Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I considered most of the factors you mentioned in your first three paragraphs, but I see I could have spelled them out.

  1. There was an unspoken assumption that the UK will at least finish HS2 Phase Two before the launch of the tunnel project and upgrade the Welsh north shore line in parallel with the tunnel project.
  2. If I add up the current 4 million flying between Dublin and the five London airports and the 1.7 million flying to Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham airports, I get the current size of the core market for fast travel. High-speed rail can't grab the entirety of even that (especially the part changing to overseas flights), but two-thirds would be viable, so around 4 million.
  3. Even with a Crewe Holyhead high-speed line, Dublin–London would be pretty close to the 3-hour limit below which HSR can dominate air. Cork and Limerick are currently 2 hours from Dublin by rail, and would be at 1 hour even with a HSR line. So HSR via an Irish Sea tunnel can grab only a small part of the market currently represented by the Shannon Airport and Cork Airport to London resp. northern England routes (currently around 1.5 million). Same story about Ireland to more distant UK or French or Benelux targets. If I'm generous, I add 1 million more, so 5 million total for HST to take from air.
  4. Of course, as you say, the introduction of HSR won't leave the entire market static but will boost it. The biggest factor behind such market boosts is affordability. I think that, as in the case of Eurotunnel, the Irish Sea tunnel would guarantee relatively high HSR ticket prices (compared to other HSR with the same travel distance), which will limit this boost.
  5. The convenience factor is mostly linked to the 3-hour limit (rail is competitive with faster air transport when home to airport/station travel times and waiting times are added).
  6. This comparison was limited to the air/HSR market. When considering the ferries, at the English Channel, the main rail competition is not Eurostar, but the Shuttle trains, and I imagine the Irish Sea tunnel would have piggyback shuttle trains, too. Methinks the total ferry market would be smaller than at the English Channel, but the rail competition could bite out a larger share than the Eurotunnel Shuttles, due to the time savings.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 08:42:38 AM EST
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