Written evidence from Terry Brennan (HSR
The key points of my evidence are:
government's expectation of huge growth in demand for inter-regional
rail travel does not appear to be supported by age-specific demographic
projections from the Office for National Statistics.
ages most likely to use rail travel are ages 20-59. ONS projections
indicate that by 2033, the government regions of the West Midlands,
the North West, and Yorkshire and Humber will see only 3% growth
by 2033 in these age bands.
bulk of population growth in England by 2033 (78%) will occur
in ages 0-19 or 60+, both age bands at which people rarely choose
to travel by rail.
term the number of people in the 20-59 age bands could diminish
because of the UK's "sub-replacement fertility rate"
(of less than two children per female). This long-term decline
will only reverse if significant net migration into the UK continues,
and/or if fertility rates increase.
shift from car appears to be a forced policy through capacity
restriction of the UK motorway network, to the benefit of European
shift from air appears not to be an objective of The Northern
Way, who want to maintain existing Heathrow Airport slots and
encourage regional airport expansion.
placed on time-saving appears to be overstated, with reference
to recent commuter and business traveller behaviour.
so-called "full appraisal of sustainability" is neither
full nor sustainable because it omitted the likely impact on the
London-Birmingham section from the proposed "Y" route
(even though the likely number of "Y" route trains is
assessment of environmental noise appears to have been downplayed,
by modelling noise from train roof height as being a noise source
at rail track height.
like the Transport Committee to ask the Office of National Statistics
to audit the demand forecasts for HS2 passenger numbers, to see
if they are consistent with the long term demographic profile
for the main demand pool of rail passengers (ages 20-59).
also like the Transport Committee to call on HS2's advisors or
officials, particularly Mr. Rick James, to give evidence about
why noise assessments and the potential train throughput has been
modelled in the way that it has.
Question 3 (1): How robust are the assumptions
and methodologyfor example, on passenger forecasts, modal
shifts, fare levels, scheme costs, economic assumptions (eg about
the value of time) and the impact of lost revenue on the "classic"
1. The government's proposals for a new rail
network are supposed to address a future capacity issue. At the
most fundamental level, such a conclusion should depend on the
number of people in future and their ages, compared with now.
2. However, the most recent population projections
from the Office for National Statistics
(summarised in Appendix 1) suggest that population growth in the
regions to be served by HS2 may not support the forecast passenger
numbers. Whilst it is clear and commonly accepted that the population
of England is increasing, much less understood is the age profile
of the demographics. This is important to understanding the pool
of potential demand (people) for future rail travel.
3. The age demographics are highly significant
because, as demonstrated by the recently published National Rail
the bulk of rail passengers are aged 20 to 59. For a clearer understanding
of this, Figure 1 is a graph of rail travellers by age taken from
AGE AND SEX PROFILE OF TYPICAL TRAVELLERS
(source: NRTS 2010 page 21)
4. Under the government's proposals, by 2033
(the year that ONS population projections run to) the London to
Birmingham section of HS2 would be in its 8th year of operation
and the onward sections to Manchester and Leeds would begin operating.
5. However, the ONS projections indicate that
by 2033 approximately 64% of the population growth in England
will be in the over 60+ age groups. A further 15% of the population
growth will be children and young adults (below age 19). Both
of those age bands take relatively few rail trips.
6. On a regional basis, in the West Midlands
government region 93% of population growth will be under 19 or
over 60; in the Yorkshire and Humber government region its 68%;
whilst in the North West government region the figure is 100%ie
any population growth in the North West will be either 0-19 or
60+ whilst the ages 20-59 group will actually diminish.
7. To complement the earlier graph of age profiles,
Figure 2 below illustrates the predicted change in population
across England by 2033. Most of the population growth will occur
in the age bands that are not typical rail travellers.
DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF POPULATION CHANGE
(source data: ONS Sub National Population
8. So in the main demand pool of rail travellers,
by 2033 the ONS predict that:
the wider government regions of the West Midlands, North West,
and Yorkshire & Humber, there will be only 3% growth in the
2059 age group.
terms of population numbers, the West Midlands, North West and
Yorkshire & Humber will see an additional 283,000 20-59 year
olds by 2033.
