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25 Mar 2015

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Comparing HS2 with Victorian investment suggests that local benefits may be impaired by concentrating traffic on a single station in Birmingham that will have no connections with the local rail network.

That is one of the conclusions of a study of railways and local population growth in the Birmingham region in the nineteenth century. The research by Professor Mark Casson and colleagues will be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2015 annual conference.

Birmingham is the destination city for the first stage of HS2. In the nineteenth century, it was the destination city of the London and Birmingham Railway, the Grand Junction Railway and the Great Western Railway’s Oxford, Banbury and Leamington line.

The new study examines the impact of Victorian railways on the growth of the Birmingham region. It shows that both trunk line railways and local railways (especially suburban railways) contributed to Birmingham’s growth.

Impacts were greatest where local stations were built. Railways built into Birmingham also benefitted neighbouring centres, such as Coventry, Leamington, Kidderminster and Sutton Coldfield.


Railways and local population growth: A study of the Birmingham region, 1800-1914
Mark Casson, Max Satchell, Leigh Shaw-Taylor and Tony Wrigley

The presenting author, Professor Mark Casson, recently participated in BBC Radio 4’s documentary ‘Build and be Damned’. He also featured in episode 2 of Julia Bradbury’s Wonder of Britain series for ITV, discussing the impact of railways on cities.


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