What is your source for the ECML being down? According to the data from ORR the annual growth (from the quarterly data) shows that LNER has been growing year on year since 2011/12 (18% up over that timeframe), which equates to an average of 2.4% growth per year. Indeed there's only so many people who wish to travel between London and Birmingham, which is why HS2's model assumed 1% growth per year. However the problem with this sort of thought is that rail is still a fairly small percentage of those making that journey. It also ignores the fact that population growth is continuing, which would likely result in a greater increase in rail use than would otherwise be the case. As road growth is likely to be limited by capacity and so rail could be more attractive than would otherwise be the case. Likewise it ignores that people are becoming more conscious of the environment and so people are now likely to look to rail for some travel, especially if it means that they can avoid having to own a second car. Combined there's still growth happening and still scope for future growth. My post shows that if HS2 opened today that it would have 72% of the loadings which the 390's saw in 2009. That's hardly a White Elephant.