6 The strategic route |
90. In 2009, HS2 Ltd developed a set of "fundamental
guiding principles that would form the basis of high-speed rail
in the UK".
These emphasise the role of high-speed, long-distance services,
segregation of high-speed rail from the classic network over time
but integration with classic rail and other public transport where
beneficial. We have discussed earlier in this report how the particular
business case methodology used led HS2 Ltd to recommend a direct
London-West Midlands route, with few stations. For the avoidance
of planning blight, only one route option was presented as the
Government's preferred option and the Government's timetable has
allowed relatively little opportunity to debate the wider objectives
of high-speed rail in the UK context. Some witnesses were quite
satisfied with the route as proposed and simply wanted to see
the entire HS2 network in operation as soon as possible.
Others, such as CPRE, criticised the narrow focus of the consultation
and the lack of consideration of development of the classic network.
Mark Barry was critical of the lack of consideration of Wales
and the South-West in the process.
Mr Hammond was anxious that there should be no delay.
91. The remit agreed with HS2 Ltd by the previous
Government gave the company considerable freedom to make its own
proposals for the strategic route (see Chapter 1). In particular,
it was for the company to advise on the location of stations in
London and the West Midlands and on whether the line should go
via Heathrow or, alternatively, provide a spur into the airport.
HS2 Ltd's subsequent report set out a wide range of options for
the route to the West Midlands, with a clear recommendation in
favour of the route subsequently adoptedwith some modificationsby
the present Government. None of HS2 Ltd's original shortlist of
routes went via Heathrow. All three went through the Chilterns:
the terms of the remit made this likely. A broader set of considerations
might have suggested alternative alignments and stations.
The "classic" rail
92. One of the main advantages of a new high-speed
line is that it should free up capacity on existing lines for
additional local, regional and freight services. Indeed, Centro
claims that enhanced regional services would increase regional
GVA by more than the HS2 effectbut the enhancements wouldn't
be possible without HS2. West Coast Rail 250 endorses the view
that communities along the existing WCML will benefit from this
additional rail capacity.
West Coast Rail 250 strongly supports HS2 but wants greater clarity
on the patterns of WCML services following the opening of HS2.
It estimates that some £7bn will be spent on basic maintenance
and renewals to the WCML in the next 10 years.
93. It seems, however, that some towns and cities,
such as Coventry and Stoke, that currently enjoy relatively fast
and frequent services to London, may end up with slower or fewer
services to London. 51m provides a schedule of towns that are
likely to be affected.
The Government argues that, whilst there may be some service losses,
these places will enjoy greatly enhanced local and regional services,
including a wider range of Pendolino services to the north.
94. Milton Keynes and Northampton are served by fast-line
WCML services, currently provided by London Midland. Under DfT
standards for services with stations over 20 minutes journey time
apart, these should have no standing passengers. However, these
services are substantially overcrowded now, and major growth is
forecast to continue, driven by further housing expansion.
Although, under the HS2 proposal, there is scope for substantial
improvement in the long term, there is no proposal for improvement
before that time2026. The
Government should engage with Network Rail to identify whether
there are affordable options, including rolling stock, infrastructure
or timetable improvements, which would enable more peak-time capacity
to be provided for Milton Keynes and Northampton commuters
in the interim period.
95. The implications
for the development of the classic rail network and service patterns
on it once HS2 is in operation have not been made sufficiently
clear. HS2 offers potential for many additional local and regional
services on the classic network. However, a lack of information
has caused concerns in cities such as Coventry and Stoke that
they will lose out. We recommend that the Government, in announcing
its decision on the HS2 consultation, provides a more explicit
and comprehensive statement of the likely patterns of services
on the classic network once HS2 is operational.
96. One of the ironies of high-speed rail is that,
while there can be strong opposition to a route passing though
an area, most towns and cities prefer to be on the network. As
we learnt in France and Germany, the lobbying for a high-speed
rail station can be very fierce and local municipalities would
bid, often with public funds, to have a station in their city.
In Lille, this resulted in the station being located in the city
centre instead of on the outskirts as proposed by SNCF. In Germany,
two intermediate stops have been provided on the high-speed rail
line between Frankfurt and Cologne. Lobbying has sometimes resulted
in high-speed rail stations which are little used or in stations
situated between towns.
97. HS2 Ltd has proposed that there should no intermediate
stations between Old Oak Common and Birmingham International.
Intermediate stations on Phase II of the Y network have not yet
been proposed; the consultation said only that there would be
stations in South Yorkshire and the East Midlands.
Various towns and cities, including Milton Keynes, Stoke, and
cities in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire have proposed
that there should be stations; Manchester Airports Group has advocated
a station at Manchester Airport. Most witnesses favour city centre
stations since they are already served by public transport and
would reinforce urban regeneration.
