Empty seats from Euston, full trains in London


            One day after the essential vote on the principles of the HS2 Bill I received a reply to questions I had posed to the Transport Department.  I asked about how full or empty trains are out of Euston in the morning peaks. I have long argued from my own experience that there is no capacity problem to the north for business people wanting to go at prime time.

              The Ministry has confirmed that in the first hour trains out of Euston have 82.1% of their seats empty. In the second hour they have 62.6% of their seats empty, and in the third hour taking us up to 8.59 am  they have 54.8% of their seats empty.  I rest my case.  A shortage  of seats to get to the Northern cities to do a day’s work and boost the northern economy is not a problem.

               I have also looked up where most of the travellers are, in the light of arguments that London and the South East has enjoyed too much of the investment money in the railways in recent years.  I have discovered that 72.7% of the journeys undertaken on the entire British network are in London, the South East and Eastern region bordering  London. All journeys in regions without a border with London account for just 27% of the total.  Within this Wales has 1.7% of total national journeys, Scotland 5.3%, and the North East 0.8%.  

            As new investment – once safety is taken care of – needs to concentrate on areas where capacity is stretched and demand growth is strongest, it is not surprising that London and the South East accounts for a big part of the investment, as they account for almost two thirds of total rail journeys. London alone accounts for more than 46% or almost half.

                There is a need for more capacity into London from Milton Keynes and Watford, just as there is a need for more capacity into London from most commuter towns beyond the M25 on a variety of other lines. Paddington and Waterloo lines have a  much worse capacity issue than Euston lines overall.


  1. margaret brandreth-j
    April 30, 2014

    Londoners use trains as a way of life, northerners do not.

    1. Richard1
      April 30, 2014

      The continuing tube strikes show a huge negative of trains – they can be held to ransom by unions, as roads cannot be. At the very least the govt should guarantee that workers on HS2 will have no strike agreements, and preferably be non unionized. Imagine spending all this £50 bn only to find the thing doesn’t work because the workers blackmail the govt into paying ever increasing and excessive wages!

      Its time to sort out the tube. They should fire every single employee and invite them to re apply for their jobs on a non-union / no strike basis. The job opportunities should be opened up to other people who are prepared to work for the market rate and do a professional job. How difficult can it be to train someone to sit in the front of a train whilst it goes automatically from one station to the next? Let’s bring people from abroad if we need to. The cost of this politicized nonsense to the London economy is huge.

      1. Mark
        April 30, 2014

        Time to automate it, like we could have done starting in the 1960s with the Victoria Line.

      2. Narrow Shoulders
        April 30, 2014

        Far less draconian but just as effective would be to train up a reserve workforce to be shipped in on strike days. Employ and train them as we do the Territorial Army with their full time employers mandated to release them when needed. The funding can come out of the Mayoral budget and the savings down the line from TSSA and RMT not being able to demand silly wages for their members and prevent efficiency job losses will pay for itself.

        Just needs a pair of Miriam Clegg’s cahones from the Mayor.

        1. Anonymous
          May 1, 2014

          What would you like a tube driver to be paid ?

          £35k pa ? (presuming you don’t wish them to work below the benefit cap)

          A saving on the whole of about a couple of week’s pay for Wayne Rooney for the yearly budget of TFL.

          So to enable that saving you propose to get in a shadow workforce (on reservists pay whether they work or not) Give them their 22 weeks training and ongoing refresher courses (trained by non-union minder drivers ?)

          It will bring down wages but I fail to see how this will this save money.

          Automate ?

          This is to misunderstand the tube driver’s job:

          Fault finding, fault bypassing, train restart conditions after fault bypassing. Assistance to/from failed trains. Signal failures, operating under degraded signaling conditions, passing signals at danger under own authority. Passenger evacuation (non emergency) passenger evacuation (emergency) fires on trains. dealing with live 750 dc voltages, power failures in tunnels. Examining and signing trains fit for service. Crowd control, fatalities, dealing with public disorder incidents prior to police arrival.

          I agree that the wages are out of kilter for the levels of training involved but this is not the simple job that people think it is.

          1. Narrow shoulders
            May 2, 2014

            Automation will not come in until you break the unions.

            My suggestion gives long term results for short term costs

      3. Anonymous
        April 30, 2014

        Richard 1 – Barely 30% of London tube drivers are RMT and various ballots have shown them not to have an appetite for strike action. And Yes. They already HAVE brought in people from abroad to drive the trains. They’ve been doing it for decades in fact – to join the house owning, family raising aspirational classes which the Tories stand for. Though not even a tube driver’s wage can qualify for a house in a decent part of London these days.

