High Speed Buffers (Part 3): Are There Limits to Commuting?


Our series on HS2 aims to look at how it affects London. Finding a suitable terminus will be a big part of that, something that is dependent on a number of factors. A critical one is exactly what sort of railway HS2 will actually be. This is something that depends on how closely it conforms (or doesn’t) to conventional assumptions about long distance travel. So in this article we consider a crucial question – just how much of a commuter railway is HS2 likely to be?

The weakness in HS2’s intercity offer

The very nature of a high speed railway requires us to consider the future geographic and time-related distances where London commuting might begin or end, before we think about the location of any terminus itself let alone what facilities it should provide.

In theory, the HS2 network would become one primarily for intercity travel between the regions – of which London is one. It is not intended that virtually all journeys will either start or end in London. Whilst for the origin zones various options like park-and-ride may work, for regional intercity journeys it is generally important to have a city centre presence at the destination city region. Furthermore, this city centre presence needs to have good interchanges and connections to all parts of the city and perhaps beyond – not everyone wants to terminate their journey at the city centre.

In contrast, commuting to London is not so dependent on regional connectivity. Commuters will sometimes relocate, if necessary, in order to be near their origin station or at least to have easy access to it. Crucially, London will be an HS2 destination that will be well connected. Regardless of the intended purpose of HS2, it seems inevitable that there will be an element of commuting.

Just how much commuting will take place on HS2 is unknown, but we can get a good idea by looking at how suitable HS2 is for such journeys and also looking at commuting on both HS1 and other existing long distance routes, within conventional commuting times. We shall focus on this for the rest of Part 3.

In order to try and gauge the importance – or unimportance – of commuting to London on HS2, let us look at HS2 Ltd’s preferences elsewhere on their proposed network for the location of stations. HS2 has started off with some poor proposed links outside London. Their shortcomings have been noted by recent comments from a York seminar in April 2016 involving 40 transport professionals who critiqued various topics including connectivity.

It may be instructive to note that out-of-city-centre stations are the opposite of the thinking for HS3, where the Government’s stated desire is to improve city-centre connectivity in order to stimulate agglomeration benefits.

An example from the West Midlands

The separation between HS2 and the ‘classic’ railway is expected to be substantial at Britain’s busiest non-London station and interchange, Birmingham New Street. If you want a measure of the current effectiveness of the station for rail travel, New Street saw 35.3 million passenger journeys in 2014/15 (ORR entry+exit annual flow) – a figure which rises to 40.7m if interchanging passengers are included.

There is a Brunellian ‘change of gauge’ explicit at HS2’s proposed Birmingham city station, Curzon Street, 750 metres from New Street measured as station centre to station centre. This would be considered to be about a 10 minute walk by TfL standards. Moor Street station (6.9m including interchange) would be closer at 350 metres from Curzon Street. The HS2 station would also be served by a tramway extension and local buses. As a lot of travel in the West Midlands is by bus and therefore, as bus services are relatively easily rerouted to match demand, it is inevitable that Curzon Street will have fairly substantial direct public transport access.

New Street station isn’t in the top league when it comes to measuring annual station volumes if one includes London stations. For example Stratford(-on-Lea) has 110m passenger journeys and Oxford Circus over 140m, including interchange – and these aren’t the busiest London station complexes. Nevertheless, for HS2 to fail to achieve an easy interchange with the most important entry + exit + interchange station outside London could be considered quite an omission.

No-one would argue that a good interchange with existing rail services in Birmingham would be easy to achieve, given the local geography, but it isn’t happening at all. No amelioration is proposed either, such as a travelator-style walkway and/or a local station at Curzon Street on the adjoining West Midland lines.

With the present propositions, travelling via feeder rail to Birmingham New Street then classic WCML to London may remain more reassuring as an interchange for some rail passengers, even if HS2 journey times are still about 20-25 minutes quicker after taking into account the inter-station walk. The effect of a lack of easy interchange will be to put off HS2 travel to those carrying luggage and for whom journey time is not so critical. In contrast the average commuter would probably be prepared to accept a ten minute walk if it meant a significant overall journey time saving.

There is also a proposed regional ‘Parkway’ station, as a stand-alone ‘Birmingham Interchange’ stop, adjoining the M6, M6 Toll and M42 motorways and 1¼ miles from the airport (10.1m passengers in 2015), NEC and Birmingham International station (5.2m). A ‘people-mover’ is proposed as the only public transport link.

