Well happy new year to all. 2012 has already seen a historic moment with the Government announcing it will go ahead with the development of a national high speed network. Phase 1 from London to the West Midlands will be open by 2026 and then legs will branch up to Manchester and to Leeds by 2033. In my day job as Head of Strategy at Centro I have been working with a huge range of stakeholders across the West Midlands to inform, engage and debate the merits of high speed rail, this has included our work as part of the Go-HS2 coalition. I have also worked with a large number of politicians as well as officials from DfT and HS2 Ltd to discuss the detail, the facts, the requirements and the long term strategy for railways and transport generally.
On Tuesday, I was in London for the announcement which was a momentous day for the railways. I even found time to write a piece for Progress (http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2012/01/10/now-is-the-time-to-look-to-the-future-2/)…
The Department for Transport has published a huge amount of information and evidence. We also have a ‘firm commitment’ from the Secretary of State to push ahead with Phase 2 going north – the route and consultation will appear later this year.
It is pleasing to think that we can move on from the polarised debate on Yes or No (which is a relief as the level of vitriol and insult thrown at some of us in the Yes campaign has been quite disturbing) and now talk about how we derive maximum benefit from the coming of high speed rail for the country. The work really has only just begun for this transformational infrastructure project and it cannot come soon enough!