05 December 2013

The future for Qantas (and British Airways??)

This blogger published today this article on the magazine Business Travel ´s discussion forum. I thought why not share it on my blog.
The advantage for BA is quite obvious.


Buying Business Travel (BT´s sister publication??) today 5th December published this article:
"Qantas to cut 1,000 jobs as bookings slump"

This and other news media talk about Qantas´ difficulty in surviving in a difficult downward looking market and as a (at least) perceived government owned flag carrier.

This was in addition to the interesting article CAPA published today about Qantas which explains the whys and wherefores of its woes.
"Is Qantas and Australia’s aviation system in meltdown? No, but challenges are all around"

The comparison is made with Virgin Australia which is very boyant and aggressive. Apparently the rules and regulations about ownership are different in each airline.

Qantas has a limit of 25% to be owned by any single foreign airline (that is what BA bought in the tranch of shares sold by the Australian government on partial privatisation of QF.). To that must be added the clause which permits various foreign airlines together having up to a grand total of 35% of the stock.

That clause is the reason Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand as well as Virgin group are all shareholders of V.Australia. However, since there is another clause which permits 100% foreign ownership of domestic airlines(management must be local), the intrigue does not stop there.
"Virgin’s international ownership and control integrity is protected by ring-fencing the international operation from the domestic operation."(CAPA)
This means that the four aforementioned groups own 80% of the domestic operation.

The importance of this is mentioned by CAPA again "A recent equity raising by Virgin, made easier thanks to these shareholdings, has provoked indignation from Qantas that it is being forced to fight on unequal terms with Virgin Australia."

All this means that Qantas wants to bite the bullet, change its ownership structure to fight on equal terms against V. Australia and sort out its antiquated work pratices.

On the same lines Airwise/Reuters published this article today as well
"Qantas Pleads For Australian Govt. Intervention"

This explains the problems QF faces with the Australian government and Parliament as it wants to increase the 49% foreign ownership(not only airline) limit. It does, however, illustrate that the airline is attractive to investors not least because of its "underlying profit to AUD$192 million for the most recent financial year."(Airwise) and
 "...the world’s most valuable airline frequent flyer programme that serves to deliver considerable loyalty and enormous revenue streams."(CAPA)

That means a string of foreign airlines could be interested.
Emirates is the first and most obvious - in order to protect its partnership with QF. Could that then mean that Emirates would start on doing an Etihad - investing in other airlines to build world partnerships? My view is that Emirates would not invest (be allowed to invest??) alone. It would be with another or other partners but who?

The other obvious conclusion is to look at QF´s alliance - oneworld. Here there are various possible suitors BA, Qatar, Malaysian and Cathay Pacific, at least.
-BA is too far away to invest on its own.
-BA and Qatar - this is a possiblity with QF transferring its flights from Dubai to Doha. It solves the problems of connections with European cities (as with Emirates but not so threatening for BA)and solves the lack of penetration of Qatar in the Australian market.
-BA and Malaysian: not as attractive as Qatar but connecting through Kuala Lumpur is a possibility.
-Cathay Pacific with BA is probably an impossible dream but
-Cathay Pacific alone is a strong possibility especially with regard to the Chinese market with Dragonair. It might mean QF dropping its amibitions of a LCC Jetstar subsidiary based at Hong Kong.

In another thread on BT...
"British Airways Rumoured to be Axing Historic London-Sydney 747 Route"

....there is a lot of speculation as to why BA is the only remaining European carrier to fly the long route.
I would say that there could be two reasons
1- to protect its own market share on this traditional route with a lot of business, family and sporting connections whatever happens and
2- to reinvest in Qantas with others to protect its own interests and its plans with oneworld - especially with Qatar.

If the rules on foreign airline ownership were changed so as to be the same as Virgin Australia`s then I am sure that BA would(should) jump at the chance. We shall see.

09 October 2013

Airport Rail Links.

The trips taken by air passengers reflect their need or anxiety to arrive at their destination quickly. Whether we are leaving from or arriving at an airport does not matter since we have to do both on each trip. We also have to take as a necessary onus the immigration/customs/security controls we have to suffer. Other aspects over which we have no control are the check-in and baggage reclaim procedures. The efficiency of all these can make a trip pleasant or sufferable or totally unbearable.

Where there is a tremendous variety of possibilities is in the journey to/from the airport.
What all the forms have in common is the desire to be able to travel fast, in reasonable comfort, at a reasonable price with the opportunity of reasonable frequency of service so that any waiting is reduced to a minimum.

