die belebende Bedenkung

When the going gets stuffed

with 2 comments

Billy Ocean, 'Go and get stuffed'

Britain’s West Coast Main Line is absolutely stuffed, at peak time it is basically the busiest conventional rail corridor in the world (claimed Jon Stone, Europe Correspondent at the @Independent [7 June 2019]).

But he doesn’t have any data to back that claim up, though [NCHSR lecturer] ‘Gareth Dennis may be able to help’.

twitter, @joncstone, West Coast Main Line is stuffed at peak time, 07 Jun 2019

According to Mr Dennis, passenger crowding data on the DfT website shows that suburban crowding into all north-facing London stations is “pretty dreadful, which will be helped from Day 1 of HS2 Phase 1 opening”.

But the DfT figures do not show that north-facing suburban crowding is ‘pretty dreadful’, compared to other lines.

Nor do they show that the West Coast Main Line at peak time is ‘basically the busiest conventional rail corridor in the world’.

In the Table ‘RAI0215’, peak am crowding on a typical autumn weekday in 2017, Mr Dennis highlighted the “Passengers standing” for Thameslink, Great Northern, and West Midlands Trains.

But ‘passengers standing’ is not the same thing as ‘overcrowding’. Obviously, standees make up a high proportion of the ‘official’ (non-overcrowded) capacity on many commuter routes, e.g., Thameslink and London Overground.

A somewhat more relevant measure would be the ‘Passengers in excess of capacity’ (PiXC) metric. For West Midlands Trains, the RAI0215 morning PiXC figure in 2017 was 7%, and for Thameslink, 0%.

So, to reduce Euston outer suburban PiXC to zero (and save £60 billion by not building HS2), run 12-car Thameslink-type trains out of Euston.

twitter, @joncstone, 'From now on I’ll be writing a fortnightly column on transport policy for @Independent, by the way'

Written by beleben

June 10, 2019 at 10:02 am

Posted in Bizarre, HS2

2 Responses

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  1. Beleben is absolutely correct that neither Jon Stone nor Gareth Dennis have been able to provide any evidence to support the claim that the West Coast Main Line is “the busiest conventional rail corridor in the world”.

    Nonetheless it is still worth considering the data which Mr Dennis has supplied. I would contend that it is more useful to look at the absolute numbers (passengers in excess of capacity or standing passengers) rather than percentages. I also think it desirable to look at all London stations rather than just north facing ones. Using the morning three hour peak, as Mr Dennis did, we find the following data for a typical autumn weekday in 2017 (DfT spreadsheet RAI0213):

    Passengers in Standing
    excess of capacity passengers
    Waterloo 7,668 31,475
    Liverpool Street 7,416 22,933
    London Bridge 5,702 29,004
    Fenchurch Street 2,288 11,971
    Kings Cross 2,181 4,077
    Victoria 2,042 14,719
    Paddington 1,423 3,078
    Euston 1,371 5,700
    Moorgate 1,334 4,363
    Blackfriars 1,283 10,140
    Marylebone 1,265 1,773
    St Pancras 684 9,214

    Euston lies 8th on the list of London stations measured by passengers in excess of capacity and 8th measured by standing passengers (on trains) in the three hour morning peak. Therefore there are several other stations which need additional train capacity long before Euston does.

    Analysis of other spreadsheets in this set show that it is the local and suburban services that are predominantly the ones suffering the most in terms of passengers in excess of capacity. That is equally true at stations in major UK cities other than London.

    The Office of Rail and Road helpfully provide an analysis titled Regional Rail Journeys – London – Table 15.4. This shows that of the passengers using trains to reach London from other regions, 85% start their journeys in the East or South East regions. So how does building a new line from the Midlands and the North help this 85%?

    Also, let us not forget that the Economic Case for HS2 always included an amount (a cost saving) to reflect the reduction in classic rail services which would be brought about as a consequence of introducing HS2 trains. In the HS2 Economic Case published in July 2017, this amount was £11.1 billion (Table 10, page 68). So with significant cuts to classic services, will there be any additional trains to serve the likes of Milton Keynes and Coventry?

    Andrew Bodman

    June 11, 2019 at 11:57 am

  2. Unfortunately a table loses its format when posted as a comment. To clarify my response above, there are two numerical columns, the first being passengers in excess of capacity and the second being standing passengers. I apologise for the readability issue.

    Andrew Bodman

    June 11, 2019 at 12:55 pm

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