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Greengauge 21 calls for HS2 to ‘get serious’ about service plans

HS2 Ltd should ensure that key northern and midland locations are not disadvantaged by the high-speed line by improving service plans such as adding a new hourly service via Stoke-on-Trent, high-speed rail consultancy Greengauge 21 advised in a new blog. 

The blog was written in response to Changing Britain: HS2 Taking Root, HS2 Ltd’s latest report which highlights the steps taken by nine cities and towns across the north of England so far to ensure that they gain the full benefits of HS2.

Greengauge 21 said that it makes ‘no sense’ to exclude Stoke from current HS2 service plans as the hourly service planned between Stafford and London cannot use the Phase 2A section, adding 15 minutes to the journey time. It also questioned the impact that current plans would have on stops in Lancashire, Oxenholme and Penrith which would suffer from compromised connectivity. 

“Welcome though these developments [in Changing Britain: HS2 Taking Root] are, HS2 Ltd can –  and other key agencies and local authorities should –  go further,” the blog said.

“It is not enough to plan HS2’s infrastructure. It is time to get serious as well about service plans, about access arrangements and supporting new spatial developments and industrial strategies across the broad part of the country that HS2 will serve.”

Greengauge 21 outlined four developments that it believes need to happen over the coming months. In addition to improved service plans for key northern and midland centres, it advised giving a single body responsibility for all northern HS2 development such as Transport for the North (TfN), which is due to become the first sub-national transport body in 2017.

The blog also noted that city authorities and LEPs should develop firmer plans to ensure that their programmes for wider economic development around stations are deliverable, and the need to give the HS2 train-fleet a more attractive name than ‘classic-compatible’, the phrase currently used for trains due to offer HS2 services beyond the planned new infrastructure.

Predicting potential objections that additional hourly services would require further train paths to London, Greengauge 21 argued that it would be possible to use the spare hourly paths which had been allocated to the Heathrow spur, an idea scrapped in 2015, or combine and divide train carriages at Crewe or Birmingham Interchange. 

In any event, Greengauge 21 said that additional hourly services would ‘of course increase HS2 benefits and improve HS2’s business case’.

Greengauge 21 have been vociferous in their support for bringing HS2 to Stoke-on-Trent. A report published by the consultancy in August 2014 found that Stoke and Staffordshire could be key beneficiaries of the HS2 scheme, advocating for the route to travel through there as part of the government’s preferred route to Crewe.


Graham Nalty   11/11/2016 at 17:42

For Greengauge 21 to tell HS2 Ltd. to 'get serious', this is very strong language. It certainly implies that HS2 Ltd. is failing in its duty to deliver the most profitable results from its infrastructure. It is great to see Greengauge 21 batting for Stoke, but their solutions fall far short of Stoke own aspirations for a London to Stoke HS2 service via the proposed Meaford Curve in under the hour. By contrast, Greengauge's solution will take HS2 passengers to Stafford in 53 minutes, depart 2 minutes later and Stoke in 72 minutes. If as Greengauge suggest the extra paths for this service (remember that 2 extra paths are now being provided for Sheffield services) are based on trains splitting at Birmingham Interchange, then the London to Stoke time is now 79 minutes, only 5 minutes slower than currently on the WCML. Faster speeds on the WCML might see this come down to under 80 minutes. So HS2 would only be of minimal benefit to Stoke unless the Meaford Curve is built. Even better would be to cancel the HS2 station at Crewe and built a HS2 interchange at Stoke Etruria. By studying published facts and Volterra;s economic studies, it seems possible that a HS2 interchange at Etruria could create over 10 times the number of new jobs compared to the parkway proposed for 2 miles south of Crewe.

Philip Bisatt   12/11/2016 at 15:08

Agree with Graham Nalty regarding Stoke. Could, in fact, be even worse in terms of public benefit foregone if the HS2 station at Crewe attracts investment and jobs away from the Potteries conurbation.

Stratfan   13/11/2016 at 11:40

Will someone please explain how a train going to places already connected by train will make much difference

Graham Nalty   14/11/2016 at 16:04

I understand that research has shown that HS2 station at Crewe without any link between HS2 and Stoke would cause the Potteries' economy to shrink by £4.1 billion. With HS2 trains calling at Stoke, the economy still would not grow. Only with the addition of the Meaford Curve and a new HS2 station in Stoke would result in growth in the Potteries economy.

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