Limited moves to improve HS accessibility

Other proposed HS2 stations distant from the city centre include Sheffield Meadowhall (2.2m entry + exit + interchange passengers in 2014/15), which would be 3½ miles from central Sheffield (10.1m), and Toton as an ‘East Midlands Parkway’ roughly halfway between Derby (8½ miles, 4.4m passengers) and Nottingham (6 miles, 7.2m). That might get served by a tramway extension from Nottingham.

However, as a contrast to previously mentioned proposed stations, at Manchester the HS2 station would be alongside Piccadilly interchange (27.3m, rail users only, and close to Metrolink) so giving HS2 a greater time and perceptual advantage there. There is also a proposal for a Parkway station at Manchester Airport (23.1m air passengers, 3.5m rail passengers).

Crewe is now seen as the end of HS2 Stage 2a, possibly to open shortly after Stage 1, or at the same time as Stage 1 if that were delayed until 2027 which is now a possibility. There is a debate about whether HS2 should use the existing station or be very close by, or whether there should be a new Parkway-style station at Basford 1¼ miles south of the rail interchange and outside the town but on the A500 trunk road.

Even at Crewe, this national railway junction with multi-way connections, HS2 appears to regard connectivity with ‘classic’ rail as not that important, and has favoured the Basford option, supported by Cheshire East Council. However this may not make operational sense with a Phase 2a ending at Crewe. Crewe Town Council favours a station within or abutting the present interchange.

There has recently been a change of heart by HS2, at the end of November 2015, about the location of Leeds HS2 station. It would now adjoin the existing Leeds city centre station (31.7m annual passenger journeys) with a shared concourse, instead of it being at New Lane which would result in a 500m distance between station centres. This change of heart followed a successful campaign by Leeds City region.

Sheffield is running a similar campaign to Leeds to put the HS2 station there within its city centre (at the former Sheffield Victoria station). Meanwhile, Greengauge21 argues for integration with the currently existing Sheffield station, formerly known as Sheffield Midland.

Towards a regional 30 minute norm

Nottingham is now reported as aspiring to a direct HS2 30 minute timing between its Midland station and Birmingham Curzon Street, so 40 minutes with a walk to/from New Street and the city centre. This would require a £195m HS2-Midland Line spur near Trent (2011 prices) as reported on 18 March by Local Transport Today in March 2016. It would offer credibly direct ‘Tube-style’ journey times between two major Midlands cities, where typical rail times are currently 70-75 minutes. Whether it is also a subtle means to create the possibility of a 60 minute London-Nottingham High Speed service will be seen in due course.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) report on HS3, High Speed North, calls for the design of the northern phase of HS2 to “facilitate the development of the HS3 network, enhancing connectivity between Leeds and Sheffield”. The NIC’s longer term objective is also of HS3 30 minute journey times for a triangle of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield city centres. So such ‘Tube-style’ timing is becoming a mantra for High Speed railway planning in the Midlands and North, and looks like being a factor in finalising the proposals for HS2 Phase 2.

Whilst the NIC objectives are clearly aimed at regional commuting to support agglomeration (which does not directly affect how commuters would access London), this objective only really makes sense if HS2 stations are located in city centres. The increased connectivity could swing the balance towards ‘business travel’ intercity HS2 journeys to London but equally the regular, relatively frequent service and shorter journey times are likely to encourage commuting in that direction.

Overall, looking at emerging preferences for HS2 station locations, the likelihood is of some greater HS2 Ltd focus in the final scheme on better access to city centres and existing transport interchanges, where there is space and it is feasible and affordable. This may incur additional infrastructure costs though potentially generate more economic value and passenger volume within the catchments served, so greater HS2 utility. Whether the Treasury would be comfortable with additional costs is another matter. For those stations that are intended to be both part of HS2 and HS3 it maybe that some costs could be allocated to HS3.

Meanwhile, the provision of outer suburban/Parkway stations is not consistent, with none for the Leeds City Region nor further south (e.g. near Barnsley or Mansfield), although several Parkways might add value if a regional layer of 30 minute expresses were to come to the fore and use up spare High Speed line capacity in the Midlands and North. Such stations might merit serving by HS2 as well as HS3.

Clearly, car-based residential flows via Parkway stations to/from London will have some environmental impact, though this is no different to what is already occurring elsewhere in low density and deregulated commuting territory lacking quality public transport as an access. Greater regional reliance on car travel might mean this didn’t matter so much for transport planning locally, unless the environmental imperative became more relevant for scheme approval.

