On Friday, a couple of Stop HS2 supporters went on a trip to Kent to see HS1. The trip was organised by Civic Voice: Alison Munro and other senior HS2 board members were on the tour as well.
The general impression of HS1 was the same as from the tour with Bucks CC last year. For a lot of the distance it’s next to busy motorways and dual carriageways, the trains are less frequent and slower then the HS2 trains will be.
This impression is born put by the statistics we were given: 85% of the HS1 route is in tunnels or along existing rail or road transport corridors. The roads, we were told, were motorways or trunk roads. Roughly half the rest of the route was through industrial areas such as where we came out of tunnel near Dagenham dock. North Kent, we were told, is an industrial area – very unlike North Buckinghamshire which is farmland, but has the planned route of HS2 running through it.
There were fewer trains then there will be with HS2. HS2 is being planned on the expectation that there will be 18 trains per hour in each direction. If they run this many trains, in a 15 minute period you could expect to see nine or ten trains pass a particular spot.
However during the trip to HS1 we stopped at vantage points near the railway for 15 to 20 minutes each time. Each time we counted the trains – typically at these stops no more then two train went past, with a maximum of three. So HS1 has less then a third of the trains planned for HS2.