Less than 1% of long distance road trips

The Department for Transport recently published forecasts for the road network and car usage. One document included the view of the DfT – or at least the road section of the DfT – that HS2 won’t reduce the need for new roads.(The SRN is composed of motorways and other trunk roads in England, and is managed by the Highways Agency.)

Road traffic forecasts 2013: HS2 Impact on the Strategic road network, of motorways and key A roads p6.

In 2026 the new High Speed rail line between London and Birmingham will be finalised, and in 2033 the second phase, the Y network from Birmingham to Manchester and the Yorkshire[sic], will be open to the public. This new line represents a major link connecting key urban and economic areas of the country attracting an important share of long distance passenger’s trips along its trajectory.

We complement the traffic forecasts presented in this section with an assessment of the impact HS2 is projected to have on car traffic on the SRN, using the demand projections produced by HS2 Ltd. HS2 Ltd forecasts that around 7% of its travel demand will be shifted from road travel. In 2037 this means that around 25,000 trips per day, equivalent to 0.9% of long distance inter-zone car trips will be shifted to HS2. This 0.9% is equivalent to one year’s traffic growth and highlights that the impact of HS2 does not affect the key facts and conclusion of this document.

What is of equal interest to those who are sceptical of the forecasts for HS2, is the graph on page 5 showing expected road usage up to 2040. In spite of the past decade of near static traffic levels, all DfT forecasts show increasing amount of road use.

Graph of DfT traffic projections to 2040

DfT traffic projections up to 2040

4 comments to “Less than 1% of long distance road trips”
  1. Our MP’s must make sure that the upcoming revised business/economic case includes all the recommendations of the PAC,NAO and TRANSPORT SELECT CTTEE
    I have written to mine and suggest that we all do so

  2. There should be no surprise that HS2 has so little effect on road travel.
    Firstly, HS2 Ltd make no real claims about this form of benefit (and they seem quite happy to talk up fairly negligible benefits).
    Secondly, lets go back to the values of time used for business travellers …
    Car Driver: £33.54 per hour
    Car Passenger: £24.17 per hour
    Rail passenger:£47.18 per hour
    so by simply transferrring from road to rail, the HS2 Ltd model has already penalised the travellers with a higher cost. (So by keeping to this high value of time HS2 Ltd have painted themselves into a corner with regards any road benefits)
    Thirdly, although HS2 might get from one station to another very quicky, travellers have still got to get to and from those stations. By the time you have reached the station you might instead be already halfway to your destination in a car. Public transport schemes tend to affect those who have no choice but to travel by public transport already.

    • And it should come as no surprise that the Department fr Transport- or perhaps “Department for Road Transport” as it seemed to be over so many years ,should produce this forecast.

      Their agenda is and has been for over sixty years, to promote and to build an ever expanding network of major roads , motorways bypasses and link roads- and in many ways they have done an excellent job.
      Most of us drive and are able to enjoy the freedom and convenience of choosing when and where we go , and in our own private space.

      We no longer are obliged to arrange an overnight stop between the Midlands and a Cornish holiday resort as many used to do while ‘demo.’cars can be driven from Oxford 450 miles to a potential customer in Scotland to try for 24 hours, before being driven back a day or so later’

      .Ro-Ro ferries carrying dozens of trucks to East Coast and Irish Sea and Channel ports have almost entirely replaced traditional short sea and coastal shipping but brought us the benefits of fresh flowers daily and a wide range of fruit and vegetables- and all at affordable prices -for things that would have been beyond the reach of our parents and grandparents.

      But there is a price for all this. I can enjoy my freedom of personal freedom -provided that the rest of you are not clogging up the route I want to use. I am pleased to visit cities or historic market towns -but not if I find myself gridlocked in a cloud of (other people’s) exhaust fumes- and then get trapped in an unfamiliar one way system and unable to find a parking place, so now my car becomes an encombrance!

      “If you don’t speed you can’ t get the job done.” is an attitude still all too widespread among some drivers .

      Monitor the speed of many small to medium delivery vehicles and large HGVs. Do they follow the lower max.speeds set for the different classes of road- 10 or 20 mph lower than that set for cars and ‘car derived’ small vans? (Of course. their tachograph readings clearly show that almost all their journeys were on unrestricted motorways!!!)

      The previous government did originally state a deliberate policy of promoting railways instead of continued unrestricted growth of the road network, although beside ‘freezing’ a number of major road schemes planned, the rail development was less obvious,
      Civil servants and maybe Government Ministers, still seem to regard rail improvements as “subsidy” while road building is seen as “investment”.

      Road improvements tend to be popular with the electorate- unless of course its sights and sounds (and smells) are too close to home. And being unregulated, new roads tend to fill up – often long before the time anticipated bwhen they were planned.

      And, remember, the total width of a typical three lane Motorway, with its hard shoulders, verges and central reservation, is so much wider than a main line railway, twice as wide as even an electric Hs line such as HS2, which has I believe .recently had its planned width further reduced.

      One omission from the report- there seems to be no word about Congestion charging as it applies to London and possibly other cities in the future. This has improved traffic flow in central London and fostered better public transport.

      And the price of motor fuel has gone up yet again in the last week or so…

      • Thanks @John Webber, for this welcome dose of everyday transport reality

        HS2 is only part of a long term transport strategy in which today’s ubiquitous reliance on the convenience of private car travel may no longer be a credible option?

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