High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Milton Keynes Council (HSR 25)

1.  This is a submission by Milton Keynes Council to the Transport Select Committee Inquiry into the Strategic Case for High Speed Rail (HSR).


Milton Keynes is the fastest-growing urban area in the country and has a strong economy with lots of potential for growth (see Centre for Cities reports); and the Council therefore recognises the importance of inter-urban connectivity to maximise Milton Keynes' economic potential and meet rising demand. Milton Keynes Council would therefore be interested to explore the implications of any proposal for an intermediate station on High Speed 2 (HS2) in this area. Such a station, if served by some of the trains to/from places north of Preston, including Glasgow, would add to the inter-urban connectivity achieved by HS2.


The rapid growth of Milton Keynes also means that remaining capacity on the West Coast Main Line will be used up in trying to meet the resulting increased demand ahead of the opening of HS2. There is therefore a need for early West Coast Main Line train service improvements, achieved through infrastructure, operational and other changes, to ensure Milton Keynes' continued and improved connectivity with other major centres in the years up to the opening of HS2. These improvements should then be able to be built upon to take advantage of the capacity released by the opening of HS2 to ensure and expand inter-urban connectivity between Milton Keynes and other major centres. In particular, Milton Keynes will need more trains to/from London and the West Midlands, as well as new all-day through services to and from North West England and Central Scotland.


Part of the business case for HSR, specifically HS2 at the moment, must include the capacity released on the West Coast Main Line for the introduction and expansion of fast train services for those major centres on it not served by HS2, including Milton Keynes. The draft timetable currently in circulation for an HS2 era West Coast Main Line shows for Milton Keynes a slower service to/from the West Midlands with no increase in frequency, retention of the hourly Manchester service, and possible loss of the hourly fast Crewe (for connections to/from north) and Chester service to HS2. The additional services proposed are an hourly fast service to Crewe, then on to Lancashire, Cumbria and Glasgow, and additional semi-fast services to the West Midlands and Trent Valley. However Milton Keynes really requires more fast services to/from the other major centres of the West Midlands, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, as inferred in paragraph 3. Also, more fast services to/from London will be needed. Advantage should be taken of the benefits of implementing such a fast train timetable on the West Coast Main Line to improve the business case for HS2. Should an HS2 station be built in this area, the improved business case made for HS2 by providing fast trains between Milton Keynes and Central Scotland via the West Coast Main Line might be at least partly replaced by an improvement to the business case for HS2 based on the new station.


Paragraph 2 above mentions the inter-urban connectivity effect of a possible station in this area. The positive impact of such a station on the economic growth of the area could also be taken into account. With reference to the connection with HS1, the decision to locate the London terminus at Euston strongly suggests that a passenger connection, eg, a travelator, should be built between it and Kings Cross/St. Pancras. Similarly, Birmingham's HS2 station at Curzon Street could be better connected to the rest of the West Midlands rail network, eg, by being served by the Cross-City line and some other suburban and regional services.


Any disruption to train services and inconvenience to passengers caused by the rebuilding required of Euston station to accommodate HS2 must be minimised. We do not know how the rebuilding of Euston and its approach tracks will be managed and scheduled, but would be very concerned if this involved reduction of train services, or even a lack of improvement of them, at a time of growth.

7.    Should there be any queries relating to this submission, the contact at Milton Keynes Council is Steve Mortimer at Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ.

May 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011