Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Cost Could Keep Motorists Off High Speed Rail



By Ben Aulakh

Nearly two thirds of motorists cite pricey rail fares as the biggest reason as to whether they would use their car, or high speed rail on a long distance journey, according to the Automobile Association.

A recent survey carried out by the AA found that 62 per cent of respondents said that the cost of rail tickets would be the biggest factor which decided their choice of transport.

The research also found that 33 per cent would use High Speed Rail for a journey they would usually make by car, 34 per cent wouldn’t, and 33 per cent didn’t know.

However, according to the motoring organisation, only 3 per cent of those taking part in the survey cited speed as the most important factor in deciding whether to go by road or rail.

Commenting, Edmund King, AA President, said: “It appears that perhaps the main raison d’ĂȘtre of High Speed Rail – speed - seems pretty irrelevant to most drivers.”

The survey also shows that those people who would be likely to get the most immediate benefit from HS2 are least likely to use it, with just 30 per cent of those in London and 31 per cent in Birmingham saying that they would travel on the new railway.

Similarly, 44 per cent of those on lower incomes would choose a car over HS2; 36 per cent of those in the West Midlands and 35 per cent in London and the south also felt the same way West Country 33%.

A recent survey into High Speed Rail, carried out by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, suggested that it must be effectively integrated into the wider transport network to allow passengers to reach destinations that are not on the high speed line.

LCCI Chief Executive Colin Stanbridge said, “Two thirds of respondents are concerned about the costs of using high speed rail.

“Therefore we believe that rail enhancements that are cheaper and based more on reliability and increased capacity, rather than speed, would be much more effective in convincing people to let the train take the strain.

Stop HS2, the national campaign opposed to the new rail system also argues that the cost of the new venture is the single biggest reason against it.

Campaign Co-ordinator Joe Rukin said, “All that has resulted from High Speed Rail in other countries is financial failure due to soaring costs and predicted passenger numbers that never materialised.

“Portugal has been told to stop building high speed rail as a condition of the bailout, Spain has already cut services, and in the Netherlands the company is almost bankrupt.”

“The current fast line in Kent is only carrying 10 million of the predicted 25 million passengers every year, so why on Earth we are so desperate to follow these examples of massive financial failure?”

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