HS2 Ltd admit they will scrap all current long distance trains to Euston in £8.3bn rail cut.

After years of speculation, HS2 Ltd technical Director Andrew McNaughton has finally admitted that towns and cities in the Midlands, Scotland, Wales and The North West could lose direct services to London if HS2 goes ahead, for the benefit of commuters in Milton Keynes.

Giving evidence to the HS2 Hybid Bill Committee of MPs, McNaughton said;

“We take off the main line most of the long-distance non-stop services, because the purpose of HS2 is to serve cities on the long-distance network. That means in the peak we see at least 10 totally new services are available in the capacity that we released on the West Coast Main Line. We [HS2 Ltd] basically introduce 10 long-distance services, which means all those services come off the main lines.”

Towns and cities which are could see slower, reduced or no services at all to London if HS2 goes ahead are; Rugby, Nuneaton, Coventry, Sandwell & Dudley, Wolverhampton, Telford, Shrewsbury, Tamworth, Lichfield, Crewe, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Stockport, Runcorn, Warrington, Wigan, Blackpool, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Chester, Flint, Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead.

Currently, the 10 peak hour long-distance services consist of stopping trains to Glasgow, Crewe, Liverpool (2), Manchester (3), Birmingham, Holyhead & Wolverhampton. To underline the lack of attention to detail which HS2 Ltd have displayed for the last five years he continued, saying that this;

“Gives us a chance to re-plan the West Coast Main Line with new services around the needs of the communities served by the West Coast Main Line, no longer largely controlled by the need to run non-stop trains from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.”

This is despite the fact that there are no non-stop trains from London to Liverpool, Manchester or Glasgow. Glasgow trains stop at; Warrington, Wigan, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle, Lockerbie & Motherwell. Liverpool trains stop at; Rugby,  Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn, whilst Manchester trains stop at; Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Wilmslow and Stockport. Some trains to any of these three destinations can stop at Tamworth, Lichfield and Nuneaton.

Even though it is likely a new out of town station could be built near Crewe by HS2 Ltd, the current station is likely to lose out with a reduction in the number of services. It would not be possible currently to run HS2 ‘classic compatible’ trains on to North Wales, as the line is not electrified past Chester.

The cuts which have been admitted to so far, only relate to the Western side of HS2 so it is likely that a similar fate might await services to the Eastern side of England coming out of Kings Cross and St Pancras. That could mean reductions in services to places such as: Newark, Wakefield, Bradford, Doncaster, Brighouse, Halifax, Leicester, Chesterfield, Derby, Peterborough Lincoln, and of course the current city centre stations in Sheffield, Nottingham and Leeds.

To show that HS2 is, as the Stop HS2 campaign has always maintained, all about getting more commuters in to London, McNaughton told the committee;

“Milton Keynes today sees basically four, five, a number of trains stopping, but sees many more going straight through. When those long-distance trains are taken on to High Speed 2, then we predict that pretty much every train stops there. That’s made the point that the number of seats on trains serving Milton Keynes, after HS2 comes into being, pretty much doubles.”

McNaughton did go on to say that the Secretary of State has said that broadly, where people have a train service to London, after HS2 comes in, there ought to be broadly a comparable-type service, but this would be; “Balanced against the opportunity to improve commuting to the places that most need improved commuting.” However, the business case supporting the HS2 project requires £8,300 million worth of cuts to be made to current rail services.

McNaughton then went on to say that the West Coast Mainline;

“Is the country’s biggest rail freight corridor, so we shouldn’t make an assumption that every iota of released capacity should be reserved for passengers, because carrying more freight by rail is another government priority.”

This is despite the fact that only half the capacity for freight on the WCML is used currently, with a document produced by HS2 Ltd stating;

“Currently, on the WCML, there are three standard off-peak freight paths per hour; although currently, approximately 1.5 paths an hour are used.”

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:

“Supporters of HS2 have always said it is needed to ‘free up capacity’. We have always said this means for dozens of towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales ‘losing the trains you currently have’. Now this has finally been confirmed,  it is clear HS2 is not about ‘rebalancing the economy’, it’s about faster journey times to London for businessmen from a handful of cities, increasing the London commuter belt, and delivering £8,300 million of cuts to current rail services from places they don’t think are important. It should be clear to any politician currently thinking about getting elected that there are much better ways to spend over £50,000 million of taxpayers money and HS2 is a white elephant which should be cut now before any more money is wasted on it.”

“If there is a need to get more services to stop at Milton Keynes, then we could just get some of the services which go through the station currently to actually stop. I am pretty sure that would not cost fifty billion pounds. What the Government is saying to people is that after ten  to fifteen years of disruption planned for the West Coast Mainline during the building of HS2, many places might end up with worse services at the end of it.”

The evidence from Professor McNaughton can be found from point 170 on the transcript or viewed from time index 15.51 here.

A typical peak hour out of Euston includes the trains and stops below. However, Tamworth Blackpool, Telford, Shrewsbury and Lichfield are not listed below as these destinations get less than one train per hour.

