The High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Act 2021 received Royal Assent on Thursday 11 February, authorising delivery of the stretch of the new high speed line running from Birmingham to Crewe.
In an unusual way, the project finds itself a victim of circumstance, having gone from a top priority for this Government twelve months ago to now having one of the most significant justifications making up the supporting business case for the scheme wiped out: the need for more capacity on the route to and from London.
Given HS2 will not be open to passengers until 2029, the hope will be (fingers crossed!) that we are back to pre-pandemic levels of movement between the cities on the line by then. However, if the fundamental change to the way that we all live and work is here to stay as some predict, will there ever be the same volume of business traffic using the line again? Who can say at this point, but at a time when the need for other infrastructure such as superfast broadband required to support our new ways of living and working is acute, is HS2 really the top priority it once was?
I look forward to seeing spades in the ground to get this section built and deliver the benefits of high-speed rail to the North as swiftly as possible.