HS2 and a lack of Modal Shift

Sometimes is worth looking at an issue again – and today it’s about modal shift.

When you look at the documents from HS2, it is clear they are not expecting huge numbers of people to stop driving to use HS2 or to stop flying within Britain to use HS2 instead.

The amount of modal shift which will result if HS2 is built is very small, with more than 85% of passengers transferring from existing railways or being new passengers. 

If the HS2 Ltd figures for background growth in passenger numbers are correct, and their figures for the numbers of people transferring, 65% of travellers will have transferred from classic rail, which is a less energy intense form of travel.  22% will be people who would not have travelled if HS2 had not been built.  HS2 Ltd say that 7% will transfer from car – less then 2% of the M1’s traffic volume.  Only 6% will transfer from air.

There are currently no flights between London and Birmingham. Rail’s share of the London Manchester market is increasing by about 5% a year.  There is limited scope for further modal shift: in 2009, 74% of passengers on domestic flights between Heathrow and Manchester were transferring onto a connecting flight.

So HS2 Ltd are relying on a huge growth in demand for travel to get the total passenger numbers they need for their model, and also a massive shift in people travelling from a lower energy form of rail travel to a higher energy form of rail travel.

17 comments to “HS2 and a lack of Modal Shift”
  1. We all intuitively believe that rail travel is more environmentally friendly than car or plane. But that is not true at the ultra high speed of HS2.

    The normal yardstick for comparing energy consumption for different modes is energy use per passenger kilometre, taking account of average load factors.

    Car (Honda Civic, 1.6 passengers) = 1.25 MJ/passenger-km

    Plane (B737-400, domestic UK, 65% occupancy) = 2.5 MJ/passenger-km

    Train (Conventional intercity train @ 200 kph, 70% occupancy) = 0.7 MJ/passenger-km

    HS2 (@360 kph, 70% occupancy) = 2.4 MJ/passenger-km

    Transit bus (70% occupancy) = 0.52 MJ/passenger-km

    Express coach (70% occupancy) = 0.32 MJ/passenger-km

    Obviously the load factors make a big difference. EasyJet claim 1.8 MJ/passenger-km because their aircraft configuration has more seats and their average load factor is 85%.

    EasyJet is more energy efficient than HS2! And it does not require a permanent way to run on.

    One person in a car (2.0 MJ/passenger-km) is more energy efficient than HS2.

  2. Like most pro-HS2 sycophants, Gary conveniently forgets to mention some very basic issues that effectively render the whole concept of HS2 useless; he quotes: “Those of you who listened to the Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport on the radio show the other week would have noted the statement that ” every 1 million passengers at Birmingham supports 1000 jobs’ – quite a fatuous statement from Johnny Morris, who should have known better. The fact is that the number of permanent jobs at BHX has actually fallen over the past five years, and of those, nearly 75% are rated at NMW or slightly higher.
    Secondly, any calculation of overall efficiency (kW/seat/mile) has to make the assumption that all HS2 trains will be full to capacity. This just ain’t gonna happen, particularly when the projected cost of using HS2 will have to be double the current rates – the inference is obvious. On top of all this, I’m sick to death of people using the term ‘investment’ in relation to this project; to my way of thinking, borrowing huge wads of cash – from whatever source – to fund such a vast undertaking is definitely NOT an investment, it’s a debt that incurs huge and ongoing interest charges that the taxpayers will be saddled with for several generations to come. Be warned – be careful about what you wish for!

    • John, by labelling Gary as a “sycophant”,are you trying to be gratuitously offensive, or is this the way you dismiss anyone with whose opinions you disagree? In common with many others contributing comments, from a variety of viewpoints, he seems to be both well informed and able to articulate his interpretation, whether or not it accords with your view, and often does so in the face of the majority view.

      In what way does this make him “”a servile flatterer, a toady” as my dictionary defines your expression?

      Your own condennation of the HS2 concept seems so very sweeping.

      HS2 seeks to increase capacity in the face of rising demand,especially at peak times.

      It seeks to do this by bypassing existing conjestion by running high frequency long distance services which would replace or divert the present long distance trains which at this time are having to compete with semi fast, limited stop trains, local services and freight trains, all running on the same track or at most, pair of tracks in each direction, despite their wide disparity of speed..

