Telegraph: millions of passengers lose out

Today’s Sunday Telegraph discusses the many existing train routes that would lose out if HS2 starts operation.  Stop HS2 have already mentioned some – Milton Keynes for instance.

But there are far more passengers whose journeys will be out at risk.

For instance, the stopping service between Watford and Euston is at risk of being removed or diverted, says the Telegraph.

This is not a fast or glamorous train – or at least at wasn’t when I used it regularly – but it provides a decent service for stations in north London, like Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley and Kensal Green, with easy links to the underground.

The Telegraph says that 5 million passengers a year use the route: that’s a lot of journeys to disrupt for the sake of building a third train line between Birmingham and Euston.

45 comments to “Telegraph: millions of passengers lose out”
  1. I was stating the reasons why, when people that want Hs2, write as though it will soon be available to use,The pedicted completion date could easily over run .Construction going through a number of winters could cause considerable delays.I know as my brother in law was laid off for many weeks.Your script came over, like many who resort to childish name calling that mr hammond started.We who are fighting for our England do not deserve it.Everyone has a built in sense of wanting to protect what they hold dear .Some even die for it.The destruction that hs2 would bring means, that it should prove itself worthy of the sacrifice that will have to be made by many.As yet ,and I have read a lot from both sides,it has not done so.

    • Elaine……can you please highlight where I have resorted to , as you put it, childish name calling.

      HS2 is a project that isnt likely to be complete until 2032.

      Construction overuns are nothing new in the civil engineering industry – there are many mitigating factors for that. But by the very same measure , projects also come in on time, the Olympics are a first class example of that just now.

      Would your brother in law accept a job on the construction of HS2 bearing in mind the length of time it will take to complete and the amount of guarenteed work that involves?

  2. Many people are unable to book ahead Tim and why have they stated that they won’t use HS1 because of cost?

  3. my comment obviously did make sense,thats why all you could do is sneer Gary .We have had weeks of the rail and airports being disrupted,or were you abroad at the time?We have had flooding in all parts of the country.The countrynow also takes far more care of any historical sites ,they have delayed many developements .These may not be a major consideration,but these problems do occur.People seem to be talking as though it will soon be running, and the consultation has hardly started.I wonder how old you will be if it does get built, and if you actually can afford to use it ?perhaps when you are older and wiser you will rue the day it ruined the country..

    • There will always be short periods of weather-related disruption. Such disruption would apply regardless of whether HS2 was built or not.

      The intention is to identify historical sites early on, and integrate them into the detailed design process as part of the Hybrid Bill (if HS2 proceeds), minimising surprises later.

      I am sure that if HS2 does proceed, operator/s would not charge fares at such a high level that meant no-one could afford to use it. There has been comment about high rail fares on the existing network, but this has not deterred growth – and there are cheaper advance tickets if you are prepared to be flexible.

    • oh come on how is a 22 metre wide railway going to ruin the country that is a ridiculous over exaggeration that makes no sense whatsoever!

      and what on earth does weather and flooding have to do with hs2 ??? if you look at the recent snow problems there were many problems with the third rail south of london but not with hs1. eurostar carried far more passengers then did the airlines. too ensure some services ran they did redfuce the max speed on hs1 ! and had all the eurostar trains been already rectified re last years problems they could have carried more. remember the major airports were out of action for days. so if you actually look at what happened it actually supports the idea of high speed rail

    • Who is sneering ??. I would point out that I have not made any personal insults or slated any stopHS2 campaigner. I think its very commendable that a bunch of people are making the effort to protest and make their views known – I ve no issue with that.

      What on earth has the fact that our transport system was disrupted by weather got to do with the plans for HS2?.

  4. Tim other countries have not all found that there hs trains as wonderful as it was sold to them by their governments.So why do we have to follow them?Vtiman you say that rp2 will cost double, rather that than double
    £17 bn, Because it is on virgin ground anything could cause holdups too ,Historical sites,the weather, lack of cash.
    The majority of the money will no doubt go abroad as we will have to import most of it.So we help other countries
    when we need to keep the money here.We need local jobs to reduce the need for so much commuting,Workers would have more time and money and be happier.Something the government say it wishes to promote.HA

    • Elaine – your post makes no sense……

      Money go abroad??? Weather ??? Lack of cash ?? Historical sites??? ……what on earth does all that mean??

