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5 hours ago, Ron Ron Ron said:

 

I would caution against trusting the forecasts too closely.

The demographers have a track history of getting most predictions wrong and in some cases, widely wrong.

In the late 1990's, it was forecast that the UK population would grow to 59.9 million by 2025.

We passed that figure almost 20 years ago, with the population currently in the 67 - 68 million ballpark in 2021.

Even though net migration has fallen significantly, after the high growth of the last 10 - 15 years and fertility rates have reduced, there is still an impactful annual increase in the population.

 

The Office for National Statistics recently calculated that the UK population will surpass 69.6 million by mid-2029 and reach 72 million by mid-2041.

However, with much reduced growth, we are already on course to surpass 70 million at an earlier date.

 

Remember, the same people reckoned that following the UK's departure from the EU, that up to around 3 million EU citizens would apply for residency, or a right to stay. 

Over 6 million applied !!!

Even if a lot of those accepted, subsequently didn't take up residence, that's still a prediction that was wildly out.

That's not saying anything against people from other European countries, but it again demonstrates how wrong the government forecasters and demographers often are.

 

.

 

Any prediction of population growth made in the late 90s must be viewed against the subsequent events in Westminster. 

 

That said, I stopped believing government figures of that sort, long ago. The supermarket chains seem to believe that the population has been in excess of 75 million for some time. 

 

Whether this is accurate, who can say? The real worry, is the widespread erosion of belief and trust in government.

Edited by rockershovel
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Back on topic......

 

The Chilterns Tunnels North portal site, 4 months ago, in July.

Followed by views taken last weekend (November).....

 

 

21-21_07-04-North-tunnel-portal-looking-

 

 

 

From the opposite angle, in November.....

 

40-PRoW-GMI-12_1-looking-east-Nov.-2021-

 

 

 

...and back from the other direction....

 

41-PRoW-GMI-12_1-looking-west-Nov.-2021-

 

 

 

 

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There is going to be such a slump in the construction industry in 2024.... these projects will be complete and the next phase, unfunded, unprepared or simply cancelled and the alternatives in disarray. 

 

Much like the early 90s, in fact... 

 

Interestingly enough, foreign workers on HS2 have their very own category of exemption in the Covid travel regulations, along with niche occupations relating to power transmission and the oil industry. 

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1 hour ago, rockershovel said:

There is going to be such a slump in the construction industry in 2024.... these projects will be complete and the next phase, unfunded, unprepared or simply cancelled and the alternatives in disarray. .....

 

What on earth are you talking about?

The work has only got going, with years of construction ahead.

Most of the current projects underway, won't be complete by then and there are many more that will be starting over the next 3 years and more.

 

Old Oak Common and Curzon St., both already under construction, aren't expected to be completed until 2026 or 2027.

 

Phase 2a, which was approved quite a while back and is already in an advance stage of design, will start fully rolling midway through the Phase 1 work (the first preliminary work has already started).

 

Balfour Beatty have already started on the Phase 2a early environmental works contract and 6 bidders were shortlisted a couple of months ago, for the 3 year Advanced Civil Works contract, that is due to start in autumn next year (2022). 

The winners will be announced early in the new year.

 

The Phase 2a Main Civils Work is due to start during the summer of 2024 and will be running concurrently with construction of Phase 1.

Phase 2a involves construction of 17 viaducts, 65 bridges and the track route, with all its earthworks and civil engineering.

That lot will keep the civil engineering and construction industry busy for several years.

 

Similarly, now Phase 2b has been formerly announced, construction of that is expected to kick off as Phase 1 is ramping down, providing an overlap with Phase 2a.

That's 10 years or more of committed work.

 

 

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I don't argue that this is the official narrative. However from hard experience of the period (roughly 1990-93) when the Jubilee Line Extension was cried up from the rooftops, but nothing done and the industry in free-fall as funding was cut, supposedly against this project, you'll have to excuse my cynicism. 

 

The run-up to Cross Rail was similar. The Werrington Grade Separation was delayed for years. Materials stocks haven't been lower since WW2 and skills shortages are severe and getting worse, as Brexit highlights the criminal neglect of skills training and IR35 spreads its wings. Inflation is ramping up and we can't continue printing money for ever. 

