Posted 15th September 2010 | 5 Comments

High Speed rail 'will be affordable', says report

THE High Speed rail campaigning group Greengauge 21 says the price of travel on a future domestic High Speed network will be comparable with fares on conventional trains. A new report says that many passengers could be paying no more than £20, and dismisses claims that High Speed rail will be the preserve of a wealthy elite.

The report – High Speed Rail: Fair and Affordable – says that both Greengauge 21 and Government analysis assumes that there will not be premium fares. “That’s why we can fairly describe it as a ‘Railway for All’”, said Greengauge 21 director and transport consultant Jim Steer.

He continued: “We have based our analysis on a breakdown of today’s rail fares for the kind of journeys that will be made in future by High Speed. Average fares owill be around £40 for a single journey and many will actually travel for much less – around the £20 mark”.

The report also examines the level of fares paid now. It says the relevance of today’s fares is that the business cases developed by both Greengauge 21 and HS2 Ltd have assumed that High Speed prices will be set at the same level on average as conventional rail ticket prices – and it is now clear what this would mean in practice.

Jim Steer said: “What we see is that the number of rail journeys made across the lowest income quintile is about the same as the amount of rail travel in the middle income groups. Higher trip rates in the highest income groups reflect the preponderance of rail travel in the South East, especially commuting into London, where average incomes are well above the national average.”

The report has been warmly received in those English regions which are likely to benefit from the first domestic High Speed routes.

West Midlands PTE chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “Whilst we recognise the importance of HS2 to the West Midlands in terms of regeneration, job creation and GDP, it’s also important that High Speed rail is affordable and accessible by all. We therefore welcome this report.”

Northern Way chairman David Begg added: “We know that the faster links to London that High Speed rail can provide are vital to the North’s long term economic prospects. What the report also highlights is that High Speed rail fares will also be very attractive to the general public.”

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Chris Tolmie, High Wycombe, UK

    Glad my boss lets me work from home! Saves me a fortune in transport costs and time in travel and has freed up office space reducing business costs.
    As more people do this (field engineers, sales, analysts, designers, architects, lawyers, administrators, marketers, brokers . . . ) the revenue for new and existing rail links will come under pressure.

  • Paul Withrington, Northampton, UK

    My experience of rail tickets is that those supper cheap things that Mr Harvey finds are difficult to buy and are usually subject to travelling on specific trains etc. Mr Harvey is of course right. Whether it is a road or rail there is no guarantee that one end of it or the other or both or neither will benefit. Mr Harvey is also right, in saying trains serve corridors. That is a problem they serve nothing else. However, whether the train can extract people from cars in those corridors is another matter. Those in cars will have their reasons, such as final destinations remote from rail terminals. The plain fact is that even in London, outside the centre 70% of trips are by car. Nation-wide only 2% go by rail representing only 6% of passenger miles. As to my statistics being “equally selective”, the idea is silly. We have no agenda whereas Jim Steer does and is paid handsomely for pursing it. Perhaps that is why his “statistics” cannot, in my opinion, be relied upon.

  • Greg Tingey, London, England

    Passenger JOURNEYS include the mile to the shops and the half-mile to take the dear little children to school...
    I suggest you look at passenger MILES (or km) - that gives a very different picture.

  • H. Harvey, Birmingham

    Come Mr Withrington tell us all who you really are and your noted anti rail bias.
    Your bus/rail/car share refers to global share and not to a specific 'corridor applicable when considering congestion.
    What are the car/bus/rail/tube shares when applied to London for instance.
    From the Rail Easy site is £14 offpeak single
    From Manchester to Euston is £29
    And these fares are without railcards.
    Your arguments regarding whether the rail link will relocate offices from south to north or north to south are arguments your other 'roads' persona never seems to comment upon.
    Perhaps some of your statistical data is similarly 'selective.

  • Paul Withrington, Northampton, UK

    David Begg, when chairman of the Commission for Integrated Transport, and his colleagues allowed John Prescott to believe that congestion really could be solved by increasing rail use by 50% and bus use by 10% when nothing could have been further from the truth. After all, since bus and rail each carried only 6% of passenger miles, those increases could have only the most trivial of effects on road traffic, itself predicted to increase by circa 12%. Why then should we believe the professor’s assertion that “We know that the faster links to London that High Speed rail can provide are vital to the North’s long term economic prospects”. Instead HS rail may very well empty offices in the north in favour of offices in London.

    Jim Steer says, “What we see is that the number of rail journeys made across the lowest income quintile is about the same as the amount of rail travel in the middle income groups”. That is contrary to the 2009 National travel survey data. Table 705 therein provides 320 miles per year per person by rail for those in the bottom quintile, 270 for those in the second to bottom quintile, 415 for the middle quintile, 538 for the second to top and a whopping 1230 for the top quintile, begging the question, does Jim need his eyes tested?

    Jim also claims that the average single will cost £40. However, today’s price for single from London to Birmingham in the peak is £70. Off peak the typical fare is £47. HS2 may match that but most or many of its passengers will be from further north. The cheapest fare from Manchester is £89.50. A peak hour single costs £131. Off peak the cost is £108.50. Season tickets may help Jim’s case but even so ..