die belebende Bedenkung

Passenger demand distribution on West Coast

with 2 comments

Commuters to Milton Keynes and Watford may well increase substantially, and may need more capacity (wrote John Redwood, 28 October 2013).

HS2 would be a very expensive way of trying to do that. For the rest I remain to be convinced there is enough demand to have a viable current WCML, let alone pay for an expensive HS2 as well.

2009/2010 LENNON data on southern WCML traffic volumes

2009/2010 LENNON data on southern WCML traffic volumes

So what is the passenger demand distribution on the West Coast Main Line? The 2011 Network Rail diagram (above) provides some insights.

In essence

  • volume north of the city of Milton Keynes was half that of Hertfordshire / Greater London
  • on WCML tracks north of Stafford and Stone, there were only 5 to 10 million journeys.

If WCML demand were to quadruple, the numbers travelling beyond the London commuter belt would still not be particularly large. Given the low level of demand, intermediate stops on West Coast intercity must be essential for revenue purposes.

Investing billions of pounds in infrastructure for a dedicated high speed line to Manchester makes no sense. Further growth in London commuter traffic should be addressed by providing a second rail access to Bletchley (e.g., the RP6 St Pancras — Sundon– Ridgmont — Bletchley concept). In the short term, the priority should be to improve capacity utilisation on the existing tracks.


Written by beleben

October 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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2 Responses

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  1. I’m pondering on how much the terminating and reversal of DC Watford Junction trains – which have to share the limited approach tracks between Camden and Euston with outer suburban and intercity services – limits the ability to run more frequent services on the LM (outer suburban) routes. Taking these underground from Camden and under Euston to Charing Cross could deliver a through stations Thameslink opportunity to at least double the DC services, or bring in some of the inner LM services, to create more paths in and out from ‘Euston’

    A through station would also offer options of running say trains from the South up to Tring or MK / Bedford, and trains through from the North through to a looping service, again to cut out the reversal, and get better utilisation from the stock (Hounslow Loop uses the same basic Class 350/450 units as inner LM services).

    Electrification infilling could allow more trains to travel North of the Tring reversal, as they can turn at Bedford or MK, and the current paths used by lighter loaded Tring services extended to provide more capacity from Greater MK.

    A ‘flying’ junction grade separated connection to both routes from Marylebone, also offers capacity enhancement. The connection at Wembley would deliver the means to offer closure of WCML for extended periods, without the need for road-based replacement services, and without the severe time penalty of the current arrangements (going very slowly via Ealing and Greenford). The connection at Northwick Park/Kenton is less useful as it suffers the bottleneck between Rickmansworth and Amersham before it can connect back up to Bletchley, and Bedford – the very reason that the 1906 line was built

    Dave H (@BCCletts)

    October 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

  2. The 2010 Atkins report proposed linking the “DC lines” with the NLL at Camden (re-instated as 4 tracks) and then onto the ELL. A Watford – Croydon service would result.
    (see Appendix J / p92)

    In addition, it would make sense to connect the WLL to the DC lines and replace the (hourly) Southern Croydon – Milton Keynes (which makes poor use of the “slow” lines) service with a 2nd London Overground Watford – Croydon service.

    As for the “slow” lines, the 1980 BR plan for a “cross London railway” would by more useful that the planned “Crossrail 2” (based on line 9 from the 1946 Railway London Plan Committee).

    This would produce a direct Euston – Victoria connection and allow a more frequent service (up to 24 trains per hour in the central section, as for Crossrail 1). With Crossrail 1 in place, a single intermediate station would make sense.

    If the 2/hour LM trains that use the “fast lines” (south of Leighton Buzzard) ran on the “slow lines” from Euston, an additional 4 paths would be available for Virgin trains.

    Richie S

    October 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm

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