      I rather think that the stopHS2 campaign should consider employing the famous eco warrior……”Swampy”. With his past record of digging tunnels, there would be a lot of construction cost saved for HS2 !!

    • I certainly agree we can learn from other countries’ experiences, but as many countries have invested in high speed rail this indicates to me that it is not a bad idea in principle. The key for me will be how it is done – including a good balance between services on the classic and HS2 routes. Work done by HS2 Ltd, Centro and Greengauge 21 indicates this is feasible.

      RP2 would not provide a sufficient capacity increase for the projected increase in demand. The West Coast Main Line upgrade costed 4X the original estimate (£8.8bn vs. £2bn) and caused a lot of disruption, including the closure of several local rail stations in Staffordshire and Warwickshire (Etruria, Barlaston, Wedgwood, Stone temporarily, Norton Bridge, Polesworth) – and there was no local rail service in the Trent Valley for several years. This was due in no small part to having to favour long-distance services – HS2 would take much of this demand off the existing network, freeing up capacity. I am concerned that this could happen elsewhere if upgrading the existing railway is continued in the same vain.

      Meanwhile, HS1 was delivered on time and on budget. A route-wide technical group has been set up to look at issues around historical sites, so this should be picked up. The weather in this country is not particularly extreme. The cost will be spread over several decades. We can still build trains in this country, and HS2 would create a new high speed rail industry, adding to existing rail industry expertise and jobs. There is no reason why we cannot have more local jobs as well, but people will continue to make long distance journeys.

      • @Tim; I agree, I had forgotten about the Potteries situation actually. That was a complete scandal which puts WCRM/RP2 in an even more unfavourable light — reopening these stations (which have never been formally closed under the correct procedures I believe) should be made a prerequisite of HS2. Although I imagine that would be impossible until phase II HS2 has been completed.

    • that is not correct at all. rp2 is costed at i believe 3.6 billion not 2 so virtually double as i said and likely to be more based on the last west coast upgrade. passengers would be very angry to suffer ten more years disruption.

      the upshot of the atkins report is that in oder to provide anything like the capacity of hs2 you would need all the rps which would cost more which is what i said.

      it is all very well saying spend 3.6 instead of 17 billion if it gives you the same thing but it clearly does not. and if all the 3.6b does is put back by a couple of years the need for the 17b hs2 then you have wasted £3.6 billion of taxpayers money. all you are hoping for is to push the construction and disruption onto somebody who lives somewhere else. I am sorry but that is how you come across

      • Virgin Trains, Centro (the West Midlands Transport Authority) and Birmingham airport all say that upgrades to the WCML need to be done in the near future: they all want HS2 as well.

  5. What’s the collective noun for figleaves?!

    No doubt Andrew Gilligan’s piece raises some important issues, especially on the issue of Coventry. But quite frankly his alleged sentiments for the woes of WCML rail passengers are nothing but crocodile tears. Like most HS2 critics, he is wilful denial of recent history…because guess what? Yes, it’s that £10bn upgrade that leaves his tantrum in tatters.

    Anyone who reads the rail media and who does not suffer from selective amnesia might just wonder where the great pontificators like Wolmar and Gilligan were when WCRM came to its artificial conclusion, and suddenly ‘millions’ of passengers discovered that instead of getting the slice of Swiss goodness they’d been expecting, they’d actually lost great chunks of their inter-city service, replaced (in some cases) with a long, slow uncomfortable supra-commuter service that barely competes with coach journeys to the capital. Yes, Nuneaton, Stafford, Rugby…even Watford, that means you. All had regular off-peak calls from inter-city services heading north, but almost all were sacrificed in the pursuit of faster journeys to the principal cities. After all, someone had to make WCRM look like money well spent…

    Despite his faux-naïf references to MOIRA (oh, the geek chic!) it is quite ironic that Andrew Gilligan should choose to cite in his defence of the great underserved…the once daily, one-direction-only morning dash from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston. The flaw? The headline time is achieved by omitting all intermediate calls bar Stockport. As Glee’s Coach Sylvester might put it:


    Let’s get down to brass tacks: without HS2, not only are the those statins which have lost out in WCRM never going to get the service they deserve (Ashford vs MK is one comparator, how about Reading vs Rugby?), but the longer distance trains will inevitably get slower once local communities up and down the route realise that basically, they’re getting screwed. The initial signs are already there for all to see: every evening, a desultory Pendolino EMU trundles out of Euston at 1940, heading for Manchester. But not 1h58min for this train…extra calls at Tamworth, Lichfield and Stafford leave this train out of path by Crewe, giving a decidedly retro 2h18min journey. Even this requires omission of the Stockport stop!

