BORIS JOHNSON has clearly listened to high speed rail’s critics.
HS2 Ltd will become accountable after delays, and costs, escalated; a full-time Minister appointed to oversee Europe’s largest construction project and it will be fully integrated with Northern Powerhouse Rail.
All points repeatedly raised by The Yorkshire Post, and a vindication of the proactive stance taken by leaders here, they will be key to getting the scheme back on track, as the projected cost reaches £100bn, and assuaging HS2’s critics who believe the money would be spent on more local schemes.
And the fact that the Prime Minister made a statement in person to the House of Commons indicated the level of political capital that he now intends to invest in HS2 after reviewing its viability.
Now Mr Johnson must demonstrate how HS2 will deliver prosperity “to every part of the country” – he should utilise the very best of UK manufacturing so it becomes known as the ‘British Bullet’ – while showing humility towards opponents.
Controversy and confrontation must be superseded by conciliation and collaboration in the Commons and in communities. That demands world class leadership. It begins with showing respect towards those who will lose their homes as the route through South Yorkshire is reviewed. It requires a plan to replace the natural habitats that will be removed – one of HS2’s key objectives should be making sure that it is the greenest railway in the world. And it continues with the use of cutting-edge technology so that rolling stock is not outdated by the time the first high-speed train rolls into Leeds and Sheffield.
Major challenges after so much mismanagement, they are now a timely opportunity for Mr Johnson to preside over a local, regional and national rail revolution and he should take them without delay.