die belebende Bedenkung

Go forth and multiply

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As previously mentioned, HS2′s ‘construction headquarters’ in Birmingham is supposed to create ’1,500 direct jobs’, and the whole project, ’14,000 jobs’ in the city.

Amusingly, in Central News’ coverage of the ‘headquarters’ announcement (21 July 2014), transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the jobs figures were “based on fact”, but GBSLEP’s Andy Street admitted that they “can’t actually be accurate”, and were “based on modelling” [2:32 in].

Adding to the confusion, council leader Albert Bore said “you would get a multiplier of two or three fold on that one thousand five hundred” [direct jobs].

So what Albert appears to be saying, is

1,500 + (3 * 1,500) = 14,000.

Written by beleben

July 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Posted in Birmingham, HS2

The fish and the badger

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One of the features of Google’s Chrome browser, used by millions of people around the world, is the ability to install [software] extensions. Because of security risks, Google has decided that installation of extensions should generally only be possible via its own Chrome webstore (

Video download helper on Chrome webstore

Video download helper on Chrome webstore

One of the extensions currently installable from the webstore (and therefore presumably considered ‘secure’ by Google) is “Video download helper” by www dot thevideomate dot com.


BBC website, “Video download helper” disabled

But when this extension is enabled and third party websites such as the BBC are visited, it appears to result in information being sent to www dot superfish dot com.

BBC website, Video download helper enabled

BBC website, Video download helper enabled

Oddly enough, at the time of writing, Google’s “Contact us” facility for reporting issues with Google products “right away” doesn’t even list Chrome as a ‘product’, and doesn’t really provide a way of making contact “right away”. Even if Chrome were listed in the product options, there would be no means of actually communicating a problem.

Google 'contact us' doesn't facilitate contact, and doesn't list Chrome as a product

Google ‘contact us’ doesn’t facilitate contact, and doesn’t list Chrome as a product

Written by beleben

July 22, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Communications

Tagged with

The man from the broom cupboard

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In March 2014 transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin asked Richard Brown, ‘former Chairman of Eurostar and now a non-executive director in the Department for Transport’, to lead a review of the resilience of the transport network to extreme weather events. Mr Brown’s report has now been published.

Mr Brown is perhaps best known for being at the helm of Eurostar when its incompetence was laid bare during the winter of 2009 / 2010. Putting him in charge of investigating transport resilience would be a bit like making Tony Blair the Middle East peace envoy. Or John “Two Jags” Prescott, the climate change rapporteur.

Written by beleben

July 22, 2014 at 10:40 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with

HS3 journey times releesed

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Manchester Airport to Leeds in Sheffield, 30 minutes

Written by beleben

July 22, 2014 at 8:58 am

HS2 and Birmingham regeneration, part two

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In April 2013, the Daily Telegraph reported that 507 people were employed directly by Crossrail Limited on the “£15 billion” cross-London rail scheme.

Yesterday, the Guardian reported that 1,500 HS2 staff would be employed at its ‘construction headquarters’ in Birmingham. It seems that the real HS2 Ltd headquarters is to stay in London, but exactly how many employees would continue to be based in the capital has not been revealed.

If the “£15 billion” Crossrail 1 had a direct headcount of around 500 last year, why would the “£20 billion” HS2 phase one need fifteen hundred Birmingham staff? Perhaps one possible answer is that HS2 phase one is not a £20 billion project.

Written by beleben

July 22, 2014 at 8:36 am

Failure in the Heartlands

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On 21 July 2014 transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said “It is great news that Birmingham City Council has created a company specifically to focus on the regeneration opportunities created by HS2. It will bring new investment and work into the city, helping secure the future prosperity of the region and the country.”

Investment in the HS2 railway would supposedly produce thousands of jobs, not just in Birmingham city centre, but also in the suburbs. HS2 Ltd has proposed the construction of a train depot at Washwood Heath, on the site of the Metro-Cammell and LDV factories. But according to Liam Byrne MP, if the HS2 depot were built, it would be an economic “tragedy“.

Birmingham council’s plan to establish a development company brings to mind a similar arrangement from the 1990s. In 1992 the Birmingham Heartlands Development Corporation was set up with public cash to reinvigorate a large area of east Birmingham, including parts of Bordesley, Bromford, Nechells and Saltley.

Today, one might say that the achievements of the Development Corporation are at best, very well hidden. After BHDC was wound up, the name “Heartlands” fell into disuse, and today it survives only in the name of East Birmingham Hospital.

The winding up of BHDC did not mean the end of attempts to regenerate east Birmingham. For example, just over a decade ago, public funding was obtained for a new bridge over the railway at Washwood Heath to ‘secure employment at the Metro-Cammell train factory’ and allow carriages to be exported by road.

In 2005, Metro-Cammell’s owners Alstom shuttered the plant, apparently on the advice of Alastair Dormer (now chief of Hitachi Rail), making the bridge a total loss.

Written by beleben

July 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

HS2 and Birmingham regeneration

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The ‘construction headquarters’ of the high-speed rail project HS2 will be based in Birmingham, leading to the creation of 1,500 jobs in England’s second city, the Guardian reported (21 July 2014). But according to the Birmingham Post, it is “up to 1,500 jobs”, with HS2 Ltd taking space at the Two Snowhill offices adjacent to the diminished Snow Hill station.

Two Snowhill, Birmingham

Two Snowhill, Birmingham

['HS2 construction HQ to be based in Birmingham,
Council forecasts creation of 1,500 jobs with location of high-speed rail project's headquarters in England's second city', Steven Morris,, 21 July 2014]

[...] Birmingham council also announced on Monday that it was creating an urban regeneration company to oversee the development of the area around the city’s HS2 station, Curzon Street.

The authority claimed the regeneration, which includes offices and 2,000 homes, would deliver 14,000 jobs and provide a £1bn-a-year boost to the local economy.

While there is huge enthusiasm in Birmingham for HS2 among the Labour-controlled council, local transport chiefs, large companies and business leaders, this is countered by deep scepticism among ordinary citizens about whether HS2 will actually produce the promised economic boosts.

Birmingham council’s approval for the building of the Snowhill One and Two offices was a massive error, because it prevented the restoration of Snow Hill railway station as a high capacity transport interchange. Snowhill Two was abandoned in a half-built state for over two years before work restarted, and at its St Chads end sections of the half-built structure were then demolished, for reasons unknown. (The Snowhill offices occupy a large part of the former Snow Hill railway site; the 1980s station has just two island platforms.)

In the 1980s and 1990s vast sums were spent on regeneration schemes in Birmingham, to little obvious effect. Given the largely invisible benefits of many such schemes around the country, it seems likely that people will continue to question figures and claims emanating from local authorities and the rest of the HS2 blob. ‘Regeneration’ has been underway at Eastside [around Curzon Street] for more than a decade — without a regeneration company in place — but seems to have to produced very few “jobs and homes” for the city. Certainly, there has been a transfer of jobs into Eastside (from the relocation of Birmingham City University, Matthew Boulton College, and the former Science Museum), but displaced jobs are not new jobs. No-one seems to have quantified the net city-wide effect.

Written by beleben

July 21, 2014 at 11:24 am


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