    Since HSTs were introduced at Shinkansen-matching average speeds on GWML in 1976 and electrics on ECML in the late 80s, both routes have seen journeys extend alarmingly, to the detriment of inter-city passengers. As the WCRM debacle recedes into the past, a non-HS2 future would inevitably follow the same pattern.

    No more lectures Mr Gilligan, please.

    • Nick – what you fail to mention is the fact that the Manchester/Euston service ( and indeed Birmingham as well ) now has 3 trains per hour as opposed to the 1 per hour of a few years ago – which took well over 2.5 hours. Must be popular – the pendolinos are now being increased by 2 cars per set over the next 12 month…..and lets not forget that these are designed to run at 140mph, though the safety case limits them to below that even after the WCML upgrade.

      Not sure why you think MK is hard done by – Virgin call there at least 20 times during an average day towards London……plus London Midland services as well. Looks like MK has seen a increase in passenger use as below…..

      2004/05 * 3.815 million
      2005/06 * 4.134 million
      2006/07 * 4.557 million
      2007/08 * 4.690 million
      2008/09 * 4.646 million

      • @Gary: I do appreciate the increase in frequency…though of course, it’s not what we were promised when the “£2bn” upgrade kicked off in 1998. I have been travelling London-Manchester every few weeks on average for 25 years (since I was knee high to a grasshopper), and I endured every bus replacement and blockade going (including the weekday ones…yes there really was no direct Manchester/North-Ldn service on weekdays in Summer 2005 and again in 2008, how quickly we forget…).

        And just as if we needed a reminder, this coming an August there’ll be ajoint blockade of both lines from London to Birmingham! There won’t be three trains an hour then I can assure you. Three buses maybe…

        It is naive and delusional to believe that another line of route upgrade can resolve the ‘quart into a pint pot’ that is WCML. HS2 must be built.

        • Whilst we are on the subject….the ORR approved access rights for WCML the other week commencing in 2012. In a nutshell, London Midland can run extra services between Euston and Northamptom, the incumbent West Coast operator will also be allowed greater flexibilty in its franchise, and 2 open access operators had their applications rejected, although there is a proviso to be reconsidered as Network Rail have been instructed to proceed with a timetable exercise which takes consideration of the fact that there will be some benefit from the Liverpool to Manchester electrification scheme.

    • Nick. There have been upgrades to other lines as well as the WCML in recent years. A number of rail users have commented that the upgrades to the Chiltern line and East Coast main line did not cause significant disruption. If Rail Package 2 (as revised by the HS2 Action Alliance) was selected instead of HS2, it would focus on 7 pinch points which would be far less disruptive than the previous WCML upgrade. One of these upgrades is for Euston station which requires upgrades anyway if HS2 is introduced. Another is for the Northampton loop which is not used by scheduled Virgin trains.

      Andrew Gilligan pointed out that he was using the fastest existing train time from Manchester to Euston in his comparison, so what he said was correct. There are several trains each day which are scheduled to take 2:07. The HS2 technical appendix indicates that high speed trains will take 1:40 for this journey to Manchester, i.e. a time saving of 27 minutes. That is hardly transformational.

      The point Andrew was making about WCML users who do not live near a HS2 station or cannot afford HS2 prices is that they will get a poorer service than they currently receive. That is not a benefit.

      I fail to see the logic in your statement: “…….but the longer distance trains will inevitably get slower once local communities up and down the route realise that basically, they’re getting screwed.” However, it is worth pointing out that there are 7 trains leaving Manchester on a weekday between 6:35 and 8:55 which take between 2:07 and 2:10 to reach Euston. In the evening there are 8 trains leaving Euston between 17:00 and 19:20 which take between 2:07 and 2:09 to make the return journey. What is the relevance of one subsequent train taking ten minutes longer?

