HS2 and Merseyside
Rather than provide a specific information sheet for Merseyside, HS2 Ltd has given the county second billing in a combined ‘Cheshire & Merseyside‘ document. Curious, because Merseyside is larger in population, and a bigger market for the railway.
The map in the infosheet focuses on Crewe, rather than Liverpool.
As with the Leeds, Toton, and Meadowhall infosheets, there is some problematic content.
Journey times* From Liverpool Destination Current time (mins) HS2 time (mins) London 128 96 Birmingham 122 70 *Serving regional stations
Journeys to Liverpool from London and the wider Birmingham areas through Birmingham Interchange are expected to be reduced by 32 and 52 minutes respectively when HS2 is up and running.
Crewe and Warrington are expected to experience similar time savings to the faster Liverpool services (around 30 mins). Other regional stations such as Stafford and Runcorn would still see savings, though they will be slightly different as the trains would leave the HS2 line at Lichfield and not Crewe.
The infosheet puts HS2 forward as a ‘crucial capacity lifeline’ for North West England, but the project does not involve any new track being built into Merseyside (so there would be no released capacity benefit for its local services).
And on the Scotland route, the HS2 track would only extend as far north as Wigan, so there would be no capacity uplift for on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) in Lancashire and Cumbria. (Fortunately, passenger demand north of Weaver Junction is quite low.)
According to Adam Joyce (@randomravings, apparently a press officer for HS2 Ltd), “The HS2 trains able to run on the existing network will be 265m long, so as long as the extended 11-car Pendolinos…The 200m long rationale is based on Scottish services which would separate at Carstairs. One to Edinburgh, one to Glasgow.”
Merseyside journey details given in HS2 Ltd’s infosheet are not consistent with the company’s January 2013 service pattern concept. The latter shows only one of the twice-hourly Liverpool trains running from London in 1 hour 36 minutes. The other one, routed via Stafford, would take longer.
Furthermore, Mr Joyce’s claim that classic compatible trains “would be 265 metres long” is difficult to reconcile with details provided by HS2 Ltd. Its January 2012 Review of the Technical Specification for High Speed Rail in the UK stated “At this stage, we have only assumed the use of 260m sets for phase two operations to Newcastle services”. And in its January 2013 service pattern concept, one Liverpool classic compatible train is shown as running in combination with a Birmingham Curzon Street service.
How could a 265-metre long classic compatible trainset destined for Liverpool, be coupled to a 200-metre trainset bound for Birmingham? The combination would surely be too long for the HS2 platforms at Euston and Bickenhill.