The emerging picture

It has to be said a rather confused, unfinalised picture is emerging as to how much HS2 will serve city centres (or not) and how much connectivity with the existing rail network there will be. Certainly there appear to be potential commuting flows to London. There is also potential in the reverse direction with non-stop trains serving central Birmingham and Manchester, all in under 70 minutes. Leeds would be only an extra 12 minutes – comparable with Worthing – Victoria.

When referring to reverse flows, we don’t just mean commuting from an intermediate catchment area (where are those within HS2, other than Birmingham Interchange, Crewe and Toton?) to Birmingham and Manchester, etc. We also include the possibility of living in inner London, and, for example, working at the BBC in Salford Quays. Looking at the bigger picture, could that be the best of all worlds for some commuters? The reality is that improving transport access to a particular location in order to stimulate growth at that location is a double-edged sword.

What might now be instructive is to take a look at existing long distance commuting to London to get an idea of how far from London there could be significant commuter flows.

East Coast Main Line

The ECML shows a quasi-HS2 precedent with 45 minutes to Peterborough, 72 straight line miles from Kings Cross at an average of 96 mph. It is a popular non-stop service. There is a diminishing commuting element as one goes further north so by the time one reaches York, commuters to London (fastest trains under 2 hours) are fewer – but they do exist. Grantham, at an average 68 minutes, and Newark, at 75 minutes, are entirely feasible, and comparable in journey time with many south coast dormitory towns, though season tickets are rather pricier (but still regulated so not extortionate).

Great Western Main Line

The Great Western IC125 services have become increasingly commuterised over several decades, with moves towards high density seating, fewer first class seats and minimal buffet/restaurant services, rather than the original IC125 format for catering and with tables throughout the train. GW intercity timings have also slowed from the original 1976 speeds, with more intermediate commuter stops added, and some towns such as Reading and Swindon becoming ‘must serve’ regional business centres and interchanges rather than optional stops.

High Speed 1 – Javelin as an example

Above all, there is HS1 and the Southeastern Javelins whose top speed is 230 km/h (140 mph). They are an important comparator to review, as they are London’s first genuine 21st Century high speed commuter services. Unlike HS2, where high speed services are planned to end up at the same terminus as the existing WCML services, the HS1 domestic services operated by Southeastern serve new domestic destinations for those transferring to the high speed service. Stratford and St Pancras are very different areas of central London from the historic Southern termini. The choice of London stations and the preferred alignment for HS1 on its approach to London has been covered in Part 2 of this series.

In peak times an HS1 50-55 minute journey from St Pancras now gets you to Canterbury and Folkestone. That’s 55 and 64 miles respectively when measured as a straight line and this equates to an average speed of 65-70 mph. Such a speed is no different to an IC125 average between London and Swindon. The average straight line speed is rather higher to/from Stratford, which sets an interesting precedent for Old Oak Common and its positioning within the HS2 and GW network. Fewer HS1 miles and more miles on SE local tracks get you to Maidstone and also to the eastern end of Medway at Rainham in around the same time.

In the case of HS1, fares were raised with a premium charge for high speed use. There was also an additional SE-wide 5% increase above RPI for some years for most South Eastern fares, on top of the high speed premium, so a tad eye-watering with extra season ticket costs.

After some years in the doldrums with these destination and pricing disincentives, demand is now higher on HS1 as people adjust journey patterns, the London economy has recovered from the recession, beyond-London housing has expanded, and new journey-to-work flows build up.

Examples of current passenger volumes which are HS1-exclusive are Ebbsfleet and Stratford International. ORR annual entry + exit data for 2010/11 and 2014/15 are: Ebbsfleet 0.41m and 1.47m, Stratford International 0.61m and 1.07m. Using typical divisors, Ebbsfleet equates in 2014/15 to under 700 per AM high peak hour inbound, which is not a large number, though area housing developments have scarcely begun yet. Stratford would be about 500 in the same time period.

A recent sample count at St Pancras HS1 Javelin platforms showed about 3,400 passengers entering in the PM high peak hour to head east, so perhaps 3,700 exiting in the nominally busier AM high peak hour. Combining the St Pancras and Stratford volumes broadly equates to the 8 tph and mostly 6-car train service operated by the Javelins, and already with about 50 standees per unit. A further order of next-generation Javelins will be necessary as HS demand continues to pick up.

