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HS2: creating disconnectivity

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In an article claiming that the Labour Party should reaffirm its commitment to high-speed rail, Andrew Adonis stated how HS2 would improve transport connections in the Midlands:

“The connectivity gains from high-speed rail are equally impressive… Birmingham – Britain’s second city – is effectively an intercity branch line off the West Coast Main Line, so connections between Birmingham, the East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle and the north are extremely poor.”

Actually, the current Birmingham New Street station is on a loop of the West Coast Main Line, and has direct connections to Wales, the East Midlands, and south west and north east England. Contrary to the impression given by Mr Adonis, it’s Curzon Street HS2 station that would be on a dead end branch, with no conventional rail services calling there. The HS2 stage one project – with a supposed completion date of 2025 – provides no service from Birmingham Curzon Street to the East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds, or Newcastle. Curzon Street HS2 would serve only London and northern destinations on the West Coast Main Line (these are already served by Birmingham New Street station).

The verb ‘disconnect’ means “to sever or interrupt the connection of, or between”. As can be seen from the location of Curzon Street HS2 and New Street station in Birmingham, HS2 creates disconnectivity, and weakens Birmingham as a transport hub.

Poor interchange and bad location: Birmingham city HS2

Poor interchange and bad location: Birmingham city HS2

The pedestrian routes between Curzon Street and New Street are poor, jarring with Philip Hammond’s aspiration to provide ‘airport-quality’ interchange with HS2: “That cannot be lug your heavy bags down a couple of escalators, along 600 metres of corridor…”

The direct route uses the ex St Martin’s Queensway tunnel under the Bullring shopping centre, which can be intimidating, especially at night. The less intimidating route is more complex, and involves gradients. Both routes are exposed to the elements.

Centro has claimed that there are plans to connect New Street to Curzon Street HS2 by Midland Metro, but there are no legal powers, and the route hasn’t been explained.

With or without Midland Metro, the interchange time (New Street to Curzon Street) is enough to wipe out HS2’s higher speeds, for journeys starting in many parts of the local area (e.g. Wolverhampton).

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4 Responses

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  1. […] would be. But when the scheme was launched in 2010, Centro was quick to offer support. It announced that future extension of the Midland Metro tramway would include a connection to Curzon Street HS2 […]

  2. […] posts have signalled the disconnectivity and inconvenience built into the Birmingham HS2 terminal […]

  3. […] its hopelessly broken connections in Birmingham, and out-of-town stations planned for the East Midlands and other […]

  4. […] the amount of public highway (and ugly concrete) involved, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge to get the “feel of being in one connected station”. And as anyone familiar with Snow […]


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