die belebende Bedenkung

Bang goes the spin

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BBC Television’s “popular science” show Bang Goes The Theory (first broadcast 28 April 2014) stated that on GB National Rail,

[Liz Bonnin]

1.5 billion people a year use 7.2 million train services over 32 thousand kilometres of track


passenger numbers are expected to double in the next thirty years.

'Bang Goes The Theory', BBC television

‘Bang Goes The Theory’, BBC television (28 April 2014)

But, according to the British Chambers of Commerce, Britain’s railways are full already.

British Chambers of Commerce: "Britain's railways are full, so HS2 is needed"

British Chambers of Commerce: “Britain’s railways are full, so HS2 is needed”

[Extract from the open letter “Be bold on HS2 and radical infrastructure, BCC tells PM – The BCC publishes an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him not to abandon the HS2 project”, BCC]
Future business success depends on infrastructure networks that meet demand. Rail is no exception. The UK rail network must have the capacity to meet rocketing business demand – for long-distance services, for commuter rail services, and for the transport of freight.

Detailed research makes it clear that the three North-South main lines will all reach their effective capacity in the next fifteen years. Piecemeal, sticking-plaster upgrades to existing routes will not solve Britain’s looming rail capacity crunch.

HS2 Ltd, 2011 estimate: '136 thousand daily journeys on trunk in 2043'The HS2 Y network — running between London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester — would add about 530 route-kilometres to the railway, so 1,100 track-kilometres or thereabouts. In 2011, HS2 Ltd forecast that 136,000 passengers would use the line between ‘Birmingham Interchange’ (i.e. Middle Bickenhill) and Old Oak Common each day (so ~50,000,000 per annum), with about two thirds of high speed passengers having previously travelled by classic rail.

If 80% of journeys had London as their origin or destination (as stated by HS2 Ltd), one could estimate the total number of annual journeys [London plus non-London] as ((100/80) * 50,000,000) = 62.5 million. If (as stated by HS2 Ltd), around two thirds of HS journeys were shift_from_classic_rail, the net annual passenger uplift from HS2 would be (62,500,000 – (62,500,000 * 0.67)), i.e. 20,625,000.

So to summarise:

  • if National Rail passenger volume is “predicted to double” from 1,500,000,000 to 3,000,000,000 in thirty years (as stated in Bang Goes The Theory)


  • HS2’s net annual passenger uplift in 2043 were 20,625,000


  • HS2’s direct contribution to meeting the oft-mentioned capacity crunch is

    (20,625,000) / (1,500,000,000)

or 1.375%.


Written by beleben

April 29, 2014 at 12:44 pm

One Response

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  1. If the railways are full whilst making losses in the billions of pounds – put up the fares.

    Alternatively, and if you want to keep lorries and other traffic away from people whilst cutting costs to rail commutes by a factor of at least four, pave the railways and replace the trains with express coaches and lorries, See topics 2 and 15 at

    It is not our fault if the the arithmetic comes out that way.


    May 3, 2014 at 11:10 am

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