HS2 opponents claimed last week that trains leaving Euston were only half-full.
There are Virgin Train services leaving Euston that are 52% occupied, but to suggest this represents all peak-services on the West Coast Main Line is selective and misleading.
For example, this doesn’t take into account London Midland commuter services operating at 94% of capacity with growth of 4% per year.
It also makes no effort to address or even recognise growth. Virgin Trains has seen average annual growth over the past three years of 10%. Despite the operation of 11-car trains even long distance services will be full by the end of the decade.
It is for the commuters of Northampton and MK (and many others) that the capacity relief that HS2 would provide is so desperately needed. By the end of the decade, even with incremental improvements suggested by 51M, we will be turning people away.
The reason that HS2 will be built from London to Birmingham (phase one) is to reduce congestion on the southern section of the West Coast Main Line, where it is busiest.
So to ignore many of the services using this section of line is selective and creates a false picture.
There are other factors to consider, such as pricing structures which have spread peak demand – (Greengauge 21 wrote this response to these latest capacity claims from HS2 opponents).
The news release from 51M had received little coverage until long-time HS2 critic Andrew Gilligan ran an opinion piece in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday. Mr Gilligan has written numerous critical pieces about HS2 and one has to wonder why he doesn’t speak to supporters if only to stimulate debate (or check details).
Yesterday’s article was titled:
‘Passenger numbers ‘blow apart’ case for HS2 line’
and previous pieces from Mr Gilligan in the Telegraph include:
‘Benefits of HS2 were exaggerated, report claims…’
‘New Tory rebellion over HS2’
‘High speed rail at risk of derailment…’
The 51M group of councils, led by Bucks CC chief executive Martin Tett, which put out the news release. also tweeted numerous times that trains leaving Euston were only half-full.
But what is significant about those London Midland commuter services is the fact that it is these trains – to stations such as Milton Keynes and Watford – that will benefit from the released capacity HS2 brings on the West Coast Main Line.
As the leader of Bucks CC and 51M Mr Tett represents many of these commuters.