Time to move on from if to how hs2 will run, say rail leaders

14 March 2014  •  Author: The Rail Delivery Group

Rail industry leaders today set out five key priorities to ensure HS2 becomes the backbone of a growing railway, maximising the benefits to the country.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) says the new high speed line is a “generational opportunity to increase capacity and improve connectivity”. Alongside sustained investment to expand and modernise the existing railway, HS2 provides a long term solution to delivering a significant increase in passenger and freight services to help meet the phenomenal growth in demand for rail services across the country.

Although the new line will not open until 2026, detailed planning will be needed to make the best use of HS2 and the rest of the network once it is built.

The RDG, which represents the companies responsible for running the railway and planning its future, says the priorities are:

  • Plugging HS2 into the existing network – the new and existing railway needs to be linked seamlessly. Stations and junctions must be designed and managed to allow passengers and goods to move with ease across both parts of the railway delivering extra capacity where it is needed. Better integration will also speed up services that can use the new line for parts of journeys between towns and cities that are not on the high speed route.
  • Improving services on the existing railway – one of the most significant benefits of HS2 is the extra capacity released on the existing railway when services migrate to HS2. This will create an opportunity to run extra and new passenger and freight services where getting the destinations and timetables right will be crucial.
  • Designing how new HS2 services will be run – making the most of the new line and extending its benefits across the network requires developing the specification and procurement of the new passenger train service to operate on HS2, including its relationship to other operations on the network.
  • Buying the right trains – HS2 trains must be able to run on the new and existing railway. With rolling stock built to last more than 30 years, understanding where such trains will be needed and planning for buying them now is crucial, particularly to ensure the new service comes into operation smoothly.
  • Setting fares at the right level – prices should be broadly comparable with those on other sections of the network to ensure the new services are affordable and encourage more rail travel on HS2 and across the existing railway. Tickets for HS2 should be sold through the same national retailing outlets as for the existing network.

Michael Roberts, RDG director general, said:

“HS2 must become the backbone of a growing railway if we are to meet the challenge of booming demand for extra passenger and freight services that Britain faces now and in the future.

“The time has come to move on from debating if the new line is necessary, and focus on planning how services will be run, drawing on the expertise of a country with the safest and fastest growing major railway in Europe. The rail industry will work with government, HS2 Ltd, passenger groups and suppliers to help ensure the new line is a big success.”

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