To Pendolino, and back
In 2012, HS2 chief engineer Prof Andrew McNaughton explained to a trade magazine how his new railway would allow the existing West Coast tracks to run a much better commuter service.
[Andrew McNaughton, quoted in The Engineer, 28 May 2012]
‘If you stand on Milton Keynes platform during morning peak [now], you’ll see lots of Pendolino trains but they don’t stop; they’re all full of people going to Manchester. In 2025, when HS2 opens, they’re gone. Trains will stop at Milton Keynes every 10 minutes.’
And on 11 February 2015, he offered a few comments at the High Speed Rail Bill Committee.
[Andrew McNaughton at the High Speed Rail Bill Committee, 11 Feb]
When HS2 is in operation, then the long distance services, the HS2 Services, run off their platforms, there will be less of the [Euston] classic platforms left. But, they are now being used for these new services, which don’t take so long to turn around. A train from Glasgow spends 40 minutes being cleaned, victualled, watered, before it disappears off north again. So, it uses a platform for a very long time. A commuter train from Milton Keynes comes in, decants everybody, puts more people on, disappears off in five or six minutes. So, the mix of train services does affect the number of platforms you need, as well.
But the Professor’s presentation did not show Fast-commuter trains starting from Milton Keynes, and running into London; it showed them starting at places like Birmingham and Glasgow, and calling at Milton Keynes, en route. Because travel-to-London demand from points north of Milton Keynes is much lower, that service pattern is unlikely to be very efficient. A more cost-effective approach would be to run pure commuter services, perhaps by connecting Milton Keynes into the Midland Main Line.
HS2 Ltd want classic services to occupy less Euston platform space by replacing current long distance trains with pseudo-commuter ones serving the ‘long-distance’ market, running beyond the normal commuter threshold (Northants). Are Class 350 trains really suitable for journeys of 300 km or more?
In a further bizarre twist, the Department for Transport seem to want some commuter services to switch from Desiro to Pendolino, and then back again [see table above].