Don't be surprised when high speed rail hits the buffers
Is there a General Election in the offing?
Excuse me for sounding a tad cynical, but just pause to think about the Damascene conversion of Labour and Conservative parties to the cause of high speed rail.
We all like the vision of 250mph bullet trains rocketing through the countryside, cutting journey times between Brimingham and London to 50 minutes. Very sexy.
It's the sort of feel-good policy that politicians love to promote.
Remember John Kennedy's man-on-the-moon ambitions in 1960?
The subsequent space race embraced cutting-edge new technology and made the Americans feel even better about themselves than they normally do.
But back in the real world of 21st century busted-flush Britain, where Government debt is almost as high as one of JFK's rockets, it's a bit of an odd time to be talking about spending ÃÂ£17 billion on a new rail line from St Pancras to Birmingham, and ÃÂ£30 billion for a 335-mile network.
No doubt the private sector will be invited to stump up most of the cash, in return for guaranteed profits over a long period of time.
But Transport Secretary Lord Adonis's claim that construction could begin in seven years time sounds incredibly optimistic.
It will of course be a matter for the next government, but you can't imagine that railways will figure prominently on the agenda of whoever ends up in Downing Street after May, particularly not on the agenda of a hung parliament.
Call me a Jeremiah, but if high speed rail survives years of Whitehall cash cuts, I'm Thomas the Tank Engine.
If the next prime minister and transport secretary really are serious about High Speed 2, they will need to force plans for the line through the House of Commons and deal with Nimby Conservative constituencies in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire where opposition to carving up the Chiltern Hills is likely to be intense.
Britain doesn't have a great record when it comes to planning major transport infrastructure.
It's all very well to point to France and the TGV, but French governments don't have to put up with endless time-consuming planning inquiries. And they have much more land to choose from.
And even if the UK government uses parliamentary powers to get approval for the high speed line in record time, there's still that nagging question about the cost.
Virgin Rail recently questioned the need for a high speed service, given that the existing West Coast Main Line, if given additional tracking, could accommodate trains running at speeds in excess of 150mph. That would cut the journey time between Birmingham and London to just over an hour.
Is there really much demand for a high speed service, doubtless eye-wateringly expensive to use, in order to reduce journey times by another 15 minutes?
Another debatable claim about High Speed 2 centres on the supposed economic benefits it will bring to Birmingham and the West Midlands, put at ÃÂ£1.2 billion and 68,000 new jobs. It's even been suggested by accountants KPMG that high speed rail will increase average salaries in the region by ÃÂ£700 a year.
Perhaps so, although there is a danger that high speed rail could also help turn much of the countryside around Birmingham into dormitory commuter territory for business people working in London and the South-east. Birmingham City Council thinks high speed trains will lure inward investment to the West Midlands away from the "over heated" economy of the South-east, but is this really any more than wishful thinking by economists?
Gordon Brown made sure he came to Birmingham to launch the high speed rail plan, because there are always votes in grand schemes.
But I'll be prepared to bet that this is one spending project likely to hit the buffers sooner rather than later.