please empty your brain below

If you're assuming 2% inflation, and if economic growth runs at a real 2% once the recession's over, then the actual increase is 1% a year not 5% (because incomes will be rising at 4%, of which 2% is inflation and 2% is people getting genuinely better off). That puts the Manchester peak turn-up-and-go return at gbp450 in today's money.

It's also worth remembering that pretty much nobody ever needs to buy a peak turn-up-and-go return (the only people I know who've paid the gbp308, or gbp250 as it was when I did Manchester-London regularly, are people travelling on expenses working for companies with generous expenses policies).

A peak turn-up-and-go single if you need to be in London in the morning, sure - but if you're returning the same day, then hanging on for the 7pm train home is hardly the end of the world; and if you're returning on a later day, then you can advance-book your return ticket.
Are the HS1 and slow train fares in reversed columns?

dg writes: Not any more, thanks.
A businessman who travels long distances on a turn up and go basis needs a better diary system.

The only two occasions in the last twenty years when I have had to travel long distance at the drop of a hat have been - literally - distress purchases: racing to a close relative's death bed. The stupendously high fares prey on people at their most vulnerable. Don't let them kid you otherwise
As a Stratford resident the premium I'm really interested in is the one charged for taking the high speed train from Stratford International to Kings Cross. We regularly go to concerts and exhibitions at Kings Place but just can't justify the extra, and non Oyster, cost. In fact the only time we've used the train was when we had Olympic tickets and took a round trip just for the fun of it. I think my kids enjoyed the trip as much as the athletics!
I have a bet with a friend that HS2 will never be built in my lifetime. The announcement yesterday has done nothing to shake this conviction.
That has to be about the most stupid bet anyone could make. If it is built in your lifetime you have to pay up. If it isn't then you never collect your winnings. And neither will your estate since a) they probably won't know about it and b)it is unenforceable and your executors will feel duty bound to the beneficiaries not to pay up unless it is specifically mentioned in your will.
Concorde's business model was built on the premise that people would value time (and luxury) over money, and completely failed to foresee that air travel was going to move to a mass market budget model. Perhaps we will see a similar divergence of train services and prices - high speed luxury for those who can and want to pay, and maybe a cheaper, more basic (even than now?) budget model for the rest of us.

Having said that, one of the only arguments I find persuasive for the scheme is that it will free up capacity on the existing network which will then be used for freight.
I'm with Baldassaro. The real need for the improvement of railways in the UK is increased capacity between Rugby and Euston. HS2 is a vanity project that will hardly address this need. As DG's figures demonstrate, few people are going to pay a lot more for a modest time saving to or from a less convenient station in the provinces.
Roger - Yes, the need for those living between Rugby and Euston is for better trains between Rugby and Euston. What about the wider drive to encourage investment in cities currently perceived as being 'far' from London.

John b - completely agree. Many articles are ruined by not understanding inflation, and it is unfortunate that DG seems to have muddied the water with the last few comments in the article.
People do not travel from station to station unless they work for the railway and then they go free anyway. So the Canterbury resident (say) has to be aware of to where in London he is travelling. One of the other termini, more conveniently situated to his destination, could be preferable (I don't know where southern (note lack of capital letter) trains go. To we country bumpkins, it looks like spaghetti on the map).

Once the journey exceeds 100 miles, this is less important. However, the plans are for the HS2 to terminate at Manchester Piccadilly. Most of the offices in Manchester are at the other end of town requiring a change of train or tram.

That sort of thing.
You will be waiting a long time for a Southern train at Canterbury, they don't go there. As a brief guide, Yellow trains are Southeastern, Green trains are Southern.
Howard was quite specific about his lower-case use of southern. In spite of attempts to split it up and colour-code it, the former Southern Railway/Southern Region still forms quite a distinctive bunch of spaghetti. Perhaps even more distinctive than the GWR for which Howard has such feelings. (Indeed I dream that one day they will paint all the trains green again).

(From many parts of Kent you can choose which of 6 London terminals you want).
And is it still true that more trains operate in Kent in a day than on the whole of Swiss Railways?
Actually I think it could be *more* likely that we will see more cheaper advance fares on HS2 simply to fill up the trains. Isn't the proposal for something like 40 trains an hour?
I believe the maximum number of high-speed trains per hour that can be handled on a double-track line is about 18, possibly 20 (in each direction). It's really not that many when you consider the number of destinations.
Umm the modelling was done on the basis on fares being no different than existing intercity fares. Not on HS1.

HS1 does not offer cheaper advance fares because it is a London commuter service not an intercity line. In that respect it is similar to every other commuter line around London.

Also a full length high speed train will carry almost 1200 passengers. I think you will find that outside peaks there will be plenty of cheaper fares available. There certainly are on other European high speed services.

In other words your figures and assumptions are entirely wrong.
Well that's good to know, thanks.

Canterbury East or Canterbury West, the only train you can take is South Eastern. You say "People do not travel from station to station unless they work for the railways"
Where do you catch a train? I use a station, do you leap off bridges onto the top of the train?
I think many of us understood EXACTLY the meaning of 'people do not travel from station to station'.....

Since you seem to know what robertGWR meant by "people do travel from station to station", perhaps you could let the rest of us know what he means.Unless you are bluffing.
An accurate quote would be a start. Frankly, if you don't understand the point WITHOUT it being explained, I see little point in continuing the exchange.

