At a time when politicians are accused of being too short-termist with their decision-making, the Tories and Labour do appear to be in this for the long haul because of the need to increase capacity, even though Transport Secretary Chris Grayling must explain why he ignored warnings about Carillion’s ability to take on HS2.
And, despite the route of HS2 through South Yorkshire continuing to be mired in controversy, the economic-spin offs for the region are significant. Not only is the newly-launched Year of Engineering intended to raise the profile of this misunderstood sector, and make young people aware of the opportunities that do exist, but leaders in Leeds are launching a consultation of their own today on how best to maximise high-speed rail.
Yet, while the Leeds City Region HS2 Growth Strategy looks visually impressive on paper, it’s not clear how this piece of work differs from previous studies on the subject – or how it has been calculated that HS2 could add £54bn, a very precise number, to the region’s economic output.
It must not become an exercise in self-justification by West Yorkshire Combined Authority and others – the PR preamble talks about a further £20m being made needed for “further feasibility work”.
What passengers and residents – the most important people of all – want to know is whether there will be more frequent services on existing lines to and from the new Leeds hub, and that HS2 does not slow down plans to develop the North’s own high-speed rail network.