        Roads kill 5000 people a year and maim many thousands more. Motorways get closed down to investigate accidents. I mention this seeing as you seem to think that the railways are the only mode of transport with negatives.

        1. Mark
          May 1, 2014

          Road deaths in the year to June 2013 were 1,730, barely a third of your claim.

          1. Anonymous
            May 1, 2014

            Mark – I stand corrected and should have checked my facts. Please substitute that figure in my previous statement – the argument still holds. My other facts come from an article published in The Spectator on Bob Crow losing his power base.

    2. Hope
      April 30, 2014

      It is all good reasons for me not to vote for these economic looney tunes. Overseas aid, EU, HS2, it goes on and on. No improvement in public services, building on every piece of land to help mass immigration or a wind farm, energy prices causing fuel poverty or death. EA deliberately following EU regulation causing floods and making people destitute. Cameron’s offer of grants turning out to be loans.

      Now we have MPs saying military should not have their alcohol subsidised, yet are perfectly happy for the taxpayer to subside their food and alcohol at Westminster even after all the scandals and reports of drunkenness!

      Today we learn at PMQs Osborne’s best man profited from the sale of Royal Mail the day after Mercer resigns for his improper lobbying behaviour, which Cameron warned about and did nothing to prevent, and weeks after Miller trousers a huge profit from the taxpayer funded home- no change from the 2009 expense scandal and Cameron failing to introduce early legislation for right to recall MPs. Sleazy party with no effective leadership, morals or values. Out of touch college kids not fit to run the country.

      1. Richard1
        April 30, 2014

        What on earth has an investment transaction by George Osborne’s best man got to do with the government? someone sold some Royal Mail shares and someone else bought them. So what? The privatisation of a declining and recently loss making business which has been a burden on the taxpayer in the past is a success. It is true the deal was not well handled by the banks and advisers involved, and that Vince Cable added some nonsense in the allocation. With the unions and the Labour party criticizing the deal and even threatening renationalisation, the govt was not in a strong negotiating position with investing institutions.

        But as a whole the country is better off with Royal Mail as a Private company.

        1. Hope
          April 30, 2014

          I am all for privatisation and some of the points you make. However, some were given better terms on their purchases. Politicians should be whiter than white and act as role models for society to follow, the sleaze is endless. Cameron made bold statements to stamp this out.(raises an issue re a named person whose name he cannot remember, a friend of Mr Osborne’s)

          1. Richard1
            May 1, 2014

            I think those of us on the political right should be rational in our criticisms of the govt. I do think the govts advisers could have done a better job on Royal Mail, but it cannot be justified to allege sleaze. The big institutions were put in a very strong negotiating position, at least in part because of the threats of the unions and the Labour Party. In all this privatisation was a success.

            In fact rich individuals were – rather foolishly – specifically excluded from allocation if they applied for too many shares.

          2. CJ
            May 1, 2014

            IM ALRIGHT JACK – Richard1
            Ps YOU OWN NOTHING
            THEY OWN YOU

  2. Lifelogic
    April 30, 2014

    Quite right, but they are not remotely interested in the logic or what is the best investment for the public in the slightest. It is not their money and they might get a consultancy job out of it, promotion or something. They would not put their money in it nor would any other sane investor.

    There are millions of more useful thing to do with the money. A proper no blame compensation scheme for the NHS (with a proper error reporting and avoiding scheme) to save the 1000 deaths a month might be good and should even save money or lawyers and compensation.

    Best of all give it back to the people who earned it and let them invest it they know better than governments, that is how they became rich in the first place in general.

    I assume the timing of your reply was not mere coincidence but a little joke by the powers that be?

  3. Leslie Singleton
    April 30, 2014

    Not seen much on: first, freight from “Manchester to Madrid”, which I originally thought the whole point (How wrong can one be?); secondly, teleworking, which will make physically transferring bodies just to talk to each other (and back the same day) very odd indeed; and, thirdly of course, the Great Central, which is not being revived despite its being cheap, easy, quick and effective because no glamour attached and our idiot Government wants a “legacy”.

    1. Mark
      April 30, 2014

      I see there are no direct flights for MAN-MAD – you can go direct from Liverpool though. If demand for the route is that limited, then demand for a direct train would be even more so. The cheapest freight would be via a Liverpool to Bilbao container vessel. Trains are enormously inflexible when direct routing is not available – the costs of marshalling yards and double handling soon eat into time and cost savings.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        April 30, 2014

        Mark–Maybe not clear but I am far from being in favour of the damn thing;: rather if we are going to have to have it then at least make it continuous so that there is a degree of sense involved. Manchester and Madrid per my memory were just typical Northern and European Cities to give an idea (and were I believe the ones mentioned in this context in the early palaver).

