Many will benefit from HS2 across the UK

Go-HS2 wants to bring high speed rail to the West Midlands

Go-HS2 wants to bring high speed rail to the West Midlands

HS2 – Capacity, capacity, capacity

The case for HS2 in the West Midlands can be summed up in one simple word: capacity.

Passenger growth is running at 6 per cent per annum, despite the recession and much-repeated claims that technology would replace the need to travel.

And it isn’t just about growth in the south east. In the West Midlands passenger journeys have almost doubled in the last decade and rail’s share of peak-time travel into Birmingham has grown from 17 to 27 per cent.

Difficult choices

In January Network Rail published a report which concluded we’re going to face some very difficult choices about which stations are served and which are not if we don’t build HS2.

Put simply, we don’t have the capacity on our existing lines and communities are going to miss out as cuts have to be made up and down the country favouring more lucrative long distance routes.

HS2 opponents have labelled this as scaremongering. It isn’t. This isn’t anything new. Services were cut at stations along the West Coast Main Line in 2008 to make room for faster, direct services.

For environmental as well as business reasons it is obvious why we must protect our local, regional and freight services.

Services in Staffordshire/Warwickshire

Network Rail concludes that local and regional services will be lost in Staffordshire and Warwickshire even if we adopt the alternative scheme promoted by HS2 opponents 51M.

Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise to see capacity missing from opponents’ arguments as well as those trumpeted recently in sections of the media.

After all, we spent £9bn upgrading the West Coast Main Line a few years back and it hasn’t solved the problem.

Much is hidden from view with these suggested alternatives. What about provision for freight for example? Why is there no provision for growth between Coventry and Birmingham?

HS2 alternatives are not what they seem

The alternatives are not always what they seem.

How many people realise the 51M alternative scheme endorses building 14 miles of new line through Staffordshire at a cost of £1.23bn to deliver just one more train per hour from Manchester?

As Lord Adonis said, when referring to such schemes, ‘patch and mend’ simply won’t do the job. We’ve had enough of that already.

HS2 brings great opportunities for our cities and regions. We will have fast, direct links between major UK and European cities.

A new high speed rail network will also release capacity on our existing lines for increased local, regional and freight services.

Work has already been taking place in UK cities to understand how our regional communities can benefit from these extra services.

HS2 releases capacity for West Midlands services

In the West Midlands regional transport authority Centro has produced a timetable detailing how Wolverhampton, Walsall, Coventry and other communities can benefit from new services to Birmingham Airport, for example.

Too much focus has been on London, perhaps inevitably as our one megacity, and journey times have been derided as ‘shaving a few minutes’ or commuters have been urged to ‘get out of bed earlier’ by opponents.

This is nonsense. Not only does it ignore the capacity needs mentioned previously it fails to recognise that the time savings are tremendous.

Our regions have the opportunity to work together in new ways, opening up markets and development opportunities.

Birmingham to Leeds currently takes two hours. This would be slashed to 57 minutes with HS2. Birmingham to Manchester would be halved from around 90 minutes to 41 minutes.

With these time savings it is possible for businesses to relocate and for our regions to become much more competitive, relieving the over-heated south east.

HS2 has cross party support

This is why HS2 has cross-party support and the support of businesses up and down the land.

This is an opportunity to build a rail network for many generations to come, but it will take guts, determination and strong political will to see it through.

It is only right that HS2 is held up to scrutiny, but the opinions of a vocal minority in the south should not be allowed to drown out the many, many people set to benefit from HS2 across the UK.

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4 Responses to Many will benefit from HS2 across the UK

  1. Chris Neville-Smith says:

    Out of interest, are 51m et al planning to comment on the latest idea of an “alternative”? it’s to free up traffic on the WCML by … wait for it … diverting London-Birmingham trains via the Chiltern line:

    http://beleben.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/rolling-stock-is-cheaper-than-infrastructure/

    I don’t know what Birmingham’s reaction will be to sticking at least on extra 20 minutes on journey time will be, but I can guess. I also don’t think that bodes well for the intermediate stations on the Chiltern line (if the recent experience of intermediate stations on the WCML is anything to go by). But the biggest irony is that Coventry will be left with no inter-city services to London AT ALL, which seems a little hypocritical for a blog writer who complains of all these communities being bypassed by HS2. Would Coventry City Council care to comment?

    • Chris Neville-Smith says:

      Oh, and I’m well aware of the flaw in the chart on that link, but I was too busy collapsing helpless with laughter to rebut that.

    • gohs2 says:

      HS2NW would naturally have strong opinions on this as well! Such schemes don’t solve the dilemma for the West Midlands and ignore routes north. Interesting to note that since they were first mentioned (UKIP’s non-stop shuttle and Andrea Leadsom MP’s new MK to London line) there has been no further comment.
      It seems likely opponents of HS2 realise the obvious shortcomings and PR perils of these routes and prefer not to comment. If 51M supported the new MK line they would shift significant disruption elsewhere and not solve capacity issues for the Midlands and North. And cutting out stops at Coventry, Watford etc. is ridiculous. Getting to Watford and MK from the north (post 2008) is difficult enough but this is also overlooked by many.

  2. hs2northwest says:

    HS2NW does indeed have strong views on the so called “alternative” which does very little for the North West. It’s true to say that 51M supports a new line through Staffordshire, providing 1 extra train for Manchester, which you would assume the North West would support. However 14 miles of track and £1.23 is really not worth it for the sake of 1 extra train. In addition the “alternative” leaves rest of the region with no extra services beyond what we already see today and in some cases a loss of services.

    A copy of 51M’s services diagram can be seen here http://njak100.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/51m-debate-join-dots.html

    This diagram clearly shows major towns in the North West loosing services, and it shows Liverpool as having the exact same number of peak services as it has already today, it is also made clear that because of the restricted size of Liverpool Lime St, it will never see the 12 car Pendolinos for which so much of the “alternative” plan hinges on.

    To add insult to injury for the the East Cheshire region looses out due to the nill growth of services stopping at Crewe and the removal of Alsager’s only direct connection to London provided by London Midland, which also serves as a crucial local train, connecting Crewe, Alsager and Stoke-On-Trent.

    HS2 phase 1 on the other hand serves the North West and provides extra capacity from the get go, without the need to reduce services in favor of other towns and cities.

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