Where there is massive
[House of Lords, High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill, 10 Jan 2017]
[Andrew Adonis:] My noble friend Lord Snape referred to the plan for a kind of patch-and-mend link between HS1 and HS2 using the North London line. There was a plan for that in the original HS1 scheme, linking to the conventional lines. There was also initially from HS2 Ltd a plan for it in respect of the HS2 line. It has to be said that nobody much liked this. It would have been a very slow connection, weaving its way up to the North London line, across and down, which would have made the line even less competitive with the airlines. When the trains were running, it would have used a lot of capacity on the North London line [NLL], which, as noble Lords will know, is now an integral part of the Overground service and a major freight artery. That would have been highly inconvenient.
Increasing the number of freight trains using the NLL would also “use up a lot of capacity” and be “highly inconvenient” for Overground travel. But those outcomes would be a virtually inevitable consequence of the Department for Transport’s post-HS2 ‘ambition’ to run more freight on the West Coast Main Line (if the ambition were otherwise feasible).
[House of Lords, 10 Jan 2017]
[Andrew Adonis:] I cannot emphasise enough that the single biggest threat to this project is cost overruns in building the core of it, between cities where there is massive traffic – namely, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London. It would not be a sensible use of public resources at the moment to add in — on a wing and a prayer, because for sentimental reasons we think it would be nice to have one or two trains a day that start off from Manchester and have “Paris” on the front — the commitment to many billions further of public spending.
So, how big is this ‘massive traffic’? Consider the easily-largest business travel flow between London and northern England.
According to DfT, there were 1,843,000 rail business journeys between London and Manchester in 2013 / 2014 (~922,000 each way), and 48 trains per day in each direction.
Suppose all of this business travel took place on Mondays to Fridays (250 days per year). With 48 trains per day, the average business passenger load must have been (922,000 / (250 * 48)), or ~78 persons per train.
Such analysis shows that end-to-end business (and non-business) traffic between London and Manchester, London and Birmingham, and London and Leeds, could hardly be described as ‘massive’. In fact, journeys to and from intermediate points account for a significant part of the intercity rail clientele.
Unlike the existing intercity services, HS2’s London – Manchester, London – Birmingham, and London – Leeds trains would not be able to serve any significant intermediate poles of demand. If Manchester – London demand doubled, there would be an average of ~160 business passengers in a 1,100 seat HS2 train.