UK Passengers – “our train speed is fine”

The European Commission has just published a survey into attitudes of long and medium distance train passengers in different countries – and the results show that HS2’s emphasis on speed is the wrong focus.

British train travellers are amongst the most satisfied in Europe about the time their journeys are scheduled to take: 92% are “satisfied” with the scheduled times of the trains, ranking second in the survey.

As the report says

Respondents in the UK were not only among the most likely to be satisfied with train frequencies, they were also among the most likely to be very or rather satisfied with the length of time rail journeys were scheduled to take (92%); a similar level of satisfaction was measured in Portugal (93%). However, while 45% of respondents in the UK reported being very satisfied with the travelling speed of trains in their country, this figure was just 19% in Portugal. Other countries with a high proportion of “very satisfied” passengers were Ireland (52%) and Lithuania (42%).

So whatever you think about the British railway system, almost every long and middle distance passenger is happy with how fast their train goes.

So why is HS2 Ltd insisting on designing an expensive railway with trains that can travel at 400Kph, when speed is not the issue for the travelling public?

PS Rail.co have an analysis of some of the other questions on the survey

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25 comments to “UK Passengers – “our train speed is fine””
  1. My email address will immediately convey to interested parties where my feelings on the matter of railways lies.
    I could probably stand arguing with the anti brigade all day on why we should have a high speed straight railway up the middle of our country. However those who predict that if private money is involved in the initiative greed will eventually obstruct the very thing that is trying to be achieved – to get more people on the railway. You find that the average big businessman is never happy with his lot. (We now know for certain that some of them break the law or act unethically)

    You don’t believe me – go and stand on an a bridge over the M6 Toll and see the millions of people using it.
    The same thing will happen to HS2 and by the way I am in favour of it.

  2. @Finmere quotes “The transport network is actually in the private sector. Therefore, if the rail operators find that they are losing revenue because there is no longer the overcrowding that there was because of the 65% transferral of passengers to high-speed rail, they will inevitably either put up fares or reduce services. The most likely outcome is a reduction of services, because fares are capped”.

    If this is all true, how is it that not only many of the fares are regulated i.e. capped but also the franchise agreements specify in very fine detail the services that are to be run and very often even which trains to use.

    Sounds very private sector! What the real decision makers in Whitehall (public sector, but which planet…) might decide in the 2020s in anyone’s guess!

  3. “Slow and steady wins the race” as they say, not that UK trains are slow, 125mph or whatever the WCML clocks at is not slow.
    In order for HSR to achieve it’s 200mph speeds, the route has to be dead straight and it has to bypass many stations.
    So speed actually becomes a limitation, it is inflexible, damaging to the environment, and fails to serve many travellers.
    But HS2 Ltd have never admitted this, at least not to me, they just try to wow me with it’s dazzling speed and time saving predictions.

    But I know better: A Maglev line to Birmingham airport would be 100mph faster at 300mph, it would be quicker to get to Birmingham airport then to transfer terminals at Heathrow.
    The time savings would be 10min more then the HS2 predictions, that’s 30-35mins time saving.
    In a letter from HS2 Ltd themselves, they said that “Maglev is best suited for airport links”.
    A link is needed to prevent Heathrow expansion, and to make full use of Birmingham airport.

    So I don’t think much of HS2’s time and speed.

    • The main thing is that the government states it wants to reduce CO2 but then it wants to build a train that uses more than a standard train that will produce a huge amount to build to take people from London to use more by flying long haul out of Bham or further north.If that is not contradictary i dont know what is Luke.

  4. interesting survey. wonder what the result would have been if they had done something crazy like asking people who use the trains every day, they might have a different viewpoint ! depends what response the surveyors wanted i guess.

    i imagine that the most common complaint by regular rail users apart from fares is the overcrowding which as we all know is the major reason why hs2 is required. if you also asked rail users if they would rather have a new line or suffer years of disruption whilst their existing lines were upgraded i think we would know the answer they would give !

    so please give the “hs2 is only about speed” a rest please. it is principally about capacity, the high speed element is there to try to bring about modal shift and reduce journey times. i cant believe anyone travelling wouldnt want a shorter journey.

    • HS2 will do nothing to ease congestion on commuter lines, because it stops at none of the stations where commuters get on, and £60,000 average salary that HS2 Ltd targeted, is hardly the average commuter.

      HS2 is nothing more then a business class train, it’s speed is gained at the expense of flexibility of route and untold damage to the environment.

