Transport Watch UK Focusing on UK's Traffic & Traffic Systems

Percentage on business: the smoking gun. Updated October 2016

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/sites/ on line 879.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/sites/ on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/sites/ on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/sites/ on line 149.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/sites/ on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/sites/ on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/sites/ on line 879.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/sites/ on line 25.

The Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords found that that the government dramatically ramped up the percentage of business travel in its latest modelling. The new values are far in excess of those available from the National Rail Passenger Survey.

Weekday proportion on business

HS2 “Model”
Actual values

These numbers, and particularly the figure below, illustrate the vast difference between the percentages on business used in the August 2012 and updated, October 2013, analyses. 

Because business time is valued five times as highly as other time this provides a massive boost to the economic case, conveniently compensating for the Government’s admission that business users can actually work on trains.

Without that boost (and other significant sleight of hand) the economic case for HS2 would have collapsed - the benefit to cost ratios would have fallen to just 1.0 for Phase 1 and to 1.3 for the full network – extremely poor value compared with alternative transport projects.

If the wider costs of the tax funding were factored then almost certainly costs would outweigh the highly contentious benefits.

(The HS2 model tabulation above is from evidence given by Mr Prout, Director General of HS2 for the DfT, to The Lords Committee of Economic Affairs’ inquiry into HS2.  The diagram is from his letter to the Transport Committee's inquiry, High Speed Rail Follow up, of November 2013.).

Paul Withrington of Transport-Watch comments:

"The apparent manipulation of the travel forecasts is a smoking gun for HS2".

"The government has dramatically increased the proportion of business trips compared with the real-world data, massively inflating the business case”.

"A realistic assessment would show that the all important benefit to cost ratios for HS2 are likely to be far below those which would justify the project".

"This should be the final nail in the coffin for this ill-conceived scheme” .

"Nobody contests the fact that this vastly expensive scheme will make a financial loss in the tens of billions of pounds".

For more details, or to arrange an interview, please contact Paul Withrington on 01604 847438

About Transport Watch

Transport Watch is an independent think tank founded in October 2002. Our objective is to become the non-governmental point of reference for factual data dealing with transport generally and road and rail in particular. For full details visit:

© Transport Watch UK 2011 | Webdesign by 1PCS