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.
at the end of the day you cant stop people travelling to where they want to. if someone has to work in london because they cant get a job where they are or if a northern company wins a contract through travelling to see a client in london I dont see the problem. and you cant go by what people say now before hs2 is built as peoples ideas and travel patterns can change over time once new infrastructure is in place.
the jobs in the north will partly come from the regeneration of areas such as the proposed site in birmingham. i dont see what difference it makes where the travellers are going as long as the net effect is positive and the line meets its ridership..
But there were already regeneration plans in place for the site in central Birmingham earmarked for the station – the project had to be cancelled, essentially postponing the regeneration for more than a decade.
And some of us haven’t forgotten that several MPs weren’t happy at the “regeneration” effect of the marshalling yard at Washwood Heath either. Again, why wait more than a decade for 400 jobs at the site when they had hoped far more jobs could be created there in a much shorter timescale?
HS2 is not the only investment to bring about regeneration. In fact it seems to be having quite the opposite effect in dampening down so many businesses that are already affected by the route.
There are always “redevelopment plans” for any former railway land currently not in active use, Abee, with property speculators buzzing around any potential honeypot.
That’s why it is so difficult to remodel city stations, to “upgrade existing routes” and “reopen old railways” as so many people are urging- and it goes some way to explain the seemingly enormous costs for such work when compared with some other European countries.
St.Pancras is a wonderful restoration- but the Midland mainline services for which the station was built, have had to be pushed back and to one side to give priority to the Eurostars and the South Eastern “Javelin ” trains sit squeezed in beyond the International section and the shopping centre which helped pay for the refit, but which dominates the ground floor. The area of the former goods station next door could have provided space for the additional services and for future expansion had it not been sold off to provide a site for the relocated British Library.
Marylebone station is another survivor. It was slated for closure 30 years ago when Chiltern was at a low ebb…
With vision and determination by the new managers, originally appointed to oversee its demise, the decision was reversed, the station restored but at the cost of further reduction in size, so that when increasing demand required more platform space, the recently provided depot was needed for new platforms,albeit 150 yards’ walk from the concourse and a new depot had to be built at Wembley. All the surrounding pieces of land, which had, in the 1890s,been aquired for goods facilities and loco. depots and which had involved the rehousing of hundreds of residents, all these had long since been sold off for redevelopment and were not available now extra space was needed. Even a tunnel on the approach to the station, built in Victorian times but never used, was found to contain a basement from a building above!
We are very prone to short term thinking, but the wrong decision can lead to enormous future difficulties and expense.When an attempt is made to reopen a former route, all too often it is rendered almost impossible as a former station site now has an Asda, a Tesco or a Morrisons blocking the way .
Unless and until we can see into into the future and predict its transport needs, sites such as Washwood Heath should be let only on a short term and conditional basis.