Not looking good for HS2

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AMS
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by AMS » Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:50 pm

Nero wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:39 am
Pucksoppet wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:05 am
Do you have a link to further details about that engineering?
http://www.engineering-timelines.com/wh ... cts_01.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornwall_Railway_viaducts
Thanks - the Wikipedia entry is where i saw it, and it cites a book from the 1960s.

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Pucksoppet
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by Pucksoppet » Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:57 pm

AMS wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:50 pm
Nero wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:39 am
Pucksoppet wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:05 am
Do you have a link to further details about that engineering?
http://www.engineering-timelines.com/wh ... cts_01.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornwall_Railway_viaducts
Thanks - the Wikipedia entry is where i saw it, and it cites a book from the 1960s.
I echo my thanks.

Unfortunately, as quick skim of the further info doesn't give me much on the techniques that allowed replacing bits while the viaducts were still in use. My interest is simply a back-burner project on designing things to facilitate ongoing maintenance, preferably without the need for specialist heavy plant equipment. That was triggered by my disgust at modern building techniques that are optimised for speed and cheapness of build with little to no thought about how to maintain things in future.

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bjn
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by bjn » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:30 pm

Why has the cost for HS2 ballooned so much?

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Woodchopper
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:50 am

Scandinavian rail discussion moved to a new topic
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=752&p=16046#p16046

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El Pollo Diablo
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:50 am

bjn wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:30 pm
Why has the cost for HS2 ballooned so much?
Various things. Firstly, standard practice of early-stage estimates being woefully unaware of the fullness of work required, plus the huuuge length of time it's taken to get to get even just phase 1 through parliament, the delays now causing grief in human relations, the turf war on a local scale about the build with protesters getting in the way, and committees needing to hear both sides of the tale before altering routes, etc. Plus lots more tunnelling. It's not very black and white but those are the main things.
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GeenDienst
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by GeenDienst » Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:39 am

They still should have used the Grand Central route. Not for any railway reasons, just because we get to demolish Leicester.
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GeenDienst
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by GeenDienst » Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:27 am

And now the National Audit Office says it's '“impossible to estimate with certainty” how much it will eventually cost'.

That alone will probably kill it. It's looking ever more unsustainable politically.

And it says:
In the first phase of the construction, which will connect London Euston to Birmingham New Street, future cost increases “will be met wholly by HS2 Ltd”, the report said.
HS2 Ltd " is funded by grant-in-aid from the government. HS2 Ltd is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Transport."

Shame, this is rather lovely.
Image

Reminds me of Oriente station in Lisbon, only the trains are upstairs there.
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:08 am

No-one knows with certainty how much any project will cost, that's just cherry picking / lazy journalism by the press. Agreed that station design is lovely.

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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:35 am

Here's the summary of the NAO report:
High Speed Two is an ambitious national programme, the construction of which will take decades. The Department, HS2 Ltd and government more widely underestimated the task, leading to optimistic estimates being used to set budgets and delivery dates. In not fully and openly recognising the programme’s risks from the outset, the Department and HS2 Ltd have not adequately managed the risks to value for money. If these risks had been recognised and managed earlier, then the significant activity in a pressured environment over the past year trying to understand and contain cost increases may not have been necessary. There are lessons to be learned from the experience of High Speed Two for other major infrastructure programmes.

We welcome the increased realism on the estimated cost and schedule for the programme. However, significant risks remain. While the estimated cost and schedule for Phase One are now on a stronger footing, the challenge of getting Phase One into construction, and of monitoring and managing the programme as it progresses, is considerable. Phase Two is at a far earlier stage of development with many important decisions to be made before HS2 Ltd and the Department can improve cost and schedule estimates. Completing High Speed Two will require sustained focus and support from the Department and across government to ensure the programme is re‑established on a sound basis, balancing cost, time and benefits, and delivered in a way that achieves long-term value for money.

