Express & Star

Find out why HS2 could cause ALL West Coast train fares to rise

Fares are set to rise on train services to and from the West Midlands – all because of the halting of HS2.

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It has been reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to scrap plans to extend HS2 north of Birmingham could lead to significantly higher fares.

Mainline services between the West Midlands, London and Manchester would be affected.

Unnamed industry sources believe price rises will be needed to manage overcrowding.

HS2 trains will have lower capacity than current trains on the West Coast mainline

The i newspaper quoted industry sources as predicting more hikes in future on the West Coast mainline.

Experts say aborting the HS2 northern section will worsen the already poor state of the rail on one of the UK’s most important rail lines.

Within five years, there is expected to be an eight per cent drop in capacity for trains going from the West Midlands north to Manchester and Glasgow, due to current government plans.

These plans would see HS2 trains continue up the West Coast Main Line on the existing track, despite the HS2 track ending at Birmingham New Street.

HS2 trains are able to carry around 50 fewer passengers per service than a current Pendolino train as existing stations north of Birmingham do not have long enough platforms for two trains to be “tethered” together, as had been planned on the dedicated HS2 line.

The i newspaper reports that this would mean there would be around 6,000 fewer seats between London and Manchester per day, 4,000 fewer to Liverpool and 2,000 fewer to Glasgow.

By the scheduled completion of HS2, there could be 20 per cent more passengers wanting to board trains than they are built for, causing serious problems for the future of the line.

And the only way to bring those numbers down is to deter passengers by hiking the price of tickets.

Norman Baker, former rail minister, told the i: “What we’ve ended up with is a disaster as the worst of all worlds. We have a bleeding stump of a high speed rail line between Birmingham and Old Oak Common.

An Avanti West Coast train

“It will create congestion from north of Birmingham, and cause issues for freight services, there is a desperate need to need have another look at the Birmingham to Manchester line.

“Only in Britain would you see a new high-speed rail line get built, cancelled and end up costing people more.”

Meanwhile, new figures reveal average train fares rose by nearly five per cent in England and Wales on March 3.

And train cancellations in England and Wales have risen by eight per cent in the past year.

The equivalent of 249,133 trains were cancelled in the year to the end of March, according to the Office of Rail and Road.That is an average of 681 every day.

During the previous 12 months, the total was 230,799 at a daily average of 632.

Speaking about cancellations, a spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, said: “We know how important reliability is to customers and apologise to everyone affected by cancelled services.

“Everyone across the railway is working hard to make sure that train services are reliable and punctual for passengers.

“This includes significant investment to improve infrastructure and rolling stock reliability.

“Train companies have worked hard to maintain as many services as possible, but cancellations or delays also can occur due to various factors; like weather and flooding, industrial action, infrastructure issues such as track or signalling faults, train faults and external incidents such as trespass.

“The railway continues to tackle these issues, and when train delays or cancellations do occur, we are proactively notifying passengers in advance and raising awareness of Delay Repay to simplify compensation claims for affected passengers.”

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