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Helping reduce overcrowding

HS2’s brand new track and fast intercity services will carry more than 2 million people a week.

Architects overview image of Old Oak Common station
HS2 will also free up space on existing lines for new local train services, passengers and freight
Old Oak Common super hub station will connect to local and regional trains

By freeing up space on existing lines, for new local train services, passengers and freight, HS2 helps ease congestion and over-crowding. Travelling by train becomes a more convenient and enjoyable option for everybody, regardless of how far they’re going.

HS2's new line supplements three major main lines by releasing capacity on them

The West Coast Main Line is Europe’s busiest mixed-use railway, accommodating fast inter-city services, stopping commuter trains and freight. By putting high speed services on a dedicated line, HS2 will allow more trains and fewer delays along this route.

Only HS2 adds 13,000 peak hour seats on the West Coast Main Line route by building a new railway. The existing railway has been upgraded and is already near capacity. Without HS2 further upgrades can only add 3,000 more seats while severely disrupting services for many years.

HS2 will also enable faster and more frequent services for passengers travelling along the East Coast Main Line between York, Leeds and London. And, on  the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and London.

Use our station picker interactive tool to find out about the stations HS2 will serve along these busy routes.

Crowded station concourse
Upgrading the existing network can't provide all the additional capacity needed

Why don’t we just upgrade the existing network?

Much of the UK’s rail network was built over 100 years ago. Demand for rail travel has more than doubled in the past twenty years and passenger numbers continue to grow.

In many places the rail network is over-crowded and unreliable with rail journeys slow and uncomfortable. Commuter and inter-city lines serving London, Birmingham and Manchester are under particular pressure.

The Government is investing £40bn in the existing network, but this cannot provide all the additional capacity required for the future. As a brand new line, HS2 is the best option for taking the pressure off the existing network and adding extra capacity where it is needed most.

Architects image of Old Oak Common station interior and platforms
Architect's vision of the interior of Old Oak Common superhub

How many trains will run?

Once the full network is complete we expect HS2 trains to carry over 300,000 passengers a day. We have planned for the future by making sure that the HS2 network can grow with increased demand.

Up to 48 HS2 trains will be running on the rail network every hour. Up to 18 HS2 trains will run north from London every hour and up to 18 trains will arrive, each carrying up to 1,100 passengers. From Birmingham, up to 6 further HS2 trains will run north every hour, with 6 arriving.

Use our station picker interactive tool to find out about the stations we serve. Each station page lists example journey times.

Architect's vision of the exterior of Leeds station redevelopment.
The high speed train station at Leeds will be a catalyst for wider regeneration

What about regional and local trains?

By shifting long-distance services onto the brand new railway, HS2 will release space on existing routes and provide options for new or additional local, cross-country, commuter and freight services in many areas.

HS2 could also double the number of peak time seats available on busy services from Manchester Piccadilly towards Crewe and Stoke, and from Leeds towards Wakefield and Doncaster.

No decisions on the use of released capacity have yet been taken and options for inclusion in the final HS2 timetable will be developed. A study by Network Rail has shown that with HS2, over 100 towns and cities could benefit from new commuter and intercity services on existing lines.