Some groups, such as CPRE, are opposed to out-of-town parkway
stations, which they believe would undermine urban regeneration;
they have raised particular objections to the proposed Birmingham
Interchange station which would be in the green belt.
98. Greengauge 21 has questioned the need for a HS2
station at Old Oak Common and, based on a recent study by Network
Rail, proposed alternative arrangements for the London end of
HS2. These involve the same route but no HS2 station at Old Oak
Common, a diversion of some WCML trains onto Crossrail and some
HS2 trains continuing to Stratford International, thus reducing
the number of platforms required at Euston. A smaller station,
for WCML services, would be built at Old Oak Common to provide
interchange with Crossrail. According to Greengauge 21 this would
enable HS2 to be completed more quickly and at less cost and provide
greater benefits, and better use of existing and committed infrastructure.
This proposal, coming late in the day from a principal proponent
of high-speed rail, and member of the HS2 strategic challenge
panel, suggests that more than one option for the London end of
the line may be worth considering. Insufficient attention has
been paid to the economic justifications for the siting of high-speed
rail termini. It should be noted that most travellers going to
Euston for business purposes will still have onward journeys to
make to either the City or the West End. If that is so, then the
Government should reassess whether terminating at either Old Oak
Common or another station on the Crossrail network might not be
a more effective solution given concerns about the capacity of
Heathrow and HS1
99. We and our predecessor committee
received extensive evidence on the value of Heathrow to the UK
economy and the importance of good access to Heathrow from the
UK regions in relation to their economic development prospects.
Mr Hammond emphasised the unique role of Heathrow and the importance
of fast access to it and from it:
the reality is that for most people outside the UK
they think about the UK through the prism of Heathrow. That is
how they arrive. The question is not, "Where is it?"
The question is, "How long does it take for me to get there
100. The importance of access to airports was reinforced
by our visit to France and Germany where the benefits of linking
high-speed rail networks to the principal airports were emphasised.
Cities such as Lyon which were previously remote from international
gateways had particularly benefitted. Various witnesses have criticised
the Government's proposal for a spur or loop via Heathrow instead
of a direct connection and the fact that this would not be provided
until Phase II (2032) at the earliest.
The alignment of a spur or loop was not part of the Government's
consultation on HS2. Heathrow Hub Ltd argues that the Government's
current proposal prioritises time-savings over additional stops
or improved connectivity, particularly to Heathrow and HS1.
The Heathrow Hub route, it claims, is superior for Heathrow, provides
a major new transport interchange for London
and would be less environmentally-damaging to the Chilterns. The
Heathrow Hub route was supported by the Conservative Party in
opposition but dropped by the Coalition Government after the Mawhinney
Reporta high-level review which recommended a Heathrow
spur (and terminating the line at Old Oak Common instead of Euston).
It is still supported by the Conservative Transport Group.
101. HS2 Ltd explained that they had reviewed the
option of taking the main HS2 route via Heathrow in the initial
stages of planning HS2. They had rejected it because of the time
penalty it would impose on passengers not wishing to access Heathrow
and because of higher construction costs.
Heathrow Hub Ltd contends, however, that HS2 Ltd failed to evaluate
its proposal correctly and that it would be less costly than HS2
plus a Heathrow spur or loop, cross the Chilterns at a
narrower point and would not involve significant passenger delay.
The Heathrow Hub proposals would also have allowed greater use
of existing transport corridors such as the M40.
102. It seems that the Government is considering
further options for rail access to Heathrow. According to the
Mr Hammond recently initiated an investigation into a scheme to
link HS2, Crossrail and GWML in a station at Heathrow. HS2 Ltd
told us that he has asked them to investigate "southward
connections" from Heathrow.
And recent press reports indicate that Ministers are now considering
a high-speed rail link between Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
103. Whatever arrangements are finally decided upon
for Heathrow, our witnesses were clear that any impact on demand
for runway capacity would be very small
and that any slots that became available as a result of a reduction
in flights from within the UK would be reallocated very quickly.
As such, HS2 was not seen as a substitute for more runway capacity
at Heathrow. The
airport operator stated that, without the potential to increase
runway capacity at Heathrow, there was a limited commercial case
for the aviation industry to contribute towards a HS2 connection.
104. We are
concerned that a Heathrow spur or loop, in addition to a main
HS2 line, may prove more costly than a single line via Heathrow
and that the proposed 2 trains per hour would not provide Heathrow
with a sufficiently frequent service. Moreover, no direct HS2
Heathrow connection is planned until 2032 at earliest and the
route was not part of the public consultation. We note elsewhere
the questions that have been raised about the need for a HS2 station
at Old Oak Common. We recommend that the Government set out more
clearly for comparison the costs and benefits of routing HS2 via
Heathrow (and of making it the principal interchange to the west
of London) so that there can be a better understanding of the
pros and cons of different options. We also recommend that the
Government makes a clear statement about the status of possible
complementary schemes such as those which would link Heathrow
to GWML from the west or to Gatwick. It is unacceptable for debate
on such major decisions to be conducted through a series of nods
and winks in the press.