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El Pollo Diablo
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:54 am

The Department for Transport contains a lot of good people, but as an organisation they're awful. Bad decisions, no decisions at all, continual delay to decisions, terrible processes, appalling subjugation to whichever cockend is the SoS for transport, etc. They've involved themselves heavily in a lot of this stuff but they're just awful at it.

Another case in point - East West Rail phase 2 was supposed to complete last year originally. I'm not sure they've yet committed the funding to it yet, and it's in a considerably watered-down state thanks to Chris "Why Won't He Die" Grayling.
Another one - Transpennine Route Upgrade has been progressing for some time, but there's still uncertainty over whether the route will be fully electrified or, and this is a really special one, only electrified on the gradienty bits. They're almost spade-ready as well. That's another Grayling Special.
Another one - EWR Phase 2 will, at some point, be laying down new track. Most track lies on sleepers on top of ballast. Historically the sleepers were wood but these days we use mostly concrete. The ballast will last up to 40% longer (an extra 10-20 years) if there's a rubber or foam pad on the underside of the concrete sleeper. It costs 2% extra to do this, and is so stonkingly obviously better from a whole life cost perspective that NR has made it mandatory for all future sleeper installations. Nonetheless, despite a lot of work to prove this, at a Value for Money workshop, the DfT insisted that capital cost restrictions were more important and demanded the pads be taken out of the work.
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:25 am

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:54 am
Nonetheless, despite a lot of work to prove this, at a Value for Money workshop, the DfT insisted that capital cost restrictions were more important and demanded the pads be taken out of the work.
I'm familiar with this kind of thing in another government infrastructure organisation, and it's a symptom of sickness elsewhere.

Perhaps the Treasury have given strict year-end spending limits, at the end of a five-year funding programme for example.
Perhaps the Programme Manager has spent their allocation already this year.
Perhaps some overly zealous ambitious inexperienced DfT official is trying to make a name for themselves.
Perhaps some competent and experienced DfT official is under significant pressure from their idiot boss to make the numbers add up.
Perhaps the idiot DfT boss is two higher up the chain, or three.

I see a lot of spade-ready projects kick off urgently in January or February, with the intention of dealing with an in-year "underspend" by March 31st. If the money isn't spent the culture is that they'll lose that money in future years, which leads to its own pressures. Unfortunately, the worst possible time of year (in terms of programme and cost risk) to dig bl..dy great holes is when it's pissing down with rain every day, in Jan, Feb and March.

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GeenDienst
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by GeenDienst » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:44 am

plodder wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:08 am
No-one knows with certainty how much any project will cost, that's just cherry picking / lazy journalism by the press.
Context, anyone? Nobody has expected certainly for some time, all that is being asked for here is "any f.cking clue, at all". This is on the back of the humungous cost increases we have seen already, and the NAO highlighting the open ended nature of all this is political kryptonite. Obviously, they could have had a f.cking stab at estimating it reasonably, even if only within the kind of margin of error Crossrail achieved.
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:09 pm

So the thing about stab in the dark estimates when things haven't been thought through properly, is that people then take them and treat them like a target, or a marker for success. And if they don't like the numbers you give them, they ask for better numbers that they do like, and then use them as targets or markers for success.

Which is exactly what we're seeing here, including dare I say it, from you.
Last edited by plodder on Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:16 pm

The Crossrail cost and programme overruns came from (AIUI) the integration of the new, well designed, well understood and well built kit into the existing, poorly understood, tinkered with and altered without record keeping, gaffer taped, undocumented, bodged and managed into decline existing kit.

Estimating how much of a challenge that is going to be is always tricky and it isn't always possible to survey this stuff in advance. And if you tell the people who are responsible for managing this kit that it's probably going to cause chaos in your project, you'll find the same people are high up in the organisational hierarchy and they'll tell you to change your tune (and they'll make a mental note to push the project manager under a bus the moment things go wrong).