      It’s all about separation of different types of traffic,so as to make the best use of the available space,- just as cycle tracks, suburban roads and motorways cater for different strands of road traffic.

      This is the basic premise for HS2. It’s not designed as a job creation project, first and foremost as you seem to suggest.

      Again your contention that it needs to be loaded to capacity and that the fares would be double – I think that’s what you meant- also needs to be questioned.

      The modelling assumes, I believe, a 70% loading, and with trains made up of either one 200m unit seating 500+ or two units 400m, with 1000+ seats , depending on the time of day and consequent demand.

      As regards “investment”, would you grant that description to the greatly enlarged A46/ M40/ A429, junction 15, or the huge reconstruction of M1 J.13 and the A421 and A507 towards Bedford and Ampthill, all of which is beautifully done, but must have consumed a huge area of farmland .Do you know how much it all cost?

      Energy consumption and its costs of running at speed have rightly exercised many minds.According to the chief engineer (at a roadshow) the cost of energy per person, even with a train 70% full, for the 100+mile journey, would be less than driving myself in the car a dozen miles.( – my comparison. I cannot remember the exact figure, but even after doubling it for inflation, it was still less than £2.00 per person.)

      On this Eve of the annual Feast of St. Bernie Ecclestone, as the pilgrims gather to worship at the Silverstone shrine, vast numbers converging in their tens of thousands,mostly by car, some by helicopter, we may wonder at the quantity fuel burnt and consequent CO2 released in the course of this petrol fest. How “green” is that?

      • Silverstone offers an interesting comparison. An F1 car produces up to 580 kW. With 24 cars on the grid that’s 13,900 kW.

        An HS2 train will consume 12,000 kW most of the time. Each HS2 train is roughly equivalent to the Silverstone Grand Prix. 14 trains per hour in each direction is equivalent to 28 Grand Prix races every hour!

        I know that doesn’t include all those travelling to the circuit, but is still interesting comparison.

        • The difference, Finmere, is that HS trains actually go somewhere and do something useful.
          Grand Prix cars go round and round in circles, ending up more or less where they began.
          Great fun, no doubt, but when you think of the millions spent in and the numbers of engineers employed, the skills and time devoted…while thousands exist on the minimum wage and real industry, producing actually useful items declines and half the world lacks clean water, sufficient food and basic equipment to improve people’s lives.

          Actually, my main thoughts concerning the G.P.,was the vast motorised multitudes arriving from all directions and their energy consumption, just to get there.

          Yes I know that questioning the validity and value of motor “sport”is regarded in this area as being almost on a par as a sin against the Holy Ghost, what with all the jobs that depend on it , but, just think what what if all this talent and initiative were directed towards something more productive… Big Boys’ – and Girls’-Toys- and to think that some people accuse Mr. Hammond and our beloved Prime Minister ot just wanting a new train set…!

          • Yes John W not quite the same
            GP cars go round and round, HS2 only go backwards and forwards, GP is only once a year, HS2 is initially proposed at 14 times an hour. GP make a profit, HS2 like the rest of rail will no doubt make a loss. GP is private money, HS2 is public money. GP car manufacture is mainly in the UK, HS2 will be outside the UK either Europe or more likely China. GP is enjoyed by the masses, HS2 will no doubt only benefit the minority. GP developments have been utilised in the motor industry in areas such as safety and aerodynamics. HS2….. I can’t think of anything. It is a blood sucking leech on the ordinary man woman and child.

      • You clearly are a believer in the propaganda being put out by the Government.

        First lesson don’t believe a word they say….remember the Weapons of Mass Destruction, we could be at risk in 45 minutes? (More like 45 years).

        Treat all that the promoters of HS2 are saying with a bucket of salt.

  3. whilst it is true that high speed rail uses more energy then normal rail it uses less then cars or planes.
    existing rail is experiencing modal shift now but this will reduce as the exisitng network becomes saturated.
    the extra capacity released by hs2 will allow more transfer from cars onto the existing network and the speed advantage will also encourage transfer.

