Green Party’s High Speed Rail Briefing Note

High Speed Rail Briefing Note

GPEW Conference, Cardiff, 26th February 2011

John Whitelegg (Professor of Sustainable Transport and Lancaster City Councillor) and Jenny Jones (London Assembly Member)

This briefing note is about the High Speed Rail proposal known as HS2, which is a new line and rolling stick from London to Birmingham.

HS2 is based on very large forecast increase in the demand for travel by all modes of transport. This included a 44% increase in long distance car trips by 2033 and a 178% increase in domestic air travel. The impact of HSR on getting people out of cars and plans is minimal. The forecast is an 8% shift from air to HSR and an 8% shift from car to HSR.


Will the high speed line cut carbon emissions? No.

HS2 Ltd tells us it will be broadly carbon neutral (HS2’s Report paragraph 4.2.31)


HS2 trains are fuel-hungry – planned to travel at 225mph, subsequently rising to 250mph. Trains travelling at 225mph use 50% more energy than trains travelling at 186mph.

Source: Campaign for Protection of Rural England. See Getting Back on Track page 18.

An intercity electric train (not HSR) produces 29 grammes of CO2 per passenger km but the HSR train produces 65 grammes.

Source: “To shift or not to shift”, CE, Delft, the Netherlands

The Wildlife Trusts’ website states that between London and Birmingham HS2 will impact directly on two Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves, four sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), 10 ancient woodland sites and 53 Local Wildlife Sites or potential Local Wildlife Sites.

Source: http//

The construction and operating costs of phase 1 (London to Birmingham) total £25.5 billion but will only generate £15 billion of extra fares, requiring an £11.9 billion subsidy.

Source: http//

Hs2 is a “rich person’s railway”. The business case assumes that 30% of the passengers will earn more than £70,000 pa.

Source: Chris Stokes, Modern Railways, October 2010

11 comments to “Green Party’s High Speed Rail Briefing Note”
  1. Looked on petition no 34874 said you should make link bigger more obvious on the home page .Not sure what she meant but friends found it hard to find.Nearly 35000 on web dont know about paper ones.

  2. To compare the MI with HS2 is fatuous. The M1 is a multi access point travel corridor which can take travellers from point of origin to point of detination without any other form form of intermediation. HS2 has extremely limited access points and requires differing modes of transport to create the interconnectivity to complete a journey.

  3. As the HS2 will carry up to 18 trains per hour each way up to the north, why is this not running DIRECTLY BY to Heatherow, the busiest airport in the world.

    Both individuals and frieght will need to be re-routed from central London out to Heathrow. This makes NO SENSE!

    • John …. there is a spur to Heathrow allowed for in the overall project plan , which is likely to be built at the same time as the line north of Birmingham is….

      Also, in terms of passenger numbers, Heathrow is not the busiest airport in the world…..

  4. Have you looked a the business case? The business case assumes that 30% of the passengers will earn more than £70,000 pa. How can you challenge what the Dft’s own figures say unless you don’t believe anything of what they say? If you decry one of the Dfts points you place doubt on all the other figures making the entire case unreliable – which is indeed is hence the TSC Inquiry annoucement. Motorways serve many people, you can get on and off at regular points. HS2 will only have 2 stations, if you live between and want to use it you will have to drive anyway but quite frankly what would be the point.

    • “hs2 train generates 65 grammes co2”. Short haul air generates 160 grammes and even an electric car would not give as low as 65 grammes. and the most efficient cars such as a vw golf bluemotion generate 90 to 100 grammes co2 but then you have to add 25 more grammes to get the well to wheel figure (
      so hs2 is more efficient then an electric car and has half the emissions of a golf bluemotion !

      the construction costs may not be covered by the revenue from fares but remember hs2 is predicted to generate £2 for every £1 spent so it is not a DRAIN but a GAIN to the taxpayer !!!! HS2 is about economic generation as much as anything else.

      If 30% of the revenue is from high earners who are leaving their car at home and can also afford high first class fares, why is that bad ? critics complain that the prices will be too high (and we dont know what they are yet anyway) but then complain that high earners will use it and/or it will be subsidised ! So what do critics want, cheap fares and taxpayers subsidy or high first class fares for the well off and a range of prices for others.

      no, and that means that 70 (SEVENTY) percent are not earning that much, if we accept the quoted figures.

      Apparently 50% of income tax revenue comes from the top 2% of earners. so it sounds good to go after the so called fat cats but we stand to lose HALF the tax revenue. I do believe that they should pay more tax rather then going after the poor but doing so excessively might be popular but not prudent.

      Finally any loss of countryside is regrettable but hs2 is only 22 metres wide so I believe that we are talking at the loss of 4 square kilometres or so on the london to birmingham corridor.

      Also Lizzy, remember that the existing network will still be there it isnt being closed ! If you want to travel by rail then you will use the existing railway and stations as you do now. The point of having a small number of stations in only the larger towns and cities is so that the through traffic can avoid the existing network which will be far less congested.

      The criticism of HS2 does not add up.

  5. HS2 is not for the rich but for the whole Uk. has the M1 useage increased since built – i think yes. And the business case for that may have been not good when started but could we live without it.

    • “HS2 is not for the rich…” does not correspond to the figures in the business case, or indeed to the national rail usage statistics

      “…but for the whole Uk.” except for those in Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Penzance, Norwich, Cambridge, Oxford, Southampton, Portsmouth, Leicester, Lichfield, Wigan, Liverpool, etc…

      “has the M1 useage increased since built – i think yes. And the business case for that may have been not good when started but could we live without it.” The business case for HS2 includes a forecast for massive increases in numbers, but even given this frankly unbelievable set of figures it still does not make a case for itself after 60 years of operation. I don’t think we should build new motorways but if we did they would at least pay for themselves. High speed rail will require ongoing subsidy forever.

      • I dont see how HS2 is soooooooo good. Its old and outdated. Cutting through the land just so train can pass through even though there are major obstacles in the way. I have heard that peoples houses are going to be destroyed. Not good at all.

        I was hoping British Engineers would create somthing better. But no. An old and outdated train system.

        If HS2 has a remote chance of being built it should be designed somthing like this:

        Watch the video closely. These guys know how to build a more modern train.

        I will be back later. Or if you have a Youtube account contact me…

        My YT account is G777GUN.

        You should be able to find my site. I am the innovative one.

        • so you think that an overhead train running through the chilterns and other areas is better then a high speed railway mostly on the ground. with this idea anyone living anywhere near it would have passengers looking through their upstairs bedroom windows !!!

          • An excellent idea.(something similar was demonstrated at the glasgow exhibition in1939. see also” Fahrenheit 451″,filmed in the 1960s, partly in France.

            However, why not establish a test track somewhere , like Wendover,perhaps…

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