Jill Hope

Northamptonshire County Councillor for Sixfields - a Lib Dem campaigner working all year round, not just at election time Learn more

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APRIL M1 CHAOS shows why HS2 is vital for Northampton

by Jill Hope on 18 April, 2011

THE RECENT M1 Motorway chaos was caused by a fire under the motorway south of London Gateway (formerly Scratchwood) Services.

Southbound Pendolino north of Roade cutting

All lanes north and southbound were closed for several days including a weekend of key sporting events at Wembley Stadium and the London Marathon. Many fans wanted to get to the semi-final of the FA Cup between the two teams from Manchester – Man City and Man United.

The West Coast Main Line is the main rail connection from Manchester to London Euston. Fans caught up in the traffic fumed their indignation with long road delays on the A1, M40, M6 and massive hold ups on the M1 diversion routes.

It just highlights the need for a high-speed rail link and demonstrates the limited capacity on the current West Coast Main Line.

According to The Observer of 17 April there are just three trains per hour between Manchester and London. Each has a capacity to seat 439 passengers. So on a typical day the line can only carry 1,317 passengers per hour from Manchester and London.

Obviously on a busy weekend there are extra trains but there is a clear need for extra capacity and a high speed line is the only proper solution.

Modest improvements on the West Coast Main Line may help plug the gap till HS2 is ready in 2025 but the public have only just got over the upgrade to 120mph trains. There is no way users of this line will stomach another 10 years of delays with another upgrade.

Additional lines on a high-speed route are essential in the next 15 years. Essential for the travelling public. Essential for our economy. Essential for access to London from Northampton.

See also: M1 closure affects FA Cup semis and London Marathon – BBC News

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