In the busiest hour
According to the Department for Transport, without HS2, crowding on inter city West Coast ‘could‘ become particularly acute on Friday evenings in the future.
How “could”? And when in the future?
In the “Higher Growth scenario” by, um, the year 2033 / 2034, apparently.
[DfT Strategic Case, November 2015]
Load factors above 100 per cent (i.e. more Standard Class passengers than seats) are already experienced today in the busiest hour between 19:00 – 20:00.
Official Autumn 2014 data put Friday pm standing at about twenty-four in every thousand travellers (and seven per thousand on other weekdays).
But judging by Network Rail’s working timetable (WTT), standing out of Euston between 7pm and 8pm has nothing to do with a shortage of line capacity.
The Department for Transport has stated that the West Coast fast lines have a current peak capacity of ’15 to 16′ trains per hour.
But as can seen from the Monday to Friday WTT, between 19:01 and 20:00, only nine intercity (the columns coloured pink) and two London Midland fast trains leave Euston.
Most LM trains (the columns coloured green) are ‘slow’, and use the relief lines.
It would seem that Virgin West Coast could operate four more trains in “the busiest hour” on the fast lines, but choose not to, because costs would increase faster than revenue.
Busiest-hour standing would seem to arise from train operator income maximisation, rather than line capacity shortfall.
The November 2015 DfT capacity forecasting seems to be trying to hide the conclusion that Higher Growth 7pm long-distance standing in 2033 / 2034 would be about zero, if the four unused paths were taken up.