die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and national rail demand

with 3 comments

HS2 is needed because the number of rail passenger journeys has doubled since the last day of British Rail, when 800 million travelled (claimed Nigel Harris of ‘Rail’ magazine, in a BBC Inside Out West Midlands interview).

Nigel Harris on BBC Inside Out West Midlands, broadcast 6 March 2017

Nigel Harris on BBC Inside Out West Midlands, broadcast 6 March 2017

This is a curious argument. If 800 million extra annual journeys have been accommodated without building a new line, who is to say another 800 million couldn’t be accommodated without building a new line?

It turns out that Network Rail are forecasting a lot more than 800 million extra passengers in the future on the existing railway, and this is “more than the current infrastructure was ever designed for”. But did George Stephenson or Isambard Kingdom Brunel “design for” a particular number of passengers?

[Network Rail]

“Passenger numbers have doubled in the last 20 years – this is more than the current infrastructure was ever designed for.

That number’s set to double again in the next 25 years.”

HS2 is “designed for” future intercity demand between Birmingham and London, Manchester and London, and Leeds and London. But intercity is a small proportion of rail travel, and all the indications are that existing lines would be able to meet its future demand.

Together, annual rail volume between London and the three provincial HS2 cities is less than 10 million journeys (on the figures used by Mr Harris, about 0.6 per cent of the national total).

Written by beleben

March 10, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Posted in HS2

3 Responses

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  1. Most of the trains I see are more than half empty

    Graeme burrows

    March 15, 2017 at 9:44 am

  2. As I enjoy near empty trains on many of my long distance journeys it is patently obvious that the major problems arise not with rail capacity but demand induced by land use conventions for travelling to and from work, healthcare etc. In coarse terms moving half the working population of Kent & Sussex in to London to all arrive by 09.30 already has trains filled to 200% of seated capacity, with this naieve belief that you can have the reliable operation of any system when it has to deliver at over 90% performance. It WILL fail daily when there is not at least 10% slack for contingency.

    But we also have the fact that for most of the day this existing railway collapsing daily with just a couple of hours intense demand, but is virtually ’empty’ the rest of the time. The intensive use of 2 very vulnerable tracks on Thameslink through the city even now deliver a regular hiatus with no coherent arrangement for diverting that flow, as the longer routes of London commuter rail and the absence of the London Underground’s basic matrix of connected lines and parallel bus routes makes a seizure between Kentish Town and Blackfriars a major issue.

    There are some key interim measures – notably the delivery of some walking routes between stations at West Hampstead, and turn back options – perhaps retaining/restoring the 6 track station on the Midland Main line, for the additional platforms needed when terminating trains for St Pancras or Thameslink short of the terminus/core line. The station at Maiden Lane, with a walking connection to St Pancras via the Kings Cross Central development then becomes even more important, especially if the existing links/or existing provision for connections from the East Coast main line, HS1, and Midland Main Line can be melded into a coherent arrangement. Freight using the North London Line could get to Cricklewood and West London avoiding Willesden, Engineering blockades and breakdowns could have a by-pass option especially if connections can be made at West Hampstead and Maiden Lane, with the Southern catchment then offered the option of using the east London connections via New Cross and New Cross Gate.

    The limitations of the short platform on the Gospel Oak-Barking route might be resolved by restoring a route currently partially incorporated in Murphy’s large construction depot in Kentish Town, to deliver an extra 1-2 terminal platforms at Kentish Town (to the west of the current station, and a boosted connectivity for this route to Underground and Thameslink, the option then might also be to move the NLR platforms at Gospel Oak to the East – using the same access but making a walking connection to Kentish Town a realistic option


    March 27, 2017 at 5:44 pm

  3. Oh and with some key connections in NW London we can have a 12-track railway (3 routes) between London and the Midlands (with 6-8 tracks across the Midlands and up to Preston and 4-8 tracks Midlands to Yorkshire excluding the ECML and its by-pass routes.

    Link connections are being restored too Notably the Bedford-Bletchley-Oxford route which seriously needs a Southern connections at Bedford and Bletchley (MML and WCML) and Northern connection at Kidlington/Bicester (plus restoring rail services to 3 major towns Daventry, Brackley and Buckingham – all gaining trains to London taking 1 hour or less via Ashenden Junction/Aylesbury)

    A connection from How Wood to MML at St Albans (existing, long abandoned trackbed) would make the Abbey Line a vital route for blockades, and disruption.


    March 27, 2017 at 6:00 pm

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