Don’t you believe it!

See below for examples of how the rail supporters use skewed statistics to show apparent support or to claim unrealistic benefits for the Stratford-upon-Avon to Honeybourne Link:

GRIP4 SURVEY

In an attempt to show support for the GRIP 4 study, the rail supporters polled the candidates in the Warwickshire Council elections of April 2017. Results obtained from their website were as follows:

  • Of the 42 candidates only 14 responded (including 3 late replies) or 33.3%
  • Out of these 14 responses, 13 supported the proposal and one was undecided
  • Thus, the support for a GRIP 4 Study was just 13 out of 42 or 30.9%

This clearly shows ambivalence towards a GRIP 4 study and the proposed railway. It is interesting that in a conversation with a member of SGG, one of the candidates admitted they only voted ‘yes’ because they considered the proposal so unrealistic that a study would stop it in its tracks. We wonder how many more had the same attitude?

RESIDENTS’ SURVEY

There continue to be letters in the local press claiming, “The proposed rail link will therefore be good for all and has the declared support of 70% of residents.”

This is stretching the facts too far as only 329 people voted in favour out of 470 replies, which is 70% of those who voted, but only 1.2% of Stratford’s population:.

  • Rail supporters carried out a survey during October 2011, asking Stratford-upon-Avon residents whether they were in favour of reinstating the Honeybourne Link.
  • 11,062 questionnaires were delivered, thus polling 40.3% of Stratford’s resident population of 27,445 at the last count.
  • There were 470 responses, or 4.3% of those polled.
  • 329 replied in favour, 70.0% of those who voted but only 1.2% of Stratford’s population.

It is reasonable to say that 470 responses is such a tiny figure that conclusions drawn from it carry no real weight in decision-making.

UNREALISTIC BENEFIT CLAIMS

An article published by rail supporters, in support of the GRIP 4 Study, claimed reopening the railway would have two major benefits:

  • A Long Marston Parkway station would provide over 22,000 people with a home/work/direct rail service with Birmingham taking just 40 minutes.
  • The Stratford to Honeyboure link would take 29,000 vehicles off local roads.

There was no explanation of how they arrived at these conclusions or the details of any calculation used. To say the least, these claims seem fanciful to us, particularly the second one.

TRAFFIC GROWTH RATE

A high and overly optimistic growth rate was used to claim feasibility and a sound business case for the proposed railway:

  • The traffic growth rates low (2%), medium (4%) and high (6%) were considered.
  • They used the high growth rate to make the case for a Benefit Cost Ratio of 2.0:1
  • This despite recent research showing the risks associated with predicting demand for new lines and stations
  • See Ove Arup GRIP 3 Report, Section 5.6.1 Demand Growth and Section 5.7 Refining the Demand Forecast.

PASSENGER PREDICTIONS

Passenger journeys predictions for the rail link extension from Stratford to Honeybourne are based upon a “simplistic” gravity model approach.

  • This model estimates passenger journeys using the population and the distance between them i.e. Stratford 27,445 and Worcester 99,600 the distance between them is 30.7miles which will generate 13,600 rail journeys (Ove Arup GRIP 3 Report, 2012).
  • However, historically rail passenger projections for rail projects have proven to be overly optimistic.
  • A Parliamentary Report on the passenger numbers for the channel tunnel prior to build stated:  “The projected levels of passenger and freight services were both overestimated when the Channel Tunnel was conceived. Initial British and French forecasts estimated around 17-20 million passengers per annum.  Instead, figures have ranged between 6 to 7 million in 2004 and 9 to 10 million today. Eurotunnel was confident that there was potential for the market to grow to 15 million passengers within the next decade”