Amelioration of West Coast maintainability
According to its backers, one the reasons HS2 is ‘needed’, is the difficulty of maintaining the existing West Coast Main Line (due to the intensity of traffic).
But how HS2 would reduce intensity of traffic — or make West Coast more maintainable — has never been explained. Consider, for example, Professor Andrew McNaughton’s 2015 presentation of ‘before and after’ traffic on the route [below]).
One way of improving maintainability on West Coast’s busiest (London to Rugby) section would be to divert trains on weekends, when the number of people travelling is lower. At present, re-routeing possibilities are limited, because of infrastructure shortcomings.
On occasion, the Chiltern line has been used as a diversionary route during WCML works, but capability is restricted by lack of electrification and modern signalling. With the right investment, the Midland Main Line could also be suitable as a diversionary route. One possibility would be to upgrade and connect the Watford Junction — St Albans Abbey branch line into the Midland south of St Albans City.