Only HS2 can meet growing rail demand as passenger journeys rise 14% in a year in West Midlands

The Office of Rail Regulation has reported a 14 per cent rise in passenger journeys in the West Midlands in the last year

The Office of Rail Regulation has reported a 14 per cent rise in passenger journeys in the West Midlands in the last year

Transport boss Geoff Inskip says the case for increased capacity and the need for HS2 is underpinned by demand for rail as journeys rose by 14 per cent in a year in the West Midlands.

Mr Inskip, chief executive of the region’s transport authority Centro, said the latest figures from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) made the definitive case that demand was rising in the West Midlands and across the UK and that without HS2 our railway cannot cope.

The ORR reported that the total number of passenger journeys in the region had risen from 63.9 million in 2010/11 to 73.1 million in 2011/12 – an increase of 14.3 per cent.

“It’s clear that rail demand continues to rise and far beyond the conservative estimates built into the HS2 business case.

“This is not just an issue for London. We are seeing huge growth year-on-year in the West Midlands and we cannot afford to ignore this.”

Mr Inskip said HS2 would not only provide fast, direct links between our major cities but also release capacity on existing lines in the West Midlands for more local, regional and freight services.

“We are clear that unless we provide this capacity the West Coast Mainline will be full by the early 2020s and we will have to make difficult choices about which services we operate,” he said.

Mr Inskip said Centro had researched what could be done with capacity released by HS2 on existing lines and wanted to increase services between Wolverhampton and Coventry and Birmingham and introduce a service between Walsall and London.

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