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UK regions will feel more HS2 benefit than London

Pro-HS2 research group Greengauge 21 says it thinks the rest of the country will benefit more than London from the high-speed link.

In its evidence to the Independent Transport Commission, the organisation cites better connectivity to the ‘gateways for global commerce’, the main international airports and also the Channel Tunnel for access to the European HSR network.

The report says that London already enjoys what the benefits of ‘agglomeration’ – with businesses preferring to locate in the capital partly because they gain from proximity to other businesses and customers. A high-speed rail network that provides fast links between the key provincial cities, as well as to London, will give businesses located in those cities a similar kind of ‘functional proximity’ to each other.

High-speed rail also creates a tremendous development stimulus – as has been seen already in London with High Speed 1 and the regeneration of the railway lands at King’s Cross and at Stratford. But London has comparatively little brownfield ex-industrial or railway land left to regenerate, whereas the key regional cities have plenty.

Greengauge 21 director Jim Steer said: “There are good reasons to believe that the regions will benefit more than London because the capital enjoys excellent connectivity already. While HSR will improve transport accessibility across Britain, in the key regional cities the difference will be transformational.”

Speaking of the evidence presented, and international research based on the experience of countries like France, Steer concluded: “Together, these factors suggest that while London has much to gain from high-speed rail, it is the key regional cities whose economies will get the greatest stimulus.”

(Map image taken from Greengauge 21, ‘What will be the spatial effects of High Speed Rail in the UK?’, evidence submitted to the ITC November 2012. Copyright Greengauge 21. Gold stars are stations on the national high-speed network, big silver stars are stations with high-speed services, and small silver stars are stations with high-speed services dependent on wider route electrification.)

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Henry Law   23/11/2012 at 17:27

This prediction is a statement of faith more than anything else. What counts are door-to-door journey times. I am sceptical whether HS2 is the best way of achieving improvements, as it is the local networks that are just as important. One reason for the appeal of the south-east is its proximity to Europe by road, which is the most frequent freight mode. Improved rail services could help to relieve the motorway network by taking some traffic off. Improved intermodal freight would help the north somewhat. The simplest way of rebalancing the UK economy would be through the tax system, so that it favoured areas of disadvantage, with a bigger contribution coming from areas of geographical advantage. A lot of these things balance out anyway as rents and house prices reflect the advantage of location. If HS2 really does what its supporters claim, it will push up commercial rents and house prices away from the London area, thereby making it a giveaway to property owners at the expense of the taxpayer.

Chriseaglen   24/11/2012 at 11:36

The selection of Route 3 over other routes reduced the benefits for more passengers. Route 6 modified to the east is able to provide Javelin services across the middle England regions along a spinal corridor similar to the impact the A1(M) and M1 created. Poor route selection todate by HS2 by not emulating the Kent evolution.

Les F   24/11/2012 at 16:16

"Greengauge 21 thinks" what they view through rose-tinted spectacles. HS2 Ltd's own forecast is that 70% of the benefits would go to London. The crumbs of the benefits would be shared between the few cities that would be served by HS2 - at the expense of the by-passed communities. And the 70% figure is optimistic given that parkway stations suck skills out of the places they are supposed to serve, to bigger places. Dumping passengers in a field 10 miles from town is no substitute for delivering them where they want to go - directly into city centres. Expect more damaging parkways when the Leeds and Manchester "Horns of the Devil" routes are announced. When will the government wake up and commission an independent review of HS2. It could reassure the public that the right decisions were made at the start, or more likely it will reveal how closed minds jumped at poor choices.

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