The July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy had put estimated Javelin AM high peak hour numbers at 2,500 at St Pancras in 2010, and forecasted 5,300 in 2031 (LSE RUS p7). No specific figure is stated in the 2013-2043 LSE Long Term Market Study. However, the sample count suggests that, 6 years beyond the stated 2010 volume and with 15 years to go to 2031, Javelin High Speed services combined with changes in jobs and housing volumes are already 43% of the way to reaching 5,300 passengers hourly, and at the present rate of growth might achieve the 2031 volume in 2024, with even greater numbers of passengers into the 2030s and 2040s.

The transformation of the Stratford and Kings Cross Lands areas as new destinations has been a stimulus to travel on HS1. At the Kent end, Kent County Council is pleased with the changes in East Kent residential and economic patterns which have resulted. A Thanet Parkway station will open around 2019, with a 70 minute timing to St Pancras (average 57mph, 66½ straight line miles).

Extension of HS1 commuter services to Hastings and Bexhill in East Sussex is supported strongly by that County Council, for area regeneration, and faster commuting and better links to London. Kent County Council is also backing the proposals. This is on the cards for the 2020s with potential for 70-80 minute timings provided Ashford West Junction is suitably altered. The average speed will be less than 48 mph average for Hastings-St Pancras based on a straight-line journey (present trains to Cannon Street average 30 mph on that basis!), though nearly 70 mph following the actual route. The rolling stock providing such a service might be IEP bi-mode trains to avoid the cost of electrifying Marshlink.

The conclusions to draw from HS1 are that it is still early days but that already passenger volumes and travel preferences have altered. Typical commuting patterns are becoming visible at up to 70 minutes rail time and beyond that, and with average home station-to-terminus speeds of 50-70 mph in straight line terms, influenced by the available rail infrastructure and its routeing. Changes in housing volume at the residential end and jobs volume at the working end will ensure that 12-car trains will fill with passengers in a few years. This is for journey times which put the new 140 mph Javelins only into the equivalent IC125 mph category or slower, after allowing for the share of journey on conventional tracks.

Could High Speed 2 open up High Commuter 2?

Now consider HS2. The London terminus is potentially the same as for WCML classic services, if Euston were adopted, so there is less disincentive to transfer to HS2. However, the HS1 example shows that a different terminus might not have too much impact on total demand for the combined routes, although willingness to transfer termini might incur some years’ time lag. A better located terminus might be a positive stimulus.

The much-quoted 49 minute journey time from the edge of Central Birmingham to the edge of Central London via HS2, is for a train only stopping intermediately at Old Oak Common, with an average straight line speed of 122 mph. This shows the diminution of average speeds caused by any intermediate stop, even with very high acceleration and braking rates, for a line mostly timetabled at 320-330 km/h (200-205 mph), though at 230 km/h or lower between Curzon Street and Birmingham Interchange, and from Old Oak Common to Euston.

With two intermediate stops, at Birmingham Interchange and Old Oak Common, a 53 minute time is achievable at an average 113 mph. This equates to a current Rugby-Euston Pendolino or Northampton-Euston Desiro timing (average 51 and 57 minutes respectively in the PM peak – and yes, Rugby is quicker…!) These flows are currently busy with London commuters. A 49 minute time from Curzon Street to Euston would be comparable with the fastest commuter journeys from Newbury to Paddington (50 straight line miles, 49 minutes average), and from Haywards Heath to Victoria (34 miles).

With HS2 phase 2, trains from the London terminus wouldn’t deviate from the High Speed tracks until near Lichfield or Crewe on the WCML leg, or near Leeds on the ECML leg. They could maintain the timetabled 200-205 mph inter-station speed for 105-155 straight line miles north of Old Oak Common. The high speed effect of comparable journey times for much greater distances is the feasibility of commuting flows where they scarcely exist today.

As long as the main line between London and West Midlands is intended for use by trains from the East Midlands and ECML territory as well as from the WCML, it is also the reality is that any extra layer of Northern and Midlands regional expresses cannot reach as far as London, because of the density of use of the southern end of the HS2 main line. The southern portion would be filled with intercity expresses between London and the West Midlands, including a timing of around 35-40 minutes between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange (90 straight line miles, 135-155 mph).