      • luke as you know hs2 will help commuters as it will provide extra capacity on the west coast line and other lines by removing most of the non-stop services.

        so if they ran another set of lines alongside the existing ones and didnt stop at many stations i guess you would say it benefitted commuters by releasing capoacity but for some reason you dont think that applies to hs2. why ?

        many lines operate in this way already. we have all stations, semi fast and direct trains. removing the direct trains leaves paths free for more stoppers and semifasts on the classic lines surely you can see this

  5. I’m sorry but extrapolating a conclusion of this nature is errant nonsense and highly misleading, but hardly surprising, given the motivations underpinning the StopHS2 campaign rationale.

    The actual wording of the question asked, upon which the headline shown above is predicated, is as follows:

    “Are you very satisfied, rather satisfied, rather dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the following features of the trains [IN YOUR COUNTRY]? – Length of time the journey was scheduled to take (commercial speed/ the travelling speed of the trains)”

    So in fact, absolutely zero reference to consumer attitudes concerning potentially faster trains and the perceived benefits accruing to said consumers as a result

    The reality therefore is quite different from the narrative implied in this article

    Compulsory viewing for all readers of this site should be the recent deliberations of the Transport Select Committee proceedings, which took place on 21st June.

    Here is a URL link to the download site on BBC iPlayer
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0129468/Select_Committees_High_Speed_Rail_Committee/
    NB: The entire download file is 1.5Gb in size!

    I might remind readers here that the individuals summoned to testify are real rail industry experts, with years of hands on experience in strategic roles, as opposed to those poulating the ranks of the anti-HS2 brigade, who have miraculously acquired expert status in the last twelve months or so, courtesy of their shared proximity to the proposed line of route for HS2?

    With specific reference to the topic of this article I direct readers to two key sections;

    Firstly, between 1h 28m 0s and 1h 36m 30s where interviewees respond to a question posed by Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South, this question pertains directly to the topic of speed and journey times – Mr. Stewart appears to doubt the veracity of the arguments in favour of designing the new line with 400km/h (250mph) capability.

    Note in particular the answer of Richard Eccles (Director of Network Planning at Network Rail) who refers to a stucy conducted by them into this very question – his evidence directly contradicts the assertions made above.

    Secondly, between 2h 2m 30s and 2h 3m 50s where in opening remarks to Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Merseyside and Chair of the Committee asking about the relative success of High Speed Rail at Eurostar and SNCF, Nicholas Petrovic (Eurostar CEO) comments on how increased speed was a pivotal factor in enabling Eurostar to succeed commercially.

    Not sure about other readers here but it’s hard commercial evidence of this type that I value rather than bogus claims made on the back of survey answers deliberately quoted out of context?

    • Where’s the evidence that UK rail travellers want faster journeys–all i hear is that they want reliability,a seat and safety

      • @John: Where’s the evidence that UK rail travellers want faster journeys–all i hear is that they want reliability,a seat and safety

        @John

        You carry on sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting la-la-la if you want to – did you actually watch the relevant sections of the video transcript?

        Nicolas Petrovic made specific reference to the role played by increased speed in increasing the popularity of Eurostar services

        Richard Eccles made specific reference to the robust data their surveys highlighted, demonstrating customer demand for shorter journey times, ie. increased speed

        These are the real experts remember – you can indulge in selective amnesia and discount their evidence if it suits your purpose but those making the decision on HS2 – all MPs in a vote on the Hybrid Bill – surely won’t!!!

        • John It’s Mr Hammond and the DfT who have doggedly insisted on the speed. For some reason Mr Hammond didn’t want the 3rd runway !! so Birmingham A/P is his answer. He won’t budge on speed because he’s so proud he has found a solution to getting people TO central London as quick or even quicker than from Heathrow. The cost to the rest of the country doesn’t matter as long as the 3rd runway isn’t built.
          What is even worse he was insisting it was environmentally good. At least he’s stopped saying this to people who have looked into it and know it simply isn’t true. He does try it on with people who haven’t looked at it and think it’s a good band wagon to jump on,especially if there might be something in it for them personally.

    • Thank you Peter for that quote “I’m sorry but extrapolating a conclusion of this nature is errant nonsense and highly misleading, but hardly surprising, given the motivations underpinning the StopHS2 campaign
      rationale”
      That is precisely our concern that the more gullible might believe that the HS2 concept is viable at this time of austerity and cutbacks.

      • Not quite sure if should be flattered or not @john Williams?

        @john Williams: That is precisely our concern that the more gullible might believe that the HS2 concept is viable at this time of austerity and cutbacks.