Individual road transport is highly popular in use. This can range from somebody arriving at the airport in his/her own car, leaving it there for the duration of their time away in a long term car park so is able to pick it up again on return. Another variant is the drop off/pick up where the passenger is taken to/from the airport by a family member or friend by car. This is similar to the taxi service whereby the drop off/pick up service is charged for. The least frequent variant of this is the chauffeur driven car where a company or government agency provides a car and driver to transport its top level executives or dignatories. While indiviual road  transport is highly polluting and occupies much road space, it is also the most convenient because it can provide a door to door service at the convenience of the passenger.

Public transport in the form of bus or coaches is used to a great extent especially at middling to large airports. Coaches can be used to connect to city centres and other important destinations both regionally and long distance. Heathrow has a central bus station connecting to a large number of towns and cities countrywide.Local buses provide connections to neighbouring districts for both passengers and airport workers. In those cases where there is no airport rail station the buses will be used to connect to the nearest rail station as is the case at Luton airport.

However, the one form of public transport to/from airports which has proved to be (a) the fastest with speeds which are higher than those permitted on the roads, and (b) more efficient since it is able to carry large numbers of passengers(up to and even more than 500 pax. each time) is the train or the tram.

Some such train services pass through the airport on a route elswhere. These are the cases of the train services which pass through (under) the airports of Zurich and Geneva on their way to the city centres and even on further to the rail network countrywide.

However, some countries have decided on the model to connect the airports to the city centres from where the passengers disembark to transfer on to other services to their destinations. These have come to be known as the Airport Rail Link.  They can be defined as movements,

It is worth looking at some connections between airports and city centres.  
The Business Traveller magazine published on 30th April 2013 a review written by Alex McWhirter called the 
"Ten top rail-air links"
The information is summed up in the following table. For the purposes of this article this blogger added the column indicating the average speed of the trains according to the information provided.

journey distance time Average speed operator
-1. Brussels Midi - Amsterdam Schiphol: 200kms. 92mins. 130kph. Thalys
-2. Strasbourg -
Paris CDG:
480kms. 150mins. 192kph. TGV
-3. Cologne - Frankfurt: 177kms. 56mins. 190kph. ICE
-4. Brussels Midi -
Paris CDG:
300kms. 75mins. 240kph. TGV
-5. London Paddington-Heathrow: 23,5kms. 15mins. 94kph. HEX
-6. Stuttgart - Frankfurt: 210kms. 72mins. 175kph. ICE
-7. Stockholm Arlanda-Stockholm Central: 38kms. 20mins. 114kph. Arlanda Express
-8. Oslo airport-downtown: 51kms. 19mins. 160kph. Flytoget
-9. Zurich airport-downtown: 13kms. 11mins. 71kph. SBB
-10. Munich airport-downtown: 37kms. 45mins. 49kph. DB---S-Bahn

Many of these routes are quite a long distance. That means that high speed trains can be and are used for the connections. Of note are the connections at Stockholm and Oslo. These are not long distance but still manage average speeds of 114kph and 160kph. respectively

Though the following table information does not appear in the article, I have used the same criteria to establish a comparison for connections in the UK.

These connections would be from airports in the south East of England, or have been mentioned at some time as possible alternatives to South East England airports which could serve London.

journey distance time Average speed operator
i. Gatwick - Victoria 43Kms. 30mins. 86Kph. Gatwick Express (Southern)
ii. Stansted - Liverpool St. 60kms. 47mins. 77kph. Stansted Express
(Greater Anglia)
iii. Luton Airport Parkway - St.Pancras 47kms. 30mins. 94kph. First Capital Connect
Southend Airport -
Liverpool St.
64kms. 53mins. 72kph. Greater Anglia
v. Southampton Airport - Waterloo 121kms. 71mins. 102kph. South West Trains
vi. Birmingham Int. Airport - Euston 168kms. 72mins. 140kph. Virgin Trains
vii. East Mids. Airpt.Parkway - St.Pancras 190kms. 87mins. 130kph. East Midland Trains
viii. Heathrow(Central) - Paddington 23,5kms. 15mins. 94kph. Heathrow Express
ix. Heathrow(Central) - Paddington 23,5kms. 32mins. 44kph. Heathrow Connect

Of other airport connections such as those that exist in Scotland or the north of England there are only four of any relevance.

journey distance time Average speed operator
W. Dyce - Aberdeen 10kms. 10mins. 60kph. Scotrail
X. Prestwick – Glasgow Central 60,5kms. 40mins. 91kph. Scotrail
Y. N/C airport - Newcastle 13kms. 25mins. 31kph. Tyne and Wear Metro
Z. M/C airport – Manchester
16,5kms. 15mins. 66kph. FirstTranspennine Express

Though the circumstances are different only three routes can present fastest times of over 100kph. These are from Southampton, Birmingham and East Midland airports with average speeds of 102kph. 140kph. and 130kph respectively.

