High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Further written evidence from Dr Sandra Tuppen (HSR 182A)

Further to my earlier submission (Submission 182), I should like to make the following additional observations, and would be most grateful if these and the accompanying attachment concerning the impact of HS2 on Liverpool's services could be treated as supplementary evidence.

I note that in his evidence to the Transport Committee last week, Mr Tony Page of West Coast Rail 250 was at pains to stress the benefits that HS2 would bring from Day 1 to users of the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to HS2 Ltd's own "Day 1 Train Service Assumptions for Demand Modelling", published in December 2009 but not included among the 2011 consultation documents. This document provides a set of assumptions as to how passenger services could be configured on HS2 and the existing WCML after HS2 is built. HS2 Ltd stresses that this is not a timetable but a set of assumptions used to model likely passenger demand across the two lines. In it they seek to address "the potential use of capacity that is released on existing routes".

Although services could undoubtedly be configured in ways other than in this document, its importance, I think, lies in the principle that seems to underpin both it and indeed the whole HS2 strategy.

This could be summarised as follows:

—  HS2 would connect key cities of the UK, freeing up line capacity on the WCML for more local and regional trains to run.

—  The WCML line capacity is freed up by transferring long-distance services from the WCML to HS2, ie by removing some long-distance services from the WCML.

—  HS2 services will call at major cities only, so some towns currently served by long-distance WCML services will not receive HS2 services and many will face a worsening of classic services when WCML long-distance services are withdrawn.

Some existing WCML long-distance services will clearly have to be retained if those towns not served by HS2 are to remain on the network. Many towns will, however, suffer a reduced service, either in terms of number of trains per hour or journey times. After all, if all existing WCML long distance services were retained exactly as they are today, in parallel with HS2, there would be no spare line capacity for any new local or regional services on the WCML.

In other words, one town's gain is another's loss: you cannot pour a quart into a pint pot.

Journey times on classic Pendolino services between London and the following destinations would be longer, in HS2 Ltd's model, as the residual WCML long-distance services would call at more stations:

Liverpool (+1 hour)
Runcorn (+1 hour)
Stafford (+1 hour)
Crewe (+0 to +1 hour)
Glasgow (+30 mins)
Carlisle (+30 mins)
Penrith (+30 mins)
Oxenholme (+25 mins)
Lancaster (+20 mins)
Wolverhampton (+10 mins)
Sandwell & Dudley (+10 mins)
Birmingham New Street (+10 mins)
Birmingham International (+10 mins)
Coventry (+10 mins)
Rugby (+5-10 mins)

In HS2 Ltd's model, the following stations on the WCML would also suffer a reduced number of services per hour:

Coventry (3 tph reduced to 1tph)
Birmingham International (3 tph reduced to 1tph)
Birmingham New Street (3 tph reduced to 1 tph)
Stoke on Trent (2 tph reduced to 1tph)

(Coventry and Stoke have been mentioned by other commentators but I am not sure the reduction in services to New St have been noted.) It would interesting to know whether these negative impacts have been taken account of in the HS2 business case.

The attached brief paper shows the potential effects on Liverpool's services of HS2 Ltd's service assumptions, which divert Liverpool's classic Pendolino services via Birmingham and lead to a reduction in viable passenger capacity, post-HS2.


1.  Summary

1.1  In its high-speed rail consultation document the Government stated that HS2 would enable journey times between London and Liverpool to be reduced from 2hrs 08m to 1hr 37m, and would provide a significant increase in passenger capacity on all long-distance services.

1.2  However, HS2 Ltd's Technical Appendix(i) suggests that although HS2 would provide an increase in off-peak capacity for London-Liverpool passengers, it would not provide them with a viable increase in capacity at peak times, Instead it would:

—  provide fewer peak time seats on the HS2 London-Liverpool service than will be available in 2012; and

—  add one hour to journey times on the London-Liverpool Pendolino service by routing it via Birmingham.

2.  Peak time intercity trains from 2012

By December 2012, two Pendolinos per hour will operate at peak times on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between London and Liverpool, the trains having been lengthened from 9 to 11 cars and providing 589 seats each (ie 1,178 seats per hour).