    This whole argument about no flights to birmingham is not the case for newcastle edinburgh and glasgow nationally all of which will be an hour closer to london when the full y hs2 network opens. it also conveniently ignores european flights which the hs2 hs1 connection will allow rail to compete with.

    i believe that hs2 hs1 should be a proper double track connection throughout to ensure that enough through european capacity is available and also be used by domestic trains through london to docklands and kent etc

  4. Penny are they any figures to show “when” it is built not if, the increase in numbers that will use the existing sytem for local travel. As the building will increase the capicity for local travel on the existing network and free up firight space on the existing too.

    • Bit of a poor state of affairs when you are having to re hash topics from previous…….

      As we have pointed out many times before , there are no flights from Birmingham to London , there never has been flights from Birmingham to London, and there never will be flights from Birmingham to London. The same also applies to Manchester to Birmingham , and Leeds to Manchester. and Brimingham.

      A study by Network Rail at Manchester Airport 2 years ago showed that passengers would travel to Heathrow by train if it was quicker than by air door to door. As it happens , the 2 airports with the most spare capacity right now is Manchester ….and Birmingham, which when HS2 1st stage is complete will actually be the equivalent of zone 6 of the London fare zone, which is the same as Heathrow is now!!! As we all know, Heathrows 3rd runway plans were scrapped ( along with the Gatwick and Stansted proposals ). Those of you who listened to the Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport on the radio show the other week would have noted the statement that ” every 1 million passengers at Birmingham supports 1000 jobs. Also those of you who have watched the TSC videos will have noted the general comments about HS2 being planned in a ” silo ” from Stephen Joseph. Network Rails director of planning actually stated that they consider HS2 as dovetailing with their own plans for the classic network, and others mentioned that as well. To prove the point, where I live in Manchester is now getting a Metrolink Tram station right at the top of my avenue. Once up and running, if I wanted to travel to any of Manchester, Birmingham or Heathrow Airports, I can do so seamlessly by public transport in the form of Metrolink/Rail………currently I tend to park my car at the long stay carparks which is nowadays quite pricey.

      In general I use my car a lot less nowadays as the rail service per se has improved a lot over the last 10 years……in fact the last time I used the Manchester to Heathrow shuttle was in 2000.

      The ORR have today published the very first annual assessment of HS1…..( they do this assessment for the classic network as well. ). Below are the overview facts……

      ORR publishes first HS1 Limited annual assessment which shows good performance

      The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has today published its first annual assessment on the performance of High Speed 1 (HS1) Limited, and on its regulation of the company during 2010-11.

      The report shows that HS1 Limited, the company which manages Great Britain’s first high speed line between St. Pancras and the Channel Tunnel, performed well last year:

      * operational performance was good and services were maintained even during the severe winter weather.
      * safety performance remained at high levels.
      * welcomed steps are being made to facilitate more international passenger and freight services on HS1 in order to expand the market and encourage competition.

      The full report can be seen at: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/hs1-review-june1011.pdf

      HS2 will get thre same treatment once up and running.

      • Well, I am sure we could all perform well if we bought acompany for a song, and a fraction of what the so called expert Prof Begg advised it was worth.

      • I’m reallly at a loss to understand what point you are trying to make Gary. The ORR report on HS1 is completely irrelevant to HS2.

        • The HS1 report says that it is a working trainline and little more – they did well to only have 25% of services delayed during the bad weather.

          For comparision to HS2 plans you only care about the financial and usage numbers compared to those predicted during the planning phases. The report says nothing about that, although I do note that in figure 3 you see the scheduled services change from 6000 to just above 5000 over the course of the year which does not paint a great picture of success.

  5. More doom-laden spinning from the railway pessimists. I think we can safely assume that the rail:air market share between London, Birmingham and the Northwest has been noticed by HS2 Ltd and factored into their assumptions. The only major air flow left for rail to conquer is London – Scotland, with possibly a bit more room for growth on, say, London – Newcastle.

    But then Newcastle and Scotland are a long way from the bottom of your Elysian gardens, so of course it’s easier just to forget that HS2 goes there too. London – Glasgow trains will use HS2 as far as Lichfield from Day One, with a projected journey time of around 4 hours. This is the internationally-recognised tipping point for transfer between air and rail; but in reality shorter journey times still would be required to deliver the same CO2 benefits seen on the Manchester flow.

