The Anonymous Widower

Why Does Birmingham Interchange Station On High Speed Two Need Four Long Platforms?

This page on the High Speed Two web site describes the design and construction at Birmingham Interchange station.

This paragraph talks about the overall design philosophy of the station.

The Interchange Station itself will be made up of two 415 metre long island platforms, offering 4 platform faces, as well as 2 central high speed through lines for non-stopping services. The station will be linked to the NEC, Birmingham International Station and Birmingham Airport via an automated people mover carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction. In addition to the APM, the station will be fully integrated with other local buses, taxis and private vehicle options.


  1. There would appear to be six tracks through the station.
  2. The four platforms will accept the longest High Speed Two trains.
  3. The automated people mover appears to be very comprehensive.

Birmingham Interchange certainly seems to have been designed as a very high capacity station.

This table gives the a list of the trains that will call at Birmingham Interchange station.


  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 14 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size


  1. 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. Train 11 is a pair of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains, that  split and join at Carlisle.

Only five 400 metre trains call at Birmingham Interchange.

I have some thoughts.

Stations Served From Birmingham Interchange

These destinations are served from Birmingham Interchange.

  • Two tph – Birmingham Curzon Street
  • One tph – Carlisle
  • One tph – East Midlands Hub
  • One tph – Edinburgh Haymarket
  • One tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • One tph – Glasgow Central
  • One tph – Leeds
  • Five tph – London Euston
  • One tph – Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • One tph – Motherwell
  • One tph – Preston

I suspect as the service develops more services will stop at Birmingham Interchange, to reduce the number of passenger journeys where a change is necessary.

Surely Liverpool needs a service from Birmingham Interchange, as it doesn’t have one from Birmingham Curzon Street.

Perhaps, the Liverpool/Lancaster service should stop at Birmingham Interchange?

Splitting And Joining At Birmingham Interchange


  • The position of Birmingham Interchange to the South of the junction where the Western and Eastern legs, surely makes it an ideal place for splitting and joining a pair of trains, one of which serves the Western leg and the other serves the Eastern.
  • The Liverpool/Lancaster service could split and join at Birmingham Interchange to give better connectivity between the North West and the West Midlands.

Intelligent use of splitting and joining at Birmingham Interchange could make better use of paths to and from Euston.

Splitting And Joining Of Full-Size Trains At Birmingham Interchange

According to the currently proposed timetable Birmingham Curzon Street, Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly will all get three Full-Size tph to and from London Euston, with East Midlands Hub and Leeds getting two Full-Size tph.

This may be a right decision, but if four Full-Size tph is the frequency needed on some routes, then splitting and joining of Full-Size trains can be used at Birmingham Interchange to increase frequencies.

Suppose it was decided that the Leeds and Manchester services needed to be four Full-Size tph.

  • The London and Manchester service that stops at Birmingham Interchange would split into two trains at the station, with one train going to Manchester and the other going to Leeds.
  • The London and Leeds service that stops at Birmingham Interchange would split into two trains at the station, with one train going to Manchester and the other going to Leeds.

Coming South the two services would join at Birmingham Interchange.

I can almost envisage  Full-Size pairs of trains leaving London Euston every ten minutes, which then split and join at Birmingham Interchange to give Leeds and Manchester a core service of six Full-Size tph.

There are a large number of possibilities.

Down One Leg Up T’Other

Birmingham Interchange can be used as an interchange station for journeys where you come South on one leg and then go North on the other.

It might even be possible to arrange some changes with an interchange across one of the island platforms at Birmingham Interchange.

Turning Back Trains

There is a worry about late trains delaying everything.

But because it has four platforms, it could be the station, where trains are turned back, when they are running very late.

It could be better to turnback a train at Birmingham Interchange, rather than let it run all the way to Euston and create havoc.

Perhaps, simulation has shown, that two extra platforms at Birmingham Interchange enable the optimal working of ten platforms t Euston?

Line Blocked Or Blockaded Between Birmingham And Euston

Events happen and there may be reasons why services can’t run through to London.

It could easily be turned into a mini-terminus for services to the North and linked to London by either the West Coast Main Line or a Rail Replacement Bus.


Because of its position in the middle of the country, I suspect there are many reasons for the four long platforms at Birmingham Interchange station.