  4. Lifelogic
    April 30, 2014

    I see that David Cameron has claimed that he would not become prime minister, in a future coalition, if he could not guarantee an in-out referendum on Europe in that parliament.

    The prime minister said he “would not be part of” a future government without a firm commitment to a vote as he sought to convince sceptical activists that he would not renege on his pledge.

    Clearly he cannot guarantee a referendum (as he has no chance of an overall majority and anyway half his party and (himself) are heart and soul EU people. Clearly he will find a way to rat yet again unless he think he can swing it his way.

    Just one year left. His legacy will by HS2, perhaps a split of the Union, destruction of UK democracy, total submission to the EU, a huge deficit, 299 tax increases, a bloated inefficient and overpaid state sector, 1000 avoidable death a month in the “in three letters N H S”, the destruction of the Tory parts for several terms at least.
    Banks are still not lending on sensible terms and the recovery is not really very soundly based. More to do with the non dom rules and wealth people coming in from the EU, the Arab spring, Russia, china etc. Perhaps we need more non-dom type rules for everyone else too. Pay the government £50K PA and you can keep the rest yourself.

    Reply Non Doms pay full UK tax on UK earnings as well as paying the extra levy. Mr Cameron does want this referendum and has made clear he will not enetr a Coalition which refuses to vote it through, if he does not win a majoirty to simply do it.

    1. Hope
      April 30, 2014

      Well said LL. It is still strange how the government thinks of ways to get more tax from people and new ways to prevent tax avoidance, yet did so little and does so little to prevent the MP flip flops that occurred with second home or those who made a fortune from second homes paid by the taxpayer (name left out ed). You cannot believe a word Cameron says, full stop.

      1. Hope
        April 30, 2014

        The galling part is that Cameron tries to squeeze every penny of tax from people to waste it on overseas aid. Some of the. Only wets is unbelievable and unjustifiable when it could be spent on the elderly people of this country who are in need and who contributed to the tax pot all their working lives.

    2. Vanessa
      April 30, 2014

      Lifelogic – I agree with all you have said – some “legacy” ! And it really does not matter how many times Cameron says he will hold a referendum with his past inability to tell the truth – “cash-iron” or otherwise, nobody believes him. Get someone else who has not lied consistently for 4 years or more.

    3. Lifelogic
      April 30, 2014

      Non doms do not have to have any UK earning at all if they arrange their affairs sensibly (or any above the personal allowances and pension contributions perhaps). So they can indeed just pay the £30K or £50K PA in tax and no more. They can also avoid IHT for 17 years leave return and get another 17 years.

      I am all in favour of this tax regime. It should be extended to everyone.

      Even with a majority (which as the Tories are currently a very poor third party in popularity, and the voting system is against them, is extremely unlikely) the half of the Tory party that is heart and soul for the EU (Cameron types) will surely not allow a referendum unless they are likely to win it. BBC and CBI propaganda will also be to the fore. As it is now in trying to bury Farage at every turn.

      Will the Ken (and Greg) Clarke & John Major types ever vote for an honest and fair referendum? I think not a new fig leaf will be found. Perhaps a pledge by Cameron is not actually a promise but merely an expression of an “aspiration”. Or he cannot get is past the “pro EU b******ds ” in his party so has to rat again.

      Some total crap like “a treaty is not a treaty once ratified” will surely be found.

    4. APL
      April 30, 2014

      JR: “Mr Cameron does want this referendum .. ”

      Preparing material for a stand up comedy routine?

  5. Mike Stallard
    April 30, 2014

    If only they would hurry up and connect Wisbech with Cambridge!

    But you still have not answered my question: how much of the decision on HS2 was DG MOVE and how much was the government? Or don’t you know? (Which is even worse, actually. Secret government is usually fatal.)

    Reply It is entirely within the powrers of the UK to decide on this railway.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      April 30, 2014

      Comment on Reply–This sounds like another of those truths that have no meaning. It smells to me of EUphiliacs ever striving to be at “the heart of Europe” (daft phrase) and in general pandering to Brussels; ironically in this instance it might even have made some sense at least, except for the missing link, so no “Manchester to Madrid”.

    2. forthurst
      April 30, 2014

      “Reply It is entirely within the powrers of the UK to decide on this railway.”

      …but the Empire needs its transport infrastructure:



      HS2 is required by Brussels, not by us. As Londinium is now filled with with those from within and without the Empire, the aboriginals who actually work there have to commute by train; they have no other choice. Twaddle about ‘business men saving £31.96 an hour by using HS2 is wholly unconvincing especially when the loons decide they have to compromise the alleged time saving by reducing the speed to follow yet another imperium from the Senate, to save the planet.