As a simple example from my own career, I had to manage the refurbishment of a large underground tank in a water supply works, that needs to be maintained as a sterile environment as it's the final stage in the treatment process. Because it supplies thousands of homes with water it wasn't possible to get in there and dig about until we switch the whole site off and drained it down. To get to that point you need to have a signed-off business case in order to get the contractors in, so people have to make sensible, informed and diplomatic estimates that don't get thrown out by the business case review panel. These estimates are often wrong.

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bolo
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by bolo » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:50 pm

But curiously are nearly always wrong in the same direction.

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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:58 pm

Maybe I tried to condense too much into a quick post.

Any construction project is contingent on its business case being signed off, which releases the funding to progress the next stage of design or construction work.

At each stage an assessment is made of the likely cost of unknowns (i.e. risk management). There is a panel of senior managers who control project portfolios and budgets, and who agree and sign-off business cases. If these business cases are asking for money without good reason they won't get it. So it's common for costs to be underestimated early on.

The government actually has detailed rules on this, including requiring "optimism bias" to account for this.

Here's some details if you're interested. Don't know how this was treated at HS2 but it demonstrates that we're dealing with a very imprecise science.]

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... m_bias.pdf

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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by noggins » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:06 pm

bolo wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:50 pm
But curiously are nearly always wrong in the same direction.
Not really, any unknown is much much more likely to make things harder rather than easier.

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Gentleman Jim
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by Gentleman Jim » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:08 pm

Are project teams generally too big?
I've been involved in a number of relatively large capital projects in pharma and the most successful consisted of me (QA), a member of engineering and a contract project manager. Came in under budget, under time and at the top end of the required spec :lol: :geek: :ugeek:
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:38 pm

Funnily enough I’m working on an HS2 bid at the moment and my first impression is that there are an awful lot of people involved....

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GeenDienst
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by GeenDienst » Fri Jan 24, 2020 3:54 pm

yet here we have doubling of an estimate within a few years, with no end in sight to potential further increases, with some apparently not quite appreciating how this is a bit of a hazard to its entire future progress.

This isn't "not turning out to be an exact estimate", or "some underestimation", it's a clusterf.ck.
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by CuddysCave » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:57 pm

plodder wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:16 pm
The Crossrail cost and programme overruns came from (AIUI) the integration of the new, well designed, well understood and well built kit into the existing, poorly understood, tinkered with and altered without record keeping, gaffer taped, undocumented, bodged and managed into decline existing kit.
I’m working on a programme, not of HS2 proportions nor rail infrastructure but still reasonably significant in its own domain, where these issues are likely to rear their heads. Can you point to any publications where I could find more quotable information behind your neat summary?

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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:31 pm

I’m pretty sure that New Civil Engineer has some really good articles about the commissioning and integration issues

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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:32 pm

GeenDienst wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 3:54 pm
yet here we have doubling of an estimate within a few years, with no end in sight to potential further increases, with some apparently not quite appreciating how this is a bit of a hazard to its entire future progress.

This isn't "not turning out to be an exact estimate", or "some underestimation", it's a clusterf.ck.
if you use the word ‘yet’ to start a response it gives the impression you’re responding to something someone has said. help me out here?

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GeenDienst
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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by GeenDienst » Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:09 am

We have a project that started out estimated costing tens of billions, then that doubled, and then the NAO tells us that nobody has any clue what it is eventually going to cost.

And
plodder wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:08 am
No-one knows with certainty how much any project will cost, that's just cherry picking / lazy journalism by the press.
I never thought I'd find myself thinking "maybe this Cummings fellow has a point". And here we are. Good luck with explaining away how this is anywhere near good enough.
Just tell 'em I'm broke and don't come round here no more.

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Re: Not looking good for HS2

Post by plodder » Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:30 am

I did. Let me know if you'd like me to expand on anything, or if you disagree with any specifics, and why.

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