HS2 versus do-minimum, part two
According to the Department for Transport, without HS2, overcrowding on West Coast commuter services ‘could’ become a serious problem.
According to DfT, the “Atkins Strategic Alternative” to HS2 would cause 14 years of weekend closures, but only increase morning Standard class capacity on Euston commuter services to “27,120”. But with HS2, the capacity would be “41,103”.
How did DfT arrive at these figures? There seems to be no explanation, anywhere.
But it is possible to compare HS2, and Atkins Strategic Alternative, with a do-minimum scenario, in which the existing trains are replaced by higher capacity ones of the same length.
A Siemens Class 700 ‘Desiro City’ train, of the type intended for Thameslink, has about twice the Standard class capacity of the Class 350 Desiros used on the West Coast Main Line. So, if the December 2014 Euston timetable were operated with trains similar to the 12-car Class 700, the capacity would be 28 x ~1,700 = 47,600.
In other words, it is possible to provide more commuter capacity than HS2, simply by deploying high capacity rolling stock of the same length as the existing trains. Without any “weekend closures” at all.
In terms of benefit-cost, it seems that do-minimum is not “an option”; it is the “the best option”.