NEVER has the phrase on the wrong side of the tracks meant more than when Lord Adonis announced that Labour's plans for the multi-billion high-speed rail track did not include the North East.
Perhaps the phrase should be at the wrong end of the tracks because that is clearly where we are, not just in this case but in terms of many decisions taken in Westminster and Whitehall.
It would be interesting to know why the east coast high-speed rail track stops at Leeds. What is the justification for such a decision – could it be that we are just not worth it?
The announcement that the line from Leeds to Edinburgh will be the subject of a rolling stock upgrade is but a palliative. Such ongoing improvements are long overdue. As I have said previously, connectivity to, from and within the region is a basic requirement for achieving economic growth.
Such investment in infrastructure would help the region to compete on a more even basis and add value to the regional economy. It would increase demand for space and begin to grow our economic activity and employment.
Without it we will see a drift away from the region by our active workforce, leaving behind an ailing economy which is a greater burden on the state.
The negative effect, in particular on our property economy, will have already begun. In general, property values in the north of England will have fallen relative to those below a line that dissects the country from Manchester to Leeds.
As Alan Clarke, chief executive of regional development agency One North East, said, the Government must ensure that upgrading some parts of the east coast line to high- speed rail and not others does not lead to areas of economic disadvant- age. On the other hand, we might have had a lucky escape.
High-speed rail will blight many homes and businesses along the proposed ‘Y’ route.
Uncertainty is the worst part about this as no one is quite sure where the new lines will go, so local property markets along the anticipated course will stagnate.
As work won’t start until 2017 (at the earliest) and is expected to take 20 years (at least) that is blight on a major, long-term scale.
When work does begin we will find out whose property is to be compulsory purchased and demolished and whose will have a 250mph supertrain running past the bottom of the garden.
There will be planning objections galore and those thinking of asking for compensation will need to navigate through the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990. It will be a bureaucratic and time- consuming process.
Looking at the glass half full, we have avoided all that and we still get half an hour cut off the journey to London.
I can’t be the only one thinking that by the time high-speed rail reaches Newcastle, in 30 to 40 years, it might not be needed – by that time scientists will have invented a pollution-free method of flying.
Kevan Carrick is partner in JK Property Consulting and policy spokesman for RICS North East