Posted 4th October 2010 | 6 Comments

HS2 benefits 'would be doubled' by other rail upgrades

Inside a possible future High Speed rail terminal for Birmingham

Inside a possible future High Speed rail terminal for Birmingham

THE economic benefits of a High Speed rail line between London and the West Midlands can be doubled according to an independent report unveiled today at the Conservative Party Conference.

West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (Centro) commissioned the study, which says the already substantial boost to West Midlands economic output, average wages and job creation can be doubled if the High Speed line is combined with improvements to the region’s existing rail network.

The study has found that the High Speed link, HS2, between London and Birmingham would boost the West Midlands’ economic output by £600m, create 10,000 additional jobs and bring an average wage increase of £100 a year for each worker.

But combining HS2 with enhancements to local and regional rail services would generate a £1.5 billion increase in economic output, create 22,000 new jobs and see an average wage increase of £300 a year, the study claims.

Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “This independent study looks at the economic impact of improved connections resulting from the capacity freed up on the existing rail network following the introduction of the High Speed rail link.

“It shows that the link between London and the West Midlands without regional enhancements would deliver less than half of the potential economic benefits.

“In order to achieve these greater benefits it is important that work begins now on a package of investments on the regional rail network to support growth and improve connectivity into the High Speed rail service from the whole region.”

Julie Mills, director of the High Speed rail pressure group Greengauge 21, added: “Investment in high-speed rail is one of the most effective things we can do as a nation to boost economic growth.

“Centro’s research highlights convincingly that high-speed rail is effective not just as a modern and highly efficient new transport system but also in allowing us to improve rail services on existing lines.”

Councillor Timothy Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said: “There is little doubt that High Speed 2 will have a dramatic effect on the local, regional and national economy, creating jobs, inward investment and business opportunities for all.”

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Claydon William, Norwich, Norfolk, England

    HS2 will allow us to pursue a policy of abolishing domestic British jet aviation by about 2025.

    Thats the point. Carbon emissions, nothing more, nothing less.

  • K Kelleher, High Wycombe, England

    Rail is the future. We do not want more roads and more cars.

  • Kyn Aizlewood, Kenilworth, United Kingdom

    The West MIdlands Transport Executive is clearly missing the point about HS2. The business case for HS2 is premised on a huge and unrealistic increase in passenger demand and contradicts solid evidence that extra demand for a high speed network is quite limited in the UK. Even using inflated projections of demand over a period of 75 years [really!], the HS2 business case projects a massive loss, to be paid for by additional government i.e. taxpayer subsidy.
    The Centro argument that investment in local rail services will "double the benefits" of HS2 assumes that the government has any real interest in the economic case for railways; their out of hand rejection of alternative DfT investment strategies for rail that deliver more value, more quickly at lower cost e.g. Rail Package 2, demonstrates indifference on this point. They have also entirely ignored the "lessons of HS1 / CTRL" set out in the Public Accounts Committee report May 2006 about future demand modelling.
    What I'm sure Mr Cameron does see is HS2 as a PR symbol for a "Modern Brittain" and for that reason, it is much needed in this time of public sector cuts. The enormous levels of taxpayer subsidy required to deliver HS2 - let along the wider HSR network - will be AT THE EXPENSE OF local investment in the wider rail network, in which we can expect reduced investment and higher fares over the coming years.
    As the Independent wittily quoted recently in a cartoon: "HS2 may be a white elephant, but it will be a FAST white elephant"

  • D9000, Manchester

    Nice to see a completely unbiased and objective assessment of the merits of HS2 from ... Buckinghamshire. Ah. Sorry. As you were.

  • Windsor Thomas, Cholesbury, Bucks., Britain

    Centro has clearly failed to examine the DfT's HS2 proposal documents with an impartial, fair-minded and critical eye. If they do so, they will find that HS2 is a deeply flawed political project that has no proven sound business case and that it will inflict permanent and irreversible environmental damage upon several hundred thousand acres of unspoiled rural countryside along the entire 335 mile route proposed for the completed scheme. No sound business case has yet been demonstrated by the government nor any sound environmental case. The project is highly risky because it will take only a 20 % failure in meeting the projected passenger demand to render the project totally uneconomic.
    Rail Package 2 is the government's own publicly funded work that has been set to one side and rejected by the government on the quite wrongful grounds that upgrading the existing railway will cause unreasonable disruption to existing railway services on the WCML. We know there are vastly less costly ways of securing the required additional capacity on the West Coast Main Line running from Euston via Birmingham and up to the Northwest of England to terminate in Glasgow.This alternative has been rejected out of hand by the government and yet this scheme can be put in place NOW, for a cost not exceeding 3 billion, with no need to wait until HS2's planned 2027 completion date. However you look at HS2 it is a flawed project that should never be allowed to see the light of day.

  • Windsor Thomas, Cholesbury, Bucks., Britain

    Stuff and nonsense, Sir! HS2 is a deeply flawed, totally unnecessary and wholly uneconomic project which, if we citizens fail to prevent its going ahead using our democratic rights and proper and lawful means, will catastrophically damage and place in great jeopardy of even further development blight, some hundreds of thousands of acres of precious unspoiled British countryside - and all for no gain! Critical review of the goverment's detailed HS2 proposals shows that is has all the hallmarks for being an enormous economic disaster for this nation over coming decades. The DfT has once again (just as they did for HS1) estimated HS2's passenger demand three times the current levels for the existing WCML route. This and other flaws too numerous to put here, will make the current failed government HSR project which is HS1 (The UK section of the Channel Tunnel Railway) look like a very small sideshow. Even as it is actively hyping up HS2, the government is writing off three quarters of £ 6 Billion of tax payer's money invested in HS1 over the last decade, in order to cut its ongoing losses on this unrealistic and uneconomic project. Enter stage left, an even greater economic hazard for the nation, viz. HS2 which the Govt, is ESTIMATING will cost £33 Bn, and we all know that govt's early estimates are usually no more than a first guess, with the devil lying in the detailed engineering and design, procurement and actual site work that in invariably leads to much more realistic and significantly higher out turn costs). No! it is far more likely, given any government's record to date on its infrastructure projects, to create an enormous white elephant that will make HS1's utter failure seem like a mere sideshow. It is sad- even ironic perhaps, that the local authorities and others in the Midlands and the North are enthusiastically taking up the govt. line and talking up the prospects for HS2. Sadly, studies by respected experts and academics, show that HSR itself contributes very little to economic growth. Its what is done jointly between govt,. industry and some enlightened local authorities, that specifically boosts vocational training to produce a better qulaified and trained local wiorkforce of high quality and standards, plus better local manufacturing infrastructure that actually will over time produce real economic improvements and growth in the regions. Good sensible citizens will not take my comments at face value, but will obtain the proposal documents from DfT and also go to HS2AA and STOP HS2 websites and read the summaries that expose the real shortcomings of HS2.