HS2 will free up enough space on the existing railway network to improve rail services for 73 stations across the country, according to new analysis by sub-national transport body Midlands Connect.
The analysis has been submitted as evidence to the Oakervee HS2 review by Midlands Connect, and the report’s key findings include:
- 73 stations on the existing rail network stand to benefit from improved passenger services as a direct result of the capacity released by HS2, including 54 stations with no direct HS2 services;
- HS2’s high speed line will take long-distance rail journeys off the existing network, providing capacity for new routes, as well as faster and more frequent local and inter-regional services;
- HS2 will create space for 576,000 extra seats per day on the high speed network, reducing overcrowding on existing lines;
- Released capacity is essential to deliver the major regional transport plans of Midlands Engine Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail;
- HS2 frees up space for 144 extra freight trains per day, enough to transport over 2.5m more lorries’ worth of cargo on our railways each year.
Midlands connect says the benefits of HS2 released capacity have been calculated using the projections outlined in local rail strategies, existing rail models and the Midlands Connect technical programme. The regional transport body claims it is operationally possible to achieve every single one of the benefits outlined in its analysis through changes to timetabling and services post-HS2.
They also claim that HS2 underpins transformational regional rail plans Midlands Engine Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail, both of which require the released capacity and new infrastructure it provides. Neither, it says, would be wholly technically or financially feasible should HS2 be cancelled.
Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: “The benefits of HS2 will be felt by millions of people across the UK, including passengers that never set foot on a high speed train. Regional and local rail services are in desperate need of improvement and it’s time we face facts, without the space and flexibility created by HS2, the transformational change needed is not possible.
“It is the capacity released by the line – not just its speed – that will give the whole network a desperately needed overhaul. We haven’t built a new inter-city railway north of London in a century – piecemeal interventions will do no more than paper over the cracks of an overloaded, tired network. Left unchanged, these deficiencies will stifle growth and prosperity for decades to come. Our message to government is clear; commit to HS2, commit to the regions you serve and give us a transport network fit for the future.”
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “HS2 is not just about speed or getting to London more quickly. Connecting Britain will be a major factor in rebalancing the economy – new lines both to the north west from Birmingham and up the eastern side of the UK, will expand labour markets, grow jobs, helping the north and Midlands to become as prosperous and successful as London.”
Tom Thackray, CBI director of infrastructure, said: “The business message on HS2 is clear-cut - back it, build it, benefit from it. We firmly believe committing to HS2 in full will spur further investment, boost productivity and in turn bring huge benefits to the whole country.”