Why HS2 axe could mean slower, more crowded trains between London and Manchester


Trains between London and Manchester could become slower and more crowded when the truncated HS2 opens, MPs were told today. HS2 Executive chair Sir Jon Thompson said the government's decision to axe the northern leg would mean 'reduced' rail capacity between the two cities. "There are a number of scenarios in which the number of seats between London and Manchester could go down," said Sir Jon. Increased capacity was supposed to be one of the key benefits of the controversial project High speed trains will now be diverted on to busy, existing tracks between Birmingham and Manchester. But the HS2 trains will be slower than the current 'Pendolino' expresses because they are unable to 'tilt' around bends. Avanti West Coast Pendolinos travel at 125mph but HS2 trains will be forced to slow down to 115mph where the line curves. The 400m trains are also too long for platforms at Crewe and Manchester so will have to be shortened, meaning fewer seats than on a Pendolino. Sir Ian added: "It may of course be that somebody's got a fantastic plan to resolve that, but I'm not aware of it." He told the Transport select committee the line between London and Birmingham is set to cost up to £67bn, busting the government's £45bn budget.

The high speed line, due to open between 2030 and 2033, will terminate at Old Oak Common, west London after ministers 'paused' work on a station at Euston. HS2 Ltd was stripped of responsibility for building the new Euston after the cost hit £4.8bn. Sir Ian said the government was looking at ways of using private finance instead of taxpayers cash to fund the 7km Euston extension but there was a lot of 'uncertainty'.

He added: 'There is an aspiration to create a development corporation, not yet in existence because it takes approximately 18 months to create a development corporation. 'The department (for Transport) is working its way through various ways in which you could privately finance some or all of Euston and some or all of the tunnelling. 'There's a lot of uncertainty about who's going to be responsible for what.'

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