Public attitudes to and perceptions of high speed rail in the UK

Joan Harvey, Neil Thorpe*, Matthew Caygill, Anil Namdeo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


With the planned expansion of high speed rail (HSR) in the UK, demand for longer-distance travel is expected to increase significantly over the coming decades. This paper presents a study into attitudes and perceptions of long distance travel in the UK, particularly in relation to HSR. A questionnaire was developed to investigate attitudes to travelling long distances and to HSR, importance of journey characteristics and current travel behaviours. A factor analysis of 46 attitude items yielded six factors: travel security, improvement to road and air, prestige of HSR, comfort, negative aspects of HSR and the usefulness of travel time. Analyses showed significant demographic and travel characteristic differences across the factors. There was also evidence of a more negative impact and lower prestige for people living closer to proposed HSR routes. Willingness to pay for travel time saved was related to a number of journey characteristics but the utility of time was also important. The findings are considered in light of theories of attitude change, attitudes to travel and sustainability and the implications for the future development of HSR policy, particularly in terms of balancing increased fares with utility of travel time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalTransport Policy
Early online date24 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


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