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HS2 and ‘seats into Euston’

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In the House of Commons on 12 September 2013, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin spoke about HS2 capacity.

[Mr McLoughlin:] If we made the improvement that some people suggest on the present line, it would lead to capacity increases of about 53% between London and Birmingham. HS2 will lead to a capacity increase of 143%.

What “the improvement that some people suggest”, referred to, was not explained. Equally unclear is where the “143%” and “53%” figures came from. The same figures cropped up in the FAQ section of the Greengauge 21 Rail Leaders Group website, but instead of referring to ‘capacity between London and Birmingham’, they referred to ‘seats into Euston’.

Greengauge 21 High Speed Rail Leaders Group faq, 'Seats into Euston'

Greengauge 21 High Speed Rail Leaders Group faq, ‘Seats into Euston’

Obviously, seats into or out of Euston (Rail Leaders), and ‘capacity between London and Birmingham’ (Patrick McLoughlin) are not the same thing. Most people occupying ‘seats into Euston’ are coming from Milton Keynes, or places between MK and London.

Even ‘intercity seats into Euston’ would be a curious measure, because the HS2 project is based on transferring West and South Yorkshire intercity traffic from Kings Cross and St Pancras into Euston.

Capacity reserved to serve East Coast and East Midlands destinations from Euston would not be additional capacity available to serve West Coast destinations. It would make much more sense to measure capacity between origin-destination pairs, e.g. London to Birmingham, but there are no published figures factoring in actual and potential capacity on the Chiltern line (for example).

HS2 October 2013, official HS2 and West Coast capacity representation with annotations by Beleben

The October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2 illustrative service pattern showed 11 HS2 paths serving ‘West Coast’ destinations (Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, etc), 3 classic long distance trains from Euston on the WCML, and 9 WCML Fast Line commuter trains from Euston each hour, allowing the following estimate.

  • HS2: 11 * ~1,100 ≈ 12,100 (based on all trains full length, and each 200-metre unit having 550 seats)
  • WCML Long Distance: 3 * ~600 ≈ 1,800 (based on 11-car Pendolino)
  • WCML Fast Commuter: 9 * ~800 ≈ 7,200 (based on 12-car Desiro)
  • Total: 21,100 seats

It might be worth comparing HS2 Ltd’s estimate of 550 seats in a 200-metre high speed train, with recent European orders. The 400-metre Class 374 units ordered by Eurostar are able to seat “up to 900 passengers”, and the 200-metre AGVs operated by NTV in Italy have around 460 seats. Using the Italian AGV figure would give a HS2 ‘West Coast destination’ capacity of ~10,100 seats, and a one way Euston hourly WCML_Fast plus HS2_West_Coast_corridor seating total of ~19,100.

Written by beleben

November 28, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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