One of the Stop HS2 supporters who watched Wednesday’s high speed rail in the North debate pointed out something really quite telling.
He said that the debate was expressed in terms of people in the north using high speed rail to go to London, rather then for people in London to use high speed rail to get to the towns and cities of the north.
This goes back to issues about which area will get the benefits from high speed rail?
As we’ve reported before, London gets 7 out of 10 permanent jobs from HS2.
We’ve also pointed out that even if people who live somewhere else use HS2 to get to a job in London, they will spend money in London.
And a couple of weeks ago, we pointed out that HS2 won’t help tourists reach many important destinations away from London.
There are good reasons to travel north from London – for instance I’m planning to go to see the Christmas market in Birmingham. But from what northerners who are taking part in the debate say, they see HS2 as a way for northerners to go south, not for southerners to go north – and that means for all the government’s old rhetoric about healing the north south divide, it won’t.