are lies, damned lies and UK government committments.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 08:16:17 AM EST
Well, the planning spending starts immediately, but OK, that's small beans compared to construction tabled for the year after the next general elections. On the other hand, if they go into enough commitments (like: tendering main construction in the first half of next year), Cameron would find it less easy to back out.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 4th, 2009 at 10:04:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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