die belebende Bedenkung

Passing the roundhouse

with 4 comments

The most intensively used sections of the West Coast, Midland, and East Coast Main Lines are on the London approach. According to the Department for Transport, on a typical 2013 working day, around 3,200 passengers arrived at Euston in the morning high peak hour on Virgin Trains, and 32,000 over the course of the day.

But there were another 10,000 high peak hour and 41,700 all-day arrivals on London Midland and Overground suburban trains. So, at the busiest time of the morning, three of every four rail travellers passing Camden roundhouse are on suburban trains.

Schematic showing distribution of West Coast Main Line passenger volumes (Network Rail, from 2009/2010 LENNON database)

On the Midland Main Line, the proportion of peak ‘suburban’ travel into St Pancras is higher still. Much of the custom of ‘long distance’ East Midlands Trains is effectively outer suburban travel, to and from points which are not in the East Midlands.

Schematic showing distribution of Midland Main Line passenger volumes (Network Rail, 2010)

In essence, the figures indicate that investing huge amounts of cash in new-build high speed rail trackage is neither cost-effective nor justifiable on capacity grounds. The money would be much better spent on other projects.

Written by beleben

December 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

4 Responses

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  1. Beleben – In your piece “Great Central is the way to go,” you advocate reinstating the Great Central alignment into London south of Rugby and presumably with a connection north to access Midland Main Line traffic from Leicester. From this current posting I can see how this is then a method of enabling the long distance services to be taken out of the lines that feed the London commuter belt, this then permitting greater London suburban capacity in the terminal stations and the track alignments.

    The question then is what do you do in London to accommodate those long distance services? Where do they get stabled and what are the civil engineering projects needed to do that? Obviously that is a massive question but it does cut to the centre of the issue of how HS2 is not the answer to the problem of growing passenger capacity. I could see a set of tunnels that permit trains to access Paddington, Marylebone, Euston and St Pancras from the Great Central alignment, but that is sadly beyond most politicians….

    Andrew S. Mooney

    December 22, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    • Your ‘sadly’ bit is certainly true of HS2. The DfT has budget. The whips will hand-bag Stage 1 through both houses. And press interviews by HS2 Ltd executives, roadshows and blogs by ‘independent’ consultants will breathlessly endorse it until it gets to Go.

      Unless, that is, a simpler package appears that isn’t beyond most politicians in its detail; one that is obviously better for the North than for London. And more than a few billion cheaper for the Chancellor.

      My own offering is an east-west Northern Cities Crossrail, joined up by a 40-mile HS3 through the Pennines from Manchester Victoria to Leeds and built before HS2. It would automatically change HS2. And some of its rail upgrades west of Manchester and east of Huddersfield are already in budget:

      Michael Wand

      December 22, 2014 at 10:49 pm

  2. Shock horror. More passengers on sections of line where there is a more intensive service.

    The best way of enhancing services for these people is to give their trains full use of the fast lines, by removing the non-stop services and putting them on a new pair of tracks from central London to the M25. This would have to include either a new Crossrail route, to absorb the extra suburban services, or a rebuild of the terminus to provide more surface platforms. This would need to be done on each of the north-south main lines – the WCML, MML and ECML – but you would have a wonderful time having one line serve all three before splitting to connect back in to these lines once you’ve exited Network SouthEast-land. At the same time, a similar set of bypass lines would be wonderful in the other great cities of Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds so that they can have more suburban services as well. Once you’ve got the bypass lines at either end, it does then make sense to join them up with relatively inexpensive tracks through open countryside.


    January 8, 2015 at 1:22 am

    • HS1 seems to have been the most expensive ‘high speed’ railway built in Europe. But HS2 would be even more expensive. So the idea that building HS2 tracks through open countryside would be “relatively inexpensive”, doesn’t have an evidential basis.


      January 8, 2015 at 11:40 am

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