Full at the start

This is a guest post by Andrew Bodman, one of our regular commenters.

You might expect the plans for HS2 to have some spare capacity. After all who would want to spend £33 billion on a scheme that has constraints from the day it is completed?

The Economic Case for HS2 (published by DfT) shows 18 trains per hour using the high speed track between Birmingham and London during peak hours (page 61).  18 trains per hour is the internationally recognised absolute maximum capacity for a high speed line.

But this excludes any trains for Heathrow and HS1. So services to Heathrow and HS1 (Europe) cannot be provided during peak hours, unless other services are cut to make way for them. In addition the chart shows no services to Edinburgh.

(There is more information on this issue  in the report by Chris Stokes for the Taxpayers Alliance.)

Peak hour services provide an additional three trains per hour compared to non-peak times. So that will have to be shared between Heathrow and Europe during non-peak hours. I do acknowledge the caveat in the DfT document: “Our previous work did not model services to Heathrow hence no Heathrow services are shown in Figure A2. This is being explored further in our current work during 2011, with the aim of optimising service patterns across the network”.

From the day the tracks to Manchester and Leeds are opened, there is likely to be a bottleneck on the section of track between Birmingham and London because it will not be possible to add any more trains at peak times. Does that show much foresight?

Instead, perhaps the Department for Transport should revisit Rail Package 2 and apply the principles to other lines too. Many additional lines (East Coast Mainline, First Great Western, Midland Mainline, etc.) could potentially be improved for the same cost HS2.

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5 comments to “Full at the start”
  1. “Full at the Start” – that rather suggests that there will be a strong demand for the new line. It would only worry me if the line was only going to be used by just a few trains an hour!

  2. 18 trains an hour on the stretch of track between Birmingham and London……..which of course could actually originate in the likes of Manchester, Leeds , Glasgow etc……

    And of course no one has actually mentioned the fact that HS2 trains from Brimingham dont actually have to go to London……they could head up North as well making use of the capacity……

    There will be no bottlenecks…..because this line is being designed with high speed intercity services in mind….so no commuter stopping trains or level crossings or flat junctions etc etc …..

    • Bottleneck if anything will be the conflicting moves across the turnouts just to the north of the Birmingham interchange where the line for Leeds and Newcastle will join

      • Which will be designed as flying junctions ….. just like the one further up at Norton Bridge is now, so no conflicting moves.

        Richard…..there will be NO bottlenecks. Check out the junction where the french half of HS1 splits into separate lines for Brussels and Paris if you are unsure……

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