die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and classic capacity

with 4 comments

According to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, “the case for [HS2] rests on the step change in capacity and connectivity it will provide”. However, the new Economic and Strategic Case documents published on 29 October 2013 suggest that HS2’s capacity outputs represent poor value, even if eighteen paths per hour were possible on each track (currently, that is not achieved on any high speed line anywhere in the world).

The Oct 2013 Economic Case included revised service patterns for ‘modelling purposes’, but it seems HS2 Ltd have been unable to resolve many of the shortcomings inherent in the underlying Y network concept.

HS2 and WCML fast line trains departing Euston in the peak period

HS2 and WCML fast line trains departing Euston in the peak period (HS2 Ltd, Oct 2013)

According to Figure 10 from the Strategic Case (reproduced above, with annotations), in 2009, there were eleven peak hour intercity trains departing Euston on the WCML Fast lines  (ten Virgin Pendolino, and one Voyager), and two “fast commuter / regional trains” (London Midland Desiro).

With the Y network in 2033, there would be 18 peak hour very high speed trains departing Euston on the HS2 line, and 3 intercity and 9 commuter / regional trains departing on the WCML Fast line. So thirteen Euston departures altogether in 2013, and thirty in 2033.

On closer examination, the uplift in capacity from HS2 turns out to be less than impressive. From the Oct 2013 service pattern, HS2 looks like little more than a bizarre and very expensive way of enabling more commuter trains to run to Milton Keynes.

In the 2033 Y network,

  1. five of the eighteen HS2 Euston paths would be used for services to destinations served by the Midland and East Coast Main Lines. The claimed uplift in capacity provided by the Y network needs to be compared against the capacity provided by the ‘WCML_plus_other_main_lines_to_the_North’. In the Strategic Case, the comparison is with the ‘WCML_alone’.
  2. the number of Euston HS2 departures for West Coast destinations is shown as eleven. As far as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester are concerned, the number of peak fast trains is the same as today (3 Birmingham, 3 Manchester, 2 Liverpool).  
  3. the Birmingham and Manchester HS2 trains could have more seats than their 2013 Pendolino counterparts, but the Liverpool HS2 trains would probably have fewer seats (HS2 Ltd planning has been based on the use of 200-metre trainsets for most places off the Y network).
  4. if there were to be eighteen HS2 “Euston paths”, as claimed in the Strategic Case, there could not be any paths to HS1, or to Heathrow Airport. The service pattern in the Strategic Case (October 2013), and the capacity statement in the October 2013 Economic Case, appear to be mutually exclusive.
HS2 Ltd, Y network service plan for 'modelling purposes', Oct 2013

HS2 Ltd, Y network service plan for ‘modelling purposes’, Oct 2013

For comparison, the Jan 2013 Y network service pattern is presented below.

January 2013 service pattern (HS2 Ltd)

HS2 Ltd, Y network service plan for ‘modelling purposes’, Jan 2013

Written by beleben

November 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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4 Responses

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    We should abandon HS2 and spend the money on updating our existing lines so that they are compatible with modern frictionless brakes.
    This would safely double the capacity of the whole of the existing network by allowing far more trains to use the lines.
    We could then lead the world by creating a transport internet that improves rail and motor vehicle communications throughout the whole of the UK
    The additional rail capacity would allow battery powered vehicles to travel long distances by riding piggy back on freight trains. For details visit

    Bill Bill Courtney

    November 4, 2013 at 9:36 am

  2. Your comment ‘other main lines’ is indeed apposite – we now have 6 trains/hour London-Birmingham with the addition of a bargain budget price 100mph upgrade of the GC/GW Direct (big clue there)Line from London to Birmingham – it is nearly 30 miles shorter than HS2 proposals and Chiltern has already responded to the economic pressure by relocating the termination point for their Main Line services to London from Moor Street to Snow Hill comfortably much closer to the Birmingham business district than Moor Street (and New Street). This then is rather a mark against HS2’s proposed use of the old Curzon St terminus of the original London & Birmingham Railway (from Euston) since Curzon Street was close when the railway relocated to New Street because it was a far better location, and connected directly with other routes from the South West, West and North East & West.

    Dave H (@BCCletts)

    November 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

  3. […] Part one | Part two […]

  4. […] Part five | Part four | Part three | Part two | Part one […]

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