        One central point here; how many times does it need repeating – it’s not “THIS time of austerity and cutbacks, is it?

        Does everyone in the anti-HS2 brigade live in a time warp – last time I looked at my calendar it was 2011, not 2020?

        • peter davidson what gives you the right too question the qualifications of the people we have REAL railway engineers researching for this site.?Of couse we have to hope we are being told the truth but there are so many who will do what they are told to keep their jobs so what if the figuers and slanted the way they wish and extra costs ommited.The people at the hs2 roadshow gave differing answers or could not answer at all.Also you believe that we will be out of the financial crisis in a few years.I think it unlikely .So its ok if we are to then start spending madly on huge projects.Past governments have spent the money hense the mess we are in because they didn’t hold some back for a rainy day.

          • @elaine

            Calm down before you burst a blood vessel?

            Would care to quote who these real railway engineers are by any chance

            Off the top of my head, the only ones I can think of on your side of the argument are Mr. Stokes and Christian Wolmar

            Maybe you haven’t been paying attention but the Hybrid Bill will not go through the legislative process until 2015 – by then it will be very clear whether or not the crisis precipitated by problems within the global financial system is being solved or not at UK level – so we will have the luxury of foresight in this field

            And I’ll repeat it again – the cost of HS2 is an investment. Unlike the vast majority of public spending, this project actually generates revenues and massive economic benefits.

            • Economic case ‘uncertain’
              When and if the deficit is under control we then have to start repaying the debt on which we pay interest of billions a year

            • Peter, Peter, Peter, so certain of everthing, no room for doubt in pro HS2 world! Even the Chinese with all their trillions and vast land mass have built a train that millions of its countrymen can’t afford to travel on, see latest below.

              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13929242

              There is an awful lot more to solving the UK’s woes than running a male menopausal sexy train up and down half of the country, stopping at two points along the way. there’s an awful lot of marginalised Britain to either side (and north and south of the termini) who will either have to pay in time and expense to get to the stations, or endure cuts in their local timetables – no. of trains and stops – to get to where they want to be.

              Surely you need to link housing and transport issues to all aspects of urban and regional policy and governance? Surely before deciding on the answer to a problem you have to define what that problem REALLY is, work out a comprehensive regional and national strategy and devise a method of delivering an inclusive plan. If HS2 would fit in with all of this, then so be it. But to claim the answer to the nation’s ills is just this proposed rail route is really not good enough.

            • I note the latest oft-repeated scaremongering tactic of Stop HS2 supporters: the ‘existing services will be dramaticaly cut’ myth.

              Please tell me where the evidence is for this as it has frequently been pointed out that the delivery of HS2 will free up capacity on the existing network for further services. These may be to different places and on different trains, but they may well better reflect the travel demands of 2026.

              The scaremongernig continues, the myths continue.

              Stop HS2: No arguments, No facts, No point

            • Just because there could be freed up capacity on the existing network, it does not follow that there will be further services.

              Andrea Leadsom addressed this argument head on in the Westminster Hall debate.

              “I would like to make the point that it is not possible for my right hon. Friend to make that claim. The transport network is actually in the private sector. Therefore, if the rail operators find that they are losing revenue because there is no longer the overcrowding that there was because of the 65% transferral of passengers to high-speed rail, they will inevitably either put up fares or reduce services. The most likely outcome is a reduction of services, because fares are capped.”

  6. @GordonF Checking the EU report 92% is of a sample of 400, two thirds of whom only use a train less than once a month. That gives only 122 in the sample who use a train at least once a month and might have a better informed view. Interestingly almost two thirds of the sample also reported to be useing the train for leisure – are these the same ones who travel very infrequently? When it is considered that annually there are overall about 1.25 billion (i.e. 1,250,000,000) rail journeys in the UK, how can anyone (pro, anti…) take this stuff seriously?

  7. Rich – this doesn’t say everything is fine. It says 92% are happy with the speed. You must be one of the 8%.

  8. From the survey, railway passengers in the UK are satisfied with railway services provided by the railway companies, is that true? One does not hear that point of view very often. The European commission must tap opinions seldom heard,.

    • Stick around mate, it’s amazing what you learn on this website. I thought people had been complaining about the state of the UK’s railways since Beeching but apparently, everything is just dandy and grandy. My scheduled journey hasn’t actually improved time-wise since a man with a stovepipe hat and a flag walked in front of it but there you go, we’re all happy with it apparently.

      • Well apparently the speed is due to the standard of the signalling, European standard allows for the trains to go faster, but the WCML uses an older standard.

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