Celebrating top performing train operators across the UK and Europe

14 June, 2018

The development of high speed rail brings with it the possibility of driving excellence in the rail travel experience for the many. Its appeal is growing, as travellers consider not simply how fast they can get to where they want to go, but also the experience of getting there. Commissioned by online train booking service Loco2; the Great Train Comparison Report is a Europe-wide report that sets out the diverse rail services on offer and how rail travellers can experience the very best of European rail travel, depending on their specific (and varied) needs.

Loco2 selected 11 target audiences and researched how well modern European train operators Read on »

Crewe Hub Commitment Secured

12 March, 2018

Greengauge 21 warmly welcomes the Government’s commitment to develop Crewe as an integrated high-speed rail/conventional rail hub station by 2027, when it will provide a fitting culmination to HS2 Phase 2a. The planned investment has benefit:cost ratios in the range 3.2:1 to 4.1:1.

The existing Crewe station, partially modernised in the 1960s, is badly out-dated, with poor road access and a poor railway track layout. Read on »

North can’t wait for rail improvements

19 January, 2018

Although it has not been given a catchy title – the Long Term Rail Strategy Update – this new report from Transport for the North is important and invigorating. It is hidden from immediate view behind Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan but with a focus on the 2020s decade and on the needs and opportunities of the existing rail network, the Update shows Read on »

HS1 celebrates its 10th anniversary in style, with a £300M boost to Kent’s economy

24 September, 2017

New research looking at the impact HS1 has had on Kent’s visitor economy shows that the high-speed service boosted the county’s economy by almost £73m last year alone, with  the total economic impact since 2007 standing at £311m.

The report shows that leisure journeys to Kent have increased almost nine-fold, from 100,000 in 2010 to 890,000 in 2016, which has contributed more than £300m to the local visitor economy.  Almost one third (30%) of all those surveyed were influenced in their decision to visit Kent by the presence of the high-speed service.

Over 400 visitors and 175 businesses took part in the study, which found that HS1 and the availability of high speed rail connections to London has played a significant role in the county’s growth – highlighting, in the words of Kent County Council’s Leader Paul Carter, “the very clear link between investment in infrastructure and growth”.

The full report can be accessed here

HS2 asked to look again at Birmingham Interchange station plans

14 August, 2017

The UK Central Solihull Urban Growth Company (UGC) has formally requested that HS2 Ltd considers modifying its design for the Birmingham Interchange station – so that the benefit of HS2 to the surrounding region can be increased.

Established to develop the economy of a key part of Greater Birmingham and Solihull, UCG proposes a revised design that offers a “fully-connected, urban quarter” with the interchange station at its heart. The revised design, first highlighted at the HSR Industry Leaders’ 2017 Conference in Birmingham on June 22nd, is intended to provide housing and jobs located in the immediate catchment of the planned HS2 station. UCG estimates that the modifications could create up to 77,500 jobs, up to 4,000 homes, 775,000 sq metres of commercial space and up to £4.1bn GVA, with the development of the 350-acre site known as Arden Cross critical to these numbers.

So rather than see HS2’s Birmingham Interchange surrounded by car parks as currently envisaged….












…with some changes to the HS2 station and a different pattern of development, UK Central hopes to create this:











Greengauge 21 has expressed caution in the past about the wisdom of out-of-town station locations whose primary purpose is to accommodate large-scale park-and ride, and so we welcome these revisions. In our view, this development illustrates three important factors:

  1. HS2 creates the opportunity for more intensive – and therefore more sustainable – patterns of development around its stations, both on the line of route and beyond it at key stations where HS2 high-speed services will call, which can provide a blueprint for other developments;
  2. While HS2 is the catalyst for development, it requires strong local aspiration and leadership to exploit it;
  3. The existence of Parliamentary Powers (those for HS2 Phase 1 including Birmingham Interchange were granted Royal Assent in April this year) does not preclude worthwhile adaptations to the HS2 plans at a subsequent time – provided of course, these can be accommodated in the build programme.

The proposed changes to the Hybrid Act include altering bridges, moving roads and creating new landscape features, the costs of which will be met by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) through its HS2 Growth Strategy Fund. The UGC plans will be complemented by measures that TfWM are planning, including the extension of a Midlands Metro LRT line to the area.

One note of caution relates to the sustainability objectives, which require joined-up planning of housing, workplaces, excellent public transport, and green spaces – so the economic stimulus benefits will need to be considered alongside, in this instance, the protection of the green space between Birmingham and Coventry.

It is Greengage 21’s view that the UK Central Solihull UGC’s plans look capable of  achieving these objectives, and the revised plans for the surrounds of Birmingham Interchange are a further step in the right direction for HS2.

HS2 Ltd is expected to make a decision on UGC’s proposals by the end of the year.

Images courtesy of UK Central Solihull Urban Growth Company (UGC)

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