After ‘a long and tortuous process’, work will get underway next year to try and cut rail journey times between Scotland and London to three hours, ministers have revealed.
The UK and Scottish governments have agreed to try and ease the severe congestion on cross-Border routes. Work planned for 2017 will identify options that have the best business cases, with implementation planned from 2019 onwards.
Edinburgh Waverley Station
Writing in yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday, Scottish infrastructure secretary Keith Brown said: ‘This concludes a long and tortuous process, and begins another, but it’s a long way from 2011 when high-speed rail was set only to benefit the south of England while we were not even allowed to join the conversation.’
The announcement comes alongside publication of the HS2 Ltd report Broad options for upgraded and high speed railways to the North of England and Scotland.
The report considers various options for building on HS2, including: upgrades within the footprint of the existing railway; new high speed bypasses of constrained track sections; and complete new lines on either the east or west of the Pennines.
In a statement to Parliament, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘These alternatives range in cost between £17bn and £43bn to reach a three-hour journey time, although some are capable of being constructed in stages. All have their advantages and disadvantages.’
He added: 'In addition, we need to look at what more should be done. I recognise the continuing investment that is likely to be necessary if we are to meet projected passenger and freight growth on the West and East Coast Mainlines.
‘Therefore, in this control period the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland will take forward work with Network Rail to identify any and all options with strong business cases, for consideration for implementation in CP 6 and CP 7, that can improve journey times, capacity, resilience and reliability on routes between England and Scotland.
'This will include consideration of how these improvements can be future-proofed to allow further progress towards 3 hour journeys.’