The new transport secretary Justine Greening has promised to consider the business case and take account of concerns in the community in any decision over whether to go ahead with High Speed 2.
During yesterday’s Commons transport committee hearing Ms Greening promised the decision on the £32 billion infrastructure plan would be a rational rather than emotional one.
Two days after replacing former transport minister Philip Hammond, she said HS2 would bring “huge benefit” to the UK. “This government, like the last government, sees the huge potential in a better high speed rail network for our country,” she said.
Her comments come just days after Rob Holden, in an exclusive interview with CN, warned that a political heavyweight such as a Prime Minister, deputy PM or chancellor needs to back the scheme.
Ms Greening told the committee that it is “absolutely right” to look at the benefits HS2 can bring to the economy, to help bridge the north/south divide but also create jobs in the shorter term.
The new transport secretary stressed the need for “connectivity” across the UK, and also said it was striking to listen to MPs in the HS2 debate last Thursday who could see the real benefit of their communities being connected.
“As someone who grew up in Sheffield, I can understand those arguments” she said.
Ms Greening, who has vocally opposed the third runway at Heathrow, spoke of the need for an aviation strategy that works in conjunction with high speed rail.
Asked about the 40 major infrastructure projects that Nick Clegg has spoken of, she said she did not have information yet.