Since looking over the “report” from the HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) yesterday (available HERE [.pdf]), I’ve been putting together some detail to support my assertion that HS2AA have been putting forward misleading figures in support of their proposition.
Specifically, I concluded that the HS2AA comparison of journeys between five European capital cities and each capital’s five next largest neighbours was flawed simply because, for all the examples on the mainland, the distances travelled were so much further than for the UK. So the UK emerged from the comparison as “top of the class”, when it was not.
We need look no further than France to get an idea of the scale of HS2AA’s deception. Between London and the five UK cities in the HS2AA report (Page 25), the average distance is just 213 miles [Note that I’ve been through the mileages and even increased the figure for Bradford to cover the longer distance into the city’s Forster Square station].
Accepting the HS2AA figures for fastest journey times then gives a highly credible average speed of 88 mph. But when this is set against the French figures, that doesn’t look so good.
For starters, the average distance between Paris and its five next largest satellites is a whopping 418 miles, and yes, I used the distance to Lyon via the Ligne À Grande Vitesse, which is a lot shorter than the original route via Dijon. Again, taking the HS2AA figures for fastest journey times, the average speed is over 113 mph, and that includes Paris to Toulouse, most of which is not over the high speed network.
So France comes out rather better than the UK when actual speed is considered. And the misleading use of journey time is not the only HS2AA assertion that doesn’t stand serious analysis: they repeat the questionable assertion that rail travel only wins over air when journey times are less than three hours (Page 24).
However, Guillaume Pepy, who is CEO of French Operator SNCF, has revealed that increased airport security and often unreliable airline timekeeping has pushed the figure nearer to four hours. Indeed, he notes that the TGV offers a journey time of five hours from Paris to Perpignan, yet rail now has a 50% market share. Time on board is also potentially more productive than when flying.
Moreover, in a presentation he gave on March 17 this year, M Pepy restated the viability of the four hour rail journey when compared with air travel, and observed “UK is shaped for HSR”. Not much needed to translate that one, methinks.