THE backing for HS2 revealed in the leaked initial draft of the independent report into its future is excellent news for our region, not least because it lays to rest speculation that the Yorkshire leg would be abandoned on cost grounds.
Recommending that the full network is built now places an obligation on the Government to back it wholeheartedly and press ahead without any further delay. Boris Johnson had plainly wished to keep HS2 out of the election campaign, but now the review’s contents have become public, there can be no justification for avoiding the issue in order to appease Tory voters in the Home Counties.
The findings represent a complete vindication of the arguments Yorkshire and the wider north have pressed with such determination over so long a period. In particular, the conclusions that the North stands to benefit more than London from the line, and massive new capacity on the existing network, would be released confirm the transformational nature of HS2.
Inevitably, there are some concerns. The threat of fares having to go up to effectively discourage travel on overcrowded peak-hours trains whilst HS2 is built over the next decade will sit very badly with passengers already paying through the nose for sub-standard services, and must be avoided.
Nevertheless, the review is an overwhelmingly positive verdict on a scheme upon which the North has pinned much hope for the brighter future it deserves.
Only total clarity and unequivocal commitment to getting on with making HS2 a reality will do from the Government. Anything less would be a betrayal.