Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Regarding the 3-hour limit, it is a rule of the thump, and there are longer relations that beat air, but the general trend that market share drops sharply with increasing travel time around some threshold is quite harsh indeed.
  • In France, AFAIK the longest dominated by rail is Paris–Perpignan (minimum travel time: 4 hours 50 minutes), but this is a special case (also see this analysis).
  • For Japan, check out page 6 of this pdf, which shows rail still winning two-thirds over a relation it covers in 3h 44m but a mere 10% over a 4h 47m relation.
  • For China, I lift a diagram from the OECD study also linked in the diary, with the shortest HSR travel times added, which indicates a threshold somewhere above 4 hours:

  • On the other hand, there are also routes with HSR travel time under 3 hours dominated by air. On the Madrid–Barcelona route, rail defeated air when minimum travel time was reduced from 2h 38m to 2h 30m.

Regarding an Irish Sea tunnel feasibility study, the latest I can find was by a think-tank:

'We need an underwater train to Ireland,' says think tank - BBC News

An underwater tunnel linking Wales to Ireland should be seriously considered, a transport think tank has said.

Similar to the Channel Tunnel, it has called for a new route to run between Holyhead and Dublin.

With an expected cost of around £15bn, the investment would be similar to that of the HS2 from London to Birmingham.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Cymru Wales thinks the tunnel could be ready by the end of the century.

Regarding the carbon intensity of HSR, I again refer you to Railways, energy, CO2 - Part 1 and Part 2. This is another field without simple answers, because there are factors that make for differences in orders of magnitude. In the case of a super-long tunnel project, the main source of carbon emissions is not any fuel used for energy production or manufacture, but concrete, and the share of this in the carbon intensity of travel by HSR is a linear function of the lifetime of the structure and the traffic volume during its lifetime. (BTW, was "as opposed to other forms of public transport" a typo? The sensible comparison would be to rival modes of long-distance transport.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 02:11:41 PM EST
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