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HS2 construction will inform West Coast Main Line capacity

Virgin Trains 390104 at London Euston. RICHARD CLINNICK.

Construction of Phase 1 of HS2 will allow the rail industry to evaluate how capacity freed up on the southern section of the West Coast Main Line should be used.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon outlined the plans in a Lords Written Answer on June 17, to a question from Lord Berkeley regarding HS2 capacity.

Berkeley also asked when Network Rail would release its West Coast Main Line Capacity Plus study. Ahmad replied that NR was “continuing to develop the evidence base to support the Capacity Plus study”. He said it was expected to be published by the end of the year.

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  • TheDucks - 23/06/2016 09:08

    But HS2 doesn't free up any train paths! The only way it could free up paths would be if Virgin was prohibited from running their "stopping" services to Birmingham, Manchester & beyond. McNaughton claims that HS2 phase 1 "replaces most long distance non-stop trains". But there are no long distance non stop trains. They all stop somewhere en-route. If they do remove Virgin trains to give HS2 a competition free run then the rest of us will clearly have a less frequent & slower service than currently.

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  • Noam Bleicher - 23/06/2016 11:34

    The Ducks, there are plenty of VT services which currently do not stop, or don't stop much, south of Stafford or Crewe. It is these which are natural candidates for transfer to HS2. My strong suspicion is that the current Pendolino service will continue but will stop much more frequently, something akin to Cross Country which stops every 20-30 miles. Combined with the current LM services this will give towns like Rugby and Nuneaton an almost metro frequency on long interurban services - a transformational service compared with today.

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  • Noam Bleicher - 23/06/2016 11:35

    The Ducks, there are plenty of VT services which currently do not stop, or don't stop much, south of Stafford or Crewe. It is these which are natural candidates for transfer to HS2. My strong suspicion is that the current Pendolino service will continue but will stop much more frequently, something akin to Cross Country which stops every 20-30 miles. Combined with the current LM services this will give towns like Rugby and Nuneaton an almost metro frequency on long interurban services - a transformational service compared with today.

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    • TheDucks - 23/06/2016 13:57

      Noam Belcher - Sorry to sound like a character in a Pantomime but "Oh no there aren't". No Virgin Train is non-stop between London & Birmingham or London & Manchester. HS2 may add extra capacity on the HS2 lines but it doesn't free up extra train paths on the WCML or MML. If you are going to retain the existing service level then by definition you are going to have to retain these paths. Even McNaughton's report on "Released Capacity" acknowledges.. well... there isn't any!

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      • Melvyn - 23/06/2016 18:52

        Pop along to Euston Station and you will see trains with Euxton Junction as their first stop ?

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        • TheDucks - 26/06/2016 13:54

          Melvyn - sorry I don't understand your comment.

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  • FrankH - 23/06/2016 23:34

    HS2 on the cheap plus it free's up the south end of the WCML. New track from as close to Euston as possible running to just short of Coventry where Birmingham trains join the original route. New track then continues to Colwich to join the WCML. Manchester via Stoke trains will then take the original route. Liverpool trains can stop as usual at Stafford/Crewe etc and the Scots trains plough on to Warrington. Trains that stop at Watford/Milton Keynes/Rugby/Nuneaton etc can continue to use the "old route". You don't need captive stock because all trains will use traditional lines at some point.

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  • Noam Bleicher - 25/06/2016 19:21

    The Ducks - yes the existing WCML services will run but will stop more often - by definition creating many more journey opportunities. The WCML will serve the interurban market rather than the long-distance high-speed market.

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    • TheDucks - 26/06/2016 13:56

      Noam Belcher - so for everyone else that uses the retained WCML route we will all have slower journeys? I remember the business case was built on the Value of time saved. I don't remember there being an opposite calculation for the value of time lost for the vast majority of other travellers.

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  • Noam Bleicher - 26/06/2016 18:13

    4tph or more vs 1tph arguably represents a time saving to those who can effectively have turn-up-an-go service rather than looking at a timetable. THose who are able to use HS2 will by definition save time. At any rate the overlaying of the current network by a 15-20 tph line is obviously a great increase in capacity with benefits beyond time saved - the end of rationing by price other than in the high peak, for instance.

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    • TheDucks - 27/06/2016 14:30

      Noam - there is no station that will get an increase from 1 TPH to 4TPH. At best there appears to be 1 Railpath per hour freed up on the WCML. Be great if you could point to any presentation from HS2 Ltd that shows this great leap in available Paths on the WCML or MML as they don't seem to believe there are any. You can't on the one hand claim the WCML is full and then say we can now fit all of these new additional services on the "full" line.

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  • Noam Bleicher - 27/06/2016 18:52

    The Ducks - the leap in frequency comes at stations like Nuneaton and Rugby, which at present see most services whizz through non-stop. It is these trains which will transfer to HS2, giving a load of spare paths south of Lichfield, and later Crewe. THe spare paths can be taken up by interurban services giving a big increase in frequency to places like the above stations.

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    • FrankH - 29/06/2016 23:50

      Rugby has trains 4 per hour to london by LM which stop at the most twice, MK and Watford. North, 3 to Birmingham and 1 to Crewe. Then you have the sporadic Virgin stoppers mainly early morning and late evening. Nuneaton is the only station which should benefit with a twice hourly fast stopper to aid connection into the XC services there. LM can up their service to twice hourly to serve all stations between Stafford and Rugby. I can't see it getting better than that unless patronage booms.

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  • Noam Bleicher - 30/06/2016 07:18

    Frank H, patronage is 'booming', in fact it's growing at a few percent a year and was going all through the recent recession. Most trains these days are 3/4 full at least, and some are grossly overcrowded. Goodness knows what this will be like in twenty years' time. It sounds sensible to me to invest in capacity in the next few years, not too little, too late like we normally do.

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    • FrankH - 30/06/2016 23:37

      I meant after HS2 was built although I still think it's better off being built as a WCML by pass not some exhorbitant high speed revolution. Let the pendolinos run at 140 mph on it without tilt and add more coaches to them. New stock will be needed at some point though. Back to the Rugby area, the 10 desiros emu's that trans pennine have will go to LM I'm sure and maybe some 319's that are excess once the various electrostar's and 700's come on full stream in the London areas.

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