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Article from BTNews 8 NOVEMBER 2021

No easy connection to HS2 *

A conference in London last week was told that whilst HS2 interchange for the airports has been planned it is going to come down to intuitive connections between plane and train, BTN railway expert Andrew Sharp reports.

Caroline Donaldson, Managing Director of West Coast Partnership, made that response to a question at the Railway Industry Association annual conference in London on Thursday.

It was pointed out that no airport will have a direct connection to High Speed 2.

Heathrow passengers will have a change of train (and level) at Old Oak Common: they may get a non-stop Heathrow Express or a stopping (and much less comfortable) Elizabeth line train. At Birmingham, there will be a five-minute connection by multi-stop people mover. At Manchester, while the form of connection has yet to be finalised (people mover or Metrolink tram between Terminal 2 and the HS2 station on the other side of the M56) it is likely to be non-stop.

West Coast Partnership has been appointed shadow operator of HS2. It is producing considerable design work on stations, trains and systems in preparation for a 2029 opening. It advises government but it is not the decision maker. Research showed that potential passengers are unaware what they can expect from high-speed rail which is different from the existing railway. This may be a compliment to current long-distance train operators: they are providing what passengers want or expect!

Ms Donaldson seems to assume that by 2029 everyone will have a smart device to guide them through the information, ticketing and reservation system: let us hope they do and that it will be a compatible one. It may be recalled that when Norwegian started flying to Bangkok, passengers had to buy everything they wanted – including water – on board with a credit or debit card: sadly, the airline’s system was incompatible with Thai credit cards!  There is also a parallel with London City Airport where politics have got in the way, the existing Silvertown (North London line) station not replaced.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

David Starkie, United Kingdom

Passengers from the north...and benefitting UK plc. This is a complex issue. MCTs are much less at AMS than LHR and if frequencies are cut to European hubs, UK business travellers do not necessarily benefit.

Andrew Sharp, United Kingdom

Yes, but not enough! There were to be 2 trains/hour to LHR: with integrated ticketing they could save passengers from the north changing at AMS, CDG or FRA and benefit UK plc. The LHR spur was deemed 'too expensive'.

Jeff Jones, United Kingdom

This problem with the interchange was obvious from day one. All it does is slow the trains down. How many people will actually be making their way to Heathrow. Has any research been done?