In section 7 Crewe to Manchester Airport, here, it was suggested that HS2 services from Liverpool, Preston / Scotland and Manchester, together with all WCML traffic, would be better served if the proposed tunnels under Crewe were replaced by a Crewe eastern HS2 bypass. This section considers the HS2 main lines north of Crewe from Hoo Green (Little Bollington) east and north.
a1. Non-HS2 Services from Liverpool and the north to Manchester Airport
At Hoo Green the line proposed by HS2 to Manchester Airport and Piccadilly branches off east. The junction there used to be a delta junction, allowing access to the airport station and Manchester from the south and from a rolling stock depot (RSD) near Golborne to the north. The chord to the north was removed by HS2 Ltd as it moved the RSD south to Wimboldsley near Crewe. This chord should be reinstated, allowing future Transport for the North (TfN) services from Liverpool, the Northwest and Scotland to reach the airport and Manchester via an otherwise underused section of HS2 line.
TfN services from the Northwest and Scotland to the airport would join the HS2 line near Bamfurlong. Those from Liverpool could join the HS2 line north of the Manchester Ship Canal and cross that waterway with the other TfN and HS2 services. They would then follow the former HS2 line from the Bridgewater Canal past Ashley but staying south of the M56. Here they would be joined by the proposed HS2 services to the airport and Piccadilly from the Crewe to Stockport line, see section 7 Crewe to Manchester Airport here, before running into twin tunnels under the airport to a real HS2 Manchester Airport Interchange below the present station. See section 8 Manchester Airport to Piccadilly here for further details and a map.
a2. 2019 Consultation on passive provision for two junctions at High Legh, Cheshire
It is difficult to understand the value of this consultation. It appears that Transport for the North has given HS2 Ltd only the briefest outline of where it intends to run a new rail link between Liverpool and Manchester Airport. The location of the passive provision for the two junctions being consulted on is therefore pure guesswork on behalf of HS2 Ltd and as such the outcome of the consultation will be meaningless.
And whenever TfN gets its act together and publishes and consults on its preferred route for the new rail link between Liverpool and Manchester Airport, that consultation will be meaningless too, if the location of that link's junctions have already been fixed by HS2 Ltd.
With its proposal for passive provision for the two junctions at High Legh HS2 Ltd is clearly telling TfN that it will not allow TfN to use the HS2 line to cross the Manchester Ship Canal, the river Bollin and the Bridgewater Canal. The view of this outsider, who is also a tax payer, is that common use of capital intensive infrastructure should be a goal of both HS2 Ltd and TfN. The frequency of HS2 services, 6 trains per hour (TPH) and of TfN services to the airport, say up to 6 TPH, is low enough to permit them all to co-exist on this section of HS2 line from the Bridgewater Canal to Bamfurlong.
With reference to the proposals made in section 7 Crewe to Manchester Airport here and in section 8 Manchester Airport to Piccadilly here, the approach of HS2 services to Manchester Airport should be from the Crewe to Stockport line and not from the junction at Hoo Green.
The proposed construction of a railhead and maintenance facility at Ashley should be able to proceed, even though the adjacent railway line, in accordance with the above proposals, would be a TfN line, not a HS2 one, albeit of GC gauge. If the RDS at Wimboldsley could be combined with the proposed maintenance facility at Ashley, or returned to a suitable site near Golborne, the chord to the south at Hoo Green could be removed.
b. Hoo Green to Preston and Scotland
From Hoo Green the main HS2 line continues north, crossing TfN's future route for a Northern Powerhouse Rail line (NPR/HS3) between Liverpool and Manchester/Leeds. Here a link to the NPR towards Liverpool will cut HS2 journey times to that city further, no longer calling at Runcorn but perhaps adding a call at Warrington (but see also a2 above). The main HS2 line then continues north towards Wigan.
A HS2 service between Scotland and north west England would take 13 minutes longer than a Class 390 Pendolino service. Some argue that this 13 minutes deficit can be reduced to 7 minutes by granting speed limit dispensations to HS2 services. This seems debatable. Any dispensation granted to HS2 services should also be available to Class 390s. Therefore 390s should remain faster than HS2 services. The 13 minute differential would remain until the top speed of the 390s, 225kph, is reached. It is unclear where the 6 minute reduction in journey times for HS2 services only might come from.
From the available evidence HS2 services should not proceed north of Preston. 2 Scotland-bound 390s could wait in Preston at the wide extended 415m platform used by the HS2 service from the South. The 390s for Edinburgh and Glasgow can depart 4 and 7 minutes after the arrival of the HS2 service, with a reciprocal arrangement for southbound services. Measured against a no-change HS2 service, using 390s for the long hauls to Scotland could cut the journey time between Scotland and the South by 6 to 9 minutes and between Scotland and Preston by 13 minutes, larger cuts if the HS2 services are joined or split in Carstairs. Also, fewer expensive classic compatible train sets would be needed.
If HS2 Ltd decides that passengers should be delayed by 6 to 9 minutes by running HS2 services to Scotland, dividing or making up 400m train sets should be done in Preston. HS2 trains from or to Edinburgh and Glasgow are currently scheduled to stop at Carstairs to divide or make up 400m train sets from or to the south. To stop at Carstairs is a waste of energy and traveller's time. The operation takes at most one minute and should be done in Preston where the HS2 trains will stop anyway. It would cost one 3 minute path between Preston and Carstairs for each 400m train handled in Preston. But such paths would be available since every one of the 200m HS2 services from or to Edinburgh and Glasgow would replace one existing Pendolino service on that route.
Dividing or making up 400m train sets in Preston would also allow the timetable compilers the flexibility to assign any 200m HS2 service to call at any station in the Northwest and Scotland (Blackpool, Carlisle, Lancaster, Oxenholme etc), just like they do with Pendolino services now.
This section last revised 24 September 2019