Indefinite integration

The Railfuture analysis, part 10

“These new services will reach eight out of 10 of our largest cities: Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, as well as Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. In all, 18 cities and many more towns, too, will be served by HS2 services. It will be completely integrated with the existing rail network.”

This claim was made by Transport Secretary, Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, in his statement to the House of Commons, announcing the route for Phase 2 of HS2 (Hansard, 28th January 2013: Column 671).

Contrast the Government’s view with how rail campaign group Railfuture see the HS2 proposals, as expressed in its submission to the HS2 public consultation:

“It seems clear that the HS2 proposals, if implemented as they stand, will lead to an effective ‘two-tier’ railway, in which high-speed services remain disconnected from the classic railway. This creates a major risk whereby the advent of high speed rail will actually blight urban centres, which remain on the classic network, with residual intercity services reduced in frequency and speed as trunk services migrate to the high-speed line, with consequent commercial development at out-of-town parkway sites, so beloved of many optimistic local authorities.”

Now in all fairness, the Transport Secretary was talking about the full Y network, whereas Railfuture only had Phase 1 details available when making the above judgement. However, I doubt that knowledge of the Phase 2 proposals would have caused Railfuture any significant change of view.

It does appear that HS2 Ltd has learnt a little from its Phase 1 experience in designing Phase 2. The emphasis in the Phase Two Summary on pages 10-12 of High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future – Phase Two: The route to Leeds, Manchester and beyond (Cm 8508) is on links with existing, and possible additional, transport infrastructure. However, the word “could” is used far too often for my liking.

However, subject to any timetabling constraints, Phase 2 would provide for HS2 “classic compatible” services to North West cities such as Stafford, Crewe, Warrington, Runcorn and Liverpool, and all existing stations on the West Coast Main Line north of Manchester. This would also be true for East Coast Main Line stations north of Leeds.

But, all stations on HS2 Phase 2 would be new builds and, with the exception of Manchester (Piccadilly), separate from any existing stations. Also, the cities of Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby would be served by out-of-town, rather than city-centre, stations.

But even with these nods towards integration, the cities of Leicester, Doncaster and Stoke, for example, will still find themselves by-passed by HS2 Phase 2.

But let’s return to Phase 1, and Railfuture’s comments. The rail campaign group is not happy with the proposals for HS2 in the Birmingham area at all. It doesn’t think much of the proposals for Birmingham City Centre:

“The proposed ‘central’ terminal at Fazeley Street is separate from New Street Station, which is the hub of the local and regional network and also the rest of the inter-city network. Any high-speed passengers en-route to most suburban or wider regional destinations will be faced with a walk of up 15 minutes, dependent on personal mobility, and obstructions, ticket barriers, etc, to transfer to other services. This loss of connectivity with West Midlands railway operations focussed upon New Street would negate many of the benefits of high-speed operation, if this model of operation pervades the substantive final network.”

This theme is dealt with more expansively in section 5.5 of the Railfuture submission.

Railfuture’s view of the other Birmingham station is hardly any better:

“Serious connectivity issues also exist with Birmingham’s secondary station at Birmingham ‘Interchange’, located on the HS2 route near Birmingham Airport, and over 1km from the existing more useful Birmingham International Station, served by 3 inter-city trains to London each hour, and 9 inter-city and local trains each hour to Birmingham New Street and the West Midlands conurbation. Aside from the proposed shuttle link (to the NEC, Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International Station) ‘Interchange’ has no direct public transport links. Instead, it is primarily reliant on motorway links for its connectivity. This would generate a substantial number of new car journeys on roads that are already congested.”

So it looks like HS2 Ltd may have chosen a rather inappropriate name for that station.

Railfuture also has issues with HS2 being the only line heading northwards that will be capable of accommodating the European GC loading gauge:

“Segregated operation, especially with ‘Eurogauge’ trains too large to fit onto the classic network, also leads to significant issues, in that no suitable diversionary routes exist to allow services to be maintained, while essential repairs and maintenance are in progress, or mishaps occur.”