      People standing on trains into Londinium are not able to use that time effectively, either for work or leisure; its pure waste and means people are more tired and less effective at work. Perhaps the Gumint could put a cost to the economy, rounded to the nearest penny of how much businesses lose in reduced productivity?

    3. Lifelogic
      April 30, 2014

      Anyone MP who voted for HS2 is surely unfit to be an MP. Either they are not clever/numerate/diligent enough to hold the job, have seen too much of John Betjeman/the BBC or they are just self interested career politicians.

      I can see no other reason to support the bill.

  6. Peter Whale
    April 30, 2014

    Is it not the case that HS2 is an EU directive and not a British competence so that the decision has already been made?

    Reply No. We haev discussed that before. There is a wish to have a trans EU high speed railway, but it is not a requirement on a member state.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      April 30, 2014

      Comment on Reply–Will there be a missing bit in say Paris??

    2. Lifelogic
      April 30, 2014

      What about the financial transaction tax were we not assured on this too?


      It is war by EU bureaucrats and judges and our government under Clegg and Cameron is on their side.

      1. JoeSoap
        April 30, 2014

        Sorry LL there was no cast-iron guarantee on this that I can find.
        From the DT May 2012, David Cameron:
        “It will put up the cost of people’s insurance, put up the cost of people’s pensions, it would cost many, many jobs, and it would make Europe less competitive and I’ll fight it all the way.”
        Not much blood let in the ring for that fight, was there?

        Still I’m sure once he fights all the way for our OTHER powers back, they will just flow back like water down a chute, to overwhelming applause of our host amongst others.

  7. alan jutson
    April 30, 2014

    Your question was a very simple one and should have been one of the the first questions to have been asked when this scheme was first dreamt up.

    It clarifies an even more simple question, is there a capacity problem on this route into and out of London to and from Birmingham and further North.

    The fact that you now have your answer the very next day after the so called debate and vote, says it all.

    This scheme is a political stitch up, pure and simple.

    I am not sure about people being connected to railways, but certainly the majority of politicians are not connected to the people.

    How many more phases, and how much more wasted money is going to be thrown at this scheme before the penny drops and it is shelved.

  8. Andyvan
    April 30, 2014

    Yes but increasing capacity on commuter lines doesn’t create an enormous pot of cash that can be pillaged by all and sundry like HS2 does. There is no chance of stopping the project by logic as it all comes down to how much those that vote for it think they can divert their way. Then once the pointless and hideously expensive white elephant is built it will be left to future generations to pay for it (just like all the other criminally wasteful schemes and policies currently popular).

  9. Nick
    April 30, 2014

    Same as London to Brum at the peak, 5-6pm on a Friday.

    Just table an amendment to the bill.

    No subsidy will be paid or used for ticket prices on HS2.

    It’s calling the bluff of the state.

    If HS2 makes economic sense, then they can charge the ticket payer for the cost.

    if it doesn’t they will need a subsidy.

    I would also add a second clause.

    No lines to be closed down to force people to use HS2. That was the trick with the HS line to the channel tunnel. Close down Waterloo, and force people to use the expensive option. If they didn’t it would have been even more of white elephant.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    April 30, 2014

    JR: “One day after the essential vote on the principles of the HS2 Bill I received a reply to questions I had posed to the Transport Department.”
    How convenient for your leader. I suppose MPs are regularly treated with such contempt; after all your job is to hold the executive to account and it would be crazy of them to assist you in that endeavour on behalf of the public, especially when their own information contradicts the basis of government policy.

    1. Bob
      April 30, 2014

      Clearly HS2 is not based on the need of the travelling public but rather the need of MPs to serve the political lobbyists working for the various consultancies and the construction and engineering clients who employ them.

      Parliament needs a good shake up.

  11. Antisthenes
    April 30, 2014

    Does that not tell us that central planning by bureaucrats and politicians does not work another nail in the socialist’s myths coffin. Generally if the private sector will not touch a project with a barge pole then it should not be done as they base their planning on what makes economic sense therefore based on public need. Of course no one mentions the elephant in the room on HS2 the EU as a lot of the driving force behind it comes from Brussels.

  12. alan jutson
    April 30, 2014

    I see it is reported today in the Press that the Government were rushing around trying to spend (and did) £100,000,000 per day on foreign aid in December.

    Would appear that they needed to get rid of the money quickly in order to meet the 0.7% target of GDP promised for the year.

    Financial Crisis, what crisis.
    Debt, what debt.
    Deficit, what deficit.
    Cuts, what cuts.

    No shortage of money, just print or borrow more.

