In this blog I will continue my dissection of Justine Greening’s statement on HS2 to the House of Commons on Tuesday 10th January 2012. I intend to look further at the second sentence of the quote that I previously examined in my blog Economical with the truth? (posted 28 Jan 2012). This sentence is:
“In truth, they could add only limited further capacity; they could not offer the step change in performance that passengers wish and need to see.”
So what is this “step change” that we can look forward to if HS2 becomes a reality?
Well HS2 will certainly offer a step change in capacity. In my blog Too much of a good thing?, which was posted on the Stop HS2 website on 27 October 2011 (here) I calculated that the number of seats available on HS2 trains between London and Birmingham and in the reverse direction would be nearly 27 million a year when it opens in 2026 (or whenever).
This looks an awful lot when compared with current passenger demand. In the survey year 2009/10 the number of passengers using either Birmingham New Street or Birmingham International for journeys to or from London Euston was around 3.1 million. So the operator of HS2 will need to persuade all of these passengers to transfer to its trains and then find another ten million souls willing to use it in order to get HS2 even half full.
Not a very feasible proposition is it? It looks like HS2 trains will be HS1 déjà vu with substantially empty carriages with the odd passengers dotted about.
Now Birmingham Airport may be able to help, if it can secure the role of an extra London airport that it appears to be seeking – sorry did somebody at the back mention Boris Island? However for Birmingham Airport’s master plan to really have legs it is surely essential for Heathrow also to be connected to HS2, to allow rapid inter-airport transfers, and the Heathrow high speed spur does not appear to be high on the priority list at present. Even if some passengers can be persuaded to use Birmingham rather than Heathrow for long-haul flights, will this really significantly contribute to the extra ten million passengers that HS2 will be looking for?
The other “step change” that the Transport Secretary may have been referring to…. For the rest of this post, please check Peter’s blog, at HS2 and the Environment.
(Ed. :- See the latest Birmingham Post articles about Birmingham airport – Transport secretary pledges to ‘remove barriers’ to Birmingham Airport expansion – and Boris Island – Fears for Birmingham Airport plans after Osborne hints at Boris Island backing
PS: The Hansard transcript of the announcement and subsequent questions by MPs may be found here.