Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Now that’s a second city

Posted in Customer service, Great Britain, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 13 December 2010

There is often a debate in Britain about which major regional centre constitutes the country’s “second city”. Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh have all weighed in with claims recently, while Leeds can also make such a claim owing to its burgeoning financial and commercial clout. But, wouldn’t it be fair to say that how somewhere is linked to the capital is important, and this is where Birmingham, which has traditionally been the “second city”, comes into its own. Birmingham New Street is undoubtedly the major regional hub of the national rail network, with most trains heading to the four corners of the island passing through it at some stage. But, it is also a major terminus for fast trains from London, with three services an hour to and from London Euston (plus another that goes on to Wolverhampton). There is also the other two city centre stations, and it is here that we can see the ever increasing improvement. Today, Chiltern have started running services into the newly reopened terminal platforms at Birmingham Moor Street. These new platforms are intended to serve Chiltern’s planned fast services to London Marylebone, freeing up capacity through the tunnel to Birmingham Snow Hill. The Evergreen 3 speed improvements intended to raise the maximum speed of the route to 100mph will put Marylebone and Moor Street just 100 minutes apart, a timetable that starts to compare favourably with Virgin’s 90 odd minute service from Euston to New Street. Not only that, but by having their express services to Birmingham terminate at Moor Street, Chiltern will be able to start running more services through the centre of the city and out beyond – currently, Chiltern run peak time services to Kidderminster, which could be extended to serve all day. Or, Chiltern’s occasional Oxford-Birmingham services could be expanded. But we digress. The point is that the investment in services from London to Birmingham, both with Evergreen 3 and the Virgin High Frequency timetable, give credence to Birmingham’s claim to be the second city. Once High Speed 2 is up and running, there could well end up being further legitimacty to this claim.

A Chiltern Railways train stands at the newly refurbished terminal platform at Birmingham Moor Street


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  1. […] about what should be included on this particular template, and what should not be. For example, I’ve spoken before about the idea of the “second city”, and which of the United Kingdom’s other […]

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