"WFH is here to stay" - the hypocrisy of HS2.

Barnsey

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Was having a good old rant with a fellow railway colleague about another work email stating that WFH is here to stay, passenger numbers are still way down, things have changed forever which is why we have to push through all these reforms, adapt, and can't offer a payrise.

If this trend really is the case forever, especially amongst those most able to work remotely, why on earth is HS2 not being mothballed ASAP given it's heavy skew toward the more wealthy business audience? Flies completely in the face of the narrative being pushed to us of the permancy of the downturn in business travel.
 
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Starmill

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It isn't mainly about business travellers is the answer.
 

NorthOxonian

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Was having a good old rant with a fellow railway colleague about another work email stating that WFH is here to stay, passenger numbers are still way down, things have changed forever which is why we have to push through all these reforms, adapt, and can't offer a payrise.

If this trend really is the case forever, especially amongst those most able to work remotely, why on earth is HS2 not being mothballed ASAP given it's heavy skew toward the more wealthy business audience? Flies completely in the face of the narrative being pushed to us of the permancy of the downturn in business travel.
It depends. That's one possibility, but equally trends in work patterns could actually increase demand for the kinds of journeys that HS2 enables.

For example, hybrid working may become the norm in the future, with people working in the office some days of the week and at home the rest of the time. If that happens then the need for HS2 would probably increase rather than decrease. People will likely choose to live further out if they commute in once or twice a week rather than every day - someone who works in London might well live in the West Midlands and use HS2 for trips to the office in the future.

It's too early to tell how things will settle in the long run, and mothballing a project like this based on something which may or may not happen seems premature.
 

ar10642

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People are commuting further but less frequently, so HS2 makes more sense not less.
 

ivorytoast28

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Was having a good old rant with a fellow railway colleague about another work email stating that WFH is here to stay, passenger numbers are still way down, things have changed forever which is why we have to push through all these reforms, adapt, and can't offer a payrise.

If this trend really is the case forever, especially amongst those most able to work remotely, why on earth is HS2 not being mothballed ASAP given it's heavy skew toward the more wealthy business audience? Flies completely in the face of the narrative being pushed to us of the permancy of the downturn in business travel.
What absolute tosh, if I may say so. HS2 is about increasing capacity. That helps with flows into London, freeing up commuter lines across the south east as well as Birmingham and further north. Also, supposedly the government cares about climate change [Yes, they do not show it at all but supposedly they do] which should mean more investment into rail and less into air travel and road infrastructure, the aim being to move people onto rail. In 2022 there is no reason temporally to fly domestically within the UK yet it is still cheaper to do so than take the train from London to Glasgow, that is a clear issue. The extra capacity HS2 will provide can help with this. Those who oppose HS2 are generally very short sighted or downright ignorant when it comes to any environmentalist opposing a greener transport solution being built. Sadly this country has too many hypocrites and ignorant souls and not enough realists and engineers in positions of power which is why HS2 is slowly being demonised and reduced.

Ultimately, who cares if wfh is up and commuting down, the UK's railways have been at and over capacity for years. We're miles behind Germany and other 1st world economies with advanced railways, and we need a new reliable railway. It isn't about speed, it is about capacity. People will still want to travel post covid, we won't all sit in our bedrooms living virtual lives. Connectivity is key and rail is the most environmentally friendly and fastest way to travel. It should be encouraged and devoloped at all costs. If you really really believe HS2 isn't neccessary, I hope you also tell your friends they never need to drive or fly again because "everyone just works from home and has no life outside of work".
 
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Hadders

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There are still more passengers travelling in this post covid worls than 20 years ago and probably as many as 10 years ago.

HS2 is being built for 50 to 100 years worth of growth in mind.
 

SCDR_WMR

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Not sure which part of the network you're working on, but up here numbers are now above 80% of pre-covid levels each week for both parts of our TOC! Add to that we're still running approx 82% timetable I'd say we've recovered fully.

There are a lot of long distance WFH/hybrid workers up this way, travelling to Manchester, London and Edinburgh. Probably will see more of the over then next few years as companies adapt
 

Moonshot

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Was having a good old rant with a fellow railway colleague about another work email stating that WFH is here to stay, passenger numbers are still way down, things have changed forever which is why we have to push through all these reforms, adapt, and can't offer a payrise.

