Many of the people who want the country to spend £33 billion on HS2 have picked on one issue in recent weeks: the idea that opening another train line between London and Birmingham in 2026 will mean that people using the existing network will have better trains – but not for at least 15 years.
However the most overcrowded trains will not be helped by HS2.
The Daily Mail published a list of the ten worst London commuter trains: they all have Paddington as their London terminus. But earlier this year, the TaxPayers Alliance published a report showing that because of the extra stop at Old Oak Common, Paddington passengers will have a longer journey after HS2 is built.
Further, four of the worst trains in the Daily Mail’s list begin or end their journey in Oxford. Oxford was never on the possible HS2 station list: however Bicester was, which HS2 Ltd thought might serve Oxford passengers to London. HS2 Ltd rejected the possibility of a Bicester station even though their main report published in March 2010 said
“The three stations were modelled assuming they were served by three trains per hour, no premium fares and a train capacity of 1,000 seats. It was clear from this modelling that a station at either Bicester (serving Oxford) or Milton Keynes could generate significant benefits to passengers in the vicinity of the intermediate station… The benefits to passengers from these stations would also be significant, with both time savingsand relief of crowding on the classic network. These could amount to £500-600m during the peak hours, rising to £2.6-3.4bn if services continued throughout the day. The revenues of an all day service would also pay for the additional capital costs of an intermediate station at Milton Keynes or Bicester (estimated to be in the region of £150m).”
But in the document, HS2 Ltd then rejected the idea of these intermediate stations.
So whatever the current claims about HS2, it is clear that HS2 Ltd aren’t interested in helping ordinary commuters on the worst commuter services, just in building an expensive vanity project for fat cats.