    Does the Government not understand that the people of this Country do not want this sham of so called help which is often sucked up by corrupt politicians or criminals to enhance their already sizeable bank accounts.
    The money rarely ever gets where it is promised or to the people that actually require help.

    The UK population are one of the most generous in the World when it comes to charitable giving particularly when there is a natural disaster, why do we need government sponsored aid at all.
    Unless of course it is some sort of political bribe, but then I am sure that would never ever happen !

    1. Mark
      April 30, 2014

      Perhaps they’re auditioning for the next remake of Brewster’s Millions?

  13. John E
    April 30, 2014

    A Google for most overcrowded trains leads to this document

    It doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2012? I bet an update would show even more demand into Paddington and Waterloo.

    Reply Yes, this confirms my argument that Waterloo and Paddington services have the biggest capacity problem

  14. Bert Young
    April 30, 2014

    The responses yesterday and today make it very clear that HS2 is a mistake . Any sensible person with the right facts at his/her elbow could judge and plan for route modifications , and , any sensible person could judge how to optimise returns on route planning . Your analysis yesterday and today dramatically highlight how inadequate those who are responsible for transport matters are . MPs should not be swayed by party political pressures and must be held to account for how they vote ; even the redoubtable Boris has given vent to his feelings on this matter and has shown how stupid his some of his judgements are .

    1. Lifelogic
      April 30, 2014

      Boris even wants to move Heathrow to the Thames – he is nearly as bonkers as Cameron. Is that position not going to be under 50 ft of water soon according to the government climate “experts” and their (junk in junk out) computer model soothsaying.

      1. Mark
        April 30, 2014

        The latest is that sea levels haven’t been rising as fast as the climate models assumed they would, as satellite radar measurements now reveal. There is an extra problem, in that Trenberth’s idea that the “missing” heat is hiding in the oceans implies that they would expand, and thus cause faster rises in sea levels.

        Climate models are now in deep trouble.

  15. Alan Hill
    April 30, 2014

    It’s not as if HS2 connects to the Eurostar. The whole thing is madness .

    1. acorn
      April 30, 2014

      Project Mapping has only just finished its latest map and it’s wrong already!
      http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/Resources/HS2Y.pdf .

      Interesting to see all the proposals that have been made over the years and how Westminster has avoided joining them up into something that makes sense.

  16. Anonymous
    April 30, 2014

    Molly Hawkins writes in today’s Daily Mail about the appallingly over crowded conditions in her train from Exeter and the waste of money that is HS2.

    I’d agree with her except that those of us who follow railway news know that the Government is injecting massive subsidies in this region – alas not to alleviate overcrowding and not in any way that will reduce fares.

    The Tories could have been heroes in these parts.

    They could have provided the capacity thus reducing the fares AND created the manufacturing jobs and demand for skills the country really needs.

    1. Anonymous
      April 30, 2014

      Manufacture of coaching stock.

  17. Brian Partridge
    April 30, 2014

    There may not be a current capacity problem but is it likely that there will be in 10 or 20 years’ time?

    1. Tad Davison
      April 30, 2014


      That may be so, and corresponds with an earlier comment of mine about the possibility of the government knowing something we don’t and are reluctant to tell us, chiefly that our population is going to grow exponentially. That suggests to me, that government targets to cut immigration will count for nothing. Could we be witnessing another big con?

      Surely not, but I fear for the British citizen’s quality of life and our green spaces unless we get grip. Ah well, UKIP here I come!


  18. Iain Gill
    April 30, 2014

    It seems unlikely the politicians will see sense. More likely the ever growing national debt burden will at some point cause the markets to question the financial viability of the UK and some straw will break the camels back. To be honest it would be better if it happened sooner so we can get the pain out of the way and be done with, would be nice if the forced a rejig of the political classes too.

  19. The PrangWizard
    April 30, 2014

    Do you have figures for the journey into London from say, Manchester and Birmingham for these periods? And do you have figures for the whole of the day?

  20. Martin Ryder
    April 30, 2014

    Firstly: The best thing to do with the HS2 money is to: NOT BORROW IT! The last thing this country needs is more debt.

    Secondly: Why are MPs sheep and not independent representatives of their electors? 450 odd highly paid (by the taxpayer) idiots just wander bleating through the ‘aye’ lobby with the party whips barking at their backsides.

    It was just the same for the great AGW scam. The whips barked and the sheep ran through the ‘aye’ lobby.

    The reason the MPs do this is, of course, obvious: (a) few of them can think for themselves and (b) they are all looking for jobs in government. That is why I believe that governments and representatives should be elected separately.

    1. APL
      May 1, 2014

      Martin Ryder:”why are MPS sheep…..”

      Because that’s the way The Party central administration wants jt.