If this trend really is the case forever, especially amongst those most able to work remotely, why on earth is HS2 not being mothballed ASAP given it's heavy skew toward the more wealthy business audience? Flies completely in the face of the narrative being pushed to us of the permancy of the downturn in business travel.
As pointed out, HS2 is an ultra long term investment in the rail infrastructure in this country. It has no target market......anyone will be able to walk up to a station and jump on a very fast train. It's being built right now.......no amount of arguing with anyone about the rights and wrongs of it in your opinion is going to change that.
 

yorkie

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Was having a good old rant with a fellow railway colleague about another work email stating that WFH is here to stay, passenger numbers are still way down, things have changed forever which is why we have to push through all these reforms, adapt, and can't offer a payrise.

If this trend really is the case forever, especially amongst those most able to work remotely, why on earth is HS2 not being mothballed ASAP given it's heavy skew toward the more wealthy business audience? Flies completely in the face of the narrative being pushed to us of the permancy of the downturn in business travel.
People are making more leisure journeys.

The majority of jobs do require employees to go into work.

Work from home jobs can only be done effectively at home once the employee is well established and familiar with their new colleagues and the systems etc

Those employees who do work from home jobs still need to go in some of the time; they are more likely to make longer but fewer journeys.

I make a long distance work related trip of typically 100 miles plus for work purposes typically once a month.

If HS2 isn't required, how come there is sufficient demand to sustain domestic flights? Do you not think it would be a good idea to displace those passengers onto rail?

How busy do you think long distance trains are at and around weekends? Do you think trains from Edinburgh to London aren't busy?
 

Roast Veg

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Those employees who do work from home jobs still need to go in some of the time; they are more likely to make longer but fewer journeys.
Before covid my home was in Leicester and my office was in Loughborough. Post covid my home is in West Yorkshire and my office is in London. I'm just one of many.
 

Barnsey

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Appreciate all the well informed replies, I suppose my post was in some ways perversely to trigger, but it confirms my belief that the short termist GBR narrative leading up to all these strikes must not be derailed in any way by the strong recovery we're seeing across most TOCS outside of the London commuter belt. Seeing one thing, hearing that things are actually far worse, and struggling to put the two together.

I suppose my title should have been "HS2 still needed, the hypocrisy of the current DfT narrative".

I won't name the TOC I work for (and hope that to still be the case for a very long time to come as it's still a great place to be work in the grand scheme of things with amazing colleagues), but I can assure you that despite our current service being at very healthy passenger levels and often full and standing, with numerous daily cancellations due to driver shortages, we're continually told company wide we have a large surplus and in response to strike action the narrative is very much "we're still way down, work patterns have changed forever, business and commuter traffic has reduced forever, and we've got nothing in the pot".

Our working day is very much back to normal, intense with lots of minimum breaks and max hours, longer continuous duration in the seat, no unused standby folk if allocated, bare minimum training levels, no route refresh days. I note however from friends that some other TOCS heavily exposed to London are still working slightly shorter than average hours jobs, with decent levels of training going on and quite a bit of passing built into the jobs still.

Something doesn't add up here. The projected capacity and frequency of HS2 seems insane, but hopefully very much needed when the time comes. I don't blame my TOC, I understand the message is very much coming from DfT and RDG, but it's frustrating and continuing to hammer down morale when the future really should be looking bright as our trains get much busier (and as evidenced by the ongoing construction of HS2).
 

The Planner

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Was having a good old rant with a fellow railway colleague about another work email stating that WFH is here to stay, passenger numbers are still way down, things have changed forever which is why we have to push through all these reforms, adapt, and can't offer a payrise.

If this trend really is the case forever, especially amongst those most able to work remotely, why on earth is HS2 not being mothballed ASAP given it's heavy skew toward the more wealthy business audience? Flies completely in the face of the narrative being pushed to us of the permancy of the downturn in business travel.
There are still more passengers travelling in this post covid worls than 20 years ago and probably as many as 10 years ago.

HS2 is being built for 50 to 100 years worth of growth in mind.
This, why are people looking at just the now or next 5 years when it comes to infrastructure?
 

Jorge Da Silva

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Appreciate all the well informed replies, I suppose my post was in some ways perversely to trigger, but it confirms my belief that the short termist GBR narrative leading up to all these strikes must not be derailed in any way by the strong recovery we're seeing across most TOCS outside of the London commuter belt. Seeing one thing, hearing that things are actually far worse, and struggling to put the two together.

I suppose my title should have been "HS2 still needed, the hypocrisy of the current DfT narrative".

