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'Unskilled, poorly educated northerners won't benefit from HS2'

In other words, we're too thick

Written by . Published on April 28th 2014.

'Unskilled, poorly educated northerners won't benefit from HS2'

LIVERPOOL and other northern cities will not be any better off if HS2 is built, the influential Institute of Economic Affairs warns today as MPs gather to give the £50bn project the green light.

And one of the reasons is the high number of unskilled people in places like Merseyside. It seems to be suggesting not only is grim up north, they’re also thick up north.

Mayor Joe Anderson and most, if not all, of Merseyside’s MPs are backing HS2, the high speed line that promises to be a case of Dick Whittington in reverse.

Trains heading our way at 250mph will result in gold paving for the streets of Liverpool as people and businesses in the overcrowded London and South East metropolis realise the north is the place to be. Or so they say.

Hs2 3

Is the support of Liverpool city region’s political heavyweights wishful thinking?  It is not even clear at the moment whether HS2 will reach Liverpool ever, let alone in some distant decades into the future.

Critics, especially of the likely impact to the north, say we should be careful what we wish for.

The Institute of Economic Affairs points to the great things that were promised for Kent in the wake of HS1.

It uses figures showing employment figures along the HS1 corridor were worse once the line opened.

The think tank also uses Doncaster as an example of a place that was led to expect great things with the arrival of 125mph expresses on the North East line. But nothing has changed.

One of the reasons for this, it says, is partly because of the high level of unqualified people in the east Yorkshire city, demonstrated by its place as 42nd worst in a national index of socially deprived areas.

Worryingly, in that same index, Liverpool is in first place.

The number of unqualified people in our neck of the woods seems too high to attract the likely jobs of the future. Figures quoted give the numbers of people with qualifications at or above NCQ Level 4. In Doncaster it is 23 per cent of the population, Liverpool is 27.7 per cent, compared to a UK average of over 35per cent of people qualified to NVQ4 or above. Manchester’s level, at just under 39 per cent, is higher than the UK average.

“Local populations characterised by low skills, poor education and a lack of entrepreneurship may struggle to exploit the business opportunities offered by improved transport links. Such constraints may also deter firms from expanding or relocating in many areas, says the IEA report’s author, Richard Wellings.

He adds: “Politicians and officials therefore risk misleading the public by claiming HS2 will tackle the North-South divide, rebalance the economy and turn northern cities into world leaders.”

The current plan is to build phase one between London and Birmingham. Phase two would see  HS2 extended to the north, dividing north of Crewe to new HS2 links into the centres of Manchester and Leeds. There will be an HS2 station at the front door of Manchester Airport (not good news for Liverpool JLA).

Liverpool, as things stand, would see HS2 trains from London thundering as far as north as Staffordshire, then switching to the current West Coast line for the scenic, slower route to Lime Street.

That would mean less than half an hour shaved off the journey time, taking it to 1 hr 36 mins, whereas the direct line into Manchester would halve the journey time between Piccadilly and Euston to just over an hour.

The campaign group 20 More Miles, backed by Lord Derby,  is pressing for a direct HS2 link into Liverpool, using either an expanded Lime Street Station or re-building the old Liverpool Exchange Station. That option could cut Runcorn station out of the loop altogether.

There’s no doubt north-south rail links need an overhaul, but whether a £50bn super line is the answer depends on which side of the track you sit on.

Mr Wellings said that instead of HS2 the government should improve local and regional links in the north.

For longer distance travel, he said the existing West Coast Main Line could be upgraded "at relatively low cost... a fraction of the cost of HS2".

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

John BradleyApril 28th 2014.

This is what the IEA says about itself "The IEA is the UK's original free-market think-tank", their entire ethos is based on opposing this and any kenysian like developments. The problems with 20Milesmore plans are will know as far as Runcorn is concerned, they also don't do that much for Warrington except give it an out of town station. The problem is that the only viable solution was a solution similar to Manchesters. That is simply not true. The plan I outline here reuses an old line, provides a hum at Warrington BQ, which has a direct line to Runcorn east, which is shorter the Runcorn-Crewe. Extending Merseyrail to Bank Q from Ellsmere port would improve Runcorns overall connections to the region and nation. The route frees up WCML slots all way past Warrington and frees up the Weaver-to Ditton Branch. It would be cheaper allwoing more cash to spent on systems to link the local area to the Warrington and Liverpool hubs. It may not have the marketing pitch, but it is overall a better plan. peterirate.blogspot.com/…/hs2-phase-2-liverpool.html…

Judith PattersonApril 29th 2014.

more dumb ideas by joe Anderson, I don't know why hes not turfed out.liverpudlians are not thick, stand up for yourselves.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 29th 2014.


