I’m typing this on board a CrossCountry service from Manchester Piccadilly to Birmingham, a journey I do on a regular basis. The trip will take me 91 minutes on a cramped & not exactly environmentally friendly 4 -car Voyager. When Hs2 is built the same journey will take just 41 minutes on a modern, spacious, high-speed electric train, slashing a massive 50 minutes off the time. Currently rail only has around 6% of the travel market between the two cities. Imagine what slashing 50 minutes off the time will do to encourage modal shift from roads & encourage more people to travel between our major regional cities by rail?
It’s exactly these regional time savings those opposed to Hs2 hate folk drawing attention to. They prefer to focus all their attention on London. So, let’s ignore them & look at some other projected journey time savings.
Leeds to Birmingham will be down from 1hr58 to just 57m.
Newcastle to Birmingham will be down from 3hr14 to 2hr07.
Nottingham to Birmingham Interchange will be down from 1hr46 to just 32m.
Bristol to Edinburgh will be down from 5hr49 to 3hr21
Cardiff to Leeds will be down from 4hr07 to 3hr13
There are many more examples given on Hs2 Ltd’s website here:
Of course, it’s not just about intercity journey time savings. The line I’m traveling on is also heavily used by local, inter regional & freight services. When the West Coast timetable was speeded up in 2008 some stations around Stoke were closed or lost their services to clear paths for fast Virgin Trains services to Manchester. Between 2004 – 2008 Stone station lost its rail services entirely. Now it has an hourly service provided by London Midland. There’s no hope of improving this as the capacity (until Hs2 is built) isn’t available. Eturia station closed on 30 September 2005. It was demolished to allow the line speed in the area to be raised from 60mph to 85-90mph. Local rail services were sacrificed to allow faster & more frequent Intercity expresses to run (and not just here around Stoke but also elsewhere on the West Coast Maine Line (WCML). Hs2 will allow us to reverse this process by removing those capacity eating non-stop services. Instead, those paths can be used by those trains we need to encourage greater modal shift – local, inter regional & freight. Without Hs2, that will never happen.
Incidentally, 51M who offered a supposed ‘alternative’ to Hs2 would have seen further cuts to services around Stoke. To allow more expresses, they’d have closed Stone & other stations, withdrawn the local services and didn’t even think about freight. Some ‘alternative’
Since I first published this earlier today. Richard Wellings of the right wing ‘Think Tank’ the Institute for Economic Affairs (in reality a lobbying front for various anonymous big business interests like the tobacco & oil industry) has tried to claim on Twitter that there’s no demand for better rail services between Manchester & Birmingham. What? Two of our top 10 major cities by population (& top 5 if you include the Greater Manchester area)? To try & claim slashing 50 minutes off won’t result in modal shift to rail suggests to me Wellings is no real economist – just an apologist for industries which are scared of the expansion of greener transport modes.