Opponents of HS2 have taken to claiming there is no problem with crowding on the West Coast Main Line. They even go as far as to claim peak-time trains leaving Euston are half empty.
So why does HS2 opponent Jerry Marshall say he can add 215% capacity to existing lines if there isn’t a problem?
The argument that the WCML isn’t congested doesn’t stack up in the first place, but sadly this ‘research’ has got some column inches.
We have written to regional newspapers (please see below) and trust they will publish our response. What is particularly concerning is that HS2 opponents have spent less than 8 hours counting passenger numbers at one station.
How can this compare with industry-wide figures which are published quarterly providing statistics for the UK?
If groups supporting HS2 had published such a limited sample we would have been rightly criticised, but the claims of opponents do not receive sufficient scrutiny.
If there isn’t a problem with overcrowding on trains why has London Midland added 2,300 seats to ‘address overcrowding’ (click here)?
And why is Virgin Trains experiencing the levels of passengers in 2011 that HS2 Ltd predicted for 2021?
Beyond the attention-grabbing ‘half-empty’ statements the report goes on to note that first class carriages were not fully occupied. Mr Marshall would ‘reconfigure’ these, he says.
HS2 opponents have frequently poured scorn on demand predictions, so how can they predict how many first class carriages will be needed or would they do away with them altogether?
It’s important to remember that first class carriages provide a great deal of revenue. It seems curious, and again inconsistent, that a group which says it wants less burden on the taxpayer would reduce this revenue stream for operators.
Letter to the Editor:
Groups protesting against HS2 claim there is no problem with overcrowding on the West Coast Main Line, but this is not true.
Rail is growing at six per cent per year and we now have the highest number of rail passengers since the 1920s. It is worth noting we have half the rail network we had back then.
London Midland has recently added another 2,300 seats a day, stating the move would go ‘a considerable way to addressing overcrowding.’ Virgin Trains is already carrying as many passengers in 2011 as HS2 Ltd had projected for 2021.
So, if we don’t have a capacity problem, as HS2 opponents claim, why are operators adding services? And why do we frequently hear and see images of overcrowding in the media?
Rail freight is also growing at a considerable rate – container traffic has grown by 56% in the last eight years.
The figures reported by HS2 Action Alliance are based on a very small sample and cannot be credibly compared with quarterly figures published by the industry which clearly show escalating demand. HS2 Action Alliance counted passengers on three days at peak time, adding up to less than eight hours of study.
We need HS2 in the West Midlands to bring jobs and opportunities and much-needed capacity to ensure our local, regional and freight services are not squeezed out.