HS2 Tsar Needed For Project, Says Taskforce
A special HS2 minister should be appointed by the Government to oversee the £50bn high-speed rail project, a report from the scheme's growth taskforce has said.
The group said the appointment would ensure emphasis remained on growth and regeneration around HS2.
Led by Lord Deighton, the task force said the scale of HS2 was "without precedent" and "could catalyse far-reaching economic and social benefits, particularly to the cities of the Midlands and the North".
It continued: "So it is clear to us that we cannot expect to get the most out of HS2 simply by following 'business as usual'.
"We must set our sights high, challenge the status quo and be clear about our goal of building a truly transformational piece of national infrastructure."
Lord Deighton made a reference in the report's foreword to a line from the film Field of Dreams, in which Kevin Costner's character hears a voice telling him to turn his farm fields into a baseball park and spectators would arrive.
Lord Deighton said: "This report makes clear that we must not take a 'build it and they will come' attitude to HS2.
"It is up to all of us to make the most of this unique opportunity.
"Our conclusion is that HS2 could be much more than a railway. It could be an exciting and transformational opportunity, particularly for our cities in the Midlands and the North, to invest in our future economic growth."
A series of other recommendations to the Government are made in the report, which says a growth strategy should be established for each HS2 station by the end of 2014.
These strategies should explain how high-speed rail will generate local jobs, growth and regeneration, the report said.
It also said the Government and Network Rail should set out their plan for defining how HS2 will affect rail services for cities off the HS2 route and for rail freight, and also their plans for a wider review of rail services.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: "Lord Deighton has said there shouldn't be an 'if you build it, they will come' attitude to HS2, but that is how they have been operating for the last four years.
"While the case for HS2 only exists in a vested interest Field of Dreams, the reality of the project is a waking nightmare for the taxpayer."