Modelling Demand for Long-Distance Travel in Great Britain

Stated preference surveys to support the modelling of demand for high-speed rail

by Peter Burge, Chong Woo Kim, Charlene Rohr

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The UK Department for Transport has developed a model to predict passenger demand for long-distance travel that will be used to examine a number of policy interventions, including demand for high-speed rail.

As part of the model development, a stated preference study was undertaken to examine the propensity of those making long distance trips to switch to high-speed rail and to provide key parameter values for modelling demand for high-speed rail services.

Surveys were undertaken with over 3,000 travellers making long-distance trips, that is trips in excess of 50 miles by air, car, or existing rail services, within a realistic catchment area for a hypothetical north-south high-speed rail service. As a result, this study provides an incredibly rich dataset for the analysis of long-distance mode choice decisions under a broad range of scenarios, and allows the identification of cases where a new high-speed rail service may (or may not) act as an attractive substitute.

The stated preference choice experiments examined choices between car, air, rail and high-speed rail. In addition to usual service characteristics, the choice experiments also examined the importance of service reliability and crowding to better isolate these aspects of a high-speed rail service which in previous studies may have been confounded in the mode-specific constants.

This report provides new empirical evidence about the factors influencing demand for high-speed rail in the UK and the forecasts developed from these models will inform the debate around the future of high-speed rail in the UK.

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The research described in this report was prepared for the UK Department for Transport and conducted by RAND Europe.

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