High Speed 2 is upside down in development and fundamentally bad for the midlands and north of UK. Phase one which is realistically all that is politically committed to so far, is basically about delivering more skilled workers to London,. and admitting defeat as to the Midlands being an area for development of financial services and corporate head offices. It is a big ADSL link - asymetric in passenger traffic, assymetric in brain drain.
London centricity on public spending is then maintained by the leverage all the up-for-grabs and marginal seats in the South East which is unfortunetly all that UK politics has been about until the last 18 months with the rise of the SNP and UKIP as major powers, and the inevitability of coalition governance and possible proportional representation. Labour have given up canvassing in many of their traditional areas in favour of geotargeting and social media, which they will pay for in the next election just as much as the backlash against on the one side Austerity and meagre pay rises, while on the other the island monkey drift to UKIP at all levels of society, notably top and bottom.
Why is this an assymetric link? Quite simply the laws of natural competition and the labour market. The South East has never had the mass unemployment and uncomfortable de-industrialisation the midlands and especially the North of Britain endured in the late 70s through to the mid 90s. There is low unemployment amongst British ethnic adults. Wages for skilled labour are significantly higher, with a natural London Weighting in order to attract and retain staff in the region with some of the highest house and rental prices in the EU. The midlands / north have lower pay, lower prospects for promotion, less job security and higher unemployment. You just are not going to get skilled workers from London to travel daily north in any large numbers, and given there is then a further drain on resources south, what would business advisers and potential investors travel north to?
HS2 is an admission of defeat - that government cannot stimulate the economy north of Watford Gap and is powerless on this apart from giving a massive injection to of public money to what will be a privately run railway monopoly. You could say that it is petrol on the flames of London overheating too, a sub prime investment as a sticking plaster for the north, upturning the perception of the SE being the only place worth locating service, financial companies and national or EU Head Quarters to, or investing in.
There may be a slow 'trickle up' north where by investment skills and networks move north with people's inevitable desire to live nearer their workplace and have less time commuting. But if you live within 20 minutes of the new stations then you are quicker to a job in the city or west end even that if you had to use the m6 through 'Brum' at rush hour. Like the rail routes of the late 19th and third rail radial routes built between the wars, London gets a new commuter belt.
Also you have to then ask, what good is this for the economy? What will all these new investment experts be investing in? Well the jobs down south will not be in value adding manufacturing, more likely riding the next wave of consumer credit, house price -mortgage fuelled lending and hedge fund speculation. At the end of the day, Britain needs to create fundamental value and use oil revenues to rebuild the UK on small to medium , high growth, high qaulity, unglamerous companies and the skills and local infrastructure they need.