Fat ControllerApril 30th 2014.

Wrong platform?

Signalling failureMay 1st 2014.


I Farkin-RonicApril 29th 2014.

Same old same old

The institute for punching bigots' faces.April 30th 2014.

You can tell whatever story you like with statistics, and any half-baked argument gibbered by the right-wing pressure group The Institute of Economic Affairs is almost certain to be wrong.

AnonymousApril 30th 2014.

It is astonishing that the authors of the report did not consider the fact that any area with higher unemployment than the national average has qualification level figures that are lower, because qualified people have been forced to move to places where there are jobs in which they can actually use them. As for HS2, this really does seem to be a massive vanity project to extend the London commuter belt. Leeds, with a handful of financial services companies, Harvey Nichols and des res towns like Harrogate and York gets an HS2 link into the centre, while Liverpool is already the busiest port on the entire West coast of Britain, with massive investment into its capacity with panamax ... and no HS link. I really wish that they would invest a fraction of what they're planning to spend on HS2 on proper upgrading of the lines from Liverpool across the Pennines and down to Hull - why do all rail connections to the continent have to go through London?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Trans-Europe ExpressMay 1st 2014.

They shouldn't. They ought to be direct trains to Paris, Brussels, Berlin, etc. Then perhaps there might be decent competition for the rubbish airlines. The reason all trains terminate in London is because the country is run by short-sighted Conservatives and UKIP imbeciles.

Willy EckerslikeMay 1st 2014.

I might be Northern but I'm not so thick to think that having to take a train to Crewe to hang around on a windswept platform waiting for the HS2 can in any way be better than the direct trains from Lime Street to Euston, even it were to be a bit quicker.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
smoking compartmentMay 1st 2014.

Hear hear! The whole attraction of trains is that unlike cars and aeroplanes they take you conveniently, quickly and directly from one city centre to another. Having to change trains at Little Shittington-on-the-bog rather defeats the whole advantage of railway travel. The tickets would have to be very cheap indeed to induce me to use such an inconvenient service.

John BradleyMay 1st 2014.

You don't have to change at Crewe FFS the trains go straight through. They just switch from the HS2 rail to the existing WCML. 1 TPH via Runcorn and 1 TPH via Warrington, current plan. The reasons for my plan here peterirate.blogspot.com/…/hs2-phase-2-liverpool.html… and 20Milesmore is to continue the seperation far further north. One of the problems is that running express and stoping/slow trains on the same line is bandwidth inefficent, and that is what the WCML is like now. For max effiecency run a lot of slow trains or fast trains but don't mix.

Bill MajorMay 2nd 2014.

I would like to get through London, not end up in London. I would like to travel quickly from Liverpool to Paris or Brussels without stopping in London. Years ago, Eurostar promised to provide sleepers from the NW, Manchester, through to the continent. It never transpired. Eurostar trains do not even travel overnight, probably something to do with noise abatement through the leafy Kent country side? Instead you can't get a train that arrives later than midnight in London, from the NW, then have to wait (wandering the streets?)until the 5.0 or 6.0 am Eurostar leaves for Paris. 21st Century travel?

Elizabeth BoothMay 4th 2014.

The beatles are from liverpool and they were not thick.

Elizabeth BoothMay 4th 2014.

Liverpool fc are doing ok.People in the north are happy and more friendly.maybe they should get that fast train to liverpool and have a laugh.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyMay 4th 2014.

Are you related to Judith Patterson?

AnonymousMay 4th 2014.

Excellent points you make judith

AlexcamaxMay 4th 2014.

Hahahahahahaha, if London and the South is so skilled and intelligent then why is the construction industry down there saturated with so many Eastern Europeans? The answer I got from the CEO of a construction recruitment agency was because the local workforce were unskilled and lazy!

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyMay 4th 2014.

I think he may have been talking about more upmarket skills.

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