27 October 2009

Scotland to lag behind without UK high speed rail link

Scotland must share in the economic and environmental benefits of a high speed rail link across the UK, a report submitted to the company responsible for examining the proposed link outlines today.

The formal submission of the Scottish Strategic Business Case to High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) today outlines the preference for a line that splits north of the border with links to both Edinburgh and Glasgow and backs the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure Scotland shares the benefits of a high speed link to the rest of the UK and mainland Europe.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson outlined the Scottish Strategic Business Case, prepared by Transport Scotland on behalf of a Scottish stakeholder group created to input into the UK planning process.

Mr Stevenson said: “This Government is committed to ensuring Scotland’s voice is heard – the economic and environmental case for high speed rail is clear, compelling and crucial.

“It is essential we plan for the future with a clear, long-term vision for high speed rail. With a predicted increase in passenger demand across all routes, this Strategic Business Case shows that extending a link to Scotland will maximise the overall economic and environmental benefits of any high speed rail project.

“Only a full line will deliver the change required to achieve modal shift from air to rail. Journey times of less than three hours would make rail a more attractive travel choice, leading to a reduction in carbon emissions and contributing to achieving climate change targets.

”Scotland needs an effective national transport infrastructure that facilitates sustainable economic growth. Failure to bring high speed all the way to Scotland will leave Scotland behind. While the cost of a high speed rail network is likely to be high, the benefits are significantly greater.”

While the first phase of the High Speed Rail project will consider the case for services between London and the Midlands, UK Government transport minister Lord Adonis has asked HS2 to examine the potential for expanding high speed services into Scotland and the north of England.

HS2 will report its initial recommendations for the service between London and Birmingham by the end of 2009. This initial report will attempt to clarify issues such as costs, proposed routes and technologies which would be required to turn the proposals into reality.

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