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Pros and cons of high speed rail system??  
2 Answers
Aug 14 2011 (5:35PM)

Entry# 599     
Pros and cons of high speed rail system??

Aug 14 2011 (5:48PM)
News Entry# 34116  Economics of High Speed Rail Links  
Posted by: rdb*^   Added by: rdb*^  Aug 14 2011 (5:50PM)
A recent report criticised a proposed new High Speed rail link between London and Birmingham (HS2) on the grounds that:
Cost of building scheme (£17bn) is hard to justify given benefits would be limited to relatively small number of passengers.
Benefits of reducing CO2 emissions are limited.There is a stronger argument for using government spending to improve existing rail infrastructure, e.g. longer trains and making better use of existing lines.Supporters argue that demand for rail travel is continuing to grow. By 2020, projected rail use will have outstripped capacity. Investment is needed to
provide more services and meet future demand. By providing extra capacity, it will relieve congestion on roads and improve the infrastructure of the UK economy. Also, by offering better quality, faster rail services, it will encourage more people to choose train. Like building new roads increased demand for car travel, building faster lines will create demand for train use.
Report calls for Rail scheme to be scrapped at Independent.
There may be a good case that investment funds may be better used on existing capacity. However, in this debate it is useful to take into account external benefits which are often ignored in public debate about the desirability of various transport schemes.
Death Rate by Mode of Transport
By comparing death rates by billion passenger KM, train travel is much safer than car use. A fatality rate of 1.9 per billion KM, compared to 0.3 billion KM for train.
Source: ONS - Social Trends 40
Fatality rates of transport should be given a significant economic cost. If one form of transport is fives times safer than another, then this is a significant external benefit, which justifies government subsidy.
The other issue is time. A new high speed train link helps save time for both rail users and car users who benefit from lower levels of congestion.
The growth in train travel in the UK, is despite the fact that services are often overcrowded with a perception of being late and expensive. If train services are quicker, it will attract more people to choose train travel rather than drive.
Related to the issue of time, is the fact that train travel offers opportunity to work. In the age of iPads and laptops, train travel can become an opportunity to work rather than get stressed driving through the streets of Birmingham.
This doesn't mean all high speed rail networks should automatically go ahead. But, when deciding, greater mention should be made of other externalities. Train travel does justify government subsidies, but often in the UK we have made decisions on the rail network based on simple profit and loss. This has left the UK, with a transport infrastructure which increases cost on business.

Aug 14 2011 (5:48PM)
News Entry# 34115  Pros and Cons of High Speed Rail HS2  
Posted by: rdb*^   Added by: rdb*^  Aug 14 2011 (5:35PM)
Supporters of high speed rail argue it is necessary to meet the UK’s rapidly growing demand for travel. High speed rail will provide the greenest and most efficient form of transport. The investment will provide a major boost to business and the economy; also faster rail links will help reduce the north south divide.Opponents of high speed rail argue that it is primarily an unnecessary project that can’t be justified given the huge cost involved; critics argue that there are much more pressing priorities such as small scale road and rail projects which help to deal with small bottlenecks. Also opponents are often motivated by the impact of the new railway on the environment.
Pros of High Speed Rail:-1.Road system is becoming
crowded with limited ability to keep increasing capacity. Offering high speed rail, will encourage more people to travel by train relieving gridlock in city centres. Therefore, it is not just rail travellers who will benefit, but those who gain from lower congestion on the roads.
Investment will provide jobs for those involved in building and running the new HS2Journey times from London to Birmingham will be less than one hour. There will also be quick rail links to Manchester and Leeds.Despite objections, HS1 has proved successful. Demand for HS1 rail travel to continent has proved to meet expectations; this has enabled more people to easily travel to the continent.The £17bn will be spread out over 15-20 years, therefore we can afford it.Take travel away from short distance air-travel, leaving lower carbon footprint.Environmental impact will be mitigated by ‘green tunnels’ and planting of trees.Trains have a better safety record than the roads. Passenger death rates (2008)
By car 1.9 per billion Km
By train 0.3 per billion Km
Cons of HS2:-There are other alternatives such as increasing train length on existing routes.HS2 may only benefit a small section of the population who use trains.Environmental costs of building new line through the Chilterns.In an era of budget cuts, spending on train service is not highest priority.Forecasts for passenger numbers are uncertain, no guarantee the demand will be there.
Rail-future a campaigning group for rail travel criticised the need for ultra high speed trains, there may be a bigger overall benefit from running slightly slower trains over different routes. Railfuture
It is not often Britain attempts an ambitious investment project. The political system makes expensive, forward thinking investment projects unlikely to return much political capital. Elections aren’t won by promising improved transport links for the next decade. True, we like to grumble at the inadequate state of current transport links, but to actually invest the necessary money and time is another matter.However, you can be sure building any new investment project will lose a few votes from disgruntled voters who are adversely affected by the infrastructure appearing in their back garden. Even if it does get support, there is always some financial crisis to come along leaving the government to scratch around for spending cuts. It’s always going to be easier to postpone capital investment projects rather than make nurses and policemen redundant. The odds are really stacked against
HS2 will cost £32 billion to build, generate £27 billion in fares and provide £44 billion of economic benefits
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