I detect that, like me and indeed Boris Johnson, Danny Finkelstein instinctively wants to support HS2, but once he looked at the project in detail realised it is a deeply flawed scheme. Unlike other projects he mentions such as the Channel Tunnel and the Victoria Line, HS2 has no USP. People can already travel by train between London and the cities of the Midlands and North quickly and in relative comfort. Worse, as many insiders have told me, it is being delivered appallingly, with the overuse of outsourcing that has allowed costs to run out of control.
There is nothing transformational about HS2. It merely adds a vast amount of capacity on intercity rail routes when the need is for improved services for commuters, particularly in those very same cities. And it has no environmental case. Johnson should bite the bullet, ditch the project but crucially compensate those disappointed by creating a big infrastructure fund for projects in the Midlands and North