Although the Government remains fully committed to pressing ahead with its £34 billion HS2 high speed rail project, it would be unsurprising if there was not just a flicker of apprehension in the mind of Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.
While Mr Hammond gave a forceful account of himself when addressing the Birmingham business community this week, putting the economic regeneration case for HS2 with vigour, he accepts that those who oppose the scheme may yet draw blood and perhaps even put paid to one of the biggest transport infrastructure projects ever seen in this country.
Mr Hammond told his audience that it was up to “those who see the power of HS2 to deliver economic change” to speak up loudly and clearly in favour. Failure to do so could see highly organised and well funded opponents of HS2 winning the argument “striking a dagger through the heart” of the high speed rail project.
Dramatic stuff, but hardly an exaggeration given the growth of various pressure groups who regard the exercise as a waste of money and environmentally damaging. Even the Federation for Small Business believes the money could be better spent on roads while the CBI supports the project but not at the expense of other projects.
Conservative MPs representing Home Counties constituencies through which it is proposed the London to Birmingham line should run are threatening trouble when the HS2 bill reaches parliament.
The freight transport industry, realising that the additional capacity on existing rail lines freed up by HS2 will eat into its own profits, is also beginning to lobby hard against the Government.
Mr Hammond has responded by placing HS2 opponents in the same category as bigoted 19th century landowners who raged against the coming of the railways, and of pressure groups in the 1960s who argued that no good would ever come of motorways.
And bubbling away behind the scenes, there lies the possibility of growing public bemusement at the prospect of the coalition Government committing many billions of pounds to build a new railway at a time when public expenditure is supposedly severely constrained. No wonder Mr Hammond wants the wider business community to make the case for HS2.
This newspaper has been sceptical in the past about the benefits of HS2, if the project is regarded as merely a fast train service. Reducing the time taken to travel between Birmingham and London by 35 minutes will be welcomed, but for most people this will not be a life-changing experience.
But HS2, as Mr Hammond reminds us, has the capability of triggering economic regeneration on a scale not seen for decades, and by reducing travel times between London, the Midlands and the North, should play a significant role in eradicating the north-south wealth gap.
If HS2 is not built, what happens next? The West Coast Main Line will be running at full capacity very soon, leaving the Government with a tricky decision. It would be possible to widen the line, but the cost of doing so would be much greater than HS2, take longer to deliver and involve demolishing far more homes and businesses.
If the West Coast Main Line cannot be widened, more and more passengers are likely to boycott an overcrowded rail system and choose to fly - or drive – when travelling to and from London. Is this really desirable?
As the campaign, both for and against the project, gathers steam, many in the business community certainly believe the economic argument for HS2 to be increasingly compelling and with all three political parties now backing the project, it would seem that its opponents will have their work cut out to stop it becoming reality.