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The places in Britain most in need of regeneration are not the Core (and HS2 Station) cities of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds

Wolverhampton, Hartlepool and Bradford must be some of the most depressed places in western Europe

The places in Britain most in need of regeneration are not the Core (and HS2 Station) cities of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It’s the scores of industrial towns in the regions around them which have lost their old economic base and are struggling to find a new one, wrote Prof Peter Hall on The Conversation.

[‘HS2 must be one of many new transport links to benefit regions’, Peter Hall, 27 March 2014]

As a result, a split is developing between the core cities and other places such as Wakefield, Bradford, Burnley and Blackburn. There’s a risk that these secondary and tertiary towns and cities might even be worse connected to the rest of the country than they are now if left out of the HS2 project.

Prof Hall went on to claim that

  • it was essential that tram and bus rapid transit systems are created to link HS2 stations to surrounding areas
  • local and cross country rail networks need to be seamlessly connected to the HS2 hubs, and upgraded and electrified
  • HS2 trains need to provide onward connections to these networks, providing a direct service to London from the wider range of towns that fill the hinterland
  • HS2 tracks at Old Oak Common should facilitate cross-platform interchange with Crossrail, and
  • a second Crossrail line should be built to serve Euston.

HS2 is supposed to be designed for fast business travel, yet would only provide direct access to a handful of city centres. How many business people would really want to ride on a tram from say, Nottingham to Toton (~40 minutes), just to catch a HS2 train to London, must be open to question. As can be seen from Nottingham’s Incentro tram interiors, personal working space on trams tends to be quite restricted by comparison with intercity rail.

Nottingham NET Incentro tram interior by Chris McKenna (Thryduulf)

As Prof Hall said, HS2 regeneration is likely to be limited to a small circle around high speed stations, and towns like Wolverhampton, Hartlepool, Bradford, and Hull are unlikely to benefit. There is no plan for them to be served by direct HS2 trains, but even if there was, the overall economic impact might not be discernible. Margate and Ramsgate already have ‘direct’ HS1 services, but their problems seem too complex to be solved by a slightly faster train to London.

Prof Hall does not appear to have given any indication of the cost of all the additional measures he favours. The sums must run into billions. Just interlacing GW and HS2 tracks for cross-platform interchange might add perhaps £500 million to the cost of the Old Oak Common station.

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Written by beleben

March 28, 2014 at 11:40 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London

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