HS2 and its operating surplus
In Western Europe and North America, passenger rail operations require subsidy, but according to the British Government Response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee [High Speed 2 report],
- around 90 million passenger trips would be made on HS2 each year
- and, on a standalone basis, it would generate an annual ‘surplus’ of £2,800 million.
So the government appears to be claiming that each HS2 roundtrip would bring in £62 more in revenue, than its cost of production.
However, the Department for Transport has refused to provide any information on projected HS2 operating costs and revenues.
How does the HS2 ‘£62 surplus’ compare with other lines in Britain? In the year 2013 / 2014, train operators Virgin Trains West Coast and Southeastern received subsidies of £0.047 and £0.124 per passenger mile respectively. So each return journey from Manchester to London would have generated a ‘negative surplus’ of ~£17.