TODAY’S CALL to arms over Crossrail for the North is even more important because of the track record of the peer Andrew Adonis who, Brexit aside, is one of the country’s more consensual politicians.
As Transport Secretary in Gordon Brown’s government, he built the cross-party case for HS2 after recognising that a new high-speed railway offered the best chance of increasing capacity on the rest of the network.
And, more recently, Lord Adonis did more than most, as chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, to make the economic case for Yorkshire – and the rest of the North – to receive fairer funding for road and rail improvements. He only quit this key role after exposing – before others – Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s mishandling of the East Coast Main Line franchise as the existing deal with co-operators Stagecoach and Virgin is foreclosed.
As such, he’s speaking with experience – and insight – when he questions the newly-constituted Transport for the North’s ability to come up with a credible plan while, at the same time, accusing the pious Mr Grayling of hiding behind “a wall of waffle”.
Given this, Lord Adonis places the onus on this region’s leaders to come up with a credible blueprint to transform trans-Pennine rail links. The political will is there – this much is clear. Yet, as the peer says, time is of the essence as he calls for such a plan to be published by the end of the year. He’s right. The longer this region dithers and delays, the longer commuters will have to wait for a state-of-the-art railway – and the more time and money Mr Grayling will have to spend on his ‘pet projects’ in the South.