      • @Giles: to be completely clear, the scenario I was painting was this: if HS2 were not built, the communities underserved by existing WCML services would then surely re-assert their right to have an IC-quality train to London (primarily) and other large cities. It was widely commented upon when the VHF timetable was introduced that Nuneaton lost all its off peak IC calls, whilist Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant also vociferously campaigned to ensure Lichfield retained a viable commuter express to London.

        of course he is now more keen to limit the local impact of HS2, but the WCML issue has not gone away. My point is that if HS2 were not built, untapped demand from intermediate stations would become harder to resist, and my case of the 1940 ex-Euston making extra calls and taking longer would come to pass.

        Check the 1976-era timetable for IC125s to the west of England for proof — trains regularly omitted Reading or Swindon to provide a genuine fast service to Bristol or Cardiff. Now FGW’s expresses are more middle-distance commuter trains than true IC services. Similarly on ECML, the current Eureka! recast is designed to claw back some of the lost performance of recent years by speeding up Anglo Scottish trains. As with Mr Gilligan’s Manchester example, there will be a daily fast train from Edinburgh taking 4 h, but my sources tell me it’ll have to overtake THREE other EC trains en route! Hardly a recipe for reliability.

        I realise that your response to that will be ‘well, we should simply spend some of the £17bn doing up the other main lines’, but clearly as GW electrification demonstrates, this is already happening.

        HS2 would give the major traffic sources of central Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham a faster and more reliable service than would otherwise be possible, as well as allowing a host of new journey opportunities (like watford – Stockport, or Milton Keynes – Wigan, or Rugby – Preston, or…etc etc) on the existing line without simultaneously subjecting it to the kind of stress it is under today.

  6. Giles: I agree that Andrew Gilligan has spelt out a prima facie compelling argument about the post-HS2 world, and I have no doubt that DfT has some ideas about how it would like to see fare and timetable policy evolve after the launch of the line.

    But that’s not the same as saying that he has presented an entirely uniform picture of the situation. Again, it is dead easy to paint as sunny or bleak a picture you like for 15 years’ hence, and then pick and choose the evidence to suit the argument. Southeastern Hispeed services have indeed been the subject of some fare and timetable manipulation to encourage uptake, but equally DfT has said publically that HS2 services, as a redistribution of the existing ICWC franchise, no overt premium fare would be charged to use the line. Indeed, government policy states that all rail fares will be subject to RPI+3% increases from 2013, thereby bringing the rest of the network into parallel with SE Hispeed, albeit not in a fashion everyone would agree with.

    To those who suggest that this would be manifestly impossible, then we will have a chance to see what happends when Crossrail is launched — will Travelcard holders be expected to fork out an extra fiver when they go through the Crossrail ticket gates? No, it will be paid for from wider revenues and local taxation — and let’s not forget the fundamental and oft overlooked issue: the annual outlay to build Crossrail is at least comparable to, if not in excess of, HS2. And I bet, as yet another London-centric commentator willing to proffer an opinion about an infrastructure project to serve fully seven cities outside the capital, he hasn’t complained half as much about that £16bn bill.

    • krafty. You have apparently agreed with what other rail users have said; namely that since the Javelin train introduction, non-HS1 trains on many services in Kent have become slower, less frequent and their prices have been increased much more than elsewhere in the country. Andrew Gilligan provided examples of where services will be slower and less frequent on the WCML after HS2 is introduced, i.e. we can expect to pay more for inferior services. I don’t see that as a benefit if I live nowhere near an HS2 station.

      I have searched the consultation documents including the business case, and can find no mention of HS2 fare rates compared to those with conventional trains. In other words the government has chosen not to share this crucial piece of information with the public. HSRs introduced in the last few years have had premium pricing for their tickets e.g. in Holland and China. In the case of the latter a HSR ticket is apparently double the price of a conventional ticket. Closer to home you can see the following (all price data from The Trainline):
      Milton Keynes – London Virgin Train £17.50 Single peak time travel
      Ashford – London South Eastern £25.40 Single peak time travel
      Ashford – London Javelin HS1 £30.40 Single peak time travel
      Ashford was chosen because it provides the option of high speed or conventional travel. Milton Keynes and Ashford are approximately the same distance from the capital. On that basis non-HS1 users pay a premium of 45% and HS1 users pay a premium of 74%.

      • There is already price differentiation for fast and slow services within the classic network.

