Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

That’s it – get on board!!

Posted in Business, Europe, Freight, Great Britain, High Speed by Chairman Pip on 3 February 2012

Eurotunnel announced posted results this week showing that its revenue had increased by 16% to €845m, or £707m, with a 6% growth in traffic on its passenger shuttles, while freight traffic went up by 16%. Meanwhile, the number of people booking tickets for travel on Eurostar last year rose by 2% to 9.7m, while the average cost of air fares has risen by 41% due to inflation. Is this a trend away from flying towards using the train? If it is, then it can be one more piece of evidence in favour of High Speed 2. We all know it’s easier to transport a lot of stuff by train than it is by aeroplane, even if the stuff is on a lorry on a train (as it is on Eurotunnel’s trains), and that there is ever greater encouragement to transport freight in this way, esepcially intermodal. We’ve also all seen a trend towards greater use of high speed trains for long range inter-city passenger travel, and not just in mainland Europe, as the figures for the share of passenger traffic between London and Manchester show (85% of people used the railway in June 2010). Indeed, Eurostar’s share of the market to its mainland termini is on the up; Air France no longer both flying between Paris and Brussels, instead putting its passengers on Thalys services; and more and more passenger operators are looking to start up services to ever more destinations, even if Deutsche Bahn have had to put back their planned London-Frankfurt/Amsterdam services by two years. This doesn’t explain why more people are choosing to take their cars on the train however, unless the cross-channel ferries have also seen an upsurge in traffic, which suggests more people have chosen to take driving holidays. Whatever. The fact is this is all good – it looks like more people are coming around to the idea that using a train to get to where they want to go need not be a chore, given that trains are much nicer places to be than aeroplanes. For one thing, there’s no nasty recycled air giving me a headache. But the really good thing about more people using the train rather than flying is that we get ever closer to wiping the grin off the face of that of that profiteering leprechaun Michael O’Leary. And if that isn’t a noble cause, then I’m not sure what is.

“High air fares force travelling Britons to make for the tunnel”

 

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