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Motorists sceptical over rail link

Only 3% of motorists say speed would be an important factor in persuading them to use the Government's proposed HS2 high-speed rail line, according to an AA/Populus survey.

Cost was the most important factor for 62% of the 16,850 AA members polled, with 18% stating proximity of a station to their home or office was vital.

Asked if they would use high-speed rail (HSR) if it was available for a journey they usually made by car, 33% of those polled said they would, 34% said they would not and the rest did not know.

With HS2's planned first phase due to run from London to Birmingham, the poll indicated that those most likely to immediately benefit from the project were those least keen on it.

Just 30% of those polled who lived in London and only 31% of those living in Birmingham said they would be likely to use HS2.

But 35% of people in Wales and 42% of those in Scotland said they would use HSR if it came to their area.

The survey also showed that those on lower incomes were less likely to use HSR (26% would) than those on higher incomes (37% would).

Cost of tickets was a major concern for 74% of 18 to 24-year-olds but was less of a concern for those living further away such as Scotland (57%), or south west England (67%).

AA president Edmund King said: "It appears that perhaps the main raison d'etre of HSR - speed - seems pretty irrelevant to most drivers.

"Two thirds of members are concerned about costs of using rail and therefore we believe that rail enhancements that are cheaper, based more on reliability and increased capacity, rather than speed, would be much more effective in convincing some drivers to let the train take the strain."

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