  21. Robert Taggart
    April 30, 2014

    NO2 HS2.
    The only real beneficiaries would be those who do not have to pay – for their tickets !
    We will all have to pay for this vanity project – upfront – through our taxes !!
    Lundun has indeed the busiest of all train services – whether that be within or from without.
    But, some of us provincials would appreciate a little of what you ‘capitalists’ take for granted.
    Mancy has the Northern Hub proposal – alas, this be nothing more than CrossRail on the cheap – a CrossRail proper (underground, electrified, to mainline standards) would be a godsend.
    Signed, Atheist Anorak !

    1. Robert Taggart
      April 30, 2014

      OH ! – well done Johnny – HS2 Bill ‘Rebel’.

  22. Tad Davison
    April 30, 2014

    I was right by the West Coast Main Line last Monday, on the part that by-passes Birmingham and goes through Nuneaton, and at a time when those services for the North which left at rush hour, would be passing through. It is clear that there is extra capacity within the system, and that many more trains could be run safely, and at a good distance apart. I never saw one train running under either ‘one yellow’, or ‘two yellows’. All were travelling at well over a ton on clear ‘greens’ all the way with nothing to impeded their progress.

    Of course that isn’t quite the same route that HS2 will ‘serve’, but I’d bet my shirt the Nuneaton, Atherstone, Poleworth route is fairly typical of the route that diverges from the WCML at Rugby and passes through Coventry. When people say that the WCML is at full capacity already, perhaps they’d care to take a look for themselves because it certainly doesn’t seem that way.

    Like so many others, I am left scratching my head and wondering why this white elephant that is HS2 isn’t just consigned to the dustbin as a complete non-starter. If there was a pressing and proven need for it of national importance, and instead of it running between London and Birmingham, it shaved maybe two hours off a journey to Glasgow, then there would at least be a case. But the present proposal seems groundless. We shouldn’t undertake these things simply because we can, or maybe to push the technology. We should only consider spending these huge sums when it makes economic sense. Right now, paying off our huge national debt makes more sense than a vanity project such as HS2, and that makes me wonder about the suitability of our leadership to act in our best interests. Do they really come from planet Earth?

    Tad Davison


  23. Nigel
    April 30, 2014

    The DfT were FOI’d into publishing the number of empty seats in and out of Euston in peak and off peak over the last few years.

    Interestingly the latest year’s data shows numbers of both long distance and local journeys during peak hours falling.


    1. Jagman 84
      April 30, 2014

      It is worth noting that last year there were frequent problems, on the WCML, with overhead power lines and many London Midland services were cancelled due to “staff shortages” ( in the main, drivers jumping ship to better paid jobs with rival TOCs’) .

  24. Richard1
    April 30, 2014

    So there is clearly no argument for HS2 on capacity needs. The economic benefit argument is pure invention designed to give the desired conclusion. This will be another big UK govt white elephant which will add debt and the burden of future debt service without sufficient benefit, and therefore prevent other more useful projects which could yield a much better economic return.

    Whilst lamenting it and continuing to oppose it as long as we can we must also pause to reflect on how it is that all the main parties can unite behind this policy and its clearly flawed analysis. It is because they want to do this project – for political reasons (north-south divide, green crap etc), and the actual hard facts are irrelevant.

    We must remember this when we debate other issues such as green crap, where there is also an overwhelming consensus, but where the actual evidence increasingly indicates the policy and the analysis behind it is flawed.

  25. lojolondon
    April 30, 2014

    John, as a daily user of that line, I am happy to confirm you are 100% correct in your analysis, and I totally agree with the figures quoted.
    The whole thing does not make sense, except for one crucial fact – the EU High Speed Rail strategy – published in 2010 – http://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/infrastructure/studies/doc/2010_high_speed_rail_en.pdf
    Please look at p7, point 14 and that will help explain why our MP’s are not concerned with the traffic on the lines, the amount of people who will benefit, the costs involved, the efficiencies delivered, the inconvenience or even the negative effect on the Conservatives by driving a £70Billion white elephant through their farming and village heartlands.
    All that matters is that the EU wants it so it will happen.

  26. BobE
    April 30, 2014

    Son had a job interview in Southhampton. We are near to Oxford. Drove from Front door to the Company in two hours. Back home afterwards in two hours. £20 in fuel and two coffees on the way. Trains just cant compete.

    1. Anonymous
      April 30, 2014

      “Analysis of the Office of Rail Regulation data provides the following picture: the year on year increase of rail journeys in the London and the South East area has exceeded the total number of rail journeys made in the corresponding year on Virgin trains for six of the last seven years. For example, there was an increase of 39.2 million journeys in the London and South East area in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12, while there were 30.4 million passenger journeys in total on Virgin Trains in 2012-13.”

