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Direct Services in Midlands to be lost in HS2 plans

September 20, 2013 10:59 am from: http://www.expressandstar.com/news/transport-news/2013/09/20/direct-rail-services-will-be-lost-in-hs2-plan/

Direct rail services to be lost in HS2 plans

Direct rail services between Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Dudley and London will be taken away with passengers forced to change at Birmingham under plans for high speed rail. 

The proposals from Network Rail suggest a ‘hub and spoke’ system where stations like Stafford and Wolverhampton are used for slower trains, with links to high speed stations elsewhere.

Under the plans, taking the existing Virgin and CrossCountry Pendolino trains away from Stafford and Wolverhampton would provide more, but slower, services calling at places like Penkridge and Sandwell and Dudley.

It was initially planned that high speed trains would call at Stafford by transferring from the new tracks onto the old West Coast Main Line.

However that could change under Network Rail’s proposals for ‘hubs and spokes’ which now list Crewe as a potential hub station.

Rupert Walker, head of high speed rail development at Network Rail, said: “I want to have a debate about what people want from the railway.

“Is it better to have a shorter overall journey time, accepting that there has to be a change or do people want to have a direct service, recognising that there will be a trade off?

“What we have proposed here is not gospel.

“The opportunity after phase two is to look at Stafford and see what’s the best way of getting there. Is it a direct train or via a hub?

“We need to take into account what Stafford needs.”

The changes would also mean direct journeys to London would be slower from Wolverhampton than at present, calling at more stations along the way, unless people were prepared to change at Birmingham, where new high speed stations are to be built.

Mr Walker told a conference of industry leaders gathered in Birmingham that he wanted passengers to say what sort of services that they want from 2026, when the first part of the £42.6 billion HS2 line between Birmingham and London is set to open.

A second phase, a Y-shaped spur to Manchester and Leeds, is scheduled to open in 2033. HS2 threatens to cut through swathes of countryside.

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