Yesterday, at the Institute of Directors, David Higgins, incoming chair of HS2 Ltd said that he thought Birmingham could become a commuter hub for London if HS2 was built. Here’s what we said about that in March 2011
One of the comments from the audience was about people using HS2 to commute to work in London, and spending the money they earned in London on businesses in Birmingham.
The thing is though, people spend money where they earn it as well as where they live.
Sure, the commuter will buy a house near the station (with their London wage, pushing up house prices near the station, and making it harder for Birmingham-based workers to buy houses there).
They will probably furnish the house, and buy carpets and curtains locally – but most people only buy these things once every few years.
However, many of their daily purchases will be in London. They will buy lunch in London. They will go shopping in their lunchbreak, buying clothes, and books and the latest technological gizmo from London shops.
They will do their after-work socialising in London, buying drinks in London pubs and meals out in London restaurants.
They will go to the many theatres and cinemas in London. There are good theatres and concert venues in Birmingham, but there are many more in London. Their friends and partners will take the short trip on HS2 to join them in London rather then meeting them in Birmingham.
Are these ideas unrealistic?
Well read what one Midlands based supporter of HS2, Andy Coyne, wrote last year at the end of an article about the effects of HS2:
“I’m even fantasising about Friday nights spent drinking in Islington and eating curry in Brick Lane!”