It should be pointed out that South West Trains use feed of 750 DC volts from a ground based third rail which will probably be able to provide a maximum speed much lower than the Virgin Trains service using 25,000 AC volts from overhead lines.  Virgin Trains are also speed limited to 200kph. on the WCML,  while the speed capacity of the rolling stock is 225kph. On the MML north of Bedford diesel units must be used up to EM Parkway as the line has not yet been electrified which would suggest that times would be considerably improved when the line is electrified making the option very competitive. Another factor to note on this service is that a bus transfer is necessary to the EM airport terminal as it is some distance from the EM Parkway rail station. Therefore the total travelling time would be somewhat longer.

However, the overall conclusion undoubtedly is that line speeds can and should be improved.

Meanwhile let us look at the rail services on offer to Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow airports.

The origins of Gatwick airport and its rail connection go back to 1891 when a horse racetrack was opened on the land of Gatwick manor next to the London - Brighton Railway. A station was built, called Gatwick Racecourse, to serve the racecourse together with dedicated sidings for the horse boxes.
As was the case then(and is frequently the case now) an aerodrome was built on the race course to facilitate access. Following its opening officially as Gatwick aerodrome in August 1930 the airport gradually increased in activity so that a new rail station was opened in September 1935, known as Gatwick. Two trains per hour stopped here on the Victoria - Brighton line. Thus Gatwick airport was the first in the world to provide a rail connection into the city centre. 
During the 1950s there was discussion about whether to use Stansted or Gatwick as London´s second airport. Gatwick was decided upon and after its rebuilding was opened in 1958 as such. The rebuilt rail station was officially named Gatwick Airport and opened on May 27th. Queen Elizabeth II opened the "new" airport on June 9th.
From June 1958 the rail services were provided  by stopping trains on the Victoria - Brighton line. These were eventually reduced to stopping only at East Croydon between the airport and Victoria. 

In May 1984 the non-stop rail service between Gatwick Airport and Victoria began as Gatwick Express for the first time. It was segregated from the other British Rail´s inter-city operations into a seperate unit. It was thus the first unit to be privatised and started as a franchise, operated by National Express, 28th April 1996.  The franchise was incorporated into the South Central franchise, operated by Southern, on 22nd June 2008. The Department of Transport has subsequently announced that  in July 2015, the South Central franchise will be merged into the proposed new Thameslink Southern Great Northern franchise. The unit at present operates and is planned to operate in the future under its own identity.

Other operators provide services from or through Gatwick Airport. Southern operates under its own name under different stopping patterns with services from the south coast to Victoria and London Bridge stations. First Capital Connect operates from Brighton through Gatwick to Blackfriars, Farringdon(for the future Crossrail), St.Pancras(for Eurostar and intercity lines northwards) and on to Luton(for the airport) and Bedford. First Great Western operates to Reading for connections to Birmingham, to South Wales and to Bristol and the South West.

As part of the expansion of Stansted airport and the extension of electrification of the line from Liverpool St. to Cambridge at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. a branch line was constructed from  Stansted Mountfitchet, to Stansted Airport. This enabled direct trains to run from Liverpool St., Cambridge and elsewhere. At first converted regional trains were adapted for use on the service but since March 2011 specially constructed electrical units have been designated to the route.

The trains run every 15 mins. and take 47 mins. to reach Liverpool St. with an intermediate stop in outer London at Tottenhan Hale for passengers connecting with LUL´s Victoria Line.

Other services are offered from the airport to Liverpool St. on Greater Anglia local stopping services. Cross Country Trains run trains hourly through most of the day along the tortuous route to Peterborough, Leicester and Birmingham New St. taking about 3hrs.13mins. to cover the 256kms journey at an average speed of 80kph. This speed  not only makes this route very unattractive but also meanders its way across the countryside when the distance between the two points is 162kms. (as the proverbial crow flies). 

