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Lord Andrew Adonis

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High Speed Rail: The UK needs another 1,000,000 Jobs

Posted: 27/07/11 10:18

Today an economic report has been published that reaffirms what we have known all along. High-speed rail will deliver jobs and growth. The report, commissioned by Britain's leading cities, is supported by politicians and business leaders alike and states that 1,000,000 jobs rely on the support of the Governments investment in high-speed rail.

It's true: if the economy is to get working again it depends on better connectivity and a modern infrastructure. According to Volterra, the report's authors, high-speed rail will encourage GDP growth in the Core Cities by up to 3 per cent and see a local wage increase of between 1.06% and 2.7%. In total, 400,000 jobs could be created in Britain's core cities, with a knock on effect of many more in the areas they serve. The core cities are the economic engines outside London which keep this country's economy running. Such figures cannot be underestimated.

This report should also dispel the many economic myths the opponents of high-speed rail have recently churned out. Just last week opponents stated that HS2 will cost every income tax-payer £1,000 to construct. But recent research cited by Volterra shows high-speed rail will generate (per income tax payer) £800 of benefit for the economy per annum and £330 in revenue for the Exchequer per annum. This is quite a difference, and reiterates why we must look at all the facts and widen the debate.

Nothing is clear cut in the debate surrounding high-speed rail, but from its successes elsewhere we can be confident that it pays a great dividend to the society it serves. International examples prove that high-speed rail pays for itself. Our European neighbours in France have invested in their infrastructure early and are now reaping the rewards later. This is because wherever high-speed rail has been built between the major cities and economic centres of a country - as in HS2 - it has exceeded demand forecasts.

With more people on the train there will be fewer cars on our roads and fewer people queuing at our airports. As the report states high-speed rail will relieve capacity constraints on existing lines and transfer some 6 million trips from air and 9 million road trips. We will finally have a transport system that delivers what we all need - choice.

In the end it all comes down to the economy though. Efficiency, connectivity and productivity are all economic buzzwords that people have said high-speed rail will deliver. But at the heart of it what high-speed rail will deliver is growth and jobs. It will bring people closer to employers, businesses will be closer to each other, and major cities will be able to connect with each other to foster innovation in a whole new way.

It's an investment that will change our fortunes and provide the economic foundations for the future growth of this country. We risk being left behind if this does not get built.