Come on, can't everyone get back to picking big holes in my post?
DG just got a mention on Jonathan Meades: The Joy of Essex BBC4 some ideas there !
I am so sorry that my post led to a person being silly. Luckily your other readers were as intelligent as you are in their replies. I do appreciate your articles very much indeed, as although I am clearly an outsider, I like to learn about London and its foibles (and its beauty).
Hi Howard

Nothing to apologise for, honest.
And thanks for being here.
NLW: He/she meant "people do not ONLY travel station to station" i.e. they also travel between their starting point and the first station, and between the second station and their final destination. So when considering the utility of a new route you have to consider how close the two station endpoints are to travellers' likely destinations as well as speed/frequency of the train journey.
I'm curious why at Manchester they aren't using the old and currently unused Manchester Mayfield station (pretty much next door to Piccadilly), although perhaps the cost of the rebuild means it's easier to start from scratch. I hope that at Birmingham and Manchester at least, they build a nice side platform complete with security/immigration, giving possibility (finally) of through European trains. I am pretty sure that they won't, though, preferring fewer platforms intensively used, rather than space to expand and cater for occasional (eg: to Paris) trains in a sensible way.

As to station locations, it is swings and roundabouts: Somebody in London going to a meeting in central Sheffield will probably stay with MML (unless they make the schedule so unhelpful/slow to try and force people onto HS1). But for people in, say Rotherham or North Sheffield going to London for the day, it will be much quicker. Depending on specifics of start/finish points, some existing journeys will be much quicker, some a little quicker, some about the same time, and some doubtless slower. But the extra capacity to the network is the main gain, as will the extra competition to help force prices down: At the moment, for example, virgin can charge what they want for a Manchester-Euston service as there is limited viable alternatives. Once HS2 competition is in place from - hopefully - a separate company, and maybe prices and offers will become more affordable
"The real need for the improvement of railways in the UK is increased capacity between Rugby and Euston."

Yes, it is.

HS2 is a vanity project that will hardly address this need.

The *main point* of HS2 is increased capacity between Rugby and Euston! That's why they're building the Brum stretch first. It adds 20 high-speed paths an hour in each direction between Rugby and Euston, and allows all services on the WCML fast lines to run at the same speed and stopping pattern, rather than the current mix of semifast commuter trains and 125mph non-stops to the North, which also significantly increases available paths. And gets semifasts off the slow lines, which increases freight capacity.

Sadly, continental services will be unviable until/unless the UK signs up for Schengen, which should happen tomorrow, but probably won't happen ever due to paranoid xenophobic Little England-ism. Without the ability to take domestic passengers, NoL can't be made to work.
Apologies all, I understood the point, just mistyped on a small keyboard - sound familar DG?
I helped do the modelling and business case for the first phase of HS2. The modelling and business case assumed no premium on the fares but also assumed that seasons tickets would not be valid or available to purchase.

The actual format of ticketing was assumed to follow the principles of airlines in that 99% of people would be booking in advance. There would be no standing available on these trains so to ensure you travel you would need to book in advance. I believe this is how High Speed trains generally work elsewhere.
As a comparison you have London to Dover Priory return £32.30 slow and £37.50 HS1.
But if you travel from Dover Priory to London return there is a much bigger difference, it is £21.80 slow and £37.50 HS1, that’s 72%.
The legacy of HS1 has been one perfectly good station closed (Waterloo), one station built with no connection to the rest of the railway network (Ebbsfleet) and one station that is criminally underused (Stratford). I've read nothing so far to suggest that HS2 has learnt any of the lessons from this and will offer either improved connections or better affordability or that the money wouldn't be better spent upgrading the current network.
@whiff im in agreement bring the rest of the network up to at least the 20th century. Get track that can deal with temperature changes , points/signals that don't fail every other day and a better maintenance fleet to keep the tracks online.
Frankly (and speaking as a resident), Manchester has a whole heap of problems with it's railways that need addressing before HS2 should even be considered - the appalling layout at Piccadilly caused by the massive increase in through trains over recent years, compounded by said through trains using Piccadilly, rather than Victoria, as many of them used to before the number of platforms there got reduced by about two-thirds so they could drop a concert arena, a long closed cinema, some offices and a multi-storey carpark on tip of it. They need to build the "Windsor Chord" or whatever the heck they're calling it this week. They need to sort out the frequency of trains, and the fares, and they need to quadruple track several stretches of lines so that a decently frequent service can run out to the suburbs - the level of overcrowding on some commuter trains is appalling, and if there is ever an accident involving one of those services, the death rate is going to be shockingly high. Manchester has too many trains going through too few lines, especially in the city centre - much better to plan and implement an effective solution to this than to tinker round the edges as TFGM (Transport for Greater Manchester) seem to do at the moment.

I'm quite het up about this - can you tell?
Oh Mr Geezer, you appear to have kicked a hornets nest here. One should never mix train pedantry and economic pedantry - they lead to an incredibly combustible mix!

While one can make any assumption you like into the future, a 3% annual increase in fares leads to fares doubling every 24 years, a 4% increase means doubling every 18 years and a 5% increase every 14 years or so. Small differences mean big changes in assumptions - that is why the business case for HS2 has so many holes in it. That's a start on the economics.

As I understand it, HS1 is pretty much a walk-up-and-go model and permits season tickets. If neither of these apply to HS2, the whole basis for faster trains starts to disintegrate. Say you have a HS2 Advance type ticket from London to Birmingham that might save you 30 - 40 minutes of travel time. The ticket becomes worthless if you miss your train, so you allow plenty of time to get to the station and arrive 30 minutes early. You can't catch any of the several trains that leave before your train, so the time is wasted. However if you had a slightly cheaper 'turn-up-and-go' type ticket on a slower train, you could have traveled cheaper, on a slower train, but more productively.

I know it's possible to throw in any degree of over simplification, but your article appears to have ruffled so many feathers, a bit more metaphorical stirring could not be resisted.



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