In our heads, we all know that there are some journeys that you fly for, and some that you take the train. It seems that the world over, similar decisions are being made. At about 3.5 hours, the majority of people start to prefer the train over flying.
It's interesting to think, however, that train journey times are trending down, while flight times are trending up, which reinforces our theory here at SilverRail that trains will continue to take share from air in the regional market.
Rail-share versus journey time
We've done some research to try to find as many data points of the share of travel that rail takes vs air in a number of markets, which is shown below.
As can be seen for city pairs across the world, there is a pretty consistent relationship between the length of time that the rail journey takes, and the share of travellers that take the train. As was mentioned in one of our previous articles, the London-Edinburgh and London-Glasgow routes are down around the 20% mark as the train journey is about 4.5 hours. Whereas, London-Paris, since the Eurostar has gone in, is taking about 80% of the passengers at 2.5 hours.
High-speed rail helps increase rail-share
The really interesting thing about this data is when you look at Madrid to Barcelona (the green dots) and New York to Boston (the red dots). This shows that when new rail lines were introduced, or improvements were made, the share of the travel increased from 10% to 60% in Spain, and 20% to 50% in the NorthEast Corridor.
This shows that investment in high-speed rail really does have a tangible impact on the number of passengers, and as improvements are made to rail lines, the rail-share will continue to go up. Once you consider that air-congestion is getting worse, this trend is only likely to continue.
Particularly in Europe, where you can cover a lot of major cities in a 3.5 hour journey, we see High-Speed Rail dominating these regional journeys for a long time to come.