I won't name the TOC I work for (and hope that to still be the case for a very long time to come as it's still a great place to be work in the grand scheme of things with amazing colleagues), but I can assure you that despite our current service being at very healthy passenger levels and often full and standing, with numerous daily cancellations due to driver shortages, we're continually told company wide we have a large surplus and in response to strike action the narrative is very much "we're still way down, work patterns have changed forever, business and commuter traffic has reduced forever, and we've got nothing in the pot".

Our working day is very much back to normal, intense with lots of minimum breaks and max hours, longer continuous duration in the seat, no unused standby folk if allocated, bare minimum training levels, no route refresh days. I note however from friends that some other TOCS heavily exposed to London are still working slightly shorter than average hours jobs, with decent levels of training going on and quite a bit of passing built into the jobs still.

Something doesn't add up here. The projected capacity and frequency of HS2 seems insane, but hopefully very much needed when the time comes. I don't blame my TOC, I understand the message is very much coming from DfT and RDG, but it's frustrating and continuing to hammer down morale when the future really should be looking bright as our trains get much busier (and as evidenced by the ongoing construction of HS2).

On the 22 May 2022, the DfT's own figures suggest passenger numbers reached 92% of pre-covid levels overall with many long-distance operators from what I have heard well ahead of pre-pandemic levels as they rely less on business and commuting and more on leisure (which is doing very well post-covid). The idea people wont travel by rail anymore or numbers are down forever is garbage, but that makes sense your post wasnt you saying that just the dft and toc's
 

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Many of the more lucrative Season ticket customers have been lost, so financially there is a huge loss.

However there is greater demand for leisure and long distance travel.

This means finances are tight but the railway also does seem very busy at times; it's not a binary situation.
 

43096

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On the 22 May 2022, the DfT's own figures suggest passenger numbers reached 92% of pre-covid levels overall with many long-distance operators from what I have heard well ahead of pre-pandemic levels as they rely less on business and commuting and more on leisure (which is doing very well post-covid). The idea people wont travel by rail anymore or numbers are down forever is garbage, but that makes sense your post wasnt you saying that just the dft and toc's
22 May was a Sunday, so was almost entirely non-commuting journeys. That it was 92% of pre-Covid levels shows that despite what we are told on here, travel isn’t back to the same level as before the pandemic.
 

Ken H

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On the 22 May 2022, the DfT's own figures suggest passenger numbers reached 92% of pre-covid levels overall with many long-distance operators from what I have heard well ahead of pre-pandemic levels as they rely less on business and commuting and more on leisure (which is doing very well post-covid). The idea people wont travel by rail anymore or numbers are downo forever is garbage, but that makes sense your post wasnt you saying that just the dft and toc's
No. But behaviour has changed. And away from lucrative commuting and business traven to fickle leisure traffic. That leaves a black hole in the finances and much rail provision is in the wrong place and time.
 

Barnsey

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Many of the more lucrative Season ticket customers have been lost, so financially there is a huge loss.

However there is greater demand for leisure and long distance travel.

This means finances are tight but the railway also does seem very busy at times; it's not a binary situation.
That would explain the divide in recovery of peak traffic, SE having much higher season ticket prices plus a greater proportion of season ticket holders in employment better suited to WFH, double whammy. Reassuringly in our regions, commuting traffic really has picked up well. I just wish this financial dilemma was more honestly highlighted but I can understand why not.
 

Geezertronic

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I don't think anyone has mentioned freight as there seems to be a lot of freight using the WCML South which I presume contributes to the available path numbers on the slow lines. If freight traffic is to grow, more paths have to become available which you'd assume that HS2 would help a lot with as the traffic re-routes from Fast to HS2, then from Slow to Fast accordingly?
 

Jorge Da Silva

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I don't think anyone has mentioned freight as there seems to be a lot of freight using the WCML South which I presume contributes to the available path numbers on the slow lines. If freight traffic is to grow, more paths have to become available which you'd assume that HS2 would help a lot with as the traffic re-routes from Fast to HS2, then from Slow to Fast accordingly?

Hs2 will help with freight capacity in the business case for Phase 1 it is assumed off peak there will be 4tph for freight and then in peak times that will be used for passenger services and places like Tring will recieve alot more services during the peak hours.
 