It is clear that Railfuture’s conclusion is that HS2 is falling far short of what our railway network needs:

“… the purpose of high-speed rail should not simply be to link Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester and other major cities just to London; eventually a carefully identified network should link them all to each other. A national system, eventually delivering equivalent connectivity between the UK’s principal conurbations, is considered essential.”

You only have to look at the list of important stations in the Midlands and the North that HS2 trains will not serve to realise that Railfuture has a point.

This is the final blog in this series on the Railfuture proposals.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jane on March 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I would love to know where you get some of your misleading facts from. The Main station for hs2 in Birmingham will not be a 15 minutes from New street station. I can confirm this as someone that live in Birmingham and walks from New Street to Moor street station which will be next to the proposed station. Please can you correct your statement?


    • It may have slipped your notice “Jane” but the figure for the time taken to walk from the HS2 station to Birmingham New Street was a direct quote from the Railfuture document – that’s what the “” means! So that answers your speculation about where I got this particular “fact” from. By the way I always try to give a reference for the figures that I quote and a HTML link to enable the reader to check for himself. As for “correcting” this particular figure, I suggest that you take that up with Railfuture.
      BTW I notice that the URLs for you and “Kate” and “hs2isright” are very similar. Do you know each other? The abrasive style of your comments appears to be very similar.


  2. Posted by chriseaglen on March 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Yes HS2 Phase 1 is limited. Always was and designed with unworkable one track each way and hill in the Chilterns to limit large gauge heavy load freight. A 2 to 4 track conversion was needed and there are too few interfaces possible with exisiting routes compared to a route from London north to intersect ECML MML WCML and others.


  3. I have tried hard to convince my rail colleagues that Fazeley St station is the best that can be achieved for Birmingham. The actual walk time between the entrance to New St and the entrance to Fazeley St is 5 minutes. The additional walk time is within the stations. The 415m platforms proposed by HS2L will take 5 mins to walk regardless of where they are. That is too far for many passengers. So what is needed is travelators (continuously moving walkways with no waiting time) within and between stations. We also need a connection between HS and the existing railway where they run side-by-side so that New St, Sandwell, Dudley,Wolverhampton and Walsall are not cut off from HS. There’s nothing wrong with Fazeley St and Euston as the principal terminii of HS; it’s just everything else in between.


    • The problem Les is that, so far anyway, HS2 Ltd has seen its remit as ending with the Fazeley Street station. Unless a hassle-free method of interchange between HS2 and the classic network is provided for passengers and their luggage, why would you want to travel to Fazeley Street if you had an onward connection from New Street?
      Similarly HS2 Ltd does not want, it appears, to face up to the dispersal problem at Euston.


      • Yes you are absolutely right that works needed to make HS2 work have been ignored by HS2L as though they were “Someone else’s problem”. Shortly a new website will explain how a different HS line following M1 (and M6 into B’ham) as part of a national HS network will bring benefits to many more communities (instead of blighting the bypassed ones), aid regional development in the way that HS2 clearly would not, come into use earlier by incremental completion, make a substantial contribution to CO2 reduction where HS2 claim no saving, do much less environmental damage by following existing transport corridors as HS1 in Kent did, and cost less.

  4. Posted by Graham Nalty on March 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    I have walked, briskly with no luggage, from New Street platform to Moor Street platform in 8.5 minutes.
    In that same time a typical longer distance commuter train may cover up to 10 miles. The catchment areas, and hence the number of people expected to use the service, are based by the DfT on the journey time by car. Therefore this gives a station at Fazeley Street the same passenger footfall as New Street. But New Street would attract more passengers from a much wider catchment area than Fazeley street due to connecting trains. Also it does take 5 minutes at a brisk walk to go the length of a full HS2 train, but if there is a centre overbridge to other platforms, that distance is reduced to 2.5 minutes, or 8 miles by HS2. I like high speed rail because the easy cross-platform interchanges you get at German stations and travelators may be OK for airports, but for medium distance rail journeys, they make rail far less attractive compared to driving.


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