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Hitachi Rail Survey Reveals Growing Preference for Long-Distance Rail Travel

Hitachi Rail Survey Reveals Growing Preference for Long-Distance Rail Travel
photo: Dennis Ho / Flickr; CAU / Public domain/Train vs Plane
17 / 05 / 2024

Over half of Americans back reducing or eliminating short-haul flights where high-speed rail alternatives exist according to a global survey commissioned by Hitachi Rail.

The findings, unveiled as Hitachi Rail participated in America’s annual High-Speed Rail conference in Washington, D.C., underline a growing appetite to travel by long-distance rail as opposed to flying or driving.

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 provide 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 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 for its potential, and the annual U.S. High-Speed Rail Conference brings together key industry, political, and business leaders to explore opportunities to scale up high-speed rail across the U.S.

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 the length of the journey and were identified as the three most important factors for selecting their mode of transport.

Joseph Pozza, President of Hitachi Rail, North America, said, “We know that high-speed rail can transform how people travel, creating a modal shift away from higher-pollution transit options such as planes and cars and onto sustainable trains. This is evident in the high-speed rail lines Hitachi Rail operates across the globe.

“Our research underlines that there is growing public support for high-speed rail in America, with over half even 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.”

Source: Hitachi Rail Press Releases