SHOULD we in the North-East shed a tear that HS2 was yesterday officially put back five years as its cost spirals wildly from £56bn to £88bn? This may be a precursor to the cancellation of the whole project.

The North-East does need a better railway connection to the capital. The East Coast Main Line is over-capacity and over-expensive. HS2 would have increased the number of seats travelling between London and the north and so should, in theory, have driven down prices.

Based in the birthplace of the railways, we know that construction of infrastructure does indeed encourage economic growth in previously unimaginable ways.

However, £88bn is a hell of a lot of money, without factoring in the environmental cost of construction. Plus, HS2 is now not scheduled to reach Leeds until 2035 so, even on the current timetable, may not be extended into the North-East in our lifetimes. If ever.

There is also research that suggests it is the wealthiest end of a new railway line that benefits most from its construction. HS2 could just reinforce the imbalance in the economy between north and south.

So as HS2 is now postponed and perhaps cancelled, the North-East shouldn’t shed a tear but should increase its campaign to upgrade the existing East Coast Main Line and demand that the “Northern Powerhouse Rail” – linking Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Manchester and Liverpool – is brought right forward so that all the benefits from rail investment are felt where they are needed most in the north.