Railfuture campaigns for a bigger better railway – and nothing is bigger than HS2.

When we build new rail infrastructure, travel patterns change. But HS2 is a point-to-point system, whereas people travel door-to-door, not for example Euston to Curzon Street – and their door may be outside the city.

The economic benefit of new railways comes from bringing people closer together - so to generate it, HS2 needs:
  • direct access to city centres
  • easy connections to city region
  • through services to a wider range of cities
which means that HS2 must be integrated with local transport networks. However this is not always easy, because a variety of choices have been made for station locations, for example:

Leeds. The terminus is now co-located with the existing station in the city centre, which gives easy access to city centre and areas covered by local rail services.

Birmingham. The terminus is on the fringe of city centre. The city centre will expand eastwards to encompass the station over time, stimulated by HS2, but access to the existing centre will be dependent on the metro.

Nottingham depends on what is effectively a parkway station at Toton. It will be easy for people living around Nottingham to access HS2 by driving to Toton, but if access to the city centre has to rely on a metro connection, it may be quicker to travel to the city centre from London by the existing route from St Pancras.

Sheffield. There will now be through services via existing network. Edinburgh and Glasgow will initially be served this way, so why not Liverpool or Stoke.

Existing city transport networks may not cope with many passengers – 1000 on a single HS2 train - arriving and departing at a single point. The devolved transport authorities, such as Transport for London and Transport for the West Midlands, are planning new infrastructure to disperse passengers, including:
  • Crossrail 2 at Euston
  • Metro extensions in Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester
  • Camp Hill chords linking regional services to Birmingham Moor Street
But this still leaves some gaps. Railfuture believes two other schemes are needed:
  1. Continuing the metro theme, Leeds is the largest English city without a metro system. It should have one, linking the less affluent south and east of the city to the centre.
  2. Platforms on the existing railway line adjacent to Birmingham Curzon Street to provide connectivity with Cross-City line and Chase line services
In conclusion, HS2 must be integrated with local transport networks, otherwise congestion, not economic growth, will be generated. These enhancements must be prioritised alongside other rail investment needs:
  • Route modernisation and electrification, to improve operational efficiency, reliability and capacity
  • New stations and lines to create new journey opportunities which will drive economic growth and social cohesion.
To achieve that, rail needs a consistent long-term investment strategy and a robust capability to build for the future.

Based on a speech given to the Westminster Energy, Environmental and Transport Forum keynote seminar 'Next steps for the UK's railway infrastructure' on 1 March 2018 by Chris Page, Chair of Railfuture.