The seemingly never-ending saga that is HS2 took another turn today, with the Government's announcement that works on the ground could commence. Those who have been following this project might be forgiven for thinking that works had already begun, as large ground clearance projects have been taking place up and down the route for several months, causing much public concern and confusion. That was just preparatory works, but now the serious engineering works can begin.
Whether you love this railway or hate it, HS2 was conceived by New Labour a decade ago as a way of building Britain out of a financial crisis, and it is now being used by the current Government as a way of building Britain out of the next financial crisis.
At the moment, it seems irrelevant whether it was ever the perfect solution to the transport crisis. Our elected officials want to get people back to work.
In the light of the Covid-19 crisis, let us all hope that this announcement turns out to be well-timed.
The government on Wednesday issued formal notification to the companies tasked with construction, allowing them to start work and providing them and their suppliers with business at a time when the pandemic has caused the economy to grind to a halt. “This next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it, and means that work can truly begin,” HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said.