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19.07.16

HS2 works to cause ‘difficult period’ for rail network – Frobisher

Work to upgrade Euston Station to prepare for HS2 will increase the risk of delays, Martin Frobisher of Network Rail has told the Transport Select Committee.

At a hearing as part of the committee’s inquiry into improving passenger services, Frobisher, Network Rail’s route managing director for London and the north west, said that the works will reduce the available lines into Euston from six to four.

This will mean that there is no spare capacity in the event of a delay.

Frobisher said HS2 was “really worthwhile”, but added “we’re going to have a difficult period when we’ve got less infrastructure available”.

However, Frobisher said Network Rail is working closely with HS2 to minimise the impact of the works.

Board papers published by Network Rail last year show that it is looking more closely at its plans for the upgrades at Euston in order to avoid the mistakes of the works at London Bridge, which led to extensive delays.

Frobisher also suggested that a “big investment” is needed to improve the rail industry’s ability to respond to delays by installing more wi-fi at the side of tracks.

He said that the DfT is currently organising trials of the project, with wi-fi then being procured by TOCs, although the pilot sites have not been chosen yet.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, said that TOCs have a number of initiatives to improve their response to passenger complaints.

These include trialling real-time customer feedback and working with the DfT to improve access to data.

However, she said that TOCs might need more support from the department in addressing passenger complaints about the ticketing system.

“We need to be more agile as an industry, and there are instances, particularly around fares change, where DfT need to respond to that,” she said.

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