Americans choose HSR over short-haul flights

A global survey commissioned by Hitachi Rail says that Americans prefer high-speed rail instead of short-haul flights. According to the survey, over half of Americans would reduce or eliminate short-haul flights if high-speed rail services exist on the route they choose to travel.

The research, carried out by SavantaComres, collected data from 12,000 people in 12 different cities around the world, including Berlin, Copenhagen, Dubai, London, Milan, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, Warsaw and, Washington D.C. The results from 1,000 Washingtonians and 1,000 San Franciscans provides a statistically accurate picture of how citizens view long distance travel.

While access to high-speed rail is currently limited in the US, respondents are clear that that if high-speed options were more widely available, it would change how they travel over longer distances. Over half of the respondents (54%) would support reducing or eliminating short haul flights if there were a competing high speed rail line, and almost half would also back increasing air taxes to fund rail infrastructure.

In recent decades, high-speed rail has transformed travel in parts of Asia and Europe, helping to replace short-haul flights with more sustainable journeys. Although this is not currently the case in America, there is an increasing appetite in its potential.

As Americans prefer high-speed rail, “over half are prepared to support a reduction on short haul flights where rail alternatives exist. As an industry, we should take heed of this public appetite and work together to make it a reality,” Joseph Pozza, President of Hitachi Rail, North America, said.

This growing appetite for high-speed rail is reflected in the report data, with one in five American respondents believing they will travel more by train in the next five years. Of interest to policymakers and planners, the research also tested what factors motivate how a person chooses to travel. For American respondents, comfort (69%), convenience (62%) and cost (57%) trumped length of journey and were identified as the three most important factors for selecting their mode of transport.

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