High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from David Hodgson (HSR 192)


I recently saw a broadcast on the BBC Parliament Channel showing your questioning of representatives from a) Network Rail/ATOC/Passenger Focus/RFG and b) SNCF/Eurostar. The answers to two specific questions seemed inadequate, so I should like to help "fill the gap".

High Speed Railways operating 18 trains per hour

I believe an MP from Northamptonshire asked about this, and the SNCF Director was quite right to say that nowhere in the world operates 18 HSTs per hour (in each direction). However, it was not made clear that SNCF experience and elsewhere is for a two track railway. My understanding is that the full 18 trains per hour service would operate on a four track railway.

The initial construction MAY only be two track but the preparatory works will have been done to allow relatively easy expansion to four tracks later. However, this will depend on the view taken about the migration of services onto HS2, essentially "phased" or "big bang".

Given that the initial construction seems likely to reconnect with the classic WCML near Lichfield, the first tranche of services to use HS2 is likely to be the "West Coast set": nominally:
Birmingham 2 per hour
Manchester 2 per hour
Liverpool 1 per hour
Glasgow 1 per hour
Sub-total 6 per hour

Only when the "East Coast set" and the "Midland Main line set" are added in does the total come anywhere near 18 per hour, again nominally:
Leeds 2 per hour
Newcastle/Edinburgh 2 per hour
East Midlands/Sheffield 2 per hour
Sub-total 6 per hour
Overall total 12 per hour

Some direct services via HS1 to Paris, Brussels and Europe may boost the eventual total.

Services on the classic West Coast Route. Once HS2 has opened

It is my understanding (confirmed by the SNCF contributor) that HS2 should provide direct services, with few if any intermediate stops.

Taking one route as an example, current services between London and Manchester take two alternative routes, stopping variously at Watford Junction, Rugby, Stafford, Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport. Once HS2 has opened, all these locations will still require express services to London and Manchester and to each other. This is likely to require at least one train per hour each way, compared with the two trains per hour currently. Thus only one path per hour would be released for other use. Even that may be questioned further. Similar thinking has to be applied to all the other routes, in order to come up with a total number of train paths "released".

My own view is that there are MANY intermediate locations (listed below—around 45 places!!!) currently enjoying express services to/from London and various points North:

ECML: Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Retford, Doncaster, Wakefield, York, Darlington, Durham, Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Dunbar.

MML: Luton, Bedford, Kettering, Wellingborough, Leicester, Loughborough, Chesterfield WCML: Watford, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Stoke, Macclesfield, Crewe, Chester and stations to Holyhead, Stockport, Runcorn, Warrington, Wigan, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell.

These places will not cease to exist once HS2 comes in, and they will not accept simply being by-passed: they will, rightly in my view, expect broadly the same level of services as they currently have. My assumption at this stage is that most if not all of these places will be served via the classic routes, so the train paths they currently occupy will continue to be required.

Genuine HS2 services (London-Birmingham non-stop; London-Manchester non-stop, etc) may well come to be ADDITIONAL to the existing "Inter City" multi-stop services.


The contributions I watched were all perfectly valid, and I would suggest that that your committee should also take a close look at the German high speed network (ICE) in so far as it is much more a true network, some of the distances between conurbations are shorter, and there is greater use of the historic routes ie less new build lines.

June 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011