As Yorkshire continues to struggle to avoid plunging into a second recession, a rare glimpse of good economic news is welcome, even if the benefit may not be seen for years.
The mere fact that engineers are considering the potential for a third, highly lucrative, High Speed Rail station near York shows that those behind the project are fully aware of the strategic importance of the region. It is intended that the Yorkshire arm of the “Y” shape HSR network would connect to the East Coast Main Line after Leeds – allowing areas further north to benefit from shorter journey times. Not only would such a move have huge economic benefits locally, but help to bring the economies of the North, West and South areas of the region together.
For years, many have argued the case that Yorkshire is afflicted by parochial infighting. That competition between cities and regions leaves the county as a whole poorer, while closer integration could benefit all.
Stations based at key points down the spine of the region would offer a huge boost in achieving the goal.
Unfortunately, the hopes of presenting a clear bid for such a plan are already in jeopardy amid different opinions in South Yorkshire over where the station should be located.
While engineers may favour a station near Meadowhall which would be easier and cheaper to design and able to serve other parts of the region through public transport connections, some in Sheffield are pushing for a city centre stop.
It must be remembered that HS2 is not a done deal yet, let alone where the stops will be, and therefore it is imperative not to give ammunition to the campaigners trying to stop the project. The consultation may be over, but lobbyists are working furiously behind the scenes to put pressure on the Department for Transport and we have already seen some Tory donors threaten to pull their funding should it get the go ahead. While it is natural for people to have a range of opinions on where stations should be located, this must not descend into arguments which reflect poorly on the region. HS2 has the potential to transform businesses in the North, particularly Yorkshire, and is worth fighting hard for. We must be careful to remember who we are supposed to be fighting.