Transport minister has tough task to win over taxpayers with benefits of HS2 - The Yorkshire Post says

THE announcement that Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson has been given full-time responsibility for HS2 could not have been any more low-key, which is in stark contrast to the profile of this immensely important task.

He has been handed an invidious brief, given the controversies surrounding the project, and one which is likely to prove the most challenging of any in Westminster.

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Delivering the largest infrastructure project in Europe will be difficult enough in itself, but the task becomes all the harder given that it is an issue almost as divisive as Brexit, not least because of the concerns over its spiralling costs.

The minister has a tough task ahead when it comes to HS2.

No Minister can have such an overflowing in-tray as Mr Stephenson. Besides the forthcoming review of the northern leg of HS2 which will bring the route to Sheffield and Leeds, there are questions over its environmental impact and the compulsory purchase of land.

Mr Stephenson is going to need statesmanship, compassion, skill and intelligence in order to win over taxpayers to the benefits that HS2 could bring.

The public is right to be concerned about a budget that has risen relentlessly, and by the Government’s own admission, without controls being imposed.

Andrew Stephenson will be the minister with responsibility for HS2. Photo: Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament/PA Wire

He should start by meeting and listening to the people likely to lose their homes to the line and doing everything possible to address the concerns of environmental groups.

Only by being open, honest and sympathetic can the myths about HS2 be laid to rest and its myriad merits promoted.

Mr Stephenson has a formidable task ahead.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a railway station in Birmingham where the HS2 project is under construction. Photo: Eddie Keogh/PA Wire