While the WCML is expected to pick up the intermediate flows, it is journey time that is likely to rule the roost with HS2. Passengers’ preferences in the 30-90 minute travel time zone were established in Network Rail’s London & South East Long Term Market Study in 2013 (referenced previously). This Market Study comments on pp.45-46:

The data also suggests commuters are more sensitive to time and cost than business users, which makes intuitive sense as commuters travel more frequently… On this basis the following conclusions were drawn:

  • large urban centres, and particularly central London, have the highest concentration of businesses and employment opportunities
  • in the range of around one to two hours travel time, the impact of a small change in travel time on the level of business travel and hence economic output is relatively large
  • in the range of around 30 to 90 minutes travel time, the impact of a small change in travel time on the level of commuting and hence economic output is relatively large
  • improvements to rail services are therefore likely to result in the greatest increases in economic output where it is possible to provide a step change in journey times between large urban areas with a current journey time of two hours or more, to substantially less than that. This is particularly the case for journeys to and from central London.

There are other relevant studies such as the Long Distance Market Study. As background, London Reconnections has already published analyses of forecast travel and commuting pressures in its London 2050 series. Network Rail generally is forecasting large increases in commuting over 30 years on conventional rail by 2043 (if anything the numbers will be looking bigger now). All forecasts are pointing towards further increases in commuting volume, driven partly by the foreseen growth in jobs centred in London.

We live in a broadly free market economy. It has many imperfections of course, which are for politicians to try to address. However, like it or not, a large proportion of the English economy has now become London-centric. The effective London catchment is now measured in journey time. You can’t turn the clock back on these structural changes in the economy, though you might seek to influence the future.

Transport is a means to an end, but it can and will reshape the ends. Actually that’s what Governments want at a macro-level from HS2 and HS3 – but can they control the real-world outputs? Planners originally saw the M25 as a London bypass, not as offering a new London & Home Counties travel-to-work lifestyle, but it rapidly took on that role, allied to its stimulus for large-scale land use changes in the Home Counties.

Improving capacity on the London-Midlands corridor with easier access to the London Region for the purpose of business travel, will inevitably open up possibilities for commuting. Improving also the ability to access other major city regions (an objective of HS3) can help to mitigate the effect of the London ‘wen’ – but it will still be up to those regions to achieve a sufficient counter-balancing economic pull.

Affordability of homes is another pressure – where in London could you now get hundreds of thousands of extra homes built and costing less than £100k or £200k, or the rental equivalent? Primrose Hill? Bromley? Everywhere will have its difficulties. London needs upwards of 40-50,000 extra homes each year, but is falling far short of that in delivery. There are some schemes (such as for the Upper Lee Valley, later to be on Crossrail 2) which will stave off some pressure, but the practical outcome is more commuting, from everywhere that there is a decent rail service.

What does this mean for HS commuting?

Why should HS2 be exempted from this national trend? Does anyone think it can be? It could be part of the London housing solution, if the railway is to happen and London’s housing capacity remains constrained while more jobs continue to arrive in the capital. People will take advantage of quicker journey times which access areas with more affordable homes, and will do the classic trade-off between travel costs and mortgage costs, as demonstrated by HS1 and its Javelins.

Commuting will be an unavoidable outcome – the DfT might not want to admit it, but it will happen. Indeed it is already happening, even with present journey times. See for example the usage of London Midland trains from Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, and Virgin trains from Rugby and Coventry, and the year-on-year growth in station usage there (noticeable in the ORR statistics).

What also has to be recognised is that, irrespective of HS2 existing or not, or routed to Euston or not, any alternative scheme for the WCML which fails to accommodate an increase in commuting capacity in one type of train or another is going to be thrown out by Network Rail as well as the Department for Transport. They consider that the lid will not stay in place on the commuting pressure pot.

Whether or not you think HS2 is a good thing, extra capacity on Britain’s busiest intercity transport corridor (London-West Midlands) is needed in the future, and basic railway planning has to accommodate forecast increases and start designing for them now, as it takes so long to justify and authorise and then build any railway infrastructure. Already, on another busy line into London, Network Rail is now planning extra capacity on the GW fast tracks into Paddington with a flying junction and extra track towards London from Ladbroke Grove inwards. Network Rail considers that it will be required to accommodate 24 trains per hour (tph) by the mid 2020s, on the fast lines which are generally non-stop from Reading to London. That’s in addition to Crossrail foreseen as 24 tph at Old Oak Common when HS2 opens. So nearly 50 tph on that corridor.

