Ahead of next week’s energy bill, Britain’s energy policy is again in the news. There are concerns that as part of the UK’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 2050 that the government should introduce interim targets to ensure the emissions targets are meet.
HS2 has not been designed as part of a low-carbon strategy – far from it! According to the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd, it’s carbon neutral, in spite of the £33billion price tag.
Firstly, few HS2 passengers will have transferred from higher carbon modes of transport. Only 3% of HS2 passengers – according to HS2 Ltd themselves – will have transferred from air travel. Eight percent will have transferred from road travel.
The majority – 65% – of HS2 passnegers will be transferring from conventional speed rail. And the lower speed of conventional rail means that it uses less energy to run the trains. Typically changing the speed of a train from 200kph (like the existing WCML) to 300kph (HS2’s operational speed is even higher) means the energy required roughly doubles.
Only 11% of HS2 passengers will have transferred from both road and air travel. But 24% of HS2 passengers will be entirely new journeys: people that HS2 Ltd say are only traveling because someone has built the railway.
In fact even pro-HS2 groups like Greengauge21 say that in the early years of HS2, the speed should be limited because of the extra energy HS2 trains will require.
HS2 has no place in a low carbon future.