        Birmingham-Euston off peak return all services £44
        As above for slower London Midland services only £26
        Advance fares (e.g. early in morning) from £15 two singles – similar for Virgin or London Midland
        Alternatively you can get a National Express coach, pay £5 each way but takes longer than London Midland.

        If you want to get there more quickly, you can pay more. This is nothing to do with HS2.

      • Ashford International-London St Pancras International
        Off peak day return £28.90 38 mins
        Ashford International-London Bridge
        Off peak day return £24.10 1hr 10 mins

        Pay £4.80 to save 1 hour 4 mins for return journey, seems a pretty fair deal to me.

        • Tim. My original point was that the proposal to build HS2 is to relieve capacity issues on the West Coast Mainline (WCML). The Department for Transport has provided no indication so far of the likely ticket pricing policy. If the price of HS2 tickets is so high that many people either cannot afford them or don’t wish to pay such a premium, then HS2 will be significantly underutilised and the WCML capacity problem will not be solved despite spending £32bn (phases 1 and 2).

          I then attempted to derive some guidance for possible pricing by looking at prices from Ashford to London as you can choose between conventional trains and HS1 at this station. I also brought in Milton Keynes as it is on the WCML and is the same distance from London (as measured by road miles). I used the price of a single peak time ticket as it provided a simple comparison. It appears that there is a premium of 20% for HS1 compared to conventional train fares from Ashford. However conventional train fares from Ashford to London are more expensive than those from Milton Keynes to London, as it appears Ashford prices have been raised to mask some of the HS1 premium.

          I have researched further and can tell you the price of an equivalent ticket from Basingstoke to London is £19.40 and from Brighton to London it is either £21.30 or £22.30. Both Brighton and Basingstoke are close to the same distance as Ashford from the capital. This simply confirms that Ashford users of conventional trains are paying higher prices than elsewhere i.e. the real HS1 premium is more than 20%.

          If you lived in Ashford and commuted to work in London each day, you would no doubt buy a season ticket. For the HS1 route an annual season ticket is £5192 while a season ticket on a conventional train is £4328. Not everyone can afford the extra £864 per year; could you afford it if you are unable to reclaim the ticket on expenses?

          In response to your comment further down the page about there being no reduced services, may I draw your attention to my sources? There is currently a service of 3 Virgin trains per hour throughout the day from Coventry to Euston (Source: the Trainline). If HS2 is introduced, it will fall to 1/hour for most of the day and 2/hour at peak times (Source: HS2 Technical Appendix Pages 43 and 47 Service j). Journey times will be increased by between 10 and 20 minutes for stations such as Coventry, Wolverhampton and Lichfield (compare the Trainline with the HS2 Technical Appendix).

          This kind of reduced service has already been delivered on conventional trains in Kent where rail travellers are very angry. More than 2000 of them signed a petition (before it was closed) last year and got their MP to ask questions in the House of Commons.

          In conclusion, HS2 users are likely to need to pay a significant price premium, WCML will pay a smaller premium for in some cases a reduced service, and HS2 itself may not solve the WCML capacity issues if there are insufficient people travelling on it.

          • I stand by my comment that there is already price differentiation between fast and slower services on the classic network, and I do not see why HS2 would make any difference to this.

            How much were fares from Ashford before HS1 domestic services commenced operation, and how did any change compare with changes in rail fares across the network over this period (i.e. background trend)?

            My comment about reduced services referred to during the period of rebuliding Euston station before HS2 commences operation – as mentioned in the link you posted.

          • Referring to the period after (and if) HS2 commences operation, of course there would be reduction in the number of long-distance services on the classic network – but this is how capacity would be released for local and regional passenger services and freight.

            There would be changes, and not everybody would be happy (e.g. Coventry) – but the question for me is what is the overall picture. I also think not enough has been made of how to exploit released capacity for freight.

            There would still be long distance classic services, just (say) 2 per hour instead of 3 – though I agree that HS2 Ltd’s view is less optimistic than that promoted by Centro and GG21. Certainly DfT admit that more work needs to be done on impacts on the classic network, and I certainly hope this is made publicly available during this year’s consultation to hopefully provide reassurance that the classic network will not be neglected.

