Examining the ‘alternative’ to HS2
The second of William Barter’s two-part post examining the main alternative to HS2 put forward by opponents.
An objective analysis of this specification needs to consider just how much reliance can be placed upon it as an indicator of the eventual timetable. First, a full reading of the Demand and Appraisal Report, Section 2.5 in particular, shows that the specification is to be used in demand modelling and timetable development. And what happens to a specification is – it is tested for feasibility by trying to produce a timetable that embodies in actual train paths the frequencies, journey times, and station stops that it calls for; that timetable is then used for demand modelling; then you look at the outcomes and decide whether you want to change the specification. That’s an iterative process that goes on over years for any major rail project, and this case there are plenty of iterations to come over the next dozen or so years.
Phase 1, HS2
But this specification has not come from nowhere. For Phase 1, it seems to represent some serious work on what could and should be provided on the classic lines, once they are freed to focus on local and regional services rather than fast through trains with (very) limited stops en route. In the critical places where I have been able to test it by drawing up a specimen timetable (just as I did for the 51M plan) it seems feasible (just as the 51M plan didn’t). The way some parts fit together suggests it has been round the “specification – timetable – model – review” iteration before. It is also fully consistent with other independent analyses of what the WCML could and should do after HS2 – my own, published in “Modern Railways” in April 2011, that of Jonathan Tyler in the same journal, and most recently the Network Rail / Passenger focus report “Future Priorities for the West Coast Main Line” Published in January 2012.
Phase 2 routes
Nevertheless, HS2AA present as fact things that are not in any way credible as an end result, for instance that Warrington gets no services at all, classic or HS2. We cannot know exactly how Warrington will be served without knowledge of the Phase 2 routes, and it is silly to pretend to know. Equally absurd is the talk of “poor bus and rail links” to HS2 stations – as more or less vacant sites they probably won’t have much public transport now, but once they are major traffic objectives for feeder services, they will. Wherever they are, that is, which we, and HS2AA, don’t actually know.