LEAVING ASIDE the debate about the precise location of the HS2 stations proposed for Leeds and Sheffield, and how they should be integrated with other rail services, it is crucial that they are planned properly and command widespread public confidence.
If this does not happen from the outset, it will be too late to reverse policy mistakes once the stations have been built. However Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, speaking in Leeds at the launch of a report by the National Infrastructure Commission, does need to take stock of two key points.
First, local councils do not necessarily possess the expertise to ensure these projects deliver the best returns for the taxpayer – and local economy.
As Mr McLoughlin will be aware, the Leeds trolleybus saga – an ill-conceived plan rejected by a Government planning inspector following a public inquiry – provides an object lesson in how not to develop a transport policy. All agencies must now work together to make sure we are on the right lines. Second, George Osborne has entrusted infrastructure, and oversight of HS2, with Lord Adonis of the National Infrastructure Commission. However the peer has been approached by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, to become deputy mayor. If Lord Adonis combines both roles, it will suggest HS2 is for the benefit of London and not the whole country.