  7. Gilligan is well known for his anti-public transport stance. His journalism consistently treads on the borders of fact and fiction by stretching truths, a good example being his ridiculous anti-bendy bus stance. I do enjoy queueing to get on the number 18 at Marylebone each morning thanks to his campaign. Having seen how he twists facts, one has to wonder how much of a ‘slip’ his radio comments were in the David Kelly affair.

    I certainly wouldn’t trust any article he writes and that applies to this case. TfL have log had plans to transfer the Watford stopping service to the Bakerloo line (which used to go there prior to the 1980’s cuts). It is being considered as part of the Bakerloo line upgrade plans. Trying to link it to HS2 is utter rubbish…but that’s never stopped him before.

    • Ian. Have you carried out your own research by studying the HS2 Technical Appendix? I have and I can confirm many of the details made by Andrew Gilligan are correct. His journey time savings are spot on, and the extended journey times for many stations on the WCML after the introduction of HS2 are correct. Besides the 10 minute longer journey to Coventry, it will take 20 minutes longer to reach Lichfield. He is correct in saying Coventry will have a less frequent train service to Euston. He is also correct in saying the HS2 terminus in Birmingham will require a walk to New Street station for any onward journey, unless you have a car parked at Curzon Street station. If you don’t fancy the walk you will probably be one of several hundred people waiting for a taxi. A number of expert commentators have agreed that any additional jobs created will mostly be in London, which will not assist the North South divide.

      Andrew Gilligan has also hinted at premium fares for HS2 travellers which are not covered by the consultation document or technical appendix. Firstly you might like to read my separate comments below. Secondly you need to be aware that travellers in Kent who choose not to use HS1 have had their fares increased by more than the national increases to presumably mask some of the premium for high speed travel. They are also aware of extended journey times on non-HS1 routes and reduced frequency services. How much more evidence do you want?

      • One of the reasons some journeys might be slower is that they will likely stop at more stations and provide more passengers with a better service. the whole point of hs2 is to release capacity in the existing network it isnt to transfer all passengers to hs2 and reduce service it just isnt about that at all !!

        if some passengers want to choose slower trains because they may be cheaper or serve their existing station then they too will be able to use the existing lines. and many places which are similar distances can have widely varying ticket prices so to just say that the difference in pricing between london/ ashford and london/m.k. is misleading and wildly inaccurate.if you wish to compare accurately, use the same destinations but a different route.

        and the old chestnut about the birmingham terminus. this is about 1 mile from new street and much closer to moor street and the midlands tram network is being expanded. and we all know that HS2 WILL HAVE THROUGH TRAINS from day one to all kinds of destinations. if you need to change at new street you may prefer a slower connection as the existing lines and services will still be there ! and birmingham will be about 45 minutes from london and manchester about 1 hr 15 mins with hs2. divide the distance by the line speed and add time to stop and start from euston, old oak and birmingham and points north to see how this is calculated. Repeating the same myths and inaccuracies over and over and over will not make them become fact !!!!

        hs2 will not reduce journey times for any journey that does not use hs2 for any leg of that journey. but is does serve most of the major cities directly or indirectly so will benefit millions !

        Gilligans articles rarely make sense and the facts he quotes are dubious to say the least ! to think some in the media have the gall to talk about spin from politicians ! perhaps gilligan should bowl for england, nobody would be able to hit the ball with the spin he would apply !!!

        and please can somebody on here understand that high speed rail and other transport projects deliver economic benefits well beyond the revenue collected from tickets ! even if a line requires subsidy it doesnt follow at all that you arent getting value for money or that there is not an overall crerdit to the economy and the treasury. it is called transport economics.

    • Ian

      Exactly !!! these services were transferred from the underground where they ran from originally. The reason for moving them back is to create more through services for the benefit of existing passengers and to free terminal space at Euston again for the benefit of existing passengers.Nothing whatsoever to do with hs2 but part of the plans for rebuilding euston which needed to be done REGARDLESS of hs2 !!!


  8. Andrew Gilligan has written a thoroughly researched and well reasoned article. I note that very few have contested the facts that Andrew presented. To pre-empt the inevitable suggestions, I live 19 miles from the proposed route in the East Midlands.

