Sometimes is worth looking at an issue again – and today it’s about modal shift.
When you look at the documents from HS2, it is clear they are not expecting huge numbers of people to stop driving to use HS2 or to stop flying within Britain to use HS2 instead.
The amount of modal shift which will result if HS2 is built is very small, with more than 85% of passengers transferring from existing railways or being new passengers.
If the HS2 Ltd figures for background growth in passenger numbers are correct, and their figures for the numbers of people transferring, 65% of travellers will have transferred from classic rail, which is a less energy intense form of travel. 22% will be people who would not have travelled if HS2 had not been built. HS2 Ltd say that 7% will transfer from car – less then 2% of the M1’s traffic volume. Only 6% will transfer from air.
There are currently no flights between London and Birmingham. Rail’s share of the London Manchester market is increasing by about 5% a year. There is limited scope for further modal shift: in 2009, 74% of passengers on domestic flights between Heathrow and Manchester were transferring onto a connecting flight.
So HS2 Ltd are relying on a huge growth in demand for travel to get the total passenger numbers they need for their model, and also a massive shift in people travelling from a lower energy form of rail travel to a higher energy form of rail travel.