 

There needs to be a General Election, not later than 2024, and who can say what will transpire? 

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1 minute ago, rockershovel said:

I don't argue that this is the official narrative. However from hard experience of the period (roughly 1990-93) when the Jubilee Line Extension was cried up from the rooftops, but nothing done and the industry in free-fall as funding was cut, supposedly against this project, you'll have to excuse my cynicism. 

 

The run-up to Cross Rail was similar. The Werrington Grade Separation was delayed for years. Materials stocks haven't been lower since WW2 and skills shortages are severe and getting worse, as Brexit highlights the criminal neglect of skills training and IR35 spreads its wings. Inflation is ramping up and we can't continue printing money for ever. 

 

There needs to be a General Election, not later than 2024, and who can say what will transpire? 

 

 

But HS2 Phase 2a is already proceeding , and MML electrification having been started once, ought to be relatively easy to start a second time (most of the preparatory work having been done the first time - it needs reviewing, that's all?).

 

Phase 2b East and West and Transpennine " high speed" - I don't expect more than 140 mph - were never going to happen until well into the 2030s.

 

In any case you are flagging that material and skills shortage are the choke point. In terms of electrification, we have at least now rebuilt the capacity/skills to do the projects , to a degree. But you are signalling a capacity crunch in civil engineering (earthmoving), rather than a collapse of activity for what capacity exists

 

With MML and Transpennine , it's surely a question of OHLE and signalling capabilities, not earthmoving?

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24 minutes ago, RJS1977 said:

 

Looks as if the road layout was designed by Hermann Tilke... ;-)

 

I had to look the name up.

:D

 

Can you spot the only, actual road being built, in that photo?

 

The curves in the temporary haul roads presumably allow for the undulating terrain of the hillside site?

 

 

.

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1 hour ago, Ravenser said:

 

 

But HS2 Phase 2a is already proceeding , and MML electrification having been started once, ought to be relatively easy to start a second time (most of the preparatory work having been done the first time - it needs reviewing, that's all?).

 

Phase 2b East and West and Transpennine " high speed" - I don't expect more than 140 mph - were never going to happen until well into the 2030s.

 

In any case you are flagging that material and skills shortage are the choke point. In terms of electrification, we have at least now rebuilt the capacity/skills to do the projects , to a degree. But you are signalling a capacity crunch in civil engineering (earthmoving), rather than a collapse of activity for what capacity exists

 

With MML and Transpennine , it's surely a question of OHLE and signalling capabilities, not earthmoving?

You are missing my point. The political and electoral consequences of abandoning work already done, cannot and will not be faced.

 

The Labour problems are being addressed to someone degree, but the faction fighting over free availability of cheap migrant Labour continues - and I do not believe either industry or government can continue kicking this can down the road for ever. 

 

I know what I am seeing on my desk regarding availability of materials, and it's not good. 

 

My best assessment is that there is a real possibility of a rapid, severe choke in expenditure, immediately after the next General Election 

Edited by rockershovel
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It's a measure of the deep cynicism and negativity surrounding all major projects in Britain that since the Integrated Passenger Review  we've spent more pages discussing an abortive London airport proposal from the 1960s than the detils of what was in the report....

 

Part of that is due to the country's seeming inability to implement things. This project was originally "approved" in 2009. It has now been "given the green light" by 4 successive governments, but construction only actually began in 2019 (!:o) . The current estimate for opening of Phase 2b and Northern Powerhouse Rail is "after 2040"  ie 20 years away. Construction will not start until at least 2035 - ie 14 years away!

 

Effectively we have been talking about visionary schemes that might be built at some point in the middle distance. The making of announcements and the taking of decisions has become completely detached from actually building anything. It's not confined to HS2 - the aircraft carriers and new nuclear power stations were "approved" repeatedly over  period of many years before anything actually happened. The Govt is still "planning" and "approving" new nuclear power stations (Ditto the third runway at Heathrow). The Blair government in particular seemed to act as if announcing something was an entirely adequete substitute for doing it - with the advantage that the decision could be retaken and reannounced several times and then the policy quietly dropped as unworkable without ever having to lift a finger to do anything in the real world ....