3.  Peak time HS2 trains from 2026

If HS2 goes ahead as proposed, between 2026 and 2033 two HS2 classic compatible trains per hour would run all day between London and Liverpool, partly on the HS2 Phase 1 line between London and Lichfield and partly on the WCML classic line between Lichfield and Liverpool, taking 1hr 50m (a saving of 18 mins). HS2 Ltd states that each train would have 550 seats (ie 1,100 seats per hour).

4.  Peak time HS2 trains from 2033

From 2033, with the extension of the high-speed line to Manchester, one of the two London-Liverpool trains per hour would run via Warrington, completing its journey from Warrington to Liverpool on the classic line and further reducing the London-Liverpool journey time by 13 minutes to 1hr 37m. The second train would still take 1hr 50m, as it would have to continue to use the WCML beyond Lichfield in order to call at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn. The number of London-Liverpool seats would remain at 1,100 per hour in total.

5.  Withdrawal of existing London-Liverpool intercity service from 2026

5.1  HS2 could have provided Liverpool with an increase in capacity at peak times were it not that, in order to meet the Government's strategic goal of freeing up space for more commuter and regional services on the southern part of the WCML, HS2 Ltd proposes that the existing Liverpool-London intercity service should be withdrawn in 2026. Instead, the London-Birmingham New Street service (operated today by Virgin) and Birmingham-Liverpool service (operated by London Midland) would be combined to form a single through service between London and Liverpool via Birmingham New St. This would free up two paths on the southern end of the WCML at peak times for new suburban services, but would leave the journey time of the intercity service between London and Liverpool lengthened by one hour.

5.2  HS2 Ltd describes this "residual" intercity service as follows:


Residual West Coast Euston-Birmingham-Wolverhampton service, serving all intermediate stations currently served by Virgin Pendolino services. Service doubles as a Birmingham-Liverpool fast service, providing Wolverhampton with a fast link to Crewe and the north, and replacing an existing London Midland Birmingham-Liverpool semi-fast service."

5.3  With a journey time between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street of 3hrs 10m, and 12 stops en route, this projection represents a severe downgrading of the existing intercity service between Liverpool and London, currently with between two and four stops en route. It seems unlikely that business passengers (or indeed many leisure travellers) will wish to spend an additional hour travelling, so the only viable services for most people travelling between London and Liverpool will be the two HS2 services per hour, containing a total of 1,100 seats per hour—a reduction of 78 seats on the 1,178 seats that will be available from the two peak-hour 11-car Pendolinos from 2012. This decrease comes despite a forecast increase in demand on the London-Liverpool line.

5.4  Passengers travelling between London and Runcorn would also face a reduction in viable capacity in HS2 Ltd's scenario. From 2012 they will be served by two Pendolinos per hour at peak times, each with 589 seats. From 2026 they would be served by one HS2 train per hour (550 seats), plus the Pendolino routed via Birmingham, taking one hour longer than today.

6.  Impact on freed up WCML capacity

6.1  With the removal of the two peak time direct London-Liverpool Pendolino services and extension to Liverpool of two existing London-Birmingham services per hour, two peak time slots on the southern WCML would be freed for new suburban services between London and Northampton. HS2 Ltd's model of likely passenger demand on the WCML after HS2 indicates that it would be possible to free two further peak time slots per hour by withdrawing one of the existing London-Birmingham Pendolino services and one London-Manchester Pendolino service. In this scenario, the building of HS2 would thus free up just four peak time slots on the southern end of the WCML for new services.

6.2  This in itself seems a meagre return for such a huge investment. Its reliance on the removal of two London-Liverpool services for half of these freed slots has, as far as I am aware, not been noted by other commentators.


(1)  HS2 Ltd: Technical Appendix, Appendix 2: Day 1 Train Service Assumptions for Demand Modelling (including use of Released Capacity), Service C, London-Liverpool (High Speed), pp. 11, 20 and Service J, London-Birmingham-Wolverhampton-Liverpool, pp 17, 21. URL:
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110131042819/http:/www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/hs2ltd/technicalappendix/pdf/report.pdf (second appendix in this publication).

12 September 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011