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Capacity fears of UK Rail Network - HS2 opponents challenge claims


HS2 opponents challenge fears of railway capacity crisis

Fears that Britain’s railway network will be full if HS2 is not built have been disputed by opponents of the project.

HS2 opponents challenge fears of overcrowding crisis
HS2 opponents challenge fears of overcrowding crisis Photo: HS2 LTD

The HS2 Action Alliance says industry and Government figures undercut ministerial arguments that the high-speed line is vital to tackle an overcrowding crisis.

Over the past week ministers have tried to shift the argument for HS2 away from speed to the need to provide more seats because trains will be full.

The first stage of the 351-mile project will see trains running to Birmingham, easing pressure on the West Coast Main Line into Euston.

But according to Network Rail, figures produced two years ago long distance trains coming into Euston are only 60 per cent full during the morning peak.

This contrasts with Paddington, where trains are 99 per cent full and Waterloo, where the figure is 91 per cent.

Other figures, which the Department for Transport previously refused to release, emerged during the judicial review proceedings brought by HS2 opponents.

They also raised questions about the level of demand, including data showing that evening peak trains out of Euston were 52.2 per cent full.

The DfT has said its latest estimates show that trains leaving Euston during the evening peak could carry as many standing as seated passengers unless HS2 is built.

But according to the HS2 Action Alliance studies the figures produced by Virgin, the current operators on the line, show the rapid growth in demand is over.

An alternative approach, advocated by the 51M group of local authorities who challenged the scheme, suggests space could be provided by converting one first class carriage to standard and lengthening trains from nine to 12 cars.

Extra services could be laid on by eliminating three pinch points between Euston and Crewe.

The problem of overcrowding faced by commuters from Milton Keynes, one of the major existing problems, could be solved by allowing them to use Virgin Trains services which only allow passengers to disembark.

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