HS2 – We need to seize the opportunity to improve Coventry’s connectivity

Services at Coventry will benefit from capacity released by HS2

Last week the Coventry Telegraph reported fears that the city’s rail service would suffer with HS2. You can read this initial report and the follow-up story here.

These claims have been made by HS2 opponents before. In fact, we wrote a piece in response to similar claims on September 16, 2011 – Coventry will not miss out, despite what critics say. When referring to Coventry rail services opponents are really referring to London services from the city’s station. Of course Coventry needs services to many different destinations and not just London. However, it is right that Coventry’s services must not suffer and it must get the best possible deal from HS2.

It is worth reiterating a few important points.

  • Coventry will be around 8 miles from HS2 services at Interchange
  • Coventry will retain London services AND will benefit from released capacity which provides better local, regional services (for example better links with Milton Keynes)
  • Many London services arrive full or extremely busy from Birmingham (HS2 will relieve this)
  • The main alternative to HS2 (51M) allows for no growth between Coventry and Birmingham
  • With increasing rail use what kind of service will Coventry have unless we provide more capacity?

The following letter was sent to the Coventry Telegraph from Centro chief exec Geoff Inskip.

Dear Sir,

We fully support City Council Leader John Mutton’s view in Thursday’s Telegraph (April 26) that Coventry must see some benefit from HS2 and that its city rail links must not suffer.

On the contrary we need to seize the opportunity to improve Coventry’s connectivity with the extra space created on the West Coast Mainline and so we will continue to work with Coventry City Council and other authorities across the West Midlands to ensure we get the best possible deal for our communities and businesses.

I often receive letters and comments from rail passengers in Coventry saying that London trains are already crowded when they arrive from Birmingham.

Building the new network will release capacity for towns and cities, including Coventry, all along the West Coast Main line and help us provide Coventry with better local and regional services.

So I would like to see Coventry  enjoy better links and job opportunities with fast-growing Milton Keynes, for example.

I’m concerned that the alternative to HS2 which is often put forward by opponents allows for no growth in rail services between Coventry and Birmingham and also threatens services at Atherstone.

However, I fully understand Councillor Mutton’s concerns about existing services from Coventry station and will work closely with him to ensure Coventry gets the best deal from HS2.

Yours etc.

Geoff Inskip

Centro chief exec

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One Response to HS2 – We need to seize the opportunity to improve Coventry’s connectivity

  1. flightmapping says:

    I think it is far too early to say that Coventry will benefit, unless clear assurances are put in the hybrid bill that minimum service levels will be maintained.

    As you say, trains arrive full into Coventry, but if passengers in Birmingham have HS2, that sucks away a huge reason for their justification.

    I accept we’ll probably get one train each hour, stopping at Rugby, Milton Keynes and Watford, together perhaps with Hemel – whereas at the moment, we get to Euston with one stop.

    To have more than that, there has to be a reason for Birmingham users to want to stay with Virgin (or their successor), and one obvious incentive is price. Yet we’re told that HS2 will cost “the same” as Virgin. Which is it going to be?

    I personally have little interest in extra trains to Milton Keynes, I can see how that would benefit some people, but it is sloppy seconds compared to London.

    The fact remains that there is no comparable European project which has left off such a major city.

    As for the new station, let’s see the surface access plan. The least CENTRO could do, together with the DfT is give us a hint that there will actually be one. All we have so far is 8000 parking spaces – and CENTRO maps which don’t even show the Metro going that far even if they claim elsewhere that it will. We need an express bus at the very least from places like Cannon Park, and someone in government needs to acknowledge that those of us on two wheels like two get around too.

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