For a major railway station to be sustainable it must be an integrated transport hub. It should serve local, regional and national destinations by rail and other modes of transport. If it fails in that, everything else positive that may be said about it is of no significance - it will not be sustainable. HS2 stations which fail the integrated transport hub test include Birmingham Interchange, the so-called Manchester Airport station and East Midlands Interchange at Toton.
Most airport users are leisure or long haul travellers who travel with heavy luggage and often with small children. Leisure travellers often suffer from physical handicaps. They must arrive at their check-in desks 2 hours prior to departure. For such travellers journey time between home and airport matters less than convenience of access between an airport railway station and its check-in desks or arrival exits. HS2 Ltd’s competitors in the airport users’ market will be door to door taxi services and travellers' car owning friends and family members.
However, despite the need for convenient access to airport facilities, HS2 Ltd have located both Birmingham Interchange and Manchester’s Airport station away from the airports they are supposed to serve. HS2 passengers will have to make considerable efforts to access the airport facilities from these stations, using buses or other forms of transport, after first having to access and use an HS2 service.
In addition, these two new ‘airport’ stations will not offer any onward rail or tram connectivity. Stations which lack either connectivity or convenience are not fit for purpose. These stations lack both and will be poor value for money and not sustainable.
In section 2, Curzon Street vs New Street stations here, it was argued that when HS2 services are transferred from the inaccessible Curzon Street to the well connected New Street station, Birmingham Interchange will not be needed by HS2 Ltd. It will become a white elephant, like Curzon Street will be. The users on all HS2 services stopping there will lose 8 minutes. Its economic case looks bleak.
If Birmingham Interchange is not axed, it should be located below the WCML into New Street, on a tunnel loop to the west of the core HS2 line and the M42 motorway, with Birmingham Airport to the west and Birmingham International and the NEC to the east. Moving walkways from this station, rather than a people mover, would serve the airport, Birmingham International and the NEC. Easy access to airport facilities and the NEC and good onward rail connectivity means that a HS2 station here will perform much better than the one presently proposed. But it would still represent poor value for money and would not be needed if HS2 services are transferred from Curzon Street to New Street.
A real HS2 Manchester Airport Interchange station should be located near the centre of the airport, in tunnels below the existing railway station. One end of the station could have access directly up into the extended Terminal 2. Moving walkways above ground would also connect the station to Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Onward rail and tram connectivity would be excellent. A station here would be fit for purpose, sustainable and represent value for money. For proposals for a real HS2 Manchester Airport Interchange station see section 7 Crewe to Manchester Airport here and section 8 Manchester Airport to Manchester Piccadilly here.
East Midlands so-called interchange station at Toton will also be lacking local and regional connectivity, especially by rail, and not be sustainable or fit for purpose. It would represent poor value for money and should not be built. Other reasons for not proceeding with the full eastern leg of the HS2 ‘Y’ are given in section 6, Whittington Link and HS2 northeast here.
This section last revised 30 January 2019