die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and Shropshire

with 2 comments

Shropshire’s direct rail link to London, due to start running in December 2014, will not be properly sustainable until the £50 billion HS2 high speed line between the capital and Birmingham opens, South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne said (24 April).

“Our efforts for a regular service have been held back due to a fundamental lack of capacity on the West Coast Main Line. Sufficient capacity to maintain a proper, sustainable service between London and Shrewsbury is only likely once HS2 has been built.”

WCML long distance services assumed in HS2 phase one

WCML long distance services assumed in HS2 phase one; no mention of Shropshire

But as can be seen from HS2 Ltd documents dated October 2013, through services between Shrewsbury and London are not part of post-HS2 West Coast service planning (and never have been). Certainly, London to Wolverhampton intercity services could be extended to Shrewsbury, but that is not dependent on HS2 being built.

If HS2 is built in its present form, there would be massive disruption to London West Coast Main Line services for around 10 years. It is also likely that platform capacity for intercity West Coast trains at Euston would be permanently lower than it is today.

Lack of electrification beyond Wolverhampton makes London to Shrewsbury through services more difficult and expensive to operate. Cancellation of HS2 would allow early electrification of the Holyhead, Wrexham, Barrow-in-Furness and Caldervale routes.

Another problem is that the shortest electric trainsets in the intercity West Coast fleet are 9-car Pendolinos. Two coupled 6 x 23-metre units would be more suitable for portion-working through services to destinations such as Blackpool, Shrewsbury, Barrow-in-Furness, and Rochdale.

Written by beleben

April 24, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

2 Responses

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  1. The response above to Phillip Dunnes observations seems to be be missing the point.

    London to Shrewsbury direct services are very much dependent on HS2 being built – even the recent personal intervention by Richard Branson in negotiations to bring back the direct service could not create capacity where there was none. Whether HS2 Ltd are planning a direct Shrewsbury service is immaterial – other parties, such as Virgin, would very much like to operate such a service, but cannot due to lack of capacity.

    As for cancellation of HS2 allowing electrification, is it really likely that money allotted to HS2 would automatically be switched to this, (or the dozens of other projects the anti-HS2 lobby would like to see built) instead? Dream on!


    April 25, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    • Virgin Trains wanted to run trains from London to Stafford, reversing to join the Shrewsbury line just outside Wolverhampton. But extending existing Wolverhampton intercity trains to Shrewsbury would not require any additional paths on the WCML trunk.

      The principal constraints on running additional trains on the WCML trunk are (i) Network Rail inefficiency, and (ii) the existence of prior access rights. On 31 July 2013, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) stated

      it had decided at this stage not to grant access for additional services to Blackpool and Shrewsbury on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

      Extensive analysis of Virgin Trains’ recent application for new passenger services on the WCML showed that there is not currently sufficient space on the line to run all of the additional services. The proposals would have also caused further deterioration in punctuality by adding traffic to what is already a very busy route, on which Network Rail is currently not meeting the punctuality targets it has been funded to deliver. The proposals would have a detrimental impact on the journeys of millions of passengers travelling on the route.

      Network Rail and the rail industry are striving to improve performance on the WCML, with work underway to upgrade the line to allow more trains to run, and the scheduled introduction of an enhanced timetable for the route. ORR’s expectation is that this activity will allow opportunities for new services in the future.


      April 26, 2014 at 9:13 am

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