‘Mitigation, not opposition’ was the lesson Kent had learned from high speed rail, according to Kent County Council’s principal planner Stephen Gasche.
Mr Gasche was reflecting on the authority’s experiences of high speed rail in his address to the Greengauge 21 conference – ‘HS2: The Wider Network, the wider benefits’ yesterday (Sept 19) in Birmingham.
Mr Gasche showed a map of Kent with details of house prices and gave examples of industry attracted to the Kent coast by high speed rail. The map showed marked rises in property prices along the high speed rail route.
He said Ashford was a good example of a town transformed by journey times (to London) cut from 84 minutes to 35 minutes by high speed rail.
Kent’s lesson was ‘mitigation, not opposition,’ he said and added that Maidstone had lobbied hardest against high speed rail and now regretted being bypassed.
Economist Paul Ormerod gave an interesting talk comparing growth in Pyonyang, North Korea with Seoul in South Korea and their relative fortunes due to open trade links.
Birmingham City Council chief executive Stephen Hughes told the conference that high speed rail was vital and that the same kind of questions were not asked when it came to investing in London.
In the West Midlands £225 per head per head is spent on transport compared to £800 per head in London, he added.
Keith Brown MSP, Minister of Transport for Scotland, said rail journeys had grown by 261% between Birmingham and Scotland and said a record 83 million passenger journeys were made in Scotland last year.