die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and classic capacity, part six

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Part five | Part four | Part three | Part two | Part one

The Department for Transport’s October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2 included a diagram showing ‘expert judgement’ of post-2019 capacity pressure on [some] North — South railways. (The Chiltern  and GN/GE Joint lines were not included.)

Post-2019 'capacity pressure' in Yorkshire (SDG for Department for Transport)

Post-2019 ‘capacity pressure’ in Yorkshire (SDG for Department for Transport)

As can be seen, the ‘expert judgement’ was that the Leeds to York, Leeds to Wakefield, and Sheffield to Chesterfield lines would face “High” capacity pressure, along with Leeds station.

Post-2019 'capacity pressure' in the West Midlands

For the West Midlands, SDG’s judgement was that the Birmingham — Coventry — Rugby and Birmingham — Wolverhampton lines would face High capacity pressure, along with New Street station.

How HS2 might improve capacity pressure ‘post-2019’ is hard to see, because no part of it would open before 2026, and Leeds would not be reached until 2032 or thereabouts. But even if the complete Y network were available, in the case of Leeds, HS2 captive track would only be used for southbound travel (to Meadowhall and beyond). The prospects for capacity relief on the York / Selby (Cross Gates) line would be minimal.

The Department for Transport put forward the idea of a Dore to Meadowhall ‘shuttle’ to improve local access to the South Yorkshire HS2 station, which would presumably take up (rather than free up) capacity on the Chesterfield to Sheffield line.

Another puzzle is that only one pair of rail tracks is shown between Wakefield and Leeds (two separate routes are currently available).

The West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive allowed the former Great Western route from Birmingham to Wolverhampton to be closed in 1972, effectively cutting capacity in half. Capacity shortage on the LMS Stour Valley route via Dudley Port is largely a consequence of that closure.

The prospects of HS2 providing classic capacity uplift west or east of Birmingham New Street look quite limited, and it is interesting that no straight comparisons of ‘before HS2’ and ‘after HS2’ service patterns have been published.

One left-field threat to capacity between Birmingham, Coventry and Rugby is the half-baked ‘Electric Spine‘ proposal to route freight trains via Leamington Spa and Nuneaton. Such trains would traverse two flat junctions at Coventry, blocking the main line for several minutes at a time. Unlike HS2, the Spine concept has some potential, but is largely unworkable in its present form.

Written by beleben

February 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

Posted in Centro, HS2, West Yorkshire

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  1. Beleben, I have found a means of comparing before and after HS2 service patterns. Examination of the PFMv4.3 Assumptions Report published as part of the HS2 business case in October 2013 provides indicative service patterns on a “Do nothing” basis and a post HS2 basis.

    The “Do nothing” indicative schedules are in chapter 5 and the post HS2 schedules are in chapter 6. As there can be as many four train companies serving any one route, it takes plenty of detailed examination to determine whether the classic rail service post HS2 is better, worse or unchanged. For the examples you identified we see the following (trains/hour) :

    Birmingham – Coventry – Rugby 1 less post HS2
    Leeds – York No change
    Sheffield – Chesterfield No change
    Birmingham – Wolverhampton No change
    Leeds – Wakefield 1 more post HS2

    For a £50 billion scheme that promises to free up additional capacity on classic lines, there appears to be no net benefit to the routes you highlighted with high capacity pressure. Studies made of other typical commuter routes into major cities served by HS2, using the same Assumptions Report, produce a similar pattern on classic rail post HS2. HS2 does not do what it says on the tin.


    February 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    • It’s unfortunate that people are having to try to ‘decode’ the capacity case because the information is so poor. In 2011 the Department for Transport produced a factsheet, ‘Released Capacity on the Wider Rail Network‘.

      [DfT, 2011]

      […] The existing London to Lichfield West Coast Main Line (WCML) is a mixed use railway with long distance non-stopping trains and commuter trains which stop at a variety of main centres and smaller stations. It is also the main freight trunk route from London to the North. The Rugby – Coventry – Birmingham line is also used by a mix of long distance, stopping commuter and freight trains.

      With the opening of High Speed Two (HS2) from London to the West Midlands, most of the long distance non-stop services would be transferred to the new, quicker, route. This would free the space in the timetable vacated by the long distance trains. Because the mix of trains would be reduced, more commuter and freight trains could be run than the longer distance trains they were replacing.

      So for the Coventry route (for example), one might imagine that perusal of the PFMv4.3 Assumptions Report would give a before-HS2 and after-HS2 overview of additional commuter and freight trains arising from ‘most of the long distance non-stop services being transferred to the new, quicker, route’. Of course, the diagrams in the Assumptions Report (Figures 5-7, 6-3, and 6-4) do not provide such information.

      Likewise, if one wanted to know how commuter (stopping) trains from Wakefield to Leeds would change as a result of HS2, the Assumptions Report provides no assistance.


      February 25, 2014 at 9:05 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Musings of Butotoro.


    February 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

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