Train frequencies could almost double at some towns if the Government’s HS2 high-speed rail project goes ahead, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has said.
Towns and cities could benefit from more than 160 additional services a day into London should the multi-billion London to Birmingham scheme get started.
Shifting intercity services to the new high-speed network would free up space for new local and regional train services from towns on the existing mainlines north of London, Hammond said.
Big winners could be towns such as Milton Keynes (potentially an almost 90% increase in services), Northampton (46%) and Tamworth and Lichfield Trent Valley (80% each).
Completion of the second phase of HS2, from the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester, could deliver further improvements for travellers on the East Coast and Midland main lines which serve places such as Kettering, Luton, Bedford, Stevenage and Peterborough.
As well as better services into London, HS2 could also provide opportunities for faster and more frequent services for commuters into Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds.
Not all released capacity on existing lines would necessarily go to commuter services. Towns further from London would still retain fast links to the capital.
The publication of the perceived benefits today follows a report earlier this week from the TaxPayers’ Alliance which said that there could be slower and less frequent services if HS2 went ahead.
“Our proposed new high-speed rail network would free up a huge amount of space on current railways for more trains to operate,” Hammond said.
“Building a whole new line would create scope for people who live near the current stations to get more frequent services that are less crowded - I would also hope that this additional competition could mean cheaper fares as well.”
He went on: “Passengers in some towns like Milton Keynes could see a near doubling in the number of trains from their station to London because of HS2.
“The reality is that many of our current trains are full and too many people have to stand. We desperately need the extra trains and capacity that a new high-speed rail network would bring.”