LONDON EUSTON 1830 – Warrington Bank Quay 2014 – Wigan North Western 2025 – Preston 2038 – Lancaster 2055 – Oxenholme Lake District 2108 – Penrith North Lakes 2134 – Carlisle 2150 – Lockerbie 2209 – Motherwell 2253 – GLASGOW CENTRAL 2311

LONDON EUSTON  1833 – Rugby  1922 – Stafford  1953 – Crewe  2015 – Runcorn  2034 – LIVERPOOL LIME STREET  2053

LONDON EUSTON  1840 – Crewe  2010 – Wilmslow  2027 – Stockport 2036 – MANCHESTER PICCADILLY 2049

LONDON EUSTON   1843 – Milton Keynes Central 1913 – Coventry  1942 – Birmingham International 1953 – Birmingham New Street 2008 – Sandwell & Dudley  2024 – Wolverhampton 2037 – Stafford  2050 – CREWE 2116


LONDON EUSTON  1900 – Stoke-on-Trent 2024 – Macclesfield 2041 – Stockport 2055 -MANCHESTER PICCADILLY     2111

LONDON EUSTON  1903 – Rugby  1951 – Coventry 2002 -Birmingham International 2013 -BIRMINGHAM NEW STREET   2027

LONDON EUSTON  1907 – Nuneaton  2002 – Stafford 2026 – Runcorn 2100 – LIVERPOOL LIME STREET  2121

LONDON EUSTON 1910 – Milton Keynes Central 1940 – Crewe 2047 – Chester 2113 – Flint   2129 – Prestatyn 2142 – Rhyl 2148 – Colwyn Bay 2159 – Llandudno Junction 2206 – Bangor (Gwynedd)  2222 – HOLYHEAD  2256

LONDON EUSTON 1923 – Coventry 2022 – Birmingham International 2033 – Birmingham New Street – 2045 – Sandwell & Dudley 2058 – WOLVERHAMPTON  2111

8 comments to “HS2 Ltd admit they will scrap all current long distance trains to Euston in £8.3bn rail cut.”
  1. If I understand his garbled English correctly, Mr McNaughton wants more trains to stop at fewer stations such as Milton Keynes? I recently had cause to book a journey starting at Milton Keynes. I had to drive 40 miles to the station as there are no links from Aylesbury. I then drove around Milton Keynes with increasing despair, unable to find a single car parking space for long term parking within reasonable distance of the station. I missed my train, needless to say. In response to my complaint, the local council told me that it would be unsustainable to provide more and more parking spaces as this would cause congestion on all surrounding roads. So while it might be nice to have more trains stopping, who will be able to get on them?

  2. I’m surprised that we have not heard anything from Branson unless he is getting a huge pay off for the loss of the west coast line services Virgin currently run. To be honest it will affect me badly because if we lose the routes to London I will not be going, I would not benefit from travelling miles to catch a HS train instead of a couple to get on one which only takes 15 minutes longer anyway.

  3. “WILL” and “COULD” are not quite the same thing.
    Anyhow, since when did the Chief Engineer assume the overall direction of the network as Supreme Rail Regulator?
    And can anyone be sure that today’s timetable has any direct relevance to what will be required ten or fifteen years hence? Things change.
    As the motorway map developed from the late 1950s, the previous network of long distance coach services operated by such as Associated Motorways and Ribble and centred on hubs such as Cheltenham, was modified to reflect the different timings and routes.
    Like the motorways, HS2 is intended as a bypass.
    Chiltern Mainline is an example of the application of enlightened enterprising leadership and steady investment, which has transformed a former basket case,(only one train of clapped out stock every two hours) regarded as being largely redundant and slated for closure as a through route, into one of the best operations on the network.

    • Fundamental difference between motorways and HS2 though isn’t there John. Most motorways have a junction every 5 miles or so meaning that anybody who lives anywhere near the motorway and has a car (most people) can use it.

      By marked contract HS2 is planned to have relatively few stops, and nothing between West London and the NEC. So tens of thousands of people have the pain but either very little, or in most cases none, of any gain.

      What we do know for sure is that £ 8.3 bn of CUTS to existing services is factored into the Benefit Cost Ratio. Hardly filling you with confidence that the existing tracks will be filled with EXTRA commuter services once a sizeable chunk of the existing WCML services have gone.

      But most absurdly of all even if there are extra commuter services ( as with the Coventry to Birmingham run ) those services would simply be replacing the Virgin services that had been canned !!

  4. The economic impact of HS2 is well summarised in Tomaney’s paper, presented to Parliament.
    Is there a similar summary of the “released capacity” and replacement services (covering the eastern Phase 2 branch, e.g.)?
    Who will pay for the subsidised replacement services and where is the cost saving if one set of subsidies is replaced with another?

  5. If the resident MPs are not changed along the route Cameron, Clegg and Miliband will not change the HS2 policy of mistaken aims.

    Without wholesale voting for new candidates there is little prospect of changing the current approach and getting better value for money.

    The choice is for every voter more of the same or change to demonstrate peoples views may count only once in 5 years but they count in May 2015 please.

  6. With HS2 and the present Minister of Transport the whole rail network will grind to a state of chaos and all those responsible will have moved on to other lucrative jobs;leaving the country in more debt, the countryside vandalized and all those living close to the line dispossessed and inadequately compensated.HS2 or the government have never apologized to those affected.

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