Those who believe HS2, coupled with Northern Powerhouse Rail, has life-changing potential for people across the North – especially families with young children – will fear that once again we are about to be treated as second class citizens who do not matter.
The Transport Secretary added to growing speculation over the future of the eastern leg of HS2, saying ministers will not “blindly follow” plans drawn up almost two decades ago. In an interview with the Financial Times, Grant Shapps signalled that a major rethink of the high-speed rail project between Birmingham and Leeds could be in order.
This newspaper has long called for significant investment in public transport across the region – the current Victorian railway is at breaking point. That HS2 has been so badly run – beset with serial failures of leadership – does not detract from that fact.
Life chances for people living in Yorkshire and across the North of England are hamstrung by the dilapidated, disjointed railway and the perpetually clogged road network, which add up to talented people leaving the region to live and work elsewhere.
Already at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, we have heard Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, admit that entrepreneurs in the south have access to more opportunities than those in the north. He added: “That has to change.”
Agreed, Minister. But eyes and ears, here, are now finely tuned to the detail behind what you and your colleagues say, because – forgive us Mr Gove – but the only change we see coming is short change. Again.