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Interview


‘High Speed Two is going to be a major new piece of


transport infrastructure. The run-off from it, the flow-off of passengers and how they get to their final destinations, will be critical. We don’t yet know where the stations are going to be, and the way in which this high speed railway interacts with the conventional railway is going to be a critical factor. ‘You have got a big project around the interconnectivity of the rail infrastructure around the Manchester area – which is very important – and now we are putting another piece of major infrastructure in there, which is going to bring in tens of thousands of people every day into the Manchester area. That has got to be a factor, and some of the Northern Hub discussion may be influenced by that. ‘For example, if we build a new station in Manchester


for the high speed stop, maybe some of the additional capacity that is needed can be provided at that station rather than remodelling routes through existing stations. I don’t know, I am not pre-empting a discussion. It is a big additional factor that needs to be thrown into the pot and stirred.’ Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese has


expressed some concern at the transport secretary’s comments about the relationship between the hub and HS2, but Hammond told Rail Professional: ‘The Northern Hub is a sort of banner phrase and there are lots of specific pieces of railway infrastructure improvements in there and many of them have very strong business cases. But I’m not going to pre-empt the process that has to be gone through of analysing the package, and looking at the different components of it. ‘What I am saying is that the analysis has to be done


in the light of the HS2 decision – whatever that is. One of the reasons why it is difficult to say much more at the moment is that, until the consultation is finished and we’ve analysed the results, we cannot be sure what the future is going to be with regard to HS2.’ Nerves were eased in Manchester when chancellor


George Osborne announced in his budget that the Ordsall Chord, which will link Manchester’s two main stations for the first time – one of the key components of the hub – was to go ahead. The other big grouse in the north-south divide debate


is rolling stock. Admirably, when the MP for Runnymede and Weybridge first took office in the Department of Transport, he asked why it was that the north always seemed to get the cascaded stock while the shiny new trains all go south. He was, he says, satisfied with the answer he got from his new officials. ‘There is already an interesting and strong pro-north


bias in the formula because it values working time at the same level across the whole of the UK. That is a very explicit distortion which London could – and the mayor does – argue that it disadvantages London. Secondly, it is a matter of fact that the way the calculation is done takes the costs of the project and nets off the revenues that will be received from it. We are looking at benefits against costs, where costs have already had revenues netted out.


MAY 2011 PAGE 21


If your revenues are low, your costs will be relatively high and the cost:benefit ratio of the project will look less good than they would if you had higher fare revenue.’ I obviously irritate him by suggesting that there is


a vicious circle which dooms me to travel to work on a Pacer while commuters in Ashford can come in on a 140mph Javelin – because fares follow wages and they remain lower in the north than the south. ‘An interesting argument,’ he says. ‘It is just a fact that that’s the way the cost:benefit ratio appraisal system works. It is worth bearing in mind that the gap between fares is very significant. The London commuter pence per passenger kilometre is double that of the Manchester commuter. ‘There is an element of how much you are prepared


to pay in order to get better service. Granted, at its worst, some of the stock in service around the northern cities is considerably less good than the most of the stock on the London commuter routes… although you have got some pretty good stock. ‘If you walk round some of the suburban lines


around Piccadilly station, it goes from the completely atrocious to the bang up-to-date.’


Curriculum vitae


1963 Born in Epping, Essex 1977 Degree in philosophy, politics and economics from University College, Oxford Joins medical equipment manufacturer Speywood, becoming a director of Speywood Medical four years later


1984 Director of building developers Castlemead 1993 Partner at CMA Consultants 1997


Elected Conservative MP for Runnymede and Weybridge


2005 Shadow secretary of state for work and pensions 2007 Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury 2010 Secretary of state for transport


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