PTN Document

Mr Grayling's utterly closed mind

7 December 2016

Linked below is the reply to the letter signed by 54 experienced and concerned people requesting a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport [see entry on 16 November].  It offers no apology for the fact that it took 23 working days to be drafted, gives no explanation and does not offer a meeting with the junior minister responsible for HS2.

Supporters have commented that it is "brusque and dismissive", "extremely rude", "curt to the point of offensiveness" and "not the most polite 'no' I've ever read".  Some are raising the matter with their Member of Parliament.

Is this not the sort of behaviour by metropolitan vested interests that is causing so much political concern - and potential dangers - around the country ?

DfT letter 02 Dec.docx
PTN Document

Government blocks debate on HS2

16 November 2016

54 people with extensive experience in transport planning and regional economics asked to meet the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to express their concerns about HS2 and to propose a review.

The request has been ignored.

The signatories are therefore publishing here the letter and associated documents. We believe that a small group of politicians, lobbyists and vested interests are pursuing a flawed project that does not have popular support. There are better, cheaper, quicker, more flexible schemes available to improve our railway - and needs in other sectors that should be met first if so much money is available

Publication of the letter following the Phase 2 announcement :
HS2 message, 16 November.odt

The letter to the Secretary of State and the list of signatories :
Grayling signatures.pdf

The report of the York workshop :
HS2 - the case for a review - July 2016.pdf

The issue of timetable planning :
Timetabling HS2.pdf
Andersen paper.pdf

A transcript of a crucial interview with Mr Grayling :

The Prime Minister's letter to Camden Council :
May to Hayward 9 August 2016.pdf


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PTN Document

Department for Transport : obdurate, evasive and undemocratic

1 October 2016

Attempts to engage in dialogue with the Department for Transport over HS2 are being met with obduracy and evasion and give the impression that any commitment to democratic involvement has been abandoned.  The report of an expert workshop calling for a pause to review the project [see 23 May 2016] has been ignored, and subsequent correspondence has yielded nothing more than 'boilerplate' responses.  This should cause great concern, given the scale of the project, the breadth and depth of critiques and the danger that pressing ahead will add to perceptions of an arrogant metropolitan clique spending money on schemes irrelevant to most people across Britain.

The correspondence so far  > 
Correspondence with DfT.pdf

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PTN Document

Timetabling HS2

28 September 2016

HS2 Ltd has only published simplistic diagrams of its services that do not enable interested parties to understand the proposals relevant to their area. Even more importantly, those with professional knowledge cannot test whether plans for the infrastructure are appropriate with regard to junction and station capacity and the likelihood of conflicts and the need for compromises. The absence of a properly-validated operational timetable is concerning, given the high risk of costly errors in infrastructure specifications and of changes to the proposals that could disappoint certain places and weaken the business case. It is indefensible that for a scheme costing at least £57 billion a timetabling exercise that need cost no more than £100,000 has not been commissioned.

A briefing note on the issues  > 

Timetabling HS2.pdf

A commentary from Germany      > 

Andersen paper.pdf


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PTN Document

Pathing the East Coast : do we want to follow the Swiss ?

5 June 2015

Network Rail, with an endorsement from the Department for Transport, has published a report on the application of Swiss timetabling principles to the Anglia network.  Meanwhile the Office for Rail and Road (as ORR now is) is grappling with a decision about Open Access paths on the East Coast Main Line that could create the very opposite.  Network Rail has produced a plan that shows how giving priority to a very fast Edinburgh <> Newcastle <> London service (run by Deutsche Bahn) would fragment the East Coast timetable, including the removal of through London trains from Berwick-upon-Tweed and of inter-city stops at Stevenage.  This article from Modern Railways discusses what is at stake.  It also highlights the ambivalent position of the DfT, torn between protecting its income from the franchisee and promoting 'competition'.

Modern Railways article - June 2015.pdf


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PTN Document

Time to debate Open Access objectively

16 August 2014

Open Access (OA) operators have generally had a good press.  However the downsides of the concept have received less attention.  It is time to redress the balance and to have an objective debate about all the issues - which go far wider than the satisfaction of travellers on particular routes.  Specifically, the East Coast Main Line timetable cannot be planned sensibly until the scale of OA operations has been resolved.  PTN has tried to initiate debate with two pieces:

(1)  Christian Wolmar reviewed PTN's ECML report [see the 13 June entry under 'Reports'] in Rail magazine [issue 751].  This was challenged by the Managing Director of Alliance Rail [752] and PTN replied [754].

(2)  Following a less-than-balanced presentation of the case for Open Access at a conference at Huddersfield University on 11 July PTN prepared an article for the Viewpoint slot in Local Transport Today [issue 652].

Read the debate : Open Access debate.pdf


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PTN Document

Challenging the ideology of privatisation

14 November 2013

Contemporary railway policy is dominated by market ideology.  Contrary to the relentlessly upbeat stories put out by Ministers and the industry cheerleaders all is not well.  Current institutions and processes cannot deliver the national network of high-quality services that travellers need and which are essential if we are to maximise the social and environmental benefits of our railway.

This paper analyses the issues in depth and with copious references and proposes radically different policies.  It was given at an Institute of Railway Studies Workshop at the National Railway Museum.  Comments are very welcome.

Read the paper:  IRS paper_FINAL.pdf


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PTN Document

PTN commends concessions model to Brown Review of rail franchising

5 December 2012

In the aftermath of the collapse of the franchising of West Coast the Department for Transport commissioned Richard Brown to review the process.  PTN is not alone in believing that the problem is more fundamental and has therefore written a submission that commends the model of operating concessions.  The paper discusses a range of potential benefits.  In particular it proposes the establishment of an independent Agency that would bring about an integrated national timetable to provide the framework for the concessions.  The Agency would operate by consensus among all the players - government, Network Rail, train operators, the concessionaires themselves, passenger representatives and trades unions.  Separating planning and delivery in this way and creating a single national brand would yield most of the advantages of reunification without entailing massive reorganisation, and it would encourage commercial acumen through profit-sharing incentives.

Read the submission:  BrownReview-Tyler.doc 


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PTN Document

HS2 : strategic wisdom or grand folly ?

7 April 2012

PTN's position on HS2 has moved as the debate has developed (see other entries under the 'HS2' tag).  This article in the April/May 2012 issue of Rail Technology Magazine explains the doubts.of a 'surprising sceptic' : RTM.pdf.

A fully-annotated version of the article is available here : RTM_with notes.doc.


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PTN Document

ECML - the saga reviewed, and a comparison with France

6 April 2012

In August 2010 the Office of Rail Regulation published a 'lessons learned' report on the ECML timetabling process.  Jonathan Tyler reviewed this document in the November 2010 issue of Modern Railways.  He noted that the preoccupation with process meant that larger issues were overlooked.  Perhaps the way to end drawn out arguments and mediocre outcomes in timetable planning lies in a fundamental reappraisal of railway organisation.

The ORR report is at :

Accompanying the critique was a timely account of the decision by RFF, the French infrastructure manager, to initiate a comprehensive overhaul of its national timetable in order to create extra capacity, introduce greater regularity and enhance network-wide connectivity.  RFF employed the Swiss integrated-timetabling consultancy SMA to undertake this task.  If France can justify the approach (and do the work remarkably quickly) why cannot Britain at least mount a study of the potential benefits ?

The articles were "How not to write a timetable" and "France adopts integrated timetabling".

They can be found here : Lessons_learned_Commentary.doc.


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