How credible are HS2 demand forecasts?
HS2’s passenger demand forecasts have been questioned in a letter from the chairman of the treasury select committee Andrew Tyrie to transport secretary Chris Grayling.
[Letter to Chris Grayling, 4 Jan 2017, extract]
The largest impact to the benefit-cost ratio for the full HS2 network comes from more recent outturn demand data from 2011 to 2014. It is demonstrated in Figure 1.2 in the Department’s economic case for HS2 that the impact of this increase on the benefit cost ratio is 1.6. If the demand update were to be removed, the benefit-cost ratio falls dramatically, from 2.7 for the full network, to 1.1.
HS2 Ltd claim its new railway would carry ‘300,000 passengers per day’ – which is vastly more than is carried on Inter City West Coast, Inter City East Coast, and Midland-Main-Line-intercity combined. Of course, many current intercity journeys could not transfer to HS2, because they involve origins or destinations not served (e.g. Coventry, Peterborough, Leicester, Wolverhampton).
For comparison, the two largest ICWC flows – London to Birmingham, plus London to Manchester – together amount to somewhere around 25,000 passengers per day.