The plans for HS2 are well underway, with Phase 1 to Birmingham expected to be completed in 2026, Phase 2a to Crewe by 2027 and the remainder of Phase 2, completing the extension from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, expected in 2033.

The UK and Scottish governments are working together with business and civic leaders throughout northern England and Scotland to support the extension of the high speed rail network beyond Phase 2.

Broad options

On 21 March 2016, Keith Brown, the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Investment and Cities made a joint announcement with Robert Goodwill, the UK Minister for Transport, welcoming the publication of HS2 Ltd's Broad Options for upgraded and high speed railways to the North of England and Scotland which explores options for providing improved capacity and journey times between the north of England and Scotland.

The Broad Options report is the result of two years work by HS2 Ltd, guided by a Steering Group comprising Transport Scotland, the Department for Transport (DfT), the Scotland Office and Network Rail. Transport Scotland engaged with the Department for Transport throughout the process and had an active role in steering the project.

The report did not set out to reach a conclusion. It was commissioned to inform the UK and Scottish Governments of the options for providing improved journey times and rail capacity between the north of England and Scotland, including estimated costs and overall feasibility. Options identified include: upgrades within the footprint of the existing railway; new high speed bypasses of constrained track sections; and new continuous high speed lines on both an eastern and western alignment.

Key milestones

14 December 2011 — Publication of Fast Track Scotland.

12 November 2012 — Nicola Sturgeon MSP, then Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Investment, Infrastructure and Cities announced that Transport Scotland were assessing the case for bringing forward a high speed link between Edinburgh and Glasgow, in anticipation of a subsequent link to London. View the speech (PDF).

1 November 2013 — Announcement of a joint study of high speed options north of Manchester and Leeds to Scotland.

21 March 2016 — Publication of HS2 Ltd’s Broad options for upgraded and high speed railways to the North of England and Scotland report and Transport Scotland’s High Speed Rail Scotland Summary Report.

These two reports were launched at an event held in Edinburgh Waverley railway station. Keith Brown MSP, then Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, and Robert Goodwill MP, UK Minister for Transport with responsibility for High Speed Rail, jointly announced that:

“…in this control period (up to 2019) 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 Control Periods 6 and 7 (2019 to 2029), 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.”

Keith Brown also announced that this work would be informed by a public conversation with targeted stakeholders, which would commence in June 2016.

The High Speed Rail Scotland Summary Report allowed the conclusion to be drawn that it is clear that any high speed rail built between Edinburgh and Glasgow would be conditional on the nature of high speed rail coming from the south and would, in order to form part of any high speed rail network, need to align with the technical requirements of that infrastructure.

Moving ahead

The UK and Scottish Governments are pressing ahead with plans for high speed rail.

Following a joint announcement on 21 March 2016a working group was established, comprising representatives of the Department for Transport, Transport Scotland, HS2 Ltd and Network Rail, to determine how best to progress the aims of both governments  and identify infrastructure options, with the best business case. for potential implementation from 2019 onwards.

The Working Group is also in the process of engaging in conversations with targeted stakeholders in northern England and Scotland to gather views on the options presented in HS2 Ltd’s Broad options report.

High Speed Rail Scotland Group

In Summer 2011, the then Minister for Transport and Veterans established the High Speed Rail Scotland Group (initially known as the Scottish Partnership Group) to develop and promote Scotland's case for inclusion in a UK-wide, high speed rail network.

The Group brings together representatives from Scotland's communities, businesses, councils and regional transport partnerships, who bring local knowledge and expertise that will be of significant benefit to the project. The Group ensures Scotland speaks with one voice in support of high speed rail.

The Group includes representatives from: Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), West Lothian Council, Network Rail, Edinburgh City Council, North East Scotland Transport Partnership (Nestrans), Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (Tactran), Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Association for Public Transport (SAPT), Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Transform Scotland, Highland and Islands Transport Partnership (HITrans), Scottish Trade Union Congress, Glasgow and the Clyde Valley Strategic Development Planning Authority, Scottish Futures Trust, South East of Scotland Transport Partnership (SESTran), Scottish Enterprise, North Lanarkshire Council, and South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWESTran).

The Group has an independent Chair and Transport Scotland provides secretariat support.

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