All the UK political parties curently involved in coalition talks are committed to building a high-speed rail network, but that may not translate into speedy development.
Thetrainline.com sales and distribution director Adrian Watts told the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) conference in Hong Kong that a high-speed network would be critical to cutting domestic air traffic.
Every minute saved on a three-hour train journey is likely to boost traffic by 1%.
Research suggests current traffic on a journey that takes three hours by train divides roughly 50:50 between air and rail.
But Watts said: “Investment in high-speed rail will cost $17 billion and that is a lot of money.
“All the parties are making positive noises, yet the earliest commitment to build part of the high-speed rail network is 2015 and that is at least one general election away. There is plenty of time for them to back out.”