This week’s Spectator magazine quotes an unnamed Tory minister saying the HS2 scheme is ‘effectively dead’ because of opposition from Conservative MPs. Environmentalist & MP Zac Goldsmith says he will resign if the scheme goes ahead.

The magazine also claims Treasury civil servants are nervous about committing money to the project – predicted to cost up to £34billion – at a time when the economy is under threat from the euro crisis and other parts of the railway network are desperate for investment.

Earlier we noted poor press coverage of the government’s admission that a ‘modelling error’ had been made when assessing the economic case for building a high-speed rail line linking London to Birmingham. This meant that the benefit-cost ratio for the first 140 miles of the route would only be £1.20 for every £1 invested.  

Creating more jobs in the city

The Volterra-Arup July report, commissioned by the Core Cities group, describes itself as “a united voice for the importance of our cities in delivering our country’s full economic potential, creating more jobs and improving people’s lives.”

Sadly its grounds for promising increased employment in the city were said to be ill-founded.  Various assumptions were made and there was one apparent statement of fact, that there is a “very high correlation” between rising numbers of rail passengers travelling to a city and employment growth in that city.

On three separate occasions in the report it asserted: “a location with 10% higher rail connectivity tends to have an employment density that is 14% higher”. However Andrew Gilligan points out that Birmingham seems to be the exception: it has seen a 60% rise in rail passengers over the last ten years, but only a 0.2% growth in employment.

That July report was superseded by the Final report: Growing evidence for job creation through High Speed 2 and better local transport infrastructure, and the writer wanted to see whether the Birmingham reference was still in place.

However, though it was said to be in the Core Cities’ Latest Publications section, not only is there no such section, but a Google search failed to discover this report.

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