Fewer, slower, broadly comparable?
On 13 February 2015, campaigners claimed that if HS2 went ahead, stations such as Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, and Coventry would see slower or fewer services to London, the Birmingham Mail reported.
[“Midland railway stations may see slower services to Euston because of HS2 – campaigner”, Andy Richards, Birmingham Mail, 13 February 2015]
[…] It follows evidence given by HS2 Ltd technical Director Andrew McNaughton to the HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee in the House of Commons.
He said: “We take off the main line most of the long-distance non-stop services, because the purpose of HS2 is to serve cities on the long-distance network.
[…] “We [HS2] basically introduce 10 long-distance services, which means all those services come off the main lines.”
He added this “gives us a chance to re-plan the West Coast Main Line with new services around the needs of the communities served by the West Coast Main Line, no longer largely controlled by the need to run non-stop trains from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.”
[…] A Department for Transport spokesman said: “One of the key aims for future service patterns is that all towns or cities which currently have a direct service to London will retain broadly comparable or better services once HS2 is completed.
“In addition, we are investigating how we can maximise the benefits of released capacity as a result of HS2. Decisions on future services will be taken nearer the time, and will be based on consultation and engagement with passengers and communities.”
On 19 February, the slides used by Professor McNaughton at the Hybrid Bill Committee were published on the Houses of Parliament website. Slide #13 contained diagrams of the December 2014 West Coast evening peak Fast and Slow line paths, and indicative year-2026 paths for HS2 stage one and West Coast. Slide #14 showed the December 2014 and 2026 paths in the West Midlands and Cheshire.
Unlike Network Rail’s Rupert Walker, Prof McNaughton does seem to know that two thirds of West Midlands – Euston intercity trains start at Birmingham. However, he seems to be a bit confused about the calling pattern of other trains, such as Euston-to-Chester (Virgin).
In slide #13, the number of Euston classic trains shown in the December 2014 and 2026 diagrams is almost the same; yet HS2’s October 2013 economic case listed a saving (i.e. cut) of £5.6 billion net from phase one. What £5.6 billion would mean in terms of annual train-kilometres — or connections between particular towns — has never been explained.
And, so far as can be determined, the present value of the total cost of running West Coast classic trains has never been given by HS2 Ltd. All that has been given, is the present value of the reduction in cost of running them following activation of the high speed line.
Professor McNaughton’s presentation was framed in terms of travel to and from London, so the change in connectivity between, (say) Coventry and Birmingham, is unclear. But it would seem that HS2 Ltd’s assumption is that ‘London Midland’ as a service group would cease to exist.
How is it possible to run a ‘broadly comparable’ service of classic trains
- but with a cost reduction of £5.6 billion PV,
- and one-third fewer platforms at Euston?