The following annotated map is a 2016 train time overlay for radial main lines north of the River, based on fastest average times from London Zone 1 termini (or tube equivalents) in the PM peak period, so avoiding the London arrival timekeeping margin which is frequently added in the AM peak. The PM margin can affect times, but only at some outer termini (Stansted is infamous for it). Concentric circles are shown at 25 mile intervals from Central London. An overlay is shown for HS2 Stage 2, with HS2 timings assuming stops at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange. Faster times would be achieved with non-stop running (eg East Midlands 51 minutes, Crewe 55 minutes).
There is a point to observe: that there is already a large variation in journey time inconsistency about London’s reach to other parts of the Home Counties, including whether areas have a direct London service or not – or indeed any railway these days. HS2 will increase such differentials. A further comment made already is that reverse flow commuting, which is a growing feature of the conventional London & Home Counties rail network, could also apply with the HS2 network. Live in high density inner London (maybe Old Oak Common in the future with its planned 20,000+ homes, or for that matter along Crossrail 1 or Crossrail 2) and your accessibility to jobs within 70 minutes will be very considerable, and not just London-centric.

Revised HS2 Commuting Map

The map shows average fastest PM commuting times in minutes from London main line termini or equivalent, in 2016. Some Underground boundaries are taken as the main line equivalent, rather from the end of Oyster Zone 1. Over 80 minutes, only direct trains from London are shown. Mapping shows 25 mile circles from Central London, HS2 Phase 2 and outline HS timings.

From the map we can see the HS2 overlay of a new railway offering timings to London which are well within the norm for existing London commuting. The Birmingham-London sector would achieve a 40-45 minutes Curzon Street-Old Oak Common journey time if non-stop, and around 50-55 minute timings for a journey between Curzon Street and a London terminus.

These are tube-type and conventional commuter journey times. 70 minutes is a typical Brighton-London terminals time in 2016. Commuting from much of the south coast, Kent, and from some northern Home Counties as shown in the map, can take longer than that. Brighton Electric began operation on 1st January 1933. Will we see a Birmingham Electric look-alike on Sunday 13th December 2026? HS2 to b2e or not ‘tu-be’? – that is the question.

Brighton Poster

Brighton as London-on-Sea with Southern Electric (copy of original January 1st 1933 timetable)

Birmingham Poster

Birmingham as London-on-Canals with HS2?

The key ingredients for such an outcome are fast train times, and further moves by Birmingham to create a quality central and inner City – which is the City Council’s existing desire. There is a caveat, that a sufficient catchment for Curzon Street station requires effective integration with Birmingham city centre, New Street station and large-scale local regeneration in neighbouring Birmingham Eastside and Digbeth.

The Birmingham Curzon masterplan shows Birmingham City’s current thoughts on that caveat. Moor Street station is also shown as easy to access. Curzon Street could also gain a wider city region catchment base if an adjoining local West Midland network local station on the New Street corridor could be built. Is that feasible? Who would pay? Such a network isn’t in the Curzon masterplan.

By applying a general 70 minute commuting yardstick to HS2 we could see where 70 high speed minutes would allow you to be transported from. In future decades, that would link you from much of North Warwickshire and North Birmingham (such as Sutton Coldfield) by car to Birmingham Interchange. Birmingham New Street plus possibly several local rail stops beyond (more if better interchange were possible there), Solihull via Moor Street, and West Bromwich would be possible by train. Nuneaton is already only 65 minutes on average from London during the PM peak. 70 minutes with Phase 2a would get you easily to Crewe (and Stoke), and with Phase 2 full to Central Manchester, the East Midlands and Sheffield. How much would a OyHSter Card be?

By the 2030s, based on experience with HS1 and on present timings for HS2 Phase 2, the three per hour Manchester High Speed trains (at 67 minutes buffers to buffers calling only at Old Oak Common) and a percentage of the Crewe and East Midlands calls could be showing significant commuting characteristics – much more so in the case of the three per hour Birmingham trains. All trains calling at Birmingham Interchange could also show a significant commuting element. That is the bulk of the 10 tph West Coast HS2 services. Other commuting opportunities could feed through with the full Phase 2, with some dependent on the extent to which easy-access city centre and Parkway stations were adopted.

In part 4 we shall consider the information gleaned to look at the London terminal and what factors need to be taken into account when locating it.

Written by Jonathan Roberts