One of the original reasons people liked the idea of high speed rail in Britain was the prospect of modal shift from air travel, which might have meant that expansion at Heathrow airport could be avoided.
However HS2 Ltd’s figures do not add up to modal shift, as the table below shows, with the number of new journeys (26%) which would not have otherwise being made many times higher than the modal shift from air (1%) or car (4%). But the vast majority of passengers are expected to come from conventional speed rail. HS2 Ltd appear to have given up publishing figures for modal shift: it’s entirely possible they now assume there would be no measurable modal shift.
What’s more, the Coalition government have stopped thinking of HS2 as a possible alternative to airports. When Patrick MacLoughlin dropped the HS2 Heathrow spur from Phase 1 and 2 of HS2 he said the Airports Commission review “indicated that an HS2 spur is highly unlikely to be necessary to support any expansion of Heathrow airport.”
2010 economic case
2011 economic case
2012 economic case
2013 economic case
Percentages all taken from HS2 documents: latest modal shift figures from Economic Case for HS2, October 2013, Department for Transport.