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Euston: we do have a problem

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Anti-HS2 campaigners are deluding themselves.

Claims that trains leaving Euston in the evening peak are only half full are wrong. While this is true for Virgin Trains (52% seats occupied), Network Rail has pointed out that London Midland – which runs the commuter services – is at 94% capacity, and traffic levels are growing at 4% a year.

According to Greengauge 21 Director Jim Steer, the 52% figure released by Government as the week of HS2 judicial reviews got underway is misleading because:

  1. Peak period use of Virgin Trains is artificially depressed by off-peak travel restrictions; this may be the commuter ‘peak’, but the busiest trains for intercity journeys are before 4pm and after 7pm when cheaper tickets are valid
  2. Even with 52% average loading, some Virgin trains are 80% full – and on Fridays they leave with standing passengers for long distance journeys.

“The important point that anti-HS2 campaigners fail to acknowledge is that the best way to free up capacity for commuters in the fast growing Milton Keynes-Northampton corridor is to take the Virgin Trains services off the line and free it up for more commuter services and for more freight services. Our studies have shown that a transformed timetable can be offered, supporting growth, relieving serious overcrowding which is coming just a few years down the line and getting  a lot of lorries off the road network”, Jim Steer said.