Previously HS2-NW wrote “The reason we need HS2 is capacity capacity capacity“. A claim vigorously denied by localist anti HS2 campaigners, who had used selective figures for Virgin services which showed evening peak services leaving Euston are only on average 52% loaded.
However figures released by GreenGauge21 showed that some Virgin services were in fact 80% loaded and figures released by Network Rail showed that services operated by London Midland are operating at 94% capacity – with traffic levels growing at 4% per year.
Indeed some Virgin services departing Euston for Manchester after the evening peak period operate at over 100% capacity, meaning some passengers are left standing over long distances.
If all this were not compelling enough figures just released by the BBC show that 3 out of the top 10 most crowded services in the UK are regional services operated London Midland departing from Euston for Birmingham. The figures reveal that some peak services leaving Euston are over 150% loaded.
“Three London Midland evening rush-hour trains from Euston to Birmingham on the west coast mainline featured in the 10 most packed services — possibly underlining the government’s argument that the planned High Speed 2 route is needed to add capacity.” — Guardian report, 20 December 2012
The majority of the most crowded services operated by LM are also served by the longest trains permissible on the WCML which often have 2+3 seating.
Given the latest figures, it would seem strange to suggest there is no capacity problem on the WCML and it would be stranger still to propose cutting services currently operated by London Midland in favour of more ‘fast’ intercity trains.
Cutting local and regional services is however just what those opposed to HS2 propose as an “alternative” to building a new line. A full report published by HS2-NW looking into the 51M optimised alternative shows that some London Midland stopping services would be scrapped in favour of more direct intercity services.
Proponents of HS2 have argued all along that a new line is needed on the grounds of capacity, and the latest figures give further weight to this argument, especially given that long distance rail travel on the WCML has been growing at 6% a year.
HS2 will divert long distance services to the North onto the new line thereby freeing up paths on the WCML for increased local and regional services like those currently operated my London Midland and for more freight trains for which demand is also growing.
For more information about how HS2 phase 1 will benefit the WCML click here