 

However I did actually read the whole review , and there seems a lot in there that no-one has bothered commenting on.

 

- we will be getting an entirely new high-speed railway from the buffers at Euston to the buffers at Manchester Piccadilly

 

- I have a strong sense old BR hands were heavily involved in this, dragging the proposals back from the shiny visions back to more modest but deliverable options. There is a running theme of a very wintry attitude to proposals for brand new city stations sunk in underground concrete boxes at great expense , which are nowhere near the city centre and have zero connection with the rest of the network (Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Toton ....) "Integrated" is a key word in the title. The fact that Midlands Rail Hub - effectively a project to re-route a couple of lines out of New Street into Moor St , to provide more connections for Curzon St accross the road - gets a chapter is probably significant. Curzon St is unavoidable, but the effort it's clearly taking to make it work well has obviously been a salutary warning.

 

- The East Midlands does a lot better under this revised scheme. The question of how MML electrification will fit with HS2 East is solved. We now have an effective coherent package for the Midland route , in 2 stages:   MML electrification, then a high-speed line replacing the congested southern part of the route, with direct city centre access and effective connections with remaining MML services at East Midlands Parkway. Sheffield is no worse off and may do much better in terms of frequency than it would have done on a long conventional loop off a high speed line aimed at Leeds and the North East.

 

- Lord Adonis' vision of HS2 East replacing the ECML has been scrapped. There is apparently too little capacity south of Birmingham toi take the whole WCML, ECML, and MML services. And the journey time advantages to the North East were modest compared with a further ECML upgrade. The  conventional ECML will remain the trunk route serving the eastern side of the country for another generation, to at least 2050. The North East is no longer involved in HS2, which is now , in old-money , an "LMR only" project .

 

- Two key pieces of the jigsaw are missing. Apparently the "Union Connectivity Review " is due to be published this week (today? tomorrow?) , and this is looking at Anglo-Scottish services and the Golborne Spur. I suppose it will also pick over the train-wreck called GWML electrification...  But a serious look at Glasgow- Liverpool/Manchester connections, which withered away when he links onto the WCML were'nt electrified, might also be worthwhile

 

- As it stands, West Yorkshire is the big loser. But there is clearly another big piece of the jigsaw outstanding , in a further review of "how to get HS2 to Leeds" . It looks to me as if all the questions raised by Leeds City and the congestion on the western approach were just too complex with too many options and uncertainties - so they've been hived off to a seperate exercise , and the questions of what Leeds needs to connect with bolted down in this review, to give some clarity and firm parameters to the new study. We are told this study will also devise a "West Yorkshire Mass Transit " system , and it is suggested this may remove lines and services from the west end of Leeds City.

 

- The "new high speed route " between the eastern edge of Leeds and the northern edge of Rotherham that was suggested in the leaks is nowhere to be seen. BUT - if this is to come out of the W Yorks review , then we have the Midland Mainline extended from Sheffield Midland to Leeds City as HS2 East, , via a new high speed route entering Leeds from the east *(and consequently not imposing further pressure on the western approach)

 

- One significant item which has been missed is the decision to electrify from Leeds into Bradford Interchange. Its significant because it makes limited sense on its own . But in the context of HS2 trains entering Leeds City from the east, and talk of removing existing local services from the western approach at Leeds it suggests an aspiration for HS2 trains to continue past Leeds, to Bradford - finally giving Bradford the proper London express service it lacks, and linking Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield with a fast high-capacity route. There's a clear sub-text in the report that Bradford Interchange is being identified as the rail hub for Bradford

 

 

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1 hour ago, rockershovel said:

You are missing my point. The political and electoral consequences of abandoning work already done, cannot and will not be faced.

 

The Labour problems are being addressed to someone degree, but the faction fighting over free availability of cheap migrant Labour continues - and I do not believe either industry or government can continue kicking this can down the road for ever. 

 

I know what I am seeing on my desk regarding availability of materials, and it's not good. 

 

My best assessment is that there is a real possibility of a rapid, severe choke in expenditure, immediately after the next General Election 

 

 

The choke would be delivered not by cutting off the funding taps, but by a capacity bottleneck , such as brought the halt of the GWML electrification  and the collapse of the MML scheme. The industry simply could not deliver what had been approved.