The services into Heathrow airport are another story.
With the increase in passenger numbers in the 1960s the government decided to extend the LUL Piccadilly LIne from Hounslow West into Heathrow.

Work began in April 1971 on construction of the Piccadilly Line extension from Hounslow West to Heathrow Central (5.6 kms.).
Hatton Cross (for the maintenance area in the east of the airport) opened 19th July 1975.
The Heathrow Central extension was finally opened 16th December 1977. By the early 1980s passenger figures passed 30 million so a new terminal was built at the south east of the airport,opened officially 1st April 1986. The single line loop from Hatton Cross to Terminal 4 round to Heathrow Central was opened with only one platform in T4 and is unidirectional.
A connection from T4 to the Great Western Main Line(GWML) was approved in 1988. This non-stop rail service  from Paddington mainline station to Heathrow T4 was opened in its full extension 23rd June 1998.The service from Paddington to Heathrow runs at 15 minute intervals taking just 15 minutes to arrive at Heathrow Central (to Terminal 5 it takes 21 mins.).The capital cost of GBP190 million was covered 80% by BAA and 20% by British Rail. Thus Heathrow Express(HE) is both operated by BAA(now known as Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited) and owned by them from the  GWML to the airport. However, it is maintained by Network Rail for Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited.The service now runs from Paddington to Terminal 5 while it offers a shuttle service from Heathrow Central to Terminal 4.



 Heathrow Connect (HC)(a joint venture between Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd. and First Great Western) started 12th June 2005, running originally from Paddington to T4. This is a stopping service from Paddington along the GWML and then ran, originally, into Heathrow Central and T4. Now it runs only to Heathrow Central. From there anybody who wants to travel to (or from) T4 has to connect to an HE shuttle service.

The problem seems to reside in  the connection at Airport Junction between the HE line and the GWML. The frequency of trains is restricted which is why HE has 4 trains per hour(tph) running into T5 while HC only offers 2tph. The original connection at Airport Junction, Stockley Flyover, has a complicated system of operation.The original flyover connected the HE line to the fast lines on the GWML. With the introduction of HC services these used the GWML slow lines. This meant a combination of reverse running over the flyover and crossing the fast lines in the other direction(this is a total line capacity reducing measure).

 It seems that this problem should be solved with the introduction of Crossrail services in 2019 which will take over the HC services. These will run from Heathrow, probably T4, to the central area, through to Paddington then Central London and out east at 4tph(double the HC frequency).

There has been talk about long distance trains being run from Heathrow to other parts of the country but nothing concrete has been decided upon so far. There is, however, an initiative to link the GWML to Heathrow from the direction of Reading.This could be a shuttle service to that important rail centre, or it could the link opening up services from South Wales, Bristol and the South West.

Conclusion: The idea of providing transport links from city centres and elsewhere to main airports has extended worldwide. With new airports it is taken for granted that a rail link will be provided from the airport to the city centre, and even elsewhere. The UK led in this field with the connection from Gatwick airport but has dithered and dathered in the 21st century about the extension of the idea to all airports. The problematic extension of the Edinburgh tram scheme to the airport is a case in point.

The controversial HS2 has proved another case in point. The proposal is for the line to stop someway outside Birmingham on its way north, but not at nor anywhere near the airport. The extension to Manchester stops near the airport but not at it, even though the infrastructure exists. On the extension to Leeds the line is planned to run under(!!!) East Midlands airport to Toton which is somewhat outside Nottingham, but not at the airport. This illustrates nothing but blinkered thinking, if any thinking at all.  

The lines to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted airports have to be looked at again. Increasing the tracks from 2 to 4 or even 6 might well be necessary to accommodate the increase in traffic to be envisaged. This will mean for local as well as airport passengers. The Victoria-Brighton line is crowded so the possibilities of increasing services without subtracting others from the line is rather limited. Luton can be connected to both the MML, the ECML (at Stevenage) while a shuttle train service to the WCML (at Milton Keynes) could make it the best connected airport.  Stansted, on the other hand needs an upgrade of the tracks to 4 so as to enable fast trains not to mix with slow ones thus increasing line speeds.

