John Redwood, Conservative MP for Workingham is a notable opponent of HS2 and has been challenging the Department for Transport on the rationale for building it.
Recently he wrote on his blog
One day after the essential vote on the principles of the HS2 Bill I received a reply to questions I had posed to the Transport Department. I asked about how full or empty trains are out of Euston in the morning peaks. I have long argued from my own experience that there is no capacity problem to the north for business people wanting to go at prime time.
The Ministry has confirmed that in the first hour trains out of Euston have 82.1% of their seats empty. In the second hour they have 62.6% of their seats empty, and in the third hour taking us up to 8.59 am they have 54.8% of their seats empty. I rest my case. A shortage of seats to get to the Northern cities to do a day’s work and boost the northern economy is not a problem.
I have also looked up where most of the travellers are, in the light of arguments that London and the South East has enjoyed too much of the investment money in the railways in recent years. I have discovered that 72.7% of the journeys undertaken on the entire British network are in London, the South East and Eastern region bordering London. All journeys in regions without a border with London account for just 27% of the total. Within this Wales has 1.7% of total national journeys, Scotland 5.3%, and the North East 0.8%.
Similarly, in the evenings, long distance trains from Euston are half full. In figures released for the judicial review, the DfT admitted that during the three hour peak period, long distance trains out of Euston have an average loading factor of 52.2%.
The data supplied to John Redword can be downloaded here.