9. At this point it should be noted that, at
current rates, only about 3% of the population chooses to travel
by rail on a daily basis. More importantly, it should also be
noted that there is actually a downward trend in the number of
trips (of all modes) per person as people's lifestyles change.
People want to travel less frequently. It follows then that only
a small proportion of this additional population growth might
choose rail travel.
10. Whilst there has been a recent increase
in rail usage, overall rail usage as a proportion of daily journeys
is still extremely small. Recent increases in rail travel include
the new services on High Speed 1 (Eurostar) and the additional
passengers on the West Coast Main Linewhich were vigorously
sought to meet the requirements of the operator's business plan.
These additional passengers could reasonably be thought of as
the result of Say's Law, whereby a new supply creates its own
11. But even then, whether overall rail
usage remains at around 3% of daily trips or increases (through
choice or policy), a leap of faith would be required to assume
that all of the extra passengers from the moderate population
change would demand inter-regional trips. Referring again to the
National Rail Travel Study,
the proportion of daily rail passengers travelling inter-regionally
is actually very small as shown in Figure 3 below:
12. So from a reasonable perspective of
looking at future increases into the basic pool of demand (the
number of people), and current travel behaviour, it would require
some extraordinary assumptions of future behaviour to produce
sufficient passengers to support the business case.
TYPICAL DAILY TRAVEL WITHIN AND BETWEEN REGIONS
(source: NRTS 2010 page 17)
13. So clearly HS2 will need to find more
passengers to make a strong business case. Perhaps this is why
it has been claimed that 70% of HS2 demand could be leisure travellers.
However the NRTS findings lend no support to this assertion because
only 24% of travellers on a typical day do so for leisure reasons.
This reinforces similar findings from the National Travel Survey
2005, and the National Passenger Survey (Autumn 2006).
14. In the longer run, the demographics of the
UK will be affected by its fertility rate. A population generally
needs a fertility rate of 2.1 children per female to maintain
a steady state and anything less could imply a long-term decline
in population. The UK now has an ageing population, with birth
booms of the 1960s and 1970s approaching retirement ages. The
UK fertility rate has been below 2.0 since the 1970s (most recently
it was around 1.9). To offset this potential decline, the UK will
need a continuous net migration inflow, and/or encourage higher
Modal shift: Road
15. In making the case for HS2, the government
and lobbyists also cite what is happening with our European competitors,
particularly France, Germany, and Spain. Therefore it is interesting
to discover from the European Union statistics website
the following observations:
has reduced its railway network by 2,042km in the period 2000-09.
In the same period France has added 1,390km to its motorway network
(the 2nd highest increase in the EU).
has reduced its railway network by 6,796km in the period 2000-09.
In the same period Germany has added 1,101km to its motorway network
(the 3rd highest increase in the EU).
in contrast, has increased its railway network by 2,947km in the
period 2000-09. But in the same period Spain also added 4,974km
to its motorway network (the highest increase in the EU).
16. What about the United Kingdom? The UK has
reduced its railway network by 914km in the period 2000-09. And
in the same period, the UK has added just 97km to its motorway
network (the 22nd highest increase in the European Union). It's
not clear from the statistic whether this includes the innovative
scheme for using the hard shoulder of motorways.
17. Should anyone presume that the UK's
modest increase in motorway length may be because it already has
a substantial network, the statistics show that is not the case.
The UK appears to have only 60% of the motorway capacity that
Italy has; 33% of the French capacity; 28% of the German capacity;
and 26% of the Spanish capacity.
18. From this it appears that our European competitors
place a much stronger emphasis on the economic benefits of road
transport, placing the UK at a competitive disadvantage.
Modal shift: Air
19. It has been established elsewhere that there
are no substantive air links from Birmingham or Leeds to Heathrow
Airport, whilst rail already has over 75% of the London-Manchester
market. Nevertheless it is worth noting that, according to The
Northern Way's recent analysis, business can cope quite well without
links to Heathrow:
"With the loss of the Leeds Bradford to Heathrow
service businesses in Yorkshire have adapted their travel behaviours
and are now also connecting over Manchester, Amsterdam and Dubai
to other long-haul destinations. This is also to a lesser extent
true in the North East. Businesses often cite a more relaxing
and pleasant experience from travelling via Amsterdam rather than
travelling through London Heathrow".
