However his disingenuity – so typical of this Government – does not end here. It extends to the Minister’s assertion that HS2 is a “railway of which we hope the country can be proud for many generations to come” without actually extolling its virtues from an environmental perspective.
And that explains why Britain’s largest ever infrastructure project – endorsed by Boris Johnson and the Cabinet early last year – continues to attract so much hostility despite being integral to levelling up.
HS2 is about far more than increasing capacity on the existing rail network so more local, regional and national services can operate alongside a new generation of freight trains taking HGVs off the UK’s congested road network.
It’s also about Britain retaining its world-leading pre-eminence in engineering, encouraging young people to pursue careers in STEM subjects and creating the most environmentally-sensitive railway in the world that it is this generation’s gift to those that follow.
It means taking care, with its construction, to protect landscapes while developing the most energy-efficient trains so the country which pioneered the railways for the world has a 21st century service that ranks amongst the best on the planet.
Yes, it is a tall ambition, but it can be met if it is genuinely “full steam ahead” for HS2 and that Ministers start reaching out to millennials to involve them with the project’s development. That is, of course, assuming that Mr Stephenson can be taken at his word and does not need a political rocket worthy of the groundbreaking train that also took his surname.
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