 

What would be happening in terms of rail after 2024 would largely be electrification and resignalling: MML and Transpennine. Since electrification teams do now exist, and the materials would be presumably rather different from those required by earth-moving civil engineering, that preumably should not be severely restricted?

 

HS2 Phase 2b was always  not starting for another 15 years .

 

The effects on non-rail civil engineering are another matter

Edited by Ravenser
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54 minutes ago, Ravenser said:

It's a measure of the deep cynicism and negativity surrounding all major projects in Britain that since the Integrated Passenger Review  we've spent more pages discussing an abortive London airport proposal from the 1960s than the detils of what was in the report....

 

Part of that is due to the country's seeming inability to implement things. This project was originally "approved" in 2009. It has now been "given the green light" by 4 successive governments, but construction only actually began in 2019 (!:o) . The current estimate for opening of Phase 2b and Northern Powerhouse Rail is "after 2040"  ie 20 years away. Construction will not start until at least 2035 - ie 14 years away!

 

Effectively we have been talking about visionary schemes that might be built at some point in the middle distance. The making of announcements and the taking of decisions has become completely detached from actually building anything. It's not confined to HS2 - the aircraft carriers and new nuclear power stations were "approved" repeatedly over  period of many years before anything actually happened. The Govt is still "planning" and "approving" new nuclear power stations (Ditto the third runway at Heathrow). The Blair government in particular seemed to act as if announcing something was an entirely adequete substitute for doing it - with the advantage that the decision could be retaken and reannounced several times and then the policy quietly dropped as unworkable without ever having to lift a finger to do anything in the real world ....

 

However I did actually read the whole review , and there seems a lot in there that no-one has bothered commenting on.

 

- we will be getting an entirely new high-speed railway from the buffers at Euston to the buffers at Manchester Piccadilly

 

- I have a strong sense old BR hands were heavily involved in this, dragging the proposals back from the shiny visions back to more modest but deliverable options. There is a running theme of a very wintry attitude to proposals for brand new city stations sunk in underground concrete boxes at great expense , which are nowhere near the city centre and have zero connection with the rest of the network (Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Toton ....) "Integrated" is a key word in the title. The fact that Midlands Rail Hub - effectively a project to re-route a couple of lines out of New Street into Moor St , to provide more connections for Curzon St accross the road - gets a chapter is probably significant. Curzon St is unavoidable, but the effort it's clearly taking to make it work well has obviously been a salutary warning.

 

- The East Midlands does a lot better under this revised scheme. The question of how MML electrification will fit with HS2 East is solved. We now have an effective coherent package for the Midland route , in 2 stages:   MML electrification, then a high-speed line replacing the congested southern part of the route, with direct city centre access and effective connections with remaining MML services at East Midlands Parkway. Sheffield is no worse off and may do much better in terms of frequency than it would have done on a long conventional loop off a high speed line aimed at Leeds and the North East.

 

- Lord Adonis' vision of HS2 East replacing the ECML has been scrapped. There is apparently too little capacity south of Birmingham toi take the whole WCML, ECML, and MML services. And the journey time advantages to the North East were modest compared with a further ECML upgrade. The  conventional ECML will remain the trunk route serving the eastern side of the country for another generation, to at least 2050. The North East is no longer involved in HS2, which is now , in old-money , an "LMR only" project .

 

- Two key pieces of the jigsaw are missing. Apparently the "Union Connectivity Review " is due to be published this week (today? tomorrow?) , and this is looking at Anglo-Scottish services and the Golborne Spur. I suppose it will also pick over the train-wreck called GWML electrification...  But a serious look at Glasgow- Liverpool/Manchester connections, which withered away when he links onto the WCML were'nt electrified, might also be worthwhile

 

- As it stands, West Yorkshire is the big loser. But there is clearly another big piece of the jigsaw outstanding , in a further review of "how to get HS2 to Leeds" . It looks to me as if all the questions raised by Leeds City and the congestion on the western approach were just too complex with too many options and uncertainties - so they've been hived off to a seperate exercise , and the questions of what Leeds needs to connect with bolted down in this review, to give some clarity and firm parameters to the new study. We are told this study will also devise a "West Yorkshire Mass Transit " system , and it is suggested this may remove lines and services from the west end of Leeds City.