The same applies to airports elsewhere in the country.For example, Prestwick has a station but few passengers while Glasgow has passengers but no rail connection - it was dumped a couple of years ago. Modernisation and upgrades should be the order of the day. Connection times can only be reduced by two means by (a) better or more track and alignment, or (b) better and more appropriate rolling stock. We often forget that improvements for one purpose(in this case airport links) can frequently mean improvements for all users. So be it.

29 June 2013

Parkway rail stations - a concept gone wrong

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/ParkAndRideSignOxford20050910.JPGThe idea of "Park and Ride " facilities has been around for some years now in Great Britain. It provides the possibility of driving one´s car to an out-of-town area where the car can be parked for long periods,such as all day, or even longer. From there the person can take public transport, bus, tram, train etc.(or even car-share with others), to transfer into the town or city without blocking road space and the town centre car parks for long periods. This, supposedly, lightens traffic on the roads and,  for those people who need to enter the town centre, facilitates the ability to obtain car parking  space.

The schemes have been known by different names and have evolved over the years into different variants, reaching the stage that with the development of HS2 the Parkway stations are not what was conceived but an easy quick-fix to a different problem - i.e. city/town centre access.

Kiss and ride:

Many railway stations and airports feature an area in which cars can discharge and pick up passengers without parking. These "kiss-and-ride" facilities allow drivers to stop and wait for short periods, instead of the longer-term parking associated with park-and-ride facilities. For example: this could be the case when a father drops off his children to catch the bus or train on the way to school; or it could mean a wife picks up her husband to take home after he arrives on the commuter train in the evening.

No kissing on Warrington Bank Quay´s forecourt in 2009
Here an anecdote should be mentioned  about the event which occurred at Warrington Bank Quay station in February 2009 just before Valentine´s Day. The station decided to put up the sign pictured on the left. The purpose was to stop people from having extended goodbye kisses since such actions were blocking the passage for traffic in the very restricted forecourt. It became a notable/notorious news item  on TV channels at home and abroad, in the popular and even serious  newspapers, and online. In the car park kissing was permitted.
Subsequently,due to the hooha raised, after three weeks, the authorities decided to take down the signs and replace them with a more positive message "Kiss me quick" (on the forecourt) and "Kiss me longer" (in the long term car park).

 Parkway stations:

 In theory, park-and-ride facilities allow commuters to avoid the stress of driving a congested part of their journey and facing scarce, expensive city-centre parking. Parkway railway stations were set up to provide these services in the suburbs of a town where commuters lived so that they could board trains without having to go into the centre of the town in order to commute to work in the main regional cities. Since the suburbs of British towns tend to be very extensive these Parkway stations used free (or easily obtainable) land near the stations to provide parking places for cars which otherwise would have driven into the centre of the town blocking the car parks all day.

The stations could be existing ones on the commuter lines with surplus land - such as freight sidings which had been closed. On the other hand they could also be completely new stations to serve new suburbs.

35 stations are designated Parkway stations at present according to Wikipedia.

Bristol Parkway was opened on 1st May 1972. Apart from serving the growing population on the northern side of the city, the idea was to give Bristol a station on the London - South Wales rail line. This was to compliment the services from the city centre station - Bristol Temple Meads - provide easier access to South Wales and offer the opportunity to use the faster trains from South Wales to London Paddington. The concept seemed convincing especially since it has now reached 2.25 million users per annum (2011-12). From this experience all the subsequent ones developed.  

There are Parkway stations that serve airports. Some are new stations to facilitate access to nearby airports on connecting buses such as East Midlands, Liverpool South, and Luton airport. Others are located next to the airports where connection to the terminals can be done with a short walk such as Birmingham International and Southampton.

More are constructed to cover and promote future developments such as Aylesbury Vale. Ebbsfleet International serves the HS1 station near Dartford south of the Thames.  Tourism in St.Ives(Cornwall) is facilitated by Lelant Saltings. At both ends of the Edinburgh Crossrail there are Parkways at Newcraighall and Edinburgh Park.

Didcot and Port Talbot Parkways are exceptions in being close to the town centres.

And so on. The concept, however, is the same - to provide parking facilities at out-of-town stations TO COMPLEMENT any existing facilities in the city or town.

There is a relative paucity of research on the benefits and disadvantages of park-and-ride schemes, which are often marketed as a way to avoid the difficulties and cost of parking in the city centre, but it has also been suggested that there is "a lack of clear-cut evidence for park-and-ride's widely assumed impact in reducing congestion". There is an interpretation that the establishment of "Parkway" facilities has just changed travel patterns. This is understood to mean that those who would have driven into the city fron their suburban residences now drive to to the out-of-town facility.
On the other hand there is another sector of the population who now drive out to the Parkway, or even into the town when they would have taken public transport before. They thus occupy the less full car parks making them as full as before, so the effect produces no benefit..

