A new report published by Greengauge 21 has found that the High Speed 2 line, which is proposed run from London to Birmingham in a first stage by 2025, will mean that more local services and freight can run on the West Coast mainline.
Greengauge 21 director Jim Steer said: “Towns and cities along the route will be better off – and these places include Lichfield, Tamworth, Nuneaton, Rugby, Northampton, Milton Keynes and Watford. Rail services to these and other destinations will be faster, more frequent and with much better connections. Peak period travel restrictions can be ended.
“It also becomes possible to operate new connecting and cross country services that would need to travel short distances on the West Coast Main Line,” he added. This could mean that East West Rail, the rail project that aims to connect Oxford and Ipswich, becomes possible.
Among the places that could have new services following the construction of HS2 are Kenilworth, which could have a direct London service, Lichfield, which could have a fast regular service to London, and Bicester and Winslow, which could have new services to Milton Keynes.
Steer added: “And let’s not forget the hugely expanded role that freight can play, reducing the number of lorries on the roads, once it becomes possible to increase services on the West Coast Main Line.”
Greengauge 21 argues that politicians who represent areas affected by HS2, whether in Parliament or in local government, should examine the potential new services carefully. The report states: “Many places in southern England, as well as further afield, will benefit from the advent of HS2. These gains are just as much a consequence of the investment as those that will be experienced in Birmingham and the larger cities of the north that will get direct high speed rail services.”
In response to the Greengauge 21 report on how high speed rail will benefit the existing network, a spokesperson for the Association of Train Operating Companies said that a new high speed line will play a vital part in taking pressure off the UK’s existing intercity routes, which are beginning to fill up as more and more people choose to travel by train.
The spokesman said: “The report clearly sets out how easing capacity problems on the existing network offers the option for faster and more frequent services to a number of towns, along with all the economic benefits that that will bring. High speed rail, alongside sustained investment in the existing network, is key if we are to meet the significant growth in passenger numbers that is expected in the years ahead.”