Scotland may be left off High Speed 2

May 27 2015  

Scotland may be left off High Speed 2
Ministers are considering whether to drop a planned extension of High Speed 2 north of the border, prompting a furious response from the Scottish National Party. 
“It would be outrageous if the UK Government planned to snub Scotland on HS2,” the SNP’s transport spokesman Drew Hendry MP said. “There is an undeniable economic case to connect Scotland to the rest of the UK and the continent.
“The Westminster establishment has shown a total lack of ambition throughout the development of plans for HS2 and seems committed to keeping Scotland in the slow lane.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Advice prepared by HS2 Ltd to identify broad options for high speed and upgraded railways to Scotland has been completed on time and is now with Ministers, who are considering the next steps. This advice will be published in due course.”
The spokesman added that Scotland will benefit from reduced journey times to London from the moment the first phase of HS2 opens to Birmingham.
Minutes from HS2 Ltd in December note that the board received a presentation on extending high speed rail to Scotland and the North East of England, as well as enhancing the existing route. It agreed that a further update would be discussed within six to 12 months.
The Confederation of British Industry’s director of business environment Rhian Kelly said: “Connecting more of the UK to HS2 makes sense, but any extension of the line itself requires a cast iron business case, showing how the long-term benefits exceed the costs.”
And the Institute of Directors said: “Our members across the country still feel that intercity connectivity and improvements to existing lines – including in Scotland – should be the priority.”
High speed rail consultant Greengauge 21's director Jim Steer said: “It would be disappointing if the reports (of leaving Scotland out of HS2) are true. Previous work by ourselves and Network Rail into a new line found there was a business case; the question is what has changed.
“Our view is that it makes very good sense to include high speed rail between England and Scotland. It wouldn't surprise me if it gets implemented in stages, or if some of the route is achieved through upgrading existing lines. What would be surprising is if the entire proposition (of reaching Scotland) is ruled out.”
(Photo: Capita)

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