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The chances of HS2 success

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Former DfT economist Tom Worsley is to advise the Lords Economic Affairs Committee inquiry on high speed rail, ITS Leeds University announced.

In February 2013 Peter Mackie, Robert Cochrane and Mr Worsley contributed evidence to the John Armitt Independent Infrastructure Review commissioned by the Labour Party. Some extracts from their submission can be seen below.

We do not think it is self-evident that the UK is suffering from an infrastructure deficit with the consequence that ‘the economy falls behind’. That is a legitimate proposition which needs to be tested across the infrastructure sectors and compared with other known economic drivers such as human capital investment. As an example, the Review of Birmingham’s economy and its prospects carried out in 2005 indicated that businesses considered its national and international transport connectivity to be a major strength. The major weaknesses were poor educational levels in the population, poor levels of diversification into new industries and poor use of new technologies.

The most economically vibrant and congested part of the United Kingdom is the South East, a region with a population and economic output exceeding that of some European countries. It has diverged rapidly from the remainder of the UK over the last twenty years and now presents some very specific problems which need integrated policies which may differ from those needed for the country as a whole. The Eddington Report’s maps show clearly that the major areas of congestion and lack of capacity on the road and rail networks are now and in the future in the South East out to about 50 or so miles from London.

Evidence based policy making is vital. Strategies need to be developed on the basis of evidence which itself can be interrogated and cross-examined. Evidence means spending serious money on collecting data, maintaining databases and developing forecasting models which link supply, demand and outcomes.

East CoastOur view is that most transport infrastructure schemes which lack consensual support would probably fail to happen under any institutional arrangements made by a democratic society. The Aire Valley Motorway, Archway, M11 Hackney Wick, Twyford Down and the Newbury by-pass are the via dolorosa of contested highway schemes and Stonehenge and Bexhill/Hastings are current examples of schemes which have been mooted and delayed many times.

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Written by beleben

July 31, 2014 at 9:01 am

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