Tuesday, 20 January 2015

On Soane, St Pancras and links to the future

Many of you will remember my post on St Pancras. Something I read today made me want to start there again. In my role as a less posh, less erudite and far less photogenic Lucinda Lambton, I want to do a stroll through a few ephemera in London, which will probably be very tenuously linked.

Let me start from something familiar. Here's Alistair Langley's new station at St. Pancras:

Photo courtesy www.mimoa.eu

The idea, for those who are unfamiliar, is that domestic trains terminate in the new station, international trains in the old station. This keeps diesel fumes out of the restored train shed. However, the line is to be electrified by 2020. This had led to a comment on a blog to which I contribute suggesting that in order to cater for increased traffic, the new station should be increased from four platforms to six.

Now, this is not the audience for an argument as to why that might not work without six tracks to Luton. I'd like to look at an immediate counter-argument regarding St. Pancras cemetery. Let's not worry for the moment whether it is really in the way, but close to the new station is buried Sir John Soane in St Pancras Old Church. His is one of two Grade I monuments in London, the other being that of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia, author David Edgar

Here's Comrade Karl, just in case you didn't know what Marx's monument looks like:

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

So let's establish a date for Soane's death - January 1837. Queen Victoria hadn't yet taken the throne. Yet when I look at Soane's monument I see this, designed 1926:

Photo courtesy Wikipedia, author Christoph Braun

So here we have the 'premonition' of the telephone box, 89 years before it was invented by Giles Gilbert Scott . Giles Gilbert Scott, who he? Well he's the grandson of George Gilbert Scott, the designer of St Pancras Station. Small world?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Uckfield to Lewes - postscript

BACKGROUND

In 2008, Mott Macdonald published a report on the feasibility of reopening the line between Uckfield and Lewes. It dismayed many by putting forward a Benefit to Cost ratio of 0.78 - way too low for the project to proceed. What I intend to do here is to raise the possibility that the BCR calculation might actually be too low, and that the project might have a sufficient BCR to proceed.

COSTS

At the time of the report being published, I saw a number of complaints around the cost calculation. To refresh the mind of anyone who doesn't know, the principal line item civil engineering costs would be a new station at Uckfield, a new bridge over the railway in Uckfield town centre, and a bridge for the A22 Uckfield bypass over the railway. I have no substantial issue with the projected costs - I am aware of the risks of 'unknown unknowns' in a project such as this, and it's a good idea to plan for the worst then add 30% contingency to the budget, as this report does. I could quibble about the plan to retain the Lavender Line and not simply compensate them and tell them to move on, but the impact of people playing steam trains on the costs is negligible.

BENEFITS

Benefits are far harder to quantify than costs. In Central London, we'd need to quantify socio-economic benefits, but this is leafy East Sussex - so we're pretty much talking about how many people would shift their mode of transport from car, bus, horse, bike or foot to train. The principal reason for doing this is nothing to do with carbon footprint - it's simply that it's faster. In many rural areas the roads are quiet and the railway is slow and stops everywhere. The 17 miles of the A26 between Crowborough and Lewes is heavily congested in a morning - whereas the railway would take 22 minutes with two stops.

So let's look at Mott Macdonald's profile for new journeys on a London to Lewes via Uckfield route.


Uckfield
Lewes
383
Uckfield
Brighton
98
Uckfield
Eastbourne
53
Uckfield
Newhaven Town
33
Uckfield
Seaford
29
Crowborough
Lewes
84
Crowborough
Brighton
53
Crowborough
Eastbourne
31
Crowborough
Newhaven Town
19
Crowborough
Seaford
17
Buxted
Lewes
37
Buxted
Brighton
19
Buxted
Eastbourne
11
Buxted
Newhaven Town
6
Buxted
Seaford
6


Looking at yearly footfall statistics, the figures from Crowborough and Buxted look low relative to Uckfield:


Uckfield 
269084
Crowborough
203127
Buxted
87812

It looks reasonable that Uckfield's market could expand by 383 people per day going to Lewes by train. However, if we assume that the market to Lewes expands in line with Uckfield from each of Crowborough and Buxted, and we take account of the fact that Eridge station is just off the A26 and five miles from Tunbridge Wells - not an unreasonable assumption given the speed of journey and the congestion on the A26 - we see a very different picture:


Uckfield
Lewes
383
Uckfield
Brighton
98
Uckfield
Eastbourne
53
Uckfield
Newhaven Town
33
Uckfield
Seaford
29
Crowborough
Lewes
289
Crowborough
Brighton
53
Crowborough
Eastbourne
31
Crowborough
Newhaven Town
19
Crowborough
Seaford
17
Buxted
Lewes
125
Buxted
Brighton
19
Buxted
Eastbourne
11
Buxted
Newhaven Town
6
Buxted
Seaford
6
Eridge
Lewes
200
Eridge
Brighton
25
Eridge
Eastbourne
25
Eridge
Newhaven Town
10
Eridge
Seaford
10

I'm now going to make a very simplistic assumption about the single fare from Uckfield to Lewes: it's between the cost of Busted to Uckfield and Crowborough to Uckfield, and it's added to existing fares.