  27. Lord Lindley
    April 30, 2014

    No mention here that the HS2 is not a UK idea, it is an EU instruction to our government. They insist we do it to spend/waste yet more money!

  28. Chris S
    April 30, 2014

    John, the reply from the transport department just confirmed what your own observations told you and almost everyone contributing here agrees the project is financially and economically stupid.

    It makes so little sense, so what possible reasons can all three parties in Parliament and such a large majority of MPs have for backing it ?

    I could understand if there was unanimity across the three parties on the benefits to the economy of spending £50bn on new infrastructure, as long as the principle was backed up by valid economic research, but why are they all so keen to put it all into this single nonsensical project ?

    Like most people here, I’m simply mystified.

    Could you explain what is really going on here ?

    1. Chris S
      April 30, 2014

      Could you explain what is really going on here ?

      1. Lifeligic
        May 1, 2014

        Is it perhaps just a gravy train?

        1. Chris S
          May 1, 2014

          They can’t be offering 600 or so MPs directorships, can they ?

  29. Huw Sayer
    April 30, 2014

    Money for HS2 could be better spent on building an M75 motorway round 3/4 of London and the South East.

    This would link Southampton with the Midlands by upgrading the A34 /A43 to Northampton and Kettering (with a spur heading on to the A1 – the not-so-great north road – at Stamford).

    At Kettering the M75 would turn east and run along the line of an upgraded A14 (also called the new M6 extension linking Liverpool and Birmingham with Felixstowe/Harwich). This in turn would connect with an upgraded A12/A130 /A13 linking the Suffolk ports with the new DP World London Gateway port, Tilbury docks and the Port of London.

    This would effectively create a modern road network linking four of our biggest ports – it would improve links between the regions (so boosting the wider economy) and take some pressure off the M25.

    Any spare change (or new funds) should be used to build an M100 – linking Bournemouth with Bath (via the route of the A350) – Bath with Leicester (via A429/M69) – and Leicester with Kings Lynn, Great Yarmouth (and the East of England Energy Zone) via an upgraded A47 – which would link with the top of the (previously upgraded) A12 .

    The Treasury could fund all this by issuing 100 year infrastructure bonds (pension funds would probably like these for matching to increased longevity risk) – so the generations to come, who will benefit most, will pay some of the cost.

    Now that’s joined up, long term thinking.


    1. Bob
      May 1, 2014

      “Now that’s joined up, long term thinking.”

      David Cameron is concentrating all his firepower on the next 12 months !

  30. Ex-expat Colin
    April 30, 2014

    I was rather fed up with train failures and I don’t know where they are listed as a whole. Traveling on Fridays (5 pm) to W. Mids from Marlebone was good and onward on the London Midland. The Sunday returns where nearly always unreliable – signaling, line problems, kids on the line and signal cables nicked the night before. The odd suicide !

    Virgin return via MK/London was on 2 occasions a 4 hour delay on the train – signals again. Free tickets given later…but thats a loss of course. I simply do not like the overhead line arrangement and I think it is not a reliable way to do things…add in complex signaling.

    South Eastern trains have trouble starting on many occasions, along with odd snags along the journey to L. Bridge. I then used to bet on the underground failure type.

    Plenty to go wrong it seems?

  31. James Strachan
    April 30, 2014

    I had the misfortune to work night shifts in London during 1972.

    The one pleasure was that my train into London during the evening was almost empty and my train out of London in the morning was also almost empty. Sometimes I had a coach to myself.

    But the trains going in the other direction were packed to the extent that passengers were standing. The railways needed extra capacity but failed to provide it.

    You observe, correctly, that there are capacity problems in the morning going into London to Waterloo, Paddington and Euston stations. You might have added Kings Cross and Liverpool Street as well.

    The railways are working on improving services into Waterloo. The railway is being changed from running eight carriage trains to ten carriage trains – a 25% increase in capacity. Paddington is getting electrification and new rolling stock.

    So the question is what to do about Euston. I suppose that we could widen the WCML from 4 tracks to 6 – but your colleagues who are MP’s for Watford, Stafford and other places on the WCML would not be pleased about that.

    You wrote some years ago that you expected that privatisation would lead to increased usage of the railways would increase footfall. It has and will – so we must plan to provide extra capacity.

  32. Atlas
    April 30, 2014

    John, that DoT reply shows just what a white elephant H2S is. When it comes to wasting public money, it is as if G. Brown had not lost power.

