West Coast commuter capacity discrepancies
According to the Department for Transport, the November 2015 technical annex to the HS2 Strategic Case showed that ‘infrastructure investment contained within the [Atkins] Strategic Alternative only allows a 4.7 per cent increase in [London Midland] morning peak capacity into Euston over and above running all of today’s services with 12-cars’.
|Reference||London Midland capacity scenario||Number of LM services||Standard class seats||Standard class capacity|
|i||No HS2, Dec 2014||28 (stated by DfT)||15132 (stated by DfT)||20234 (stated by DfT)|
|ii||No HS2, All 12-carriage||28 (stated by DfT)||19344 (stated by DfT), 20412 (arithmetic*)||25884 (stated by DfT)|
|iii||With Atkins “Strategic” Alternative and No HS2||30 (stated by DfT)||20580 (stated by DfT), 21870 (arithmetic*)||27120 (stated by DfT)|
|iv||With HS2||41 (stated by DfT)||30330 (stated by DfT), 29889 (arithmetic*)||41103 (stated by DfT)|
No classic lineside works,
Run 12 trains in the three peak hours
|36 (see discussion below)||26244 (arithmetic*)|
|* = assuming 243 Standard Class seats in a 4-car Class 350/2 unit, i.e. 729 seats in a 12-car train|
- the figures given do not seem to match those from publicly available train data,
- the Department does not include First Class in its assessment of commuter capacity,
- the ‘Strategic Alternative’ is a “straw man” proposal, commissioned by the government purely to bolster the case for HS2. Much better “alternatives” could be, and have been, designed.
The technical annex also claimed that, with HS2 Phase One, route capacity released from running fewer inter-city services on the West Coast Main Line would allow the number of London Midland morning peak arrivals to increase from 28 to 41.
But how dependent is London Midland capacity on HS2? The company’s December 2015 – May 2016 timetable showed that, in the three hour weekday morning peak,
- only seven Commuter trains arrived at Euston between between 07:01 and 08:00, thirteen arrived between 08:01 and 09:00, and eight arrived between 09:01 and 10:00; and
- most were ‘Commuter Slow’ — running on the slow lines not used by inter-city trains.
|Dec 2015 – May 2016 timetable (weekday)|
|Time of arrival at Euston||Between
07:01 – 08:00
08:01 – 09:00
09:01 – 10:00
|Quantum of London Midland trains||7||13||8|
If thirteen London Midland commuter trains can be accommodated between 8am and 9am, what would be the difficulty in accommodating twelve between 7am and 8am, or between 9am and 10am? Many ‘flexitime’ workers would use shoulder peak services, if cheaper fares were on offer.