HS2: the passenger view

15 October 2019

What are passengers set to gain from HS2?

The independent review into HS2 chaired by Douglas Oakervee is underway, with the report due later this year. While there was not a call for evidence it is important the passenger view is articulated in this debate, read our input on this matter.

Those people directly affected by the building of HS2 are clearly and understandably going to have concerns and fears which they are rightfully expressing. However, what about the bulk of passengers for whom the benefits are a distant prospect? What do they think and how is their voice best articulated in these debates?

Transport Focus argues, on the basis of evidence, that the growing pressures on capacity argue for a step change in the ability of the rail network to carry more passengers and operate more frequent trains. If those new trains happen to go faster as a result, then all the better. So far too much of the debate has been about speed rather than the real benefit – more capacity.

Also, don’t forget the huge benefits that will build once the existing rail lines are freed up. Coventry through to Wolverhampton could become a metro, tube like service. Places like Milton Keynes and Northampton, where major housing is planned, could have vastly improved services in all directions. More freight trains could run, removing some of the congestion from motorways. We did work on this back in 2011 and the findings are probably even more relevant and needed now than before.

We can also draw conclusions from recent upgrades of the existing network which have been invariably painful, disruptive and expensive. The opportunity to build some new rail infrastructure should be seized.

We have got this far with HS2 and a huge investment in money and political capital has already been made. Arguments about the route could last for ever. However, this investment will last for ever. There’s an obvious need to get costs under control but let’s just get on with it!

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