Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown announces step forward for High Speed Rail in Scotland
The study, commissioned by Transport Scotland and the Department for Transport, will supply details on potential route options to Scotland and will report at the end of this year.
When furnished with full details of potential routes, Mr Brown will be in a position to make an announcement in February on the next steps in the realisation of his objective of ensuring Scotland’s inclusion within a high speed rail network.
The study was launched after the publication of Fast Track Scotland, a report by civic Scotland which found that high speed rail would benefit Scotland to the tune of around £25 billion.
Speaking ahead of his address to the Greengauge 21 high speed rail conference in Glasgow, Mr Brown said: “The Scottish Government has long made the case, with support and strong advocacy from Scotland’s civic and business communities, that we must be fully included in any plans for high speed rail.
“Effective transport connections are vital in ensuring we allow business to compete and grow, and high speed rail for Scotland represents a significant advancement in our world-class public transport networks.
“This long-awaited and important study will furnish us with feasible route options and is a welcome development, putting our campaign to bring high speed rail to Scotland back on the fast track.”
Gareth Williams, High Speed Rail Scotland partnership, said: “The HSRS partnership believes that the investment case for high speed rail is strong, but it is even stronger when Scotland is included. A journey time of less than three hours between both Glasgow and Edinburgh and London is key to delivering the full economic and environmental benefits, including increased availability of slots at London airports for north of Scotland air links.
“A high speed rail network, better connecting central Scotland and the Northern Powerhouse, and integrated into an improved rail network, can promote knowledge exchange, investment and growth, which strengthens the competitiveness of both and rebalances the economic prosperity of the UK.
“The HSRS partnership has been concerned about a lack of clarity on the way forward for high speed rail connections with Scotland, particularly given the accelerated priority for HS3 Transpennine connectivity. So we welcome the announcement today and we will continue to work together in Scotland and with partners across the English regions to develop the strongest possible case for high speed links.”