Major public transport scheme the West Midlands can actually win
At last, a major national transportation project that the West Midlands can win.
Until recently talk of the government approving a multi-billion pound high speed rail link between London and Birmingham would have been dismissed as wishful thinking
But the ground is changing quickly, with both Labour and the Conservatives now battling each other to take credit for pushing forward with what would be the largest and most expensive rail project in the UK for more than a century.
So-called bullet trains running at 200mph could cut travel times between Birmingham and London to about 45 minutes, and half an hour to Heathrow, ushering in a revolution that would certainly transform the region's woeful reputation for poor public transport links.
Benefits to the West Midlands economy, in terms of improving business travel times and attracting inward investment, would be huge.
The most convincing sign that this is being taken seriously in Whitehall came from Lord Adonis, who was appointed transport minister in last October's government reshuffle. Adonis made it clear in a series of interviews that he regarded the high speed rail link as viable and was having civil servants look at the matter in some detail.
A little word of congratulation here for Stephen Hughes, the underrated and understated chief executive of Birmingham City Council, who for more than a year has been lobbying behind the scenes to get cross-party political support for the high speed route.
Hughes appears to have succeeded in overcoming the suspicions voiced by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, that an express train journey to Heathrow might take business away from Birmingham International Airport.
As Hughes rightly points out, BIA can benefit from better links with London and the south-east as long as it offers good value and reliable flights.
It would be complacent, however, to expect that the St Pancras, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow route is certain to be chosen for Britain's second high speed rail route after the Channel Tunnel link. Other regions are putting their case to Lord Adonis, in particular the East Coast Line from King's Cross to Newcastle and the Great Western line from Paddington to Bristol.
The benefits to flow from high speed rail would knock the New Street refurbishment into a cocked hat.
This is certainly a project that Birmingham and the West Midlands should and can win - but only through a strong and united campaign backed by councils, MPs and the regional development agency.