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Mapping the dotty case for HS2

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On 2 November, Leeds Live and The Northern Agenda newsletter revealed the interactive map which shows “why people in the North of England won’t give up their cars”. Apparently, it’s all to do with (a dataset of) the time taken in 2019 to get from Leeds City rail station to other railway stations in (mostly far-off) parts of Great Britain. By car versus by train. At 9 am on a weekday. Assuming there are no delays on the highway or railway networks.


As the North emerges from the pandemic people have been returning to the roads in their cars much more quickly than they return to trains. And the graphic below, comparing journey times from Leeds to every station in the country by car or rail, gives a pretty clear explanation as to why. Our map, adapted from the original data compiled by Tom Forth, Head of Data at Open Innovations, shows how it remains a better option to drive from Yorkshire’s biggest city to the overwhelming majority of places around the country. The red dots are the stations you can reach faster by car and the green dots the stations you can reach faster by public transport. […]

[Tom Forth:] “The fact that it remains a faster option to drive from Leeds to places like Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham shows the challenge we will face in using our cars less if investments like Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 are not funded”.

‘The map which shows why people won’t abandon their cars’ [Leeds Live] / Northern Agenda newsletter | 2 Nov 2021
The Northern Agenda newsletter, Reach plc, 2 Nov 2021, 'Rail journey times from Leeds'

This could be groundbreaking stuff, and totally convincing, apart from there not being any evidence that Northern people (or people anywhere else) make car ownership or travel decisions in the way suggested by Mr Parsons’ newsletter.

Actually, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Northern Powerhouse Rail or phase two of HS2 would have much effect on car ownership, car mileage, mode choice, or door-to-door journey times in the North of England, either.

For most people in Leeds, and most people in the North of England, the impact of speeding up rail journeys between Manchester and Leeds by 10 minutes[*1] (?), or Liverpool and Manchester by 2 minutes[*2] (?), would appear to lie somewhere between zero and nano.

[*1] = Comparator: Standedge; [*2] = Comparator: Chat Moss

Written by beleben

November 3, 2021 at 10:34 am

One Response

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  1. Seems like an argument for abandoning HS2 & NPR and transferring the manpower to fixing shortcomings in classic rail.
    A graph with HS2 times may be just as red, with the released & not replaced capacity giving slower journey times to stations not served by HS2 and to the stops lost altogether..

    Mike

    November 4, 2021 at 11:02 am


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