    If HS2 is built, it is intended to address current and future capacity issues on the West Coast Mainline (WCML). However numerous rail commuters travelling into London, Leeds, Manchester and other major conurbations from many directions have to stand on a daily basis in 2011 and have needed to do so for several years. So HS2 may only address a small fraction of the current capacity issues at a cost of £33billion (phases 1 and 2). If we were to use Rail Package 2 as revised by HS2 Action Alliance, we would have a solution for approximately £2 billion “leaving” the balance of the funding to be spread across other routes.

    However HS2 may not even solve the WCML capacity issue if its ticket prices are too high. The consultation document provides no indication of the likely fare structure. People will not switch to an alternative if they deem it overpriced or they cannot afford it. According to the consultation document economic case, the majority of users are expected to be non-business travellers. So we could be in a position where we spend £33 billion (plus ongoing subsidy) and do not solve the capacity issue on the WCML.

    Many Javelin trains on HS1 were halved in length four months after introduction. Compare train fares between Milton Keynes – London and Ashford – London, both of which are of similar distance from the capital. The Ashford ticket on HS1 is 74% more expensive than the Virgin rail from Milton Keynes. (Source: Trainline for like for like journeys on 5/1/11)

    The Dutch HSR operator is almost bankrupt after one year of running because premium price ticketing has discouraged people from switching from conventional trains; some of their HSRs have only 15% occupancy. (Source: Reuters). Significantly lower than forecast HSR passenger traffic has occurred in Taiwan with a similar effect on its operator. China, where HSR tickets are double the price of those on conventional trains, is also noticing low utilisation on some of its HSR routes although its train operator shows no signs of bankruptcy.

    Apparently there are only two profitable HSR routes in the world: Paris – Lyon and Tokyo-Osaka. According to the US Congressional Research Service in 2009 “Virtually no HSR lines anywhere in the World have earned enough revenue to cover both their construction and operating costs”. The US Amtrak’s Inspector general reported that six European nations’ operations required a subsidy of $42bn p.a. (Source: HS2 Questions).

    Does HS2 still sound like a good investment of £33 billion or is it a gamble with taxpayers’ money?

    • gilligan is telling hs2 critics what they want to here, his articles can be shredded point by point and his so called facts easily refuted at any time

    • he hasnt done much research because if he had done he might have got his facts right. and the reason not many dispute these so called facts is because he is telling you what you want to hear. His articles are about stirring and spin.

      upgrading the present network would cost billions also would cause huge disruption – wcml anyone ?? and would also take years to plan and build and hs2 would still be needed. electrification and the electric trains which will be moved to those lines when they are displaced by new thamelink trains will help reduce overcrowding but not overnight !!!##
      So we have several large electrification projects to be completed over the next few years and the iep project and we are building crossrail and thameslink !!!!so much for hs2 taking all the railway spending !

      i am glad you have noted that hs2 documents dont mention fares as critics just make up the £3 hundred fare because it makes better headlines the fact that is is not yet known what ticket prices are is apparently irrelevant !

      The Javelin fleet as you very well know was withdrawn in large numbers for a technical modification to improve reported rough riding. some stations did have lower then expected passengers so some trains were reduced not the many you talk of. and the operator expects to increase usage through route modifications – see their website ! and 7 million passengers carried in the first year and wide economic benefits.

      Many stations similar distances apart such as those you selectively quote
      have widely differing prices. To suggest it is only due to hs1 is disingenuous.
      HSL Zuid had severe delays due to trying to introduce the latest signalling and train control system ertms. other countries will gain valuable information from the lessons learnt there.

      and finally, please define what makes a profitable transport project. even if it is subsidised there are wider economic benefits far beyond the revenue from fares again as you well know.
      so even if we take your virtually no profitable comments at face value, you will find that many hsr lines have been a benefit to the wider economy and a gain to the taxpayer overall. Transport economics.

      at predicted £2 earned for every £1 spent hs2 souinds like very good value to me !!!

      • vtiman. Perhaps I can draw your attention to Rail Package 2 originally drawn up Atkins. It provides a solution to address WCML capacity issues at a cost of £2bn and does not involve the building of HS2. Further details can be found on the HS2 Action Alliance website. Before you say disruption, perhaps I can point you to my posting to Nick earlier today.

        Rail spending has been cut in some areas by the announcement last November that only 650 additional carriages would be added to the rail network between 2010 and 2014. The previous figure was to have been 1300.

        How can the public make informed and reasoned comment on HS2 during the consultation process if the price relationship between HS2 and conventional trains is omitted?

