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Railhub Archive
2012-01-19 NET-001
Network Rail


HS2 could free up space for faster, more frequent trains on Britain’s busiest rail line – new study

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Network Rail

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Network Rail

HS2 could free up space for faster, more frequent trains on Britain’s busiest rail line – new study

Thursday 19 Jan 2012 00:00
source Network Rail
type Press release

Passengers on Britain’s busiest rail route could benefit from faster, more frequent trains, less crowding and better connections if the first phase of the proposed high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham goes ahead as planned.

Those are the conclusions of a report published today by Network Rail and Passenger Focus, which sets out the improved level of service passengers on the West Coast Main Line could experience thanks to the extra capacity and 125mph trains which would become available if long-distance services migrate to High Speed 2.

One of the biggest groups to benefit would be commuters travelling between Northampton, Milton Keynes, Watford Junction and London, where the worst overcrowding is forecast in the coming years as demand for rail continues to grow. Initial analysis suggests as many as twelve trains per hour could operate on this section of the route in the busiest peak hours.

Other key beneficiaries would be passengers travelling between the major towns and cities of the West Midlands and between London and destinations in the Trent Valley, as well as companies that rely on moving goods by rail freight. There are also likely to be opportunities to improve connectivity between the south end of the route and towns and cities further the north.

More than 5,000 current passengers and almost 1,000 potential new rail users were surveyed by Passenger Focus, highlighting the key priorities for the capacity which would be released if a new rail line such as HS2 is built.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive said, “Passengers know that with more people using the West Coast Main Line it is only a matter of time before capacity runs out. If a new line was to free up this much-needed route passengers, especially commuters, have signalled they want to be able to get seat as well as more direct services.”

Passengers clearly stated first and foremost they want to be able get a seat. Direct services were also high up the list of priorities for both current passenger and non-users. In the additional comments section punctuality and reliability also featured.

Network Rail used these survey results to produce nine overarching goals or ‘outputs’ – such as shorter journey times between London and the Trent Valley or additional direct services between major towns and cities in the West Midlands – which could form the building blocks of a future WCML timetable.

Paul Plummer, Network Rail group strategy director, said: "The West Coast Main Line is Britain’s busiest and most economically vital rail artery – but by 2024 it will be full, with no more space to accommodate the continued predicted growth in demand. HS2 would not only transform travel between our major cities, it is also the best way to solve the capacity crunch facing passengers and businesses on the West Coast Main Line.

“This joint study with Passenger Focus means we now know what commuters, business and leisure travellers and freight companies want from their railway, so we can work with our customers and government to help plan for a future West Coast Main Line which best meets the their needs and supports rather than stifles economic growth.”

In the majority of cases Network Rail has concluded that the outputs identified in the study could be delivered when the proposed new line between London and Birmingham opens. The second stage of this study will develop a more detailed understanding of any trade-offs between outputs in order to provide the best overall level service on the West Coast Main Line in the future.

Notes to Editors:

Network Rail’s West Coast Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS), published in July 2011, stated that the WCML will be running at full capacity at the southern end of the route by 2024. Network Rail's New Lines study, published in 2009, had concluded that a new line between London, the West Midlands and the north of England was the best way to provide the necessary capacity to cope with forecast demand.

In addition to the Passenger Focus survey, as part of its evidence-gathering Network Rail held a series of workshops with local authorities on or adjacent to the WCML between London and Cheshire as well as relevant Passenger Transport Executives.

Meetings were also held with freight operating companies to understand the likely requirements of future freight users (which were found to be largely in line with the WCML RUS and the Initial Industry Plan published on September 2011).

Conditional outputs
The conditional outputs specified by Network Rail, which would make best use of the released capacity on the WCML, are:

London suburban

An increase in the provision of London suburban peak services to the level where all passengers travelling for more than 20 minutes have a reasonable expectation of a seat for the duration of their journey.
A reduction in journey times between London and major commuter stations, such that the mixture of non/limited stop and stopping services to/from any given station does not lead to overcrowding.
London urban

An all-day increase in the minimum frequency of London urban services to four trains per hour.
West Midlands suburban

Provision of additional direct services between major centres in the West Midlands metropolitan area.
London interurban

Provision of services to broadly maintain the existing connectivity between London and intermediate stations.
A reduction in journey times between London and Trent Valley stations.
Non-London interurban

An increase in the number of direct trains between large stations at the north and south ends of the WCML, and specification of the local timetable to connect with these services.

To accommodate 85 and 80 trains per day on the Wembley-Rugby and Rugby-Stafford sections of the WCML respectively. These freight paths should not have significantly longer journey times, or reduced capability compared to currently, to ensure that rail remains competitive with road haulage.
To be able to accommodate the same level of freight traffic with high speed services using the route north of Lichfield, as would be the case without these new services.

Railhub Archive ::: 2012-01-19 NET-001


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