 

- The "new high speed route " between the eastern edge of Leeds and the northern edge of Rotherham that was suggested in the leaks is nowhere to be seen. BUT - if this is to come out of the W Yorks review , then we have the Midland Mainline extended from Sheffield Midland to Leeds City as HS2 East, , via a new high speed route entering Leeds from the east *(and consequently not imposing further pressure on the western approach)

 

- One significant item which has been missed is the decision to electrify from Leeds into Bradford Interchange. Its significant because it makes limited sense on its own . But in the context of HS2 trains entering Leeds City from the east, and talk of removing existing local services from the western approach at Leeds it suggests an aspiration for HS2 trains to continue past Leeds, to Bradford - finally giving Bradford the proper London express service it lacks, and linking Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield with a fast high-capacity route. There's a clear sub-text in the report that Bradford Interchange is being identified as the rail hub for Bradford

 

 

Most of that makes sense; however I have to ask; have you transposed "West" and "East"? I always thought the constriction was the eastbound tracks from Leed towards York, because it is very difficult to widen them.

 

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18 hours ago, Ron Ron Ron said:

The south portal work site itself. 

November 2021.

 

 

179-South-tunnel-portal-looking-north-we

 

 

 

.

Picture actually taken 15th November about 11:30am... cos ive just realised i'm in it on a site visit there!

Edited by kryten65
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41 minutes ago, 62613 said:

Most of that makes sense; however I have to ask; have you transposed "West" and "East"? I always thought the constriction was the eastbound tracks from Leed towards York, because it is very difficult to widen them.

 

Nope.

 

The real bottleneck at Leeds is all the ex GNR, ex MR, ex LNW and ex L&Y lines converging on the west end of the station. 

 

Everything goes into the west end of Leeds City, except Leeds /York and Leeds - Selby -Hull.

 

At present , to run to Bradford from London  or anywhere else imposes 2 moves on the western approach to Leeds - one in, and one back out, because you can only reach Bradford by reversing at Leeds. And every extra train from London or Sheffield imposers a further hourly movement on the western approach

 

In fact "the Hambleton route" - electrifying the Leeds & Selby as far as Hambleton Jnc on the Selby Diversion - has sometimes been floated as a solution to the western approach capacity issue at Leeds. That would mean 1 ECML express per hour would run via Hambleton and Wakefield would be reduced to an hourly service from London

 

If you have a new high speed line feeding into the Leeds /York route at Cross Gates, then you can run long-distance trains from Sheffield and London into Leeds City without needing any paths through the congested western approach. It would make a third London service per hour (via the MML) practical

 

And if capacity can be released in the western approach by taking a local train service off the heavy rail network and diverting it onto this "West Yorks Mass Transit" - then those paths would allow that third London express per hour to carry on through Leeds City, and out the west side to run on to Bradford Interchange , on a line now conveniently being electrified......

 

A Bradford Interchange - Leeds City - Sheffield Midland - Birmingham Interchange - Euston hourly service would require just one path an hour, in each direction, through the western approach while boosting seat capacity between London and Leeds by about 50%. You could also offer a half-hourly service from Euston to Sheffield and Leeds; one train per hour via Derby/Chesterfield terminating at Leeds, and the other fast to Sheffield via the Erewash Valley , then Sheffield Midland / Leeds City / Bradford Interchange. Serving three Yorkshire cities ought to fill the train without needing intermediate stops between Birmingham Interchange and Sheffield

 

But - under any scenario we have to wait until 2040 for that....

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2 hours ago, kryten65 said:

...... i remember standing there and watching the plane thinking, "well thats an odd place to be flying!!

 

 

The portal construction site is right next door to Denham Airfield and underneath its circuit........... :rolleyes:

 

 

 

(note: the airfield is visible in a couple of the photos I posted at the top of this page - pg159)

.

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Several of the previous posts seem to articulate clearly the view I've held for many years, that ongoing improvement and upgrading trumps "visionary schemes" every time. 

 

That, and we seem to have completely lost the ability to actually DO things. TML was a case in point; the French TGV lines were a but ready for it, while we didn't even begin until it was finished...

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