Plans for a £32 billion high speed rail network stretching across England have provoked strong feelings.
In parts of the country, including much of Staffordshire and Warwickshire, opinion seems to be firmly against the proposal.
But Birmingham’s politicians and business leaders have been largely united in backing the line, known as High Speed Two or HS2.
They point to the investment it will bring to the regional economy and the number of jobs it is likely to create.
This unanimity helped ensure that successive governments pressed ahead with the plans. And it was matched, or perhaps exceeded, by the enthusiasm in Leeds and Manchester for the proposed network.
Opponents of high speed rail will probably be delighted, therefore, with the row which has broken out over plans to place a rolling stock depot in east Birmingham, an area which suffers from high unemployment and a low skills base.
This site is of a crucial importance to the city because it represents a third of the available industrial land in Birmingham.
But although the depot will create hundreds of jobs, these will tend to be low-skilled and low-paid. The council, backed by MPs, has an alternative plan which it believes could create 6,500 jobs, many of them in advanced manufacturing.
Some people are convinced HS2 will never actually be built. But it looks very much as if they are wrong, and the project is now more or less unstoppable.
All three major parties are behind it, and the Government is dropping heavy hints that it plans to extend the line to Scotland.
Anyone who harbours dreams of a U-turn on HS2 would be well advised to investigate the strength of feeling in the north of England, where support for it is even greater than in Birmingham.
It would be a brave government indeed that told those cities they weren’t going to get the investment they have been promised after all – and one which had given up any hopes of winning seats in the north come election time.
So high speed rail is almost certainly happening, and the row over the depot is unlikely to change that.
What it does demonstrate is a disturbing failure in communication between HS2 Ltd, the business set up by the government to oversee construction of the new network, and Birmingham City Council, which should be one of HS2 Ltd’s key partners.
The authority is firmly committed to using the site at the centre of the controversy, at Washwood Heath, for a new business park – and it has promised to help find an alternative location for the depot.
But there is no sign that HS2 Ltd is listening.
No wonder MPs are taking their concerns directly to the Transport Secretary.
But a better solution would be for the rail business to take the council and MPs’ concerns on board.