Scotland’s HS2 case can silence critics and win the argument
The Minister was speaking ahead of his appearance at a rail industry conference where he will emphasise why developing a further reaching network that extends north to Scotland is the only logical way forward.
Mr Brown said:
“The UK Government’s case for High Speed Rail has come under recent scrutiny in terms of its value. Key commentators, such as the Public Audit Committee, predict real business case challenges ahead if the current proposal for a network stretching only as far as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds is progressed.
“This Scottish Government has long argued the high speed network must include Scotland to bring the strongest economic benefits – that remains the case and one which can silence HS2’s current critics. I would challenge and encourage Patrick McLoughlin to use the strongest argument for HS2 available, for its inclusion of Scotland.
“Professor Richard Florida, renowned as one of the world’s top ten influential thinkers, sees Scotland’s central belt as having the potential to be one of the world’s 40 economic ‘mega regions’. It is only logical that the high speed rail network connects with this region to capitalise on its potential.
“Scotland’s economic output is already higher than any area of Britain outside of London and the South East, it simply makes sense to extend the high speed network further north, the sooner the better. By encouraging further income generation, skills, universities and creativity, we can strengthen the region as one of great economic hubs of the UK and the world.
“A further driver for high speed rail is the absolutely necessity to increase capacity on our main railway lines, including to Scotland. There is already significant growth in cross border passenger and freight markets; we need to plan now for future demands. While the Scottish and UK Governments are already working together to consider options for linking Scotland to a high speed rail network, this work must be accelerated.
“In the meantime, we are progressing a business case to build high speed rail in Scotland, bringing those benefits forward and providing the opportunity to link Edinburgh and Glasgow with a sub 30 minute journey time.
"This is a real opportunity to shake up current thinking on the way forward for HS2 and to present as robust a case as can be developed. There is a bigger and better case for high speed rail than has been made by the UK Government so far. By planning now to connect Scotland to a high speed network, we can put to bed these arguments about costs and benefits”