Ken H

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That would explain the divide in recovery of peak traffic, SE having much higher season ticket prices plus a greater proportion of season ticket holders in employment better suited to WFH, double whammy. Reassuringly in our regions, commuting traffic really has picked up well. I just wish this financial dilemma was more honestly highlighted but I can understand why not.
So now the railway has underused assets in the SE but is short in the rest of UK. But much of the SE asset base cant be transferred. Stuff like sugnalling. The trains wont run elsewhere without modification. And you can hardly use spare drivers from the SE in manchester. Difficult...
 

Barnsey

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Hs2 will help with freight capacity in the business case for Phase 1 it is assumed off peak there will be 4tph for freight and then in peak times that will be used for passenger services and places like Tring will recieve alot more services during the peak hours.
One long term trend to think about is manufacturing reshoring well underway, we're going to be importing a heck of a lot less stuff going forward, so a move to domestic movement of freight away from ports will play a part.
 

Jorge Da Silva

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One long term trend to think about is manufacturing reshoring well underway, we're going to be importing a heck of a lot less stuff going forward, so a move to domestic movement of freight away from ports will play a part.

True. Freight has rebounded very strongly and is effectively booming and with passenger numbers also recovering (to 92% on the 22 May) rail is growing once again not shrinking
 

Xavi

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For example, hybrid working may become the norm in the future, with people working in the office some days of the week and at home the rest of the time. If that happens then the need for HS2 would probably increase rather than decrease. People will likely choose to live further out if they commute in once or twice a week rather than every day - someone who works in London might well live in the West Midlands and use HS2 for trips to the office in the future.
Spot on. I’ve done so for the last 20 years and I’ve always said it’s the future. Bringing workers into London every day on inflated salaries (including season ticket after tax) was ludicrous, but few employers had the bottle to make it company policy; the bosses were also beneficiaries of the status quo (London salaries themselves).

COVID proved the hybrid model and any professional services company that doesn’t allow hybrid working today won’t survive.

I’m heading to London from Devon today - £105 super off-peak return returning Wednesday. I could have set a 5am alarm and bought £290 Anytime Return. No thank you. DfT needs to wake up on fares reform now!
 

Jorge Da Silva

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yorkie

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I’m heading to London from Devon today - £105 super off-peak return returning Wednesday. I could have set a 5am alarm and bought £290 Anytime Return. No thank you.
There are ways round that, but that's for a separate thread; there is a way round it especially if you make a journey roughly every 4 weeks (or more frequently); I will send you a PM if this is of interest.

DfT needs to wake up on fares reform now!
That's a whole new subject, but if anyone can solve the problem of not putting some fares up without increasing subsidy, they deserve a medal! If you, or indeed anyone, has any ideas, please do create a thread (feel free to link to it from here).
 

Bertie the bus

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It was 90% on the Friday of the same, 88% on the Monday 23rd.

From the DfT's transport usage here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/transport-use-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic
You've cherry picked the biggest numbers on that spreadsheet and ignored all of the lower %'s around them. Even if you hadn't done that I'm afraid your argument that the post-Covid rebound is greater than expected and the suggestion that is a long term trend doesn't hold water. Petrol and diesel prices are at an historic high but rail ticket prices haven't gone up to reflect the current high level of inflation so it would be expected some people will transfer from car to train in those circumstances. Fuel prices won't remain at this level forever and next year rail fares increases will reflect the current high inflation rate so things could change very rapidly.

There is absolutely no way anybody can credibly predict long term future rail use from a few day's worth of figures as you have tried to do.
 

HSTEd

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Was having a good old rant with a fellow railway colleague about another work email stating that WFH is here to stay, passenger numbers are still way down, things have changed forever which is why we have to push through all these reforms, adapt, and can't offer a payrise.

If this trend really is the case forever, especially amongst those most able to work remotely, why on earth is HS2 not being mothballed ASAP given it's heavy skew toward the more wealthy business audience? Flies completely in the face of the narrative being pushed to us of the permancy of the downturn in business travel.
Even if this was true. the correct response would not be to "mothball" HS2 - it would be to mothball the classic services it parallels.

It's cheaper to move people between London and Birmingham on HS2 than the classic railway. [1 member of train crew can move 1100+ people each way from London to Birmingham every ~2 hours, the classic railway can't hope to match that]
You'd send all the Pendos to the scrapline for a start, possibly close some of the separated sections of the WCML complex, a bunch of stuff like that.

You would not scrap HS2 because it will be the cheapest way to move passengers long distances on the UK railway.
 

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