HS2 – The end of the line

In a recent piece I said that the HS2 link between Birmingham and London should be seen as just that – a link – part of a European network. I suggested that the trains could begin in Glasgow or Belfast (even Dublin) and pass through Birmingham and London on their way to Malaga, Palermo or Umea.

In their reply people seemed to infer that I thought there was some latent demand for people to travel by train from Dublin to Umea or from Glasgow to Malaga – far from it. Few people ever travel the length of railway line.

I simply believe that the evidence shows that through stations work better than terminus stations – even if not many people travel through the station concerned.

Take the Tyne and wear Metro as an example. You can get on a train at South Shields, go west on the southern side of the Tyne, through Jarrow and Gateshead and cross the Tyne into Newcastle. Staying on the same train now travel north towards Gosforth. At Gosforth the train turns to the east until it hits the coast at Whitley Bay and instead of running into the sea it turns south to North Shields.

Here, after passing through thirty stations and going west, north, east and south, it is almost back to where it began its journey. But the train continues on. This time it turns west again but along the north side of the Tyne through Wallsend and back into Newcastle Monument station. It had travelled through this station over twenty stations ago. Yet the trains still moves on.

Clearly no-one takes this train from the beginning of the line to the end. Each passenger uses it for their own few stations. Each little journey overlaps those of many other passengers.

The same applies in the European network. Most of the passengers that get on a high speed train which sets of at Cork will get off at Dublin but many will continue through to Belfast. In Dublin passengers will get on for Glasgow. In Belfast passengers might get on for Glasgow, Edinburgh or Newcastle. In Glasgow people might get on for Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham, or London. And so it goes on all the way to Malaga.

Perhaps there might be person getting off at Malaga who got on at Cork but I doubt it. However, if you could break the journey I dare say a few people in Corkshire would like to travel to the winter sun by rail if they could.