        The benefit cost ratio of 2:1 is the bottom limit of acceptability for DfT projects. Bear in mind this is based on what most commentators agree are heavily inflated passenger volumes. In addition it assumes that business users do not make any productive use of their time on a train; I am sure you have seen laptops and mobile phones in use on your rail travels. The business case argues that all journey time savings can be given a (large) financial value (which is illogical). If realistic values are used for the values I have just described the benefit cost ratio drops well below 2:1 ,and hence the weak business case evaporates.

        • I was just looking at the Atkins report……seems a fair alternative up to a point. However 2 things stand out……one is the fact that point to point time savings are marginal, and a £ cost/minute saved comparison for what the best value package offered compared to HS2 is similar.

          The other is that the report makes very little mention of freight – bearing in mind WCML is a mixed traffic line.

          • @Gary: I’d love to see the proper Atkins research, I have only seen the HS2AA document on alternatives, which to be fair is an excellent summary of the issues and really adds to the debate (and I say that as an avid HS2 supporter!).

            But really we have no idea whether they have put enough work into it for it to be practically implemented. One of my other fears is that, quite frankly, Atkins came up with RP2 X months ago. We could commission Halcrow tomorrow and they might come up with another answer with a better or worse BCR, Systra the next day, DB International the day after that…

            I suspect this is part of the reason for the Sos’s refusal to address RP2 directly. Quite simply, it is another ‘study’, and it was (I assume) a study like that which came up with the last £2bn upgrade. Simply put, it would be seriosuly questionable politics for Philip Hammond to stand up in the House and go, ‘yeah, I know last time this policy led to a project 4yrs late, £6.8bn over budget and didn’t deliver what it promised on the tin, but we’re going to give it another go…’.

            On the pro-HS2 side though, RP2 highlights some problems with the idea of running HS2 trains onto WCML at Lichfield. Some of the measures depicted by RP2, eg. Stafford resig and grade separation plus Ardwick grade separation, are almost certainly going to be necessary just to get us through to 2020, plus the Pendolino lengthening obviously.

            How much is alternative and how much is precursor??

            • Nick – I skated through it to be fair , and yes you are right, there is still work to be done in depth as they actually stated this ( no performance modelling and some aspects of costs which were outside the remit of the report. ).

              Interesting you should mention Ardwick grade separation – that came up as well on the Northern Hub study – but it looked like it was actually on the opposite side to where this one is planned !!

              But overall, if we had never thought of HS2, then this would be a decent alternative.

              Alternative and precursor?

        • The current cuts represent the short term. HS2 is a project for the long term when things should get better – they have done in the past and they will again.

          Amongst other factors, like the current Government’s economic forecasts, passenger growth forecasts are based on those actually experienced over the past 15 years (90% growth in long distance rail journeys). Indeed, rail demand has actually been growing since its lowest point for a long time which was around 1982/83. It was only a matter of time before a new line would be needed. Other countries have been quicker than us in seeing this.

        • the atkins report says rail package 2 would cost nearly double the £2 billion you are quoting and we all know what happens to costs when you try to upgrade an existing railway plus all the passengers who defect to other modes. to ger near the benefits of hs2 you need all the packages in the report which would cost more than hs2 with less benefit !!!!!

          so you are right the public does need the information so that they can see that hs2 is better value for the money.
          rail passengers on the west coast would go insane if they knew they would have to endure ten more years of disruption and cancellations that would not get them anywhere any quicker when it was done and would have cost the taxpayer more !!!!!! you would get more cars back on the road again after rail is finally winning the, back. what a retrograde step. £2 pounds earned for every £1 spent seems good to me.

            • It says that new temporary platforms would be provided for classic WCML services while construction takes place. The construction would be phased with different parts opening at different times – this is similar to what is happening with Birmingham New Street, which is not seeing reduced services.

              Also I have been informed by a rail industry source that trains could stay in platforms for shorter periods to enable faster turnarounds, maximising efficient use of platform space. There was and is no suggestion of reduced services.

  9. I also saw in the other Telegraph article about Tory grassroots rebelion, at the end of the article it says –

    Some Tory MPs remain opposed to the line on cost grounds however. John Redwood, the senior Tory MP, said last night: “This is a luxury we cannot afford at the moment.”

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