  33. behindthefrogs
    April 30, 2014

    Unfortunately the problem is not as simple as you suggest. Trains that are half empty in the London area often have capacity problems elsewhere on their journeys. While my knowledge of Euston trains is now very dated I can quote my recent experience with Paddington trains. Those passing Reading in the middle of the day are frequently half empty but in the Plymouth area some four hours later or earlier these trains can be grossly overcrowded with local commuters.

  34. Brian Tomkinson
    April 30, 2014

    The two latest EU election opinion polls:

    UKIP: 36%
    Labour: 27%
    Conservatives: 18%
    Liberal Democrats 10%

    UKIP: 38%
    Labour: 27%
    Conservatives: 18%
    Liberal Democrats: 8%

    Reply Both these polls exclude Don’t Knows

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 30, 2014

      On a simple pro rata basis, those vote shares would mean the Tories losing about a third of the EU Parliament seats they won in 2009 while Labour would get a lot more than they did in 2009. Of course it’s more complicated than a simple pro rata basis, but it gives some idea what would happen and explains why the Tories are now in a bit of a panic.

      The vote shares in 2009 were:


      Tories 27.7%
      UKIP 16.5%
      Labour 15.7%
      LibDems 13.7%

    2. GT
      April 30, 2014

      There aren’t many DKs

    3. Brian Tomkinson
      April 30, 2014

      Reply to reply,
      Are all the ‘don’t knows’ going to vote Conservative? I very much doubt it!

    4. Jennifer A
      April 30, 2014

      Reply to reply: 36% to 38%

      ‘Lib/Lab/Con’ is now a common phrase on the internet.

      The belief that we are in a one party state is gaining ground.

    5. JoeSoap
      April 30, 2014

      Reply to reply:
      And a poll is only a poll…
      The leadership aren’t worried by UKIP…
      It is a temporary thing, people will return to the fold for the General Election…
      We should all support the MAIN Eurosceptic Party….
      We haven’t heard these sentiments from you recently…

    6. Lifelogic
      April 30, 2014

      With UKIP on twice the Tory vote never the less!

      Libdems on as high at 10% – there are clearly a lot of very daft people around. Cameron dare not debate Farage, as Cameron would look even sillier than Clegg did – so what will the fake green, pro EU, 299 tax increases, socialist ratter do at the election?

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 1, 2014

        I think the LibDems may now be getting down close to their true core vote of small, extreme and in some cases fanatical minorities; people who want completely unlimited immigration (about 6%) and/or those who want a European federation (about 3%), plus a similar number of daft people who would like more EU integration but think that somehow that process could be stopped short of a European federation (about 7%).

        Most of the non-core voters who bulked out their support in May 2010 switched to Labour by early 2011, which is the greatest reason why the 7% Tory lead over Labour at the general election was reversed:


        Some have since made another switch from Labour to UKIP, but that second switch is not picked up in the opinion polls because the pollsters only ask about how they had voted back in 2010, not about which party they had been supporting before they switched to UKIP.

        Hence at a first glance it seems that UKIP has got more people to switch their support direct from the LibDems than from Labour, but these are not counted in when the Tories complain about UKIP “stealing” their voters much more than Labour’s, as claimed here for example:


  35. Andrew Bodman
    April 30, 2014

    Data available on the DfT website indicates that more than 120,000 rail passengers stand on trains every working day during the morning three hour peak. Analysis of the associated train operating companies indicates they are mostly commuters and more than 90% of them are heading to London. The same source indicates that Virgin trains and East Coast trains are the least overcrowded services serving London.

    Analysis of the Office of Rail Regulation data provides the following picture: the year on year increase of rail journeys in the London and the South East area has exceeded the total number of rail journeys made in the corresponding year on Virgin trains for six of the last seven years. For example, there was an increase of 39.2 million journeys in the London and South East area in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12, while there were 30.4 million passenger journeys in total on Virgin Trains in 2012-13.

    Rail commuters in London will be significantly helped by Crossrail and the improved Thameslink due for opening in 2019 and 2018. Similarly rail commuters in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield will be helped by the Northern Hub due for completion in 2019 which will provide more capacity, faster and more frequent services.

    The intercity HS2 will do almost nothing to alleviate overcrowding on commuter trains.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 30, 2014

      “The intercity HS2 will do almost nothing to alleviate overcrowding on commuter trains.”

      Indeed they will make it worse, first with all the construction disruption and later by having priority.

  36. JoeSoap
    April 30, 2014

    One has to assume that you put your questions to DfT some time before the debate. The executive would therefore seem to be taking the p–” somewhat to come back with a reply one day too late? More likely conspiracy than cock-up. These small chinks of light serve to back up the assertions of your readers here that the EU has a stranglehold over the civil service which in turn has a stranglehold over Ministers. Hence we get silly schemes like this.

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