Just 10% of time spent on trains is used ‘productively’ by business travellers, according to research commissioned by the Department for Transport (Sept 30). Click here.
These findings won’t please opponents to HS2 who have claimed in the media and during the Transport Select Committee hearings that workers can be just as productive on trains as in the office.
The report (prepared by consultancy Oxera) concluded that only a tenth of time was spent productively, with many travellers reading for leisure, surfing the internet or enjoying the view.
HS2 opponents have already been claiming online that this undermines the business case for High Speed Rail.
Not only is this a complete about turn in their argument, it’s also incorrect.
If people aren’t working productively while travelling it is even more important they reach their destinations quickly.
HS2 opponents frequently claim there will be less demand as internet use (and remote working) increases.
This is anecdotal and based on assumptions. Evidence states that, if anything, the internet is encouraging travel.
The West Coast Main Line is increasingly busy with passenger demand rising at 6% per year and the highest number of passengers on the network since the 1920s.
We are increasingly free to roam and work where we choose.
Debate has raged around time savings with HS2, with critics suggesting a saving of 20-25 minutes between Birmingham and London (although they mischievously and incorrectly claim 10 minutes) is irrelevant.
Twenty to twenty five minutes is, of course, considerable, but what critics don’t like to talk about are the time savings heading north from the West Midlands.
This isn’t unusual – there is a great deal of cherry-picking when it comes to debating HS2 – critics will refer to £34bn (total Y-network cost) when they really mean £17bn (Birmingham to London cost).
They will also say HS1 in Kent is not used by enough passengers, but when its excellent record of recycling 95% of spoil locally is quoted they complain that it’s an unfair and misleading comparison.
So, if critics want to suggest 20-25 minutes saved between the capital and Second City isn’t good enough they could perhaps acknowledge the tremendous savings between our other major cities. Because HS2 is not just about London.
Birmingham to Leeds is cut from around 2h 5m to around one hour
Birmingham to Manchester is cut from 1h 40m to less than 50m
We don’t apologise for signing off with capacity. Time is important, but we’ve always said the greatest reward HS2 brings to the West Midlands is the release in capacity.
This allows us to increase local, regional and freight services as well as putting us firmly at the centre of a new railway network linking us with cities across the UK and Europe.