The more I look at HS2 the more I'm convinced it's an utter mistake. For Keynsians looking at the proverbial helicopter dropping fivers at random it's a failure - the spending will come too late and be too uncontrolled. For Brummies hoping to attract more visitors or customers it will be a failure - the line will work in reverse, drawing even more trade, money and employment to London and the South East. The government's travel-time / cost figures are fatuous and close to the point where even the most mendacious of ministers can't defend them. Saving seven minutes on time spent in the train but spending ten extra minutes navigating the new concourses laid out like retail game-traps isn't a good deal. Then of course there's the noise, mess, destruction and upheaval, and by far the greatest cost - that of lost opportunities.
Forget Edinburgh's incompetent stupidity; light rail has been a success when it's built by the English. The DLR, Croydon's trams ad the new rail lines linking south and east London have been spectacularly successful. It doesn't have to be fast or expensive - using disused track routes and linking with portions of mainline trackspace, these bendy little routes weaving in and out of later development are heaving with happy passengers.
An Ipswich to Colchester light rail route via Hadleigh, Bentley and Capel would end the misery for thousands; the extension in north Norfolk of lines closed by Beeching and similar elsewhere are all schemes for which there are no shortage of private operators in the wings; all they need is a bit of encouragement, a spot of cash and a little bit of Parliamentary time for enabling legislation.
But creating small, successful, independent light rail companies is simply not on the agenda of a government obsessed by the big corporates, obsessed by the sexiness of anything measured in tens of billions (and the prospect of some of that funding, er, 'sticking' later on) and obsessed by the stupidities of Stalinist grossism.