Not really there modal shift

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.”

Classic Rail

New Trips



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.

One comment to “Not really there modal shift”
  1. It is likley to not being no spur but a non-HS2 specification train and route spur.

    An extended Chiltern Tunnel providing the possibility to align a route away from Aylesbury towards Bicester/Banbury with a station by the M40 and the two rail routes of the Chiltern Line and the Oxford Line would increase interegional passengers able to access the higher speed route/trains. That will enable people to access the Network Rail routes which with a smaller link into and out of Heathrow can replicate the Heathrow Express Services with a station near to South Ruislip. This is a 8 mile link which can be constructed to operate at a lower speed.

    A HS2 category spur was not financially viable but a lower cost link to a HS2 station near to Bicester/Banbury will enable people within Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire to have some benefits not in the current poor HS2 planning of a route with no local access. This integration can more readily address the Heathrow rail access option.

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