The perspicacity of Neanderthals
Neanderthals in the House of Lords have packaged together every half-backed [sic] snake oil claim about HS2 that it is possible to find in a report that accuses the Government of failing to make a convincing case for the £50 billion project (wrote The Chamberlain Files’ Paul Dale).
[HSBC and HS2 reinforce ‘booming Birmingham’, but also highlight tale of two cities, Paul Dale, 26 Mar 2015]
As [Birmingham council chief executive] Mark Rogers told us in his anniversary interview this week, “deprevation [sic] in this city hasn’t changed in 25 years.”
But how would building a £20+ billion high speed railway between Birmingham and London reverse forty years of second-city economic decline?
In the late 1960s, there was only one motorway connection between London and Birmingham, and fewer (and slower) train services than there are today. So one might expect that in 2015, with the improved connectivity from the M40 and the West Coast Very High Frequency train service, Birmingham’s relative productivity would be higher than in the 1960s and 1970s. But in the last forty years, a large productivity gap has opened up.
This month’s Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on HS2 concluded that the scheme would primarily benefit London, rather than provincial cities. Interestingly enough, Alan Wenban-Smith’s 2009 report for the the high speed lobbying company Greengauge 21 stated that “economic theory predicts that better transport between two regions or nations will tend to work to the competitive advantage of the stronger area”.