HS2's promise of a jobs bonanza is an absurd way to look at things | Nils Pratley

HS2 would indeed create a lot of jobs – the question is whether 27,000 people could be more usefully employed elsewhere

The last resort of promoters of large infrastructure projects is to point to the jobs that will be created, as if that were an end in itself. Thus a group called High Speed Rail Industry Leaders – essentially firms hoping to secure contracts to build HS2 – told us breathlessly on Monday that 27,000 people could work on the high-speed railway project by 2020. It described the figure as “a jobs bonanza” and said HS2 would be “far and away the biggest single source of new jobs in the UK infrastructure sector”.

There’s no reason to query the numbers, it should be said. HS2 would be a very large project – £42.5bn if one accepts the official (under) estimate. Rearranging the approach to Euston station, or cutting through the Chilterns, carries massive engineering challenges. Yes, a lot of designers and constructers would be needed.

Continue reading…