Latest Rail News

10.12.12

HS2 opponents jump on Virgin peak passenger figures

Official figures show that almost half the seats on Virgin’s peak-time evening trains on the West Coast Main Line were empty last year. This undermines the Government’s arguments for HS2, opponents have suggested, if WCML capacity is less of an issue than some suggest.

The data was released as councils continue with their judicial review against the project.

Capacity has been highlighted as a key driver for HS2, with space on the network filling up quickly. But in 2011, long-distance Virgin trains leaving Euston on weekdays between 4pm and 7pm had 52.5% of seats occupied. This is down from 54.2% in 2008.

However, crowding is worse in the first hour of off-peak, as tickets are far cheaper. Greengauge 21 pointed out that London Midland, which runs commuter services on the WCML, was at 94% capacity, with traffic levels increasing by 4% a year.

The result of the judicial review is expected early in the new year.

Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire county council, one of 18 local authorities which have combined to bring the case, said: “These numbers blow apart the last prop of the Government’s argument for HS2. The business case for the line has already collapsed. Their argument was all about capacity.”

Greengauge 21 director Jim Steer said: “The important point that anti-HS2 campaigners fail to acknowledge is that the best way to free up capacity for commuters in the fast-growing Milton Keynes-Northampton corridor is to take the Virgin Trains services off the line and free it up for more commuter services and for more freight services.

“Our studies have shown that a transformed timetable can be offered, supporting growth, relieving serious overcrowding which is coming just a few years down the line and getting  a lot of lorries off the road network.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Image c. Ewan Munro

Comments

Jb   05/04/2014 at 12:09

Just what I expected. Peak time trains are busy but in my experience off-peak trains are at best, only half full. One way to improve capacity on the WCML is to transfer some of the Manchester trains back to St Pancras, preferably by re-opening the short stretch between Peak Forest and Darley Dale/Matlock, but immediately by routing some E. Midlands HSTs via the W to S Dore curve. Re-instating the ex GC line to Manchester would further reduce the need for a new route. These two routes were deliberately closed to maximise traffic on the newly electrified WCML so it might be expected to get busier as time passed. In my opinion it would be far better to spend a fraction of the cost of HS2 on replacing lines lost in the late 1960s and 70s such as the short section between Skipton and Colne (thus creating an additional trans-Pennine route) and Northallerton to Harrogate, putting the City of Ripon back on the railway map. Many other connections could be cited which would bring benefits in a far shorter timescale than the proposed HS2 for which we have yet to see any real justification.

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

13/06/2019Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

The storm-battered Dawlish rail line could be “moved out to sea” and away from the “hazard” of the cliffs under new plans... more >
TfL awards contract for new DLR fleet to replace 30-year-old trains

12/06/2019TfL awards contract for new DLR fleet to replace 30-year-old trains

TfL has awarded a contract for 43 new trains to replace the oldest rolling stock on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), with the first scheduled t... more >
Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >
Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >
TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

05/06/2019Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

In a series of Q&A’s with key speakers on the run up to TransCityRail Midlands, we caught up with TransCityRail panellist and Amey&rsqu... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >
Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

10/06/2019Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of the West Midlands Rail Executive, described the new stations set to be built for the Black Country region o... more >
The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

10/06/2019The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

Richard Turner, head of apprenticeships at Network Rail, details the reasons for growing apprenticeship demand in the rail sector over the coming... more >
A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

10/06/2019A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at the East Midlands Chamber, talks in detail about what travelling through the region will... more >