Peak time trains from Euston only half full – so why do we need HS2?
The following findings & conclusions are pasted in from a peak time survey of Intercity trains from Euston to the Midlands and the North. We had tried to obtain official data under FOI but were refused.
- There were no exceptional events or circumstances that we were aware of and in our opinion results will be accurate to a level of 1 (one) error in 100 (hundred) passengers counted.
- We were surprised that the average loading across all peak trains (16.30 – 18.59) was only 56%.
- Even more surprising were the loadings on the peak Manchester and Liverpool services, which were on average less than 45% full.
- There was a significant difference between trains making an extra stop at Milton Keynes (average loading 107%) and other trains. Milton Keynes trains appear crowded.
- The first trains after 19.00 (7 trains from 19.00 – 19.30) – when much cheaper off peak tickets are allowed – had higher loadings (average 67%).
- Comment: If there is crowding in standard class this could potentially be dealt with through reconfiguring the carriage mix. (We also understand that two extra carriages will be added from 2012 which will cut the total load factors even further.)
(Customer Research Technology Ltd, 30 November 2011)
So why are those in favour of HS2 claiming there is a capacity problem we need to deal with? There are more urgent capacity issues: for example, some Reading to Paddington trains are at 200% loading. On the West Coast Mainline, we do need to deal with trains to Milton Keynes and Northants. This cannot wait until 2026 and can be solved at a cost of £243m at Ledburn junction, half the cost of the recently announced 1.5 mile tunnel in the Chilterns. We also need to deal with the ‘fare cliff’ problem of high loading on the first off peak trains after 7pm.
None of this justifies a net cost of £45bn to the taxpayer.