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01/12/2012
Andrew Bodmin of SNAG, highlights the reduction of Trains from Northampton due to HS2.


A number of you will have seen the research I did on rail services for Northampton post HS2. 54 trains each day to/from Euston reduced to 42. More details were published here on Monday:

http://stophs2.org/news/6865-post-hs2-classic-rail-not-fit-purpose

 

It contains the response from the Northamptonshire County Councillor responsible for transport who said:

"I am well aware that the service level for Northampton contained in the published proposals for HS2 falls short of both the reasonable aspirations of the town and the importance which ministers have attached to serving the area post-HS2. This is something of which all county councillors have been made aware in the reports we have considered on the subject. I have made this point myself to ministers on several occasions, and along with my officers have repeatedly made the point to officials from both the Department for Transport and HS2 Limited. While they have acknowledged that their published proposals are not really fit for purpose, I have been disappointed that no better proposals have been forthcoming.”

 

The response from HS2 Ltd was to issue a press release one day later (Tuesday) highlighting how train services to Milton Keynes (20 miles away) would be improved post HS2. They did not make any comment on the train services for Northampton post HS2. Yet approximately one week earlier, HS2 Ltd had gone into fine detail in another press release correcting an article related to HS2 that had appeared in Building magazine.

 

Today I have received from my MP, Chris Heaton-Harris, a response from Simon Burns, Minister for Transport, in relation to the concerns I expressed to my MP about train services for Northampton post HS2. I reproduce part of the penultimate paragraph and the whole of the final paragraph of Simon Burns’ letter:

"Towns such as Northampton, Milton Keynes, Coventry, Tamworth, Lichfield could see significant improvements in their rail services compared to today once HS2 opens.

 

The service specification for Northampton that your constituent mentions is indicative. No decisions have been taken on service plans across the rail network after the opening of HS2, and any decisions that are taken in the future will be based on levels of demand for different services. While service specifications have been developed for the purposes of specific modelling, these merely represent tools for understanding the potential benefits of high speed rail. They should not be taken as a firm proposal, but as an indication of one of a number of possible service patterns that could operate on HS2. It would clearly be inappropriate in 2012 to take specific decisions on what the timetable of the rail network should look like in the 2030s.”

 

On the basis of his final paragraph, it rather undermines any suggested benefits at the end of his previous paragraph. I think he means classic rail and not HS2 at the end of his penultimate sentence. I would also suggest that he should be referring to 2026 onwards rather than the 2030s unless there is a delay for HS2 that no one has told us about.

 

How come HS2 Ltd didn’t pick my article apart if there was no sound basis to it? Why did the NCC councillor agree with my findings if there was no substance to them? To me it suggests that Government and the DfT in particular have been blinded by their own hype. The benefits that the government suggests will happen on classic rail as a result of HS2 are illusory in a number of cases.

 

It appears to me that Northamptonshire County Council is much more in touch with reality than politicians working at the DfT.

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