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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Passenger numbers on HS1 ‘lower than forecast’

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The National Audit Office has released a report claiming that the number of international passengers using the HS1 Channel Tunnel line is lower than forecast.

The report said ‘international passenger numbers are falling far short of original forecasts and the project costs exceed the value of journey time saving benefits’.

The NAO said the project went ahead based on ‘hugely optimistic assumptions’ regarding travel demand.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said:

“The High Speed 1 project has brought a number of significant benefits including quicker journey for passengers.

“However, the project went forward on the basis of hugely optimistic assumptions about international passenger numbers.

“These were not realised and the Department is only now developing its plan to evaluate whether the project was value for money.”

The line was delivered within the overall funding and timescale available for the project. However, this was at a higher cost and later than its targets, the report said.

The NAO report claimed the line has ‘performed well’ since it opened, with only 0.43 per cent of services being delayed in 2010-11 by infrastructure incidents, such as track or signal failures.

Actual passenger numbers between 2007 and 2011 were, on average, two thirds of the level forecast when the Department guaranteed the project debt in 1998, to enable the line to be built.

This left the taxpayer exposed to the risk of lower-than-expected passenger income, which had been expected to repay the project debt.


  1. If “Actual passenger numbers…. were, on average, two thirds of the level forecast” then they are NOT “‘two-thirds’ lower than forecast” but one third lower than forecast.

    The figures cannot be that much of a surprise considering the credit crunch and recession of the last few years. Figures will climb dramatically over the next few years as open access provides more operators and routes.

    There is no mention of the domestic services over HS1 and their impact on overall usage.


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