This gives the following revenue profile for Mott Macdonald's assumptions based on full single fares - it is only used for relative purposes to my own assumptions - the real values don't really matter:


From
To
People
Fare
Revenue
Uckfield
Lewes
383
£2.70
£1,034.10
Uckfield
Brighton
98
£6.80
£666.40
Uckfield
Eastbourne
53
£10.80
£572.40
Uckfield
Newhaven Town
33
£5.30
£174.90
Uckfield
Seaford
29
£5.30
£153.70
Crowborough
Lewes
84
£6.40
£537.60
Crowborough
Brighton
53
£14.50
£768.50
Crowborough
Eastbourne
31
£10.50
£325.50
Crowborough
Newhaven Town
19
£9.00
£171.00
Crowborough
Seaford
17
£9.00
£153.00
Buxted
Lewes
37
£4.50
£166.50
Buxted
Brighton
19
£8.60
£163.40
Buxted
Eastbourne
11
£12.60
£138.60
Buxted
Newhaven Town
6
£7.10
£42.60
Buxted
Seaford
6
£7.10
£42.60
Total Revenue
£5,110.80

And for my assumptions:


From
To
People
Fare
Revenue
Uckfield
Lewes
383
£2.70
£1,034.10
Uckfield
Brighton
98
£6.80
£666.40
Uckfield
Eastbourne
53
£10.80
£572.40
Uckfield
Newhaven Town
33
£5.30
£174.90
Uckfield
Seaford
29
£5.30
£153.70
Crowborough
Lewes
289
£6.40
£1,849.60
Crowborough
Brighton
53
£14.50
£768.50
Crowborough
Eastbourne
31
£10.50
£325.50
Crowborough
Newhaven Town
19
£9.00
£171.00
Crowborough
Seaford
17
£9.00
£153.00
Buxted
Lewes
125
£4.50
£562.50
Buxted
Brighton
19
£8.60
£163.40
Buxted
Eastbourne
11
£12.60
£138.60
Buxted
Newhaven Town
6
£7.10
£42.60
Buxted
Seaford
6
£7.10
£42.60
Eridge
Lewes
200
£7.50
£1,500.00
Eridge
Brighton
25
£11.60
£290.00
Eridge
Eastbourne
15
£15.60
£234.00
Eridge
Newhaven Town
10
£10.10
£101.00
Eridge
Seaford
10
£10.10
£101.00
Total Revenue
£8,943.80

As I said the actual totals don't matter - what's important is the ratio of the two figures, 8943.8/5110.8 - 1.75. Now let's look at the BCR.

BCR

The BCR calculation isn't that hard to understand - essentially as the revenues increase, the government loses fuel tax, but benefits such as clean air, time saving and congestion reduction come into play. For illustrative purposes I will assume that the impact on these factors is linear - this may well balance out in reality. The figures also include both local government and central government subsidy. Local government subsidy is zero on the Mott Macdonald study, and is calculated not to have any impact - unlike central government subsidy, also zero. I would argue that East Sussex should be lobbied to pay a similar percentage to Hertfordshire on the Croxley Link, say £23.5m at 2008 prices. The Mott Macdonald calculation looks like this, in thousands of pounds:


Local government funding (LGF)
0
Revenue (REV)
80433
Operating costs (OC)
-40272
Investment costs (IC)
-96465
Developer and other contributions
0
Central Government Funding (CGF)
0
Indirect Tax Revenues (ITF)
-5177
Present value of Costs (sum of above)
-61481
Time Savings
21644
Noise
181
Local Air Quality
272
Greenhouse Gases
572
Accidents
1113
Infrastructure
123
Congestion
6835
Present value of Benefits (BEN, sum of above)
30740
Net Present Value (costs + benefits)
-30741
BCR –(REV + BEN)/(OC + IC + CGF + ITF)
0.78

Applying the 1.75 ratio to the revenue and including the East Sussex contribution, we see:


Local government funding (LGF)
23500
Revenue (REV)
140757.75
Operating costs (OC)
-40272
Investment costs (IC)
-96465
Developer and other contributions
0
Central Government Funding (CGF)
0
Indirect Tax Revenues (ITF)
-5177
Present value of Costs (sum of above)
18461
Time Savings
37877
Noise
317
Local Air Quality
476
Greenhouse Gases
1001
Accidents
1948
Infrastructure
123
Congestion
11961
Present value of Benefits (BEN, sum above)
53795
Net Present Value (costs + benefits)
72256
BCR -(REV + BEN)/(OC + IC + CGF + ITF +LGF)
1.59

CONCLUSION

I'm an IT consultant, not a railway consultant, so there may well be flaws in my argument. However, I've made a couple of simple modifications and turned a scheme from a project which is not entertainable to one which needs further consideration. The congestion on the A26 is only going to get worse. Maybe it's time to reconsider Lewes-Uckfield?