August 21, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Ashford International on HS1 has 8 lines running through it and 4 long platform faces – see
    I would expect the Birmingham interchange to eventually become much larger, especially if it starts handling international passenger traffic, Scotland, France, Belgium, wherever . . .

    Comment by John Robin St.Clair | August 21, 2021 | Reply

  2. A very useful set of articles AW that help clarify the HS2 plans, thank you. I think there is just one missing ingredient to the big picture, and common to all large infrastructure projects in the UK, a sense of urgency. In my life time the only occasion when such an ingredient was applied was when there were immovable dates involved (London Olympics, the Millennium) Oh well, I do hope I’m around to take a trip…

    Comment by PJS | August 22, 2021 | Reply

    • Could the lack of urgency be down to the fact, that too many in places like the Treasury and the Department of Transport feel, that we’ll never wean people out of their cars.

      The Treasury must be worried about where all the revenue is going to go, if people use public transport and don’t drive long distances all the time in their fossil-fuelled cars.

      We need everybody in Government or working for it to explain what HS2 will do for the man on the Blackpool tram etc.

      Comment by AnonW | August 22, 2021 | Reply

      • With the switch to electric vehicles then the treasury looks like loosing a large amount currently raised by fuel duty which is not charged on electricity charging. Something someone is going to have to decide on a replacement for !

        Comment by Melvyn | August 22, 2021

  3. Yes, the case for HS2 could have been better argued – perhaps by replacing the misnomer ‘High Speed’ as if this was its sole raison d’etre,(no sane party is going to build a new railway that is slower) with a more appropriate label, National Vital Infrastructure 1…anyway a mute point now.

    One last question, I am not an engineer of any kind, but if reduced to 10 lines at Euston, could not judiscious planning at Old Oak Common make up for this, with being perfectly placed to offer various contingencies when there are delays into Euston etc.

    Comment by PJS | August 22, 2021 | Reply

    • I think that judicious planning at both Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange can make up for not having an eleventh platform.

      But I also wonder if the ability to split and join at Birmingham Interchange offers some interesting get out of trouble scenarios, which work with both 10 and 11 platforms.

      It is a multivariant problem.

      One thing that 10 platforms gives you is ten platforms from Day 1, as there is no phase 2. Human nature being what it is, I wouldn’t be surprised that signallers and train staff learn a lot more in the early years as they are not constrained by platform numbers.

      Experience on the job teachers people a lot more, than even the best simulations.

      Comment by AnonW | August 22, 2021 | Reply

  4. Thank you for answering my questions, AW, so promptly, I feel better informed thanks to your articles.

    One supplementary question, given rumours in the media, today, that the ‘eastern leg’ of HS2 is being ‘mothballed’, if the ‘western arm’ of HS2 allowed 2 tph to run from Manchester to Leeds, intergrated into any NPR project, would this not compensate for any such loss of the ‘eastern route’, I would imagine the projected times would be marginally different, and as you have argued on your site, with certain upgrades to the current lines running from London to Leeds, HS2 would be hard pressed to actually make significant time savings anyway.

    Comment by PJS | August 22, 2021 | Reply

  5. I very much feel, that the Eastern Leg of HS2 and Crossrail 2 can both be protected and built in perhaps twenty years or so.

    In the meantime the ECML, MML and NPR can carry the load provided there are loads of digital signalling and enough electrification to allow Hull, Lincoln, Cleethorpes and many other places to be reached by battery-electric classic-compatible trains.

    We just need to apply vision to deliver what is possible.

    Your last statement is totally right!

    It would deliver jam much quicker than HS2 with faster times by 2025.

    Comment by AnonW | August 22, 2021 | Reply

  6. The map of HS2 can easily make one forget the railway network is far bigger than that proposed for HS2 and with Birmingham being at the centre of the rail network then it’s possible for some cross country routes that don’t serve London to eventually be served by classic compatible HS2 trains with trains linking to south west or even Wales in due course after taking benefits of northern sections of HS2 . Thus these trains would not be going to Euston!

    The above option would counter the need for the eleventh platform at Euston Station.

    Comment by Melvyn | August 22, 2021 | Reply

    • Agreed! High Speed Two should be a railway for as many parts of the UK as possible.

      I could see a junction or a station with the East West Railway at Calvert to serve Wales and the West and East Anglia.

      Comment by AnonW | August 22, 2021 | Reply

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