High Speed Rail Briefing Note
GPEW Conference, Cardiff, 26th February 2011
John Whitelegg (Professor of Sustainable Transport and Lancaster City Councillor) and Jenny Jones (London Assembly Member)
This briefing note is about the High Speed Rail proposal known as HS2, which is a new line and rolling stick from London to Birmingham.
HS2 is based on very large forecast increase in the demand for travel by all modes of transport. This included a 44% increase in long distance car trips by 2033 and a 178% increase in domestic air travel. The impact of HSR on getting people out of cars and plans is minimal. The forecast is an 8% shift from air to HSR and an 8% shift from car to HSR.
Will the high speed line cut carbon emissions? No.
HS2 Ltd tells us it will be broadly carbon neutral (HS2’s Report paragraph 4.2.31)
HS2 trains are fuel-hungry – planned to travel at 225mph, subsequently rising to 250mph. Trains travelling at 225mph use 50% more energy than trains travelling at 186mph.
Source: Campaign for Protection of Rural England. http://www.cpre.org.uk/campaigns/transport/rail/highspeed2 See Getting Back on Track page 18.
An intercity electric train (not HSR) produces 29 grammes of CO2 per passenger km but the HSR train produces 65 grammes.
Source: “To shift or not to shift”, CE, Delft, the Netherlands
The Wildlife Trusts’ website states that between London and Birmingham HS2 will impact directly on two Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves, four sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), 10 ancient woodland sites and 53 Local Wildlife Sites or potential Local Wildlife Sites.
The construction and operating costs of phase 1 (London to Birmingham) total £25.5 billion but will only generate £15 billion of extra fares, requiring an £11.9 billion subsidy.
Hs2 is a “rich person’s railway”. The business case assumes that 30% of the passengers will earn more than £70,000 pa.
Source: Chris Stokes, Modern Railways, October 2010