The most negative aspects are the promotion of road transport, the most noise and fume polluting mode of transport, to reach the out-of-town stations. Trams and buses start from city/town centres. Are we now to duplicate these multiple connections at out-of-town facilities? - I am certain that is not the case.In the city centre the frequency is higher and more varied. Anybody who thinks that the same quality of public transport service will be provided at these Parkways is deluding him/herself.

The blogger "beleben" has provided information about the dubious benefits of "park and ride" facilities, such as Park and ride nonsense

The HS2 proposals:
Now that HS2 is being planned, discussed and voted on,  there are fundamental flaws with the idea of the stations along the route.

The Parkway stations are seen as the way forward to avoid the entry of the trains into the cities (which is actually where people want to go) and thus avoid expensive construction costs. This also makes one think that the alternative of running high speed trains on classic lines into the city centres from the fast lines is just too controversial and would open a Pandora´s Box. This would be a Pandora´s Box since the whole concept of HS2, in the way that it has been designed, would be called into question.  Do we really need to construct a 400kph. train travelling in a straight line, and so carve up the landscape while demolishing buildings in its path? That question has already been made about a line which covers only about half the distance of 500 miles from London to Glasgow/Edinburgh. Cannot it be done in sections to improve the existing infrastructure? Or maybe that proposal is too radical. Upgradings/improvements on the lines north of Preston and York would provide much greater benefits on the WCML and ECML routes to Glasgow and Birmingham.

So let us look at the four Parkway stations proposed on the way to Manchester and Leeds.

Birmingham Interchange will be 1.22kms from Birmingham International station ("as the crow flies" - atcf). However, since the shortest route will not be direct but along a meandering "people mover"(what a horrible name!!) the distance to be covered to the airport terminal will be 2.5kms. Will it be covered to protect against the elements? What an appealing prospect for an elderly person pulling a case on a late dark night when many fewer passengers( but other doubtfully honest/agreeable ones) are around!!! Is it not much simpler to connect HS2 to the classic line just short of Birmingham International so that it can run on the classic line into the city centre or diverge off to the WCML just after the station. This way there are not only easier connections into the airport but with other services, inter-city, regional and local. We thus eliminate HS2 Ltd.´s  unnecessary duplicating of certain line construction and a second station.

Manchester Interchange is in a similar condition as Birmingham. From M/C Interchange to the airport station the distance is 1.67 kms. (atcf) according to my estimates. However, Wikipedia gives a bigger figure of 2.4 kms.
The same comments as I have made about Birmingham Interchange apply. Will any walkway or mechanical mover be covered? The same questions of safety apply for late night passengers. In this case there is an airport station but it could be approached along the existing fast (but uipgraded to 4track) line from Crewe through  Holmes Chapel and Wimslow into the existing station at the airport. From there it could then leave westwards, cross the M56 and continue northeasterly on the HS2 route to Ardwick in the tunnel, to emerge just outside Piccadilly, as planned. This way you improve the access to the airport and eliminate the unnecessary, expensive, countryside destroying "new route" from Crewe to Manchester Interchange.  HS2 Ltd.´s unnecessary duplication of lines and stations yet again.

Toton or East Midlands Hub: there is a great problem here of confusing this named station with the existing East Midlands Airport Parkway.The latter is situated at the eastern end of the runway of East Midlands airport on the MML. This facilitates connections to/ from the MML to the airport by bus and taxi. In fact some local councillors want to transfer the interchange from Toton to East Midlands Airport Parkway ("Councillors want to switch HS2 station from Toton to Parkway", Nottingham Post, 24th June 2013) .This has been echoed by the Derby Telegraph - also 24th June 2013 ("Forget Toton for HS2, put station at airport instead")

     However, Toton it is, at the moment, since it would be situated in the sidings of the same name west of Nottingham.    
I do not know which siting would be better but looking at Toton, it is 9.65 kms. from Nottingham rail station while 12.4kms. from Derby rail station (both atcf) - not exactly on the doorstep. 
HS2 Ltd.(the government agency in charge of the whole project) rather optimistically thinks...." it would be possible for either shuttle or existing services to call at the East Midlands Hub station en route, with a journey time of 12 and 15 minutes from Nottingham and Derby respectively."  If that is the case then would it not be more profitable, cheaper, and provide more connections by using the existing East Midlands Airport Parkway?
The existing proposals by HS2 Ltd. are duplicating stations providing worse connections yet again.

