Andrew Jones MP
Andrew Jones MP

Andrew Jones MP talks about rail and HS2

13 February 2020

The UK has seen rail journeys increase to 1.8 billion a year, from 760 million journeys in 1995.

Locally we have seen an ongoing series of improvements to the LeedsHarrogateYork line, but nationally the talk is all about HS2 and a cost of over £100billion

HS2 Phases

  • Phase 1, London to West Midlands with an expected completion date between 2028 and 2031
  • Phase 2a, West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester with an expected completion date between 2035 and 2040
  • Phase 2b, West Midlands to Crewe with an expected completion date between 2035 and 2040

The new Azuma trains are heralding more direct trains. These trains are gradually coming into service over this year, when passengers will begin to see reduced travel times to London.

Andrew Jones said:

Rail is a big challenge in the UK and HS2 is about putting capacity back into the network for now and the future.

The number of journeys per year has increased by over one billion since 1995 and to deal with that and cater for future demand we need to increase capacity, both for passengers and freight. It is important to get more freight on rail to meet carbon emission targets.

During the 1960’s the UK saw cuts to the rail network with the Beeching cuts putting a focus onto the major trunk routes.

There has not been a new rail line built in England north of London since the reign of Queen Victoria, yet there are now 140,000 services each week, that is the highest level it has ever been.

The Azuma train coming into Harrogate over the viaduct
The Azuma train coming into Harrogate over the viaduct

The cost of HS2 is likely to be over £100billion, is that sensible spend ?

Andrew Jones said:

It is a huge sum of money, but it needs to be put into perspective for what it will achieve for the country. The rail network needs investment to meet the growing demand for capacity and also to be able to meet our carbon emission targets.

The current rail network already has an investment programme of £48 billion between 2019 and 2024 and there will of course be investment onwards from there.

In the House of Commons I asked the Prime Minister and had it confirmed that the government is buying into, not just HS2, but better rolling stock and better, digital signalling.

I am supporting, not just better North – South connection, also the East – West, Trans-Pennine routes.

But this is about increasing productivity and national wealth. Other countries are seeing the benefit of rail investment today and historically the UK has seen that too.

People have had enough of politicians just talking and we need to invest and make it happen.

Electrification of the Leeds – Harrogate – Line is often talked about, what’s your view on that ?

Andrew Jones MP said:

I first talked about this back in 1999, but since then things have evolved.

I campaigned for it as then it was the only way to get the improvements we needed – more local services, direct London trains, upgraded rolling stock. And we have seen our rail service transform with these things being delivered.

New technology has helped in a way not possible then, with bi-mode trains, such as the new Azuma trains, which can draw power from both diesel and electric, that means the immediate need to electrify has changed.

But as part of decarbonisation, we need to work towards a fully sustainable rail system, recognising that will not mean full electrification but bi-modes and hydrogen powered trains operating with fully electric ones.

In the near future locally we will see  work on signalling, and the NYCC funded scheme to increase capacity on the Harrogate to York section.

1 Comment

  1. Dear Andrew Jones,

    If these are your objectives then why are you supporting the HS2 scheme? The technology is obsolete before the first piece of track is laid. Door to door travel times will be longer for the majority of passengers post Hs2 due to cancelling express services on the WCML and Hs2’s commitments to rail freight. Passengers will have to pay more to make interconnecting journeys to access Hs2 with those journeys often being in the wrong direction and will necessarily be on slow commuter services as dictated by Hs2. In most cases other than for people living within an isochronic ring where connecting travel is less than or equal to the time saving by using Hs2 – transferring to the Hs2 service will not save any time at all it will increase travel times. Inevitably overcrowding will increase. Hs2 claim to create 140000 extra commuter places through cancelling the WCML express services – not through it’s own capacity – The 140000 needs to absorb the displaced express passengers, existing commuters, natural growth in commuter traffic AND – elephant in the room moment – the demand from Hs2 which could be 425000 per day. The scheme is nuts. There are multiple viable alternatives which do not involve destroying biodiversity and eco systems and spending 106bn for the route plus 7bn for the trains.



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