HS2 message needs work
Head of Policy at the Forum of Private Business Alex Jackman comments on the HS2 northern line proposals.
It is easy to be critical of government when it puts off the big infrastructure decisions with the failure to deal with the UK’s airport capacity a case in point. So we are pleased a significant infrastructure spend has cross-party support.
On first viewing, HS2 may appear to have a strong case against it, with benefits a long way down the line and a really considerable spend at a time of economic difficulty. But these are the kind of long-term decisions a government must make for the good of the country.
The Government must now work to clearly communicate nationally the business case for such an important project, whilst locally demonstrating how such a project will bring economic benefits to the regions, rather than draining them towards London.
We do not feel this case has been adequately put in the North and scepticism therefore remains widespread. Cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds may well be nervous at just how HS2 will affect them in terms of business.
And what must not happen now is for the project to take the focus off local infrastructure needs. Station upgrades, platform improvements and more rolling stock are needed on many existing lines in the UK, with commuters paying ever-higher prices for a more congested service. Investment in the main road and motorway network must keep pace too, these being the primary form of transport for many businesses.
If the Government takes its eye off the ball with local projects, it will lose the battle over the big ones.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Forum of Private Business.