HS2: RECKLESS HIGGINS SCRAMBLES TO JUSTIFY A NO-JUNCTION MOTORWAY TO TACKLE TRAFFIC JAMS IN NEASDEN.

HS2 ACTION ALLIANCE

REACTION

 

February 3, 2014.

 

HS2: RECKLESS HIGGINS SCRAMBLES TO JUSTIFY A NO-JUNCTION MOTORWAY TO TACKLE TRAFFIC JAMS IN NEASDEN.

 

Commenting on Sir David Higgins claims that London commuters will be queuing to board trains “like Piccadilly tube station in rush hour”, Richard Houghton, a director of HS2 Action Alliance, the biggest national HS2 opposition campaign, said:

 

“Sir David Higgins, in trying to justify HS2, is demonstrating huge insensitivity to already deeply-stressed London commuters by deploying reckless scaremongering claiming huge queues will form to board commuter trains. He appears to have been mobilised by the DfT in the light of suppression of what is clearly a damning Major Projects Authority report into HS2, but is shooting himself in the foot by highlighting an issue which HS2 will simply not impact.

 

“Firstly: one has to ask has he actually been anywhere near a suburban London overground commuter station during peak-hour… where he will find there are already huge queues to board trains.

 

“Secondly, capacity crisis claims can be addressed in three simple steps: make West Coast Main Line (WCML) intercity trains 12 carriages long, tackle three WCML pinchpoints, and let peak time Virgin trains stop at Milton Keynes.

 

“There is not, and will not be, a WCML capacity issue based on current services. Regardless, how on earth is a high speed non-stopping line between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and London going to ease suburban London queues, or help the 100,000-plus commuters who stand every day travelling into the likes of Paddington, which is at 99% capacity at peak times, or Waterloo – 91%?

 

“Those are National Rail’s own figures – the same figures which state that Euston runs at 60% capacity during peak times. What’s more, West Coast Main Line (WCML) intercity services run at only around 50% capacity during peak times – figures the Department for Transport has given in court – and is in decline. HS1 is the least busy: it operates at a third of its originally forecast capacity.

 

“It’s like saying ‘we need a motorway, which has no junctions between London and Birmingham, to ease traffic jams for people driving from Neasden, or Guildford, or Maidenhead and the likes, into Central London’.

 

“HS2 will cost somewhere north of £50 billion as a conservative estimate; even allowing for HS2 Limited’s completely irrelevant and nonsensical argument of an impending WCML capacity crisis, there are just three crucial and comparatively simple-to-deploy solutions costing a fraction of the cost of HS2.

 

“Typically, the four First Class carriages on a WCML intercity train are a third full at peak time; convert one to Standard, and make each train 12 carriages – they’re currently between nine and 11 carriages – and that addresses the DfT’s own capacity forecast, trebling capacity on each train from 229 to 693 seats.

 

“Secondly, let Virgin intercity trains stop at Milton Keynes during peak times instead of hurtling past the queues on the platform with half their seats unoccupied.

 

“Finally, spend £260 million on a new flyover at Ledburn Junction, just south of Leighton Buzzard, which will allow more – and faster – commuter trains, doubling capacity at peak times.

 

“WCML is currently a mixed route – freight, intercity and commuting – but that ratio and relationship can be improved to gain capacity. Eliminating Ledburn and two other pinchpoints between Euston and Crewe allows an extra 15 intercity trains in each direction daily, and also increases freight capacity by separating intercity and freight trains throughout. It’s common sense and cost-effective – but would simply create more empty WCML seats.

 

“These changes were assessed by the DfT as having a much better benefit-cost ratio than HS2. And it could all happen much quicker, and incrementally – unlike HS2.”

 

Bullet point capacity facts:

 

https://www.hs2actionalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/130909-Capacity-On-A-Page.pdf

 

 

Ends

Further information:

 

Iain Macauley

im@pressrelations.co.uk

07788 978800

 

John Read

john.read@readdillon.com

07774 476391

 

http://www.hs2actionalliance.org/