HomePeopleAssociationsHigh Speed Rail Group's strategy to move passengers from air to rail

High Speed Rail Group’s strategy to move passengers from air to rail


In the drive to net zero, the High Speed Rail Group has looked at how it can bring air travellers over to rail.

The report examines how, pre-pandemic, 16,700 air passengers took to the skies every day in Great Britain.

But, unlike its counterparts overseas, air travel in Great Britain is very concentrated. Of the total flights, 57% of domestic travellers are going between London and Scottish airports. It’s no surprise then that rail is already chipping away at the number of people travelling by plane.

HSRG’s argument is that this number of people can be accelerated – if both the price and the level of comfort is on point.

HS2 is integral to this. But what effect will it have? HS2 will cut London-Glasgow/Edinburgh journey

times from 4 hours 20 minutes to 3 hours 38 minutes. Birmingham–Glasgow would drop from today’s 4 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours 20 minutes. The group stresses that further time savings north of Crewe could allow rail to grow its share of the Anglo-Scottish air market from 30% to 75%.

HSRG says that if all the passengers transferred from air to rail, it would fill an extra 20 trains each day.

The report’s recommendations have been distilled into a four-point plan:

Step 1 More limited-stop, long-distance rail services – To compete with air, rail needs to offer point-to-point services with competitive prices. This could mean, for example, expanding the London-Edinburgh train service proposition operated by Lumo, adding London-Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. But rail can only go so far operating on today’s unimproved network, which runs at its capacity limit.

Step 2 Utilise HS2 capacity to turbocharge modal shift – To make a deeper impact, rail needs to offer quicker journeys, and the capacity has to be available to run additional limited-stop services. This is just what HS2 provides. Rail’s share of the London-Scotland travel market could leap to 75% if, alongside HS2, services are speeded up north of Crewe.

Step 3 Move more international travellers to rail – While Eurostar services have succeeded in their chosen markets, HS1 across Kent and through the channel tunnel has the capacity for more. London rail services can be extended to more cities within the 1000km distance band for single-day travel – including Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Zurich, Geneva, Bordeaux, Nice, Barcelona.

Step 4 Properly connect Britain’s two high speed rail networks – HS2 can also extend European travel benefits across Britain, providing zero-carbon connectivity across the nation. Once it is open, a new Javelin-style service could run over the West Coast Main Line and connect with high speed international services on HS1. So passengers from the North and Midlands could avoid the off-putting gap between Euston and St Pancras stations. Or, there is the option to create a proper passenger transfer facility between Euston-St Pancras (HS2 – HS1), one that provides a seamless

‘between two terminals’ connection suitable for all travellers.

Report author, and HSRG Board Director, Jim Steer said: “Our report makes clear the potential for rail, and high speed rail in particular, to provide an attractive and lower carbon alternative to flying.

“By considering pre-HS2 and post-HS2 timescales and the geographies that are within-Britain and between Britain and the continent of Europe, it becomes increasingly clear the essential role high speed rail will play in facilitating this shift.

“Imagine being able to start a journey in Manchester or Birmingham, and through the proper integration of high speed rail services, being able to make a journey to Amsterdam: today this is an airline market of 2.1 million passengers per annum. Imagine the convenience of rail and the

significant carbon savings to be made.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest news

New era at BTTC as management buy-out completed

BTTC, the pioneering infrastructure project consultancy committed to transforming the infrastructure industry, has announced the successful completion of its management buy-out. The fast growing consultancy,...

LRSSB funding will help with safety projects

The LRSSB will be pressing ahead with work for light rail safety in the UK after the government allocated £3.3 million in funding. The money...

Viaducts get planning permission

HS2 has been given planning consent by Birmingham City Council for two viaducts which will bring high speed trains into Curzon Street station in...
- Advertisement -

More news

South Western Railway selects its new chief operating officer

Stuart Meek has been chosen to become South Western Railway's next chief operating officer -- undertaking Mike Houghton's duties after he retired earlier this...

Rail prepares for strike action as talks fail

It now appears that, despite talks taking place up to the last minute between RMT and rail operators, that the first of three days...

Deadline for TfL funding looms

As the deadline looms for a new funding agreement from the Government for Transport for London (TfL), so calls have been made for a...