Meadowhall Interchange: the question of this station near Sheffield is different from the other three cases. It is no small distance from the city centre at 5.4kms. (atcf) from Sheffield rail station but at least it is already a train, tram and bus interchange. It that case the infrastructure of other transport modes already exist. Just as important, though, is the fact that travel habits are already in place. People already use the facilities. However, it is still not in the city centre which means a transfer to a train or tram - that is not attractive to passengers with luggage.

 There are clear indications that the stations for HS2 are not what the travelling public wish for. City(or town) centres are such because that is where all the services have been traditionally placed. The main rail station(s), the main bus station, the town hall, the museums,the art galleries, the main library, the main bank and insurance branches,the main hotels, frequently the best restaurants, often the main sports facilities and sport clubs, the principal theatres, cinemas and other cultural event centres, the principal religious places of worship, arenas for congresses, talks and presentations, and the main commerce, shops etc. 

There are several reports, especially the first ones which are now well hidden in the archives, that indicate the best way to develop a new high speed line is by entering into city(town) centres. Here is one published in 2009 by Greengauge 21 (a grouping of various councils and transport bodies) in the document: 

Neither Toton nor Meadowhall  fulfills that need. Manchester airport Interchange is ridiculously distant from the air terminals it is meant to serve, especially when a little positive thinking could make the line traverse the airport station(with adaptation of course). Birmingham Interchange is also too far from the other station at the airport where it could interconnect with other rail(and bus services) separating and duplicating unnecessarily stations as with Manchester. 

 Fast Forward: a high-speed rail strategy for Britain 

 In Chapter 5 (page 28) 

What would a national HSR network look like?

There are three reasons why high-speed rail is planned to run through to the heart of city centres:
Truncating lines (and services) short at the edge of cities deters passengers and destroys the business case; the advantage over other travel modes is seriously  compromised.

We have an aim of encouraging sustainable development. The best way to achieve that with transport investment is to enhance the accessibility (and therefore the value of) city centre locations. This is where business and other activity is at its most intense and where international experience demonstrates high speed rail can best support economic growth.

In Chapter 8(page 61)
Integrating with regional and city plans.
The existing rail network may require reconfiguration and investment in certain locations to facilitate HSR, in particular at shared stations to provide new dedicated HSR platforms or on sections of the classic network where HSR services are envisaged to operate, in order to upgrade line speeds, or to provide gauge clearance, for example.

(page 63)
The engineering analysis carried out for this study programme has shown that it is possible to construct HSR stations in city centres and thus provide a catalyst to local development plans.

In addition to these, there are documents which were prepared  by the consultancies, Atkins and Arup,  for the Department for Transport  concerning HS2 during the first decade of the 21st century and have now been buried in the archives. This was done when the government changed after the election in May 2010 from Labour to the Coalition. It is now extremely difficult to find what you want. 

It just makes me come to a conclusion that there is information which is "uncomfortable" in those reports. I cannot quote chapter and verse but I do remember that in one report there was a statement specifically saying that passengers do not want to go to out-of-town stations but city /town centre ones. All which supports the conclusions in the Greengauge 21 document quoted above.

I fear that this project, HS2, has taken on such a momentum and size that there are too many reputations at risk for any real hope of lucid thinking. The use of classic lines, even into city centres is widespread in European countries where High Speed Trains run - that does not affect their running. In fact it helps the promotion of HS services. To ignore that means that  all the the country, the users, the taxpayers, the residents in the places affected, all lose out. It should not be the case whereby there is too much at stake for anybody to climb down. Rational thinking and thus action is what is needed, not political vainglorious posturing.

The situation of these stations on HS2 outside the cities is an illustration that they are used to satisfy the needs of stops on the lines but not the needs of passengers. They are designed TO SUBSTITUTE city centre facilities. Originally Parkways were complementary stations to the existing ones, as previously mentioned, to alleviate congestion in and into our towns and cities. Now they are feeble excuses or even sops for connections to the high speed network when other more passenger friendly alternatives exist. For whom are the high speed lines, for the users or for the planners, politicians, constructors and consultants?