20. Even so, and despite this adaption,
the Transport Committee should note the intention laid out quite
openly that, as well as lobbying for high speed rail, The Northern
Way will also lobby for maintaining remaining links with
Heathrow and for the expansion of northern airports.
21. I refer again to the NRTS to point out that
a majority of rail commuters (58%) and most business travellers
(41%) actually walk to their station of origin, rather than use
faster modes of bicycle, taxi, car, car share, or public transport.
Logically this suggests that time-saving is not nearly as critical
as the government believes, and in fact for the rational traveller,
convenience and cost appear to carry far more significance than
currently estimated in the government's assessments.
TRAVEL CHOICES TO STATION OF ORIGIN
Percentages do not sum to 100% due to rounding
(source: NRTS 2010 page 19)
COMPILATION OF ONS SUB NATIONAL POPULATION PROJECTION,
Question 6 (2): Are environmental costs and benefits (including
in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business
1. With reference to the consultation material now
published by the government and HS2, I urge the Transport Committee
to call HS2 technical advisors to give evidence on the following
points and clarify this issue:
Point 1: Noise source: Please ask the HS2 advisors to confirm
that their own reference study
indicates significant noise from modern high speed trains at speeds
of just 200kmh; that the loudest noise at 200kmh comes from around
the top of the train; and that this noise source increases with
train speed. (In public meetings they have told people there will
be no such noise).
Point 2: Noise mitigation: Please ask the HS2 advisors to confirm
that their own technical paper acknowledges noise barriers to
be less effective against train roof noise; and that a decision
was taken to model such noise as being at track level instead
of at train roof height. This point is very significant.
"Without first mitigating the source of aerodynamic noise,
wayside noise barriers are not likely be as effective or feasible,
due to the required increase in barrier height, to provide shielding
to the entire train."
.. "It was decided that some
modification to the base CRN calculation should be included to
account for aerodynamic noise. The best option at this stage was
to retain a single noise source but alter the source height
train speeds less than 300km/h the rolling noise source location
of CRN was used (rail head height)."
Point 3: European Commission advice: Please ask HS2 to confirm
that Mr. Rick Jones of DeltaRail is the same advisor who participated
in the IMAGINE project for the European Commission on how to appropriately
model train noise. That project included a paper by Mr. Jones
which provided the following advice and illustration:
"It was agreed by the Work Package that the five source
heights above rail head level (h) identified originally within
HARMONOISE were suitable for carrying forward as the IMAGINE recommendations.
These are shown in Figure 4.2."
Point 4: Accounting for noise: Following on, please ask HS2 to
explain how their modelling of train roof noise, and its subsequent
environmental costs, is justified and consistent with previous
advice given by Mr. Jones to the European Commission.
2. The number of trains used in the "Appraisal
of Sustainability" is 432 per day. However, whilst the specific
"Y" route may not yet be known, the potential train
throughput from the "Y" route is known and could be
up to 576 trains,
which is 33% more than used in the appraisal. Will the Transport
Committee please ask HS2 officials to explain why they have claimed
a "full Appraisal of Sustainability", which in fact
appears to be neither full nor sustainable because further substantial
impacts arrive just seven years later; and ask them to explain
when a proper "full" appraisal will be issued for similar
level of widespread scrutiny.
Office for National Statistics: Sub-National Population Projections
National Rail Travel Survey: December 2010
ONS Social Trends 40, 2010 edition pages 170-171 and:
National Rail Travel Survey: December 2010 page 17 Back
National Rail Travel Survey: December 2010 page 26 Back
European Union: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=tran_r_net&lang=en Back
The Northern Way: The Importance of Improving International Air
Connectivity for the North's Economy-January 2011 section 3.13 Back
The Northern Way: (as above) section 10 Back
National Rail Travel Survey: December 2010 page 19 Back
"Noise Sources for High Speed Trains" table 3 (F Poisson,
P E Gautier, and F Letourneaux) Back
HS2 Appraisal of Sustainability: Appendix 5 Technical Reports
paragraph 6.3.3 and 5.6.10-11 Back
IMAGINE paper by Mr. Rick Jones, page 13
HS2 Appraisal of Sustainability: Appendix 5 Technical Reports-page
45 Table 1 Back