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Fifty four thousand a day

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Extract from Centro leaflet SEP1016
At the Birmingham council house debate on HS2, organisations including Sustainability West Midlands, Stop HS2, and Centro, had their stands set up in the banqueting hall. At the Centro stand, I picked up a couple of leaflets, both called ‘High Speed Rail’, but with different text and reference numbers (SEP1016 and FEB1110).

Centro’s leaflet SEP1016 stated that “54,000 people a day would travel to the capital from two new stations – one by Moor Street station taking 50 minutes, and the other near Birmingham International Airport providing passengers with a 38 minute rail link.”

Birmingham’s population is about 1 million (including children and retired persons). So in effect, Centro are proposing that the equivalent of 1 in 20 of the entire population of Birmingham would be quotidian users of HS2, engaged in a 350+ km round trip commute.

Centro’s HS2 website retained the ridiculous 54,000 figure, but added further surrealism by claiming that the direction of commute would be towards Birmingham.

HS2 Ltd’s proposed ‘captive’ trains from Birmingham to London services would be 1,100 capacity, so 54,000 people represents about 49 completely-occupied trainloads. With three trains per hour, eighteen hours a day, the capacity would be 59,400. In which case, Centro’s “54,000” figure means HS2 trains would be, on average, over 90% full. This is a far higher load factor than is achieved on a high speed rail line anywhere in Europe. And of course, far higher than any railway with a tidal commuter flow. For example, the Brighton to London flow is temporally highly imbalanced, with obvious consequences for load factor.

It’s also worth comparing this load factor, with what Centro manages to achieve with its 20 km Midland Metro Line One, for Birmingham and Wolverhampton local commuters. Its load factor is about 20% (5 million passengers, about a third of what Centro stated it would carry).

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