‘No business case’ for HS2 extension to Scotland

 

Scotland is at risk of missing out on connection to the High Speed Two (HS2) rail link, with an influential report finding ‘no business case’ for the endeavour.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has reacted in fury to reports that ministers are being warned against extending the line from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

SNP transport spokesperson, Drew Hendry, said the ‘snub’ was proof Westminster is ‘committed to keeping Scotland in the slow lane’.

The first phase of HS2 will see journey times cut between the capital and Birmingham, before the line splits to Manchester and Leeds over future stages.

Scottish politicians had long hoped the line would eventually be lengthened north of the border, potentially cutting travel times between London to Glasgow or Edinburgh by around an hour and a half.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said options put forward by HS2 Ltd were now being considered and the Government would work with Scotland to ensure it saw the maximum benefit from the project.

However a source close to the HS2 team has now told the Independent on Sunday that plans had moved on from extensions to ‘enhancements’ on existing lines.

The source said that while there would be ‘the odd bit of track here and there’ to reduce journey times to Scotland, there was ‘no business case’ for a full extension.

An engineering industry source also told the paper that extensions to Scotland were no longer seen as tenable.

Mr Hendry added: ‘There is an undeniable economic case to connect Scotland to the rest of the UK and the continent. Inclusion of Scotland in Westminster’s HS2 plans will improve connectivity and remove barriers for businesses in remote and rural parts of the country.

‘Scotland needs better than this – it is ridiculous that Westminster is extending the High Speed Rail network but without any consideration for Scotland.’

A DfT spokesman said: ‘The Government is committed to a genuinely national high speed rail network and Scotland will benefit from high speed services from the moment HS2 opens.

‘We look forward to continued close co-operation with the Scottish Government to maximise the benefits that Scotland gets from a high speed Britain.

‘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 next steps. This advice will be published in due course.’

 
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