105. The Government has accepted that there should
be a link between HS2 and HS1, via a new tunnel an upgraded North
London line, to allow for direct high-speed rail services to Europe.
Direct rail services from beyond London, using the classic lines,
had been envisaged when the Channel Tunnel was opened but demand
proved insufficient. It remains to be seen what level of demand
there will be in future and what service frequency can be justified.
HS2 Ltd is currently planning on the basis of 2 trains to Europe
106. TfL has raised concerns about HS2 trains using
the North London line because of operational difficulties and
delays that could arise, affecting both local and high-speed rail
services. Given the cost of providing the link (around £1bn)
and the limited service that may result, the business case is
107. The London
end of the HS2 network is the most complex and expensive part
of the scheme. Various options were suggested during the earlier
stages of project development and we note that significantly different
arrangements are still being proposed, including from members
of the HS2 strategic challenge panel. Some of these involve a
lesser role for Old Oak Common, a new role for the redundant Stratford
International and alternative ways of linking HS2 to HS1. Another
option could be to terminate HS2 at Old Oak Common, with passengers
transferring to central London via Crossrail, thus avoiding significant
capital costs of building the line between Old Oak Common and
Euston, and tube capacity improvements at Euston. The Government's
principal rail consultant, Atkins, has also made suggestions for
improving integration with the classic network. If the Government
decides to proceed with HS2, it must explain in detail not just
why it favours a particular scheme but why that scheme is better
than alternative solutions, including those put forward by the
Government's own advisers. There must be a greater degree of consensus
on these issuesmany of which are technicalbefore
Parliament is asked to consider a hybrid bill.
Phasing and interim arrangements
108. A number of witnesses raised concerns about
problems that may arise in the phasing of the project. Network
and others expressed concerns about possible congestion on the
WCML north of Lichfield in the period between opening Phase I
and Phase II. Lord Berkeley was particularly concerned about the
probable lack of paths for freight trains. HS2 Ltd, however, claims
that it has analysed the situation in some detail and is confident
that there will not be a problem.
109. Leeds City Region and others are concerned that,
whereas Manchester and Glasgow would receive high-speed services
from the start, Leeds and the north east would not be similarly
served until the completion of Phase II.
They have recommended that a link be provided from HS2 to the
Birmingham-Derby line and the Midland Main Line in Phase I to
allow trains to Leeds from 2026.
110. The Scottish Government and other Scottish witnesses
were keen that Scotland should be fully integrated into the high-speed
rail network, with a line between England and Scotland. Under
the current proposals, HS2 services would run, via the classic
network, to Glasgow via the WCML on completion of Phase I and
to Edinburgh via Birmingham, Leeds and the ECML on completion
of Phase II. Mr Hammond confirmed that he made a commitment to
Scottish Ministers to work with them on a dedicated high-speed
line to Scotland "once [he] had got the hybrid bill into
It was suggested by some witnesses the route should be built southwards
from Scotland. Under the devolution settlement, it would be for
the Scottish Government to fund any infrastructure costs within
Scotland and for the UK Government to fund those in England.
111. For reasons
of cost, financing and management, the HS2 network should be built
in phases. Despite pleas from some in Scotland and the north of
England to build southwards from the north, it seems clear that
construction should start with the London-West Midlands phase
as this is where capacity needs are greatest. There is no reason,
in principle, however, why the Scottish Government should not
start preparatory work on a Scottish high-speed line, if it so
wishes. We are concerned, however, about capacity to the north
of Lichfield, in the interim period between Phases I and II, and
about the lack of HS2 services to Leeds and beyond until 2032.
We recommend that these aspects be considered further, including
the possibility of a connection between HS2 and the Birmingham-Derby
line and Midland Main Line in Phase I to provide access from the
Technical feasibility of HS2
112. Scepticism has been expressed by many witnesses
about the feasibility of running 18 trains per hour (tph), at
speeds of 225 mph,
and whether the 2-track London-West Midlands section would have
the capacity to adequately serve the WCML, Midland Main Line and
East Coast Main Line destinations once the Y network is completed.
113. No high-speed route in the world currently runs
more than 13 tph.
The factors that may impinge on HS2's capacity to achieve 18 tph
include the design of station terminals and their approaches,
the dovetailing of services at junctions, the practicality of
rapid boarding at intermediate stations and the impact of potential
delays on those sections of the classic network that would be
used by HS2 trains.
