Yesterday saw the announcement of the likely route for the second stage of Britain’s proposed High Speed rail link, with connections to cities north of Birmingham.
“The preferred route of phase two goes north from Birmingham along two branches, with new stations at Toton near Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Manchester Airport.”
It occurs to me that with some stations being built far away from city centres, the actual point-to-point journey time might not be all that much less than can be achieved today with travel to and from the centre of cities.
While George Osborne and some business leaders are talking of an “engine for growth” and a boost to the economy, it will cost a great deal of money that might otherwise have been spent on other things. If government takes it in tax, it denies the economy the benefits it might have brought if spent privately. Furthermore, it will be a long time in coming. The lines might open in 2032-2033, nearly 20 years away. Who knows what the economy will look like by then, or what it might benefit from? I admit it is a bold, exciting project, but I have my doubts about its economic validity. This is a big, expensive project that might shorten journey times a little for a comparatively small number of people to whom this matters.
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