According to Birmingham city council’s Forward newspaper (spring 2014) an estimated 3,600 passengers each day would pass through the ‘Chernoslug’ HS2 station at Curzon Street in 2026. Not a particularly large number, considering that a single train would have 1,100 seats (and there would be ~100 trains arriving or departing in a 24-hour period).
Forward also mentioned the provision of a seventh platform, for “services to Europe”, and that funding sources for the station would include “Birmingham city council” (i.e., council tax payers).
The first phase of HS2 “would be most useful in releasing capacity to recast the south end of the West Coast Main Line and the corridor through Coventry into Birmingham” (wrote HS2 chief engineer Andrew McNaughton).
['The capacity benefits of HS2', Andrew McNaughton, The Rail Engineer, Jan 2014]
The former will then accommodate the growth into London and the latter high frequency metro style services that Centro envisages.
Of course, there is no way of running a true ‘high frequency metro style service’ between Coventry and Birmingham unless
(i) all freight and fast passenger trains (i.e. services not stopping at Adderley Park, Stechford, Lea Hall, Marston Green, Hampton-in-Arden, Berkswell, Tile Hill, and Canley) are taken off the tracks, or
(ii) extra tracks are built.
In Network Rail’s “Future Priorities” study, the quantum of released path capacity on the Coventry — Birmingham line is shown as zero.
West Midlands transport authority Centro has pledged it will work to help keep electric buses in Coventry following claims they are set to leave the city.
[Centro News: 'Centro pledge to help keep electric buses in Coventry', 17.04.2014]
[...] The regional transport authority for the West Midlands said it would work with operator Travel de Courcey to find an alternative use for them once their use on the city’s Park and Ride South route comes to an end later this month.
The three Optare Versa EV buses came into operation in 2012 but the tender to operate the route has now been taken over by another operator.
Around 99% of bus mileage in the West Midlands is operated by diesel buses, so ‘pledging’ to keep all of 3 battery buses in Coventry is not going to make any difference to air quality in the city, or the wider area. But what exactly does Centro’s “pledge” mean anyway? The answer is nowhere to be found in their press release.
The January 2012 Future priorities “study” stated that The Department for Transport (DfT) had asked Network Rail and Passenger Focus to conduct a study to understand the best use of the capacity that would be released on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) if the first stage of proposals for a new high speed rail network were implemented.
But as can be seen, ‘Future priorities’ contained virtually no information about actual or potential capacity utilisation on the WCML.
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee ‘may well have overlooked arguments that the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd had significantly underestimated the likely transfer of motorists and airline passengers to rail travel after HS2 is completed — an important consideration, since the average car journey results in three times more carbon dioxide per kilometre travelled than the equivalent train journey, and a short-haul air passenger produces even more CO2‘, according to Railnews (Alan Marshall).
Whether or not the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd has significantly underestimated the likely transfer of motorists and airline passengers to rail travel from HS2, is not knowable. But in terms of the life cycle, the effects of doubling or tripling modal shift from road or air are unlikely to make much difference to its carbon accounting.
HS2 could never be a substitute for the “average car journey“, because around ~95% of trips (by all modes) in Great Britain are less than 40 km (DfT, 2010). The ‘average car journey’ is likely to happen within a single urban area and be less than 15 km long. (Load factor and secondary carbon are significant factors for urban rail systems too; a trip on the London Underground is unlikely to have a smaller carbon impact than the equivalent car journey).
Contrary to the impression given by Mr Marshall, the Pendolino tilting train does not appear to be significantly heavier on a per-seat basis than other trains from the same period.
|Sample train type||Weight,
|Fiat (Alstom) Pendolino 390/1||567,000||589||962|
|GEC-Alsthom Coradia 180 5-car||279,400||272||1027|
According to the London Assembly Transport Committee (2007), the ‘best way to unlock potential rail capacity’ is through better use of the existing network, rather than the construction of new lines and stations.
It is ‘more efficient in terms of time and money’.
If HS2 released capacity ‘delivered‘ 20 additional freight paths on the West Coast Main Line, the effect on total heavy goods road mileage would be minuscule.
And it seems that HS2 would be of little help in accommodating the level of year 2030 railfreight forecast by MDS Transmodal.
Any HS2 freight ‘released capacity’ would happen on the West Coast Main Line, but not on other trackage (e.g. the North London Line) currently used by goods trains to access the WCML.