Following on from yesterday’s blog about the anti Hs2 campaigns false claims of ‘falling’ passenger numbers & no business case for Hs2 I’ve been crunching a few numbers.
When Virgin Trains started running trains on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) in 1997 there were 13.6 million passenger journeys. In 2014 that had increased to 34.5million – an increase of 153.6% or an average of 5.6% per year. The Hs2 business case is based on an annual growth of just 2% per year up to 2039..
We are already far, far ahead of Hs2’s conservative projections – and that’s just because of one TOC on the WCML.
According to the anti Hs2 mob, these people don’t exist. (or should just get an earlier train)…
One of the most laughable aspects of the anti Hs2 campaign is the way antis try & pretend there’s no capacity argument for building Hs2. They do this by focusing exclusively on peak time Virgin trains services out of Euston & ignore everything else such as inter regional & local services, freight, or capacity constraints at other major stations on the routes Hs2 will relieve. These ‘look over there’ tactics fool a few observers but anyone with any knowledge or experience of the railways isn’t fooled.
A few are even stupid enough to try & pretend passenger numbers are falling. Like this one;
Such idiotic claims fly in the face of fact – as the latest statistics from ORR (released in March 2015) so clearly show:
What’s also significant is the even larger rise in long distance passenger kilometres (The number of kilometres travelled by passengers on the network).
This isn’t an isolated rise either. The last ORR release for Quarter 2 noted record numbers then too:
Then long distance passenger Km’s rose by 5.5%
Of course these are only the long distance figures. There’s sustained growth across all the other sectors too. Hs2 antis deliberately ignore them but it’s obvious they have an impact on mainline capacity as they use all the main stations that long distance services like Virgin West Coast do!
Another nail in their coffin is an interview with Virgin Trains West Coast Executive Director (Ops), Phil Bearpark which has been published in the Railway Gazette.
This mentions that Virgin have enjoyed ‘linear’ growth since the introduction of the 2007 VHF timetable. So much so that passenger journeys reached 34.5m in 2014-15. Bearpark told RG that “if numbers continue to rise at the same rate, then in 2026, when Hs2 starts, it is our intention that we’ll have got to 50 million passengers by then through year-on-year growth” In Bearpark’s words. This “was the business case for hs2”
Of course, this is just the WCML. Hs2 also releases capacity on the East Coast and Midland main lines, which are also experiencing a growth in traffic & capacity constraints.
With the economy picking up & the UK population projected to hit 70 million by 2027 (the year after Hs2 phase 1 opens ) & 73.2 million by 2035 (two years after phase 2) there’s no reason at all to believe Bearpark’s projections are optimistic . Well, not unless you’re an Hs2 anti in denial of course!