Professor McNaughton of HS2 Ltd assured us, however, that existing
technology would permit the reliable operation 18 tph, and even
21 or 22 tph, at 225 mph.
HS2 Ltd also stated that "only limited, foreseeable, development"
would be needed for the proposed speed of 250 mph to be attained.
HS2 Ltd also stated that the calculations regarding 18 tph had
been reviewed, at least provisionally, by independent experts.
114. We note that HS2 Ltd's conclusion has made assumptions
about providing adequate "throat" infrastructure at
Euston to permit conflict-free access in and out of the platforms,
very high-speed turnouts and sufficient parallel platforms Old
Oak Common. The details behind these assumptions are not clear,
at this stage. The external reviews were published by HS2 Ltd
on its website on 26 October 2011.
115. HS2 Ltd's evidence refers to the scope for operational
delay to spread from the classic railway onto the high-speed line
(which would have the effect of reducing practical capacity) but
implies that, in Phase II, the problem would be reduced as "a
higher proportion of train services would still start on [the]
In fact the proportion of trains coming onto the new line from
the existing railway would still be 55%. HS2 Ltd does not cover
the impact on capacity of speed restrictions or maintenance operations
which are required from time to time on all railways. HS2 Ltd
says that it will not allow for four tracks as this would significantly
increase costs and there will be no future requirement for four
tracks. Should such a demand arise, it seems that a new high-speed
rail line would be the preferred option.
Indeed, this is what proponents of high-speed rail, such as Greengauge
18 trains per hour on a high-speed rail line has not been attempted
elsewhere. This frequency and train speeds of 225 mph or more
are risk factors for the project. Failure to deliver this frequency
would also affect the business case. We recommend that the Government
publishes full details of the technical basis for its assertion
that 18 trains per hour, or more, are feasible.
117. We also
question whether the system is being designed with sufficient
margin for expansion. If 18 trains per hour are required from
the opening of Phase II, it is surely conceivable that further
services may be desirable at some point after that. Apart from
the ability to increase the number of trains formed of double
sets, the current proposal does not appear to provide for this
possibility. The Government argues that there are no circumstances
in which four tracks would be needed and it is not providing for
that eventuality. It appears that, should additional capacity
be required, a new high-speed line, probably linking London, Stansted,
Yorkshire and the north east, would be its preferred option.
215 Ev 262 Back
For example, Ev w45 and Ev w195. Back
Ev 191 Back
Q 398 Back
Q 533 Back
See para 39. Back
Q 407 Back
Email from Tony Page, WCR250 Co-ordinator, 12 September 2011 Back
Ev 154 Back
Ev w61 Milton Keynes Council Back
HS2 Consultation, February 2011, p 63 Back
Birmingham City Council has backed the proposals for a HS2 station
at Curzon Street (ev w 173); other witnesses have criticised the
proposed location for being poorly connected to the existing city
centre (ev w62), Back
Ev 191 Back
Ev w393 Back
Ev 138 Back
Transport Committee, The future of aviation, First Report
of Session 2009-2010, HC 125, 7 December 2009, pp 24-30 Back
Q 529 Back
Ev w242 Bow Group Back
Ev 195 Back
Q 376 Back
DfT, High Speed Rail Access to Heathrow: A Report to the Secretary
of State for Transport by Rt Hon the Lord Mawhinney Kt,
July 2010 Back
Conservative Transport Group, Response to HS2 consultation,
July 2011 Back
Q 448 Back
Ev 195 Back
The Sunday Times, 4 September 2011, p 14 Back
Q 449 Back
The Times, 8 October 2011 Back
Ev w480 Back
Q 396 Allan Gregory Back
Q 391 Back
Qq 388-390 Allan Gregory Back
Ev 292 Back
Ev 140 Back
Q 64 Back
Ev 267 Back
Ev 172 Back
Ev 132 Back
Q 537 Back
Q 539 Back
Ev w17 and correspondence from Dr Paul Thornton to the Committee
Ev w1, w364 and w371 Back
Qq 83-84 Pierre Messulam Back
See also Piers Connor, Rules for High Speed Line Capacity,
Railway Technical Web Pages, Infopaper No. 3 http://www.railway-technical.com/Infopaper%203%20High%20Speed%20Line%20Capacity%20v3.pdf Back
Ev 267, Qq 439-440 Professor McNaughton stated that 29 tph would
be theoretically possible. Back
Ev 286 Back
Letter from Sir Brian Briscoe, HS2 Ltd, to Mrs Ellman, 26 October
2011. See also comments from Councillor Martin Tett, 51m in letter
to Mrs Ellman, 31 October 2011. Back
Ev 272 Back
Ev 267 Back
Greengauge 21, Fast Forward: A high-speed rail strategy for
Britain, September 2009 Back