Is the Department for Transport misleading us?

In their January 2012 announcement that High Speed Two would be going ahead, the Department for Transport set expectations that train services on classic rail would be improved as a result.

“High speed rail will bring a wide range of benefits including:

  • Released space on the conventional railway for new commuter, regional and freight services”

Analysis by rail experts paints a different picture. Amongst the stations identified that would have a less frequent (classic) service once HS2 is introduced are the following:

  • Coventry
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Warrington
  • Wigan
  • Wilmslow
  • Stockport
  • Leicester
  • Chesterfield
  • Wakefield

Furthermore 16 stations would experience extended journey times on classic rail following the introduction of HS2. More details are available here:
http://stophs2.org/news/6496-mcloughlin-ignores-wcml-warnings-hs2-forgets-mention-planned-7bn-service-cuts

Further investigation reveals other stations will also experience less frequent services. Alongside each is the percentage reduction in the number of direct train services to/from London compared to current services.

  • Hemel Hempstead 15%
  • Berkhamsted 14%
  • Northampton 22%
  • Wolverhampton 33%

Each of the stations listed above handled one million or more passengers in the year 2010/11 according to data from the Office of Rail Regulation. There will be other stations losing out with smaller passenger numbers. Existing train services have been taken from 2012 timetables and anticipated future services have been taken from the Demand and Appraisal Report published in April 2012 which is available from the HS2 Ltd website. Communication with Northamptonshire County Council has indicated that the latter document is a reliable source of information.
http://stophs2.org/news/6865-post-hs2-classic-rail-not-fit-purpose

Project 110 will introduce faster commuter trains (110 mph) and more frequent services at peak times for users of London Midland. From May 2014, morning peak time capacity will be increased by 10% and evening peak time capacity by 20%. So in 2026, rail travellers from Northampton will see even bigger decreases in service frequency than those indicated in the previous paragraph.

The bad news does not stop there. Since the Demand and Appraisal Report was last published, the DfT has revised the HS2 business case. In doing so, it has increased the “efficiency improvements” (service cuts) from £5.1 billion to £7.7 billion i.e. by approximately 50%. So there will be even more cuts to services on classic rail than those already listed.

Are we not having expectations set by the DfT concerning classic rail services which will simply not be delivered?

Andrew Bodman

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