HS2 versus do-minimum
At Birmingham’s New Street station on 2 October, transport ministers Chris Grayling and Andrew Jones were happy to pose at a concourse exhibit for the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group.
Mr Grayling has said that HS2 is as much about capacity as it is about speed, and would help ease congestion on overcrowded trains.
However, the available data suggests that
- capacity pressures are strongest on the commuter lines east and south of London
- the InterCity West Coast service group is ‘unique, because it has a considerable amount of unused capacity’
- building HS2 would result in the creation of large amounts of capacity, for which there is no market
- HS2 would have very little effect on total overcrowding
- foreseeable demand on the West Coast Main Line could be comfortably accommodated without building HS2.
In October 2013, to please the government, Network Rail announced that alternatives to building HS2 which would instead upgrade existing lines ‘could need 14 years of weekend closures’, but refused to release any details to support their claim.
So how many ‘years of weekend closures’ would really be needed, to accommodate forecast growth on the West Coast Main Line?