    Once the full Y is completed, it is also likely that some Edinburgh trains would transfer to HS2, again with a sub 4 hour timing. Once journey times of circa 31/2 hours are achieved (and note this is only possible with high speed rail), the question of reliability comes into play. Despite billions (£9bn in the case of London – Glasgow) being spent on upgrading our creaking Victorian main lines, reliability is a serious deterrent to travel, especially in the business segment.

    Virgin Trains and East Coast are currently the two least punctual operators in the country (yes, worse than First Capital Connect!) with roughly 12-15% of all services arriving more than 10 mins late at final destination. All those delays constitute a massive knock-on ‘external cost’ to UK plc. In contrast, the average delay per train due to infrastructure problems of any reason (including weather) on HS1 since it opened is less than ten seconds per train.

    Secondly, 65% of passengers will transfer from ‘classic’ rail, a ‘less energy intense form of transport’. Again this a lazy assumption that implies a basic upscaling of traction energy consumption from the current train fleet running at 125 mile/h to one operating at the fanciful 250 mile/h. In reality, we already know that the Class 390 Pendolino trainsets operating on WCML services are some of the heaviest rains in Europe on a mass per seat basis (twice the kg/seat of an N700 Shinkansen trainset in Japan, for example).

    Manufacturer Alstom has also confirmed that its latest generation high speed trains would consume the equivalent energy at 186 mile/h as the Pendolino does at 125 mile/h; we can expect, by the time the order has been placed, for this equation to have tilted further still in favour of the state-of-the-art high speed trains. With ridership forecasts assuming growth just a third of current levels on the London – NW – Glasgow route (c2.2% pa for HS2 vs c6% over the last five years), high load factors are assured for journeys to and from London — and as any transport specialist will tell you, a busy train is a green train.

    The knock-on benefits of other HS2 journeys (eg. Birmingham – East Midlands – Leeds under the Y Line) have yet to be modelled, but are essentially a ‘free win’ for a business case predicated entirely on London traffic. A wholesale upgrading of this route to attract equivalent ridership through journey time savings is inconceivable given that most non-London regional rail is sadly still utterly subsidy-dependent, with, unlike HS2, little prospect of profitable day-to-day operation unless road use becomes so prohibitively expensive as to drive modal shift at off peak times.

    That the government has finally realised that years of disruptive and usually deeply flawed rebuilding of our existing 19th century railway has its limits is to be profoundly welcomed, and marks the UK’s late awakening to what the Swiss (and others) have known for years: prudent construction of new infrastructure on key arteries is a sine qua non for green growth. HS2 must be built.

    • Virgin Trains has responded to growing customer demand by introducing an additional London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly train on Thursday evenings. Off-peak ticket holders will be able to use the new service, which will leave London Euston at 18:57, starting this Thursday 07 July.

      The company had already acted last December to provide extra capacity on the route by introducing the 18:57 as a Friday evening train.

      All seats on the new Thursday train will be Standard, with First Class accommodation fully de-classified. It will run to the same schedule as the Friday train, leaving London Euston at 18:57, calling at Crewe at 20:33 and arriving at Manchester Piccadilly at 21:17.

      Virgin Trains’ Chief Operating Officer Chris Gibb said: “The number of journeys on Virgin Trains has more than doubled in six years – from 14 million in 2004 to over 28 million. The additional train on Fridays has had a very positive effect in reducing crowding. Increasingly we are now seeing similar issues on Thursdays, so we have moved to provide extra seats on that day too.”

      The new service will initially not be shown in timetables or reservation databases but will be loaded into industry systems at the earliest possible opportunity.

      If ever there was proof of the increase in demand on WCML, then this is it !! Network Rail stated at the TSC the other week that they have run out of planning capacity beyond 2018 for the WCML, which is when the last of the planned interventions kick in…

      • Notice how easy and quick it is to get extra capacity on the current lines – and this has not cost 10’s of billions unlike HS2.

        • Easy and quick – what rubbish.

          The West Coast can only barely cope now because it’s just had £9 billion spent on upgrading it to a fairly unambitious standard (i.e 110mph to 125mph). The reason you need HS2 is that the west coast cannot be upgraded to any useful standard without rebuilding it from scratch and demolishing more houses, woodland and greenery than you’d need to build HS2.

          So, by all means, campaign against HS2, but don’t whinge about the consequences if you stop it.

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