Fast Track Scotland - Making the Case for High Speed Rail Connections with Scotland
3. The vision for high speed rail in Scotland
The Partnership Group's current vision for high speed rail in Scotland is the construction of one twin track, cross-border HSR line, serving both Edinburgh and Glasgow and contributing to enhanced connectivity between these cities. Although a dual line network would connect both Edinburgh and Glasgow to a greater range of destinations, with potential to realise substantial economic welfare and environmental benefits, this would also entail a significantly higher cost.
At this stage, the Partnership Group is keeping an open mind on the eventual alignment of a high speed line within Scotland, and whether it will progress northwards from either Leeds or Manchester. We will need to discuss with DfT and HS2 Ltd the design of routes to and beyond those cities before determining the preferred route. The final preferred alignment will not be determined until a detailed economic, environmental, and operational analysis has been undertaken.
It will be important to ensure that the design of a new line and stations are future-proofed, with the potential for later expansion incorporated into the design. This will include the development of new or expanded stations for high speed rail services. As part of its route alignment work, the Partnership Group is also considering options for station locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
3.1 Channel tunnel rail link
Scotland's National Planning Framework 2 sets out the Scottish Government's aspiration to provide improved rail links from Scotland to the continent via High Speed One and the Channel Tunnel. The Partnership Group's preference is consistent with this aspiration: for an alignment which allows through journeys from Scotland to continental Europe, or one which allows an easy interchange to the existing Eurostar services.
3.2 Integration with the Scottish rail network
It is important that the inclusion of Glasgow and Edinburgh in a high speed rail network results in improved journey opportunities for rail passengers across Scotland and improved connections throughout Britain.
Scotland supports a high speed rail strategy which brings Edinburgh and Glasgow closer to London and the UK's great cities, and which preserves and enhances aviation links with London's airports for the north of Scotland.
Currently direct services from Scotland to the rest of the UK are available not only from Glasgow and Edinburgh, but also from Lockerbie and Motherwell in the west, and Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and many local stations on the east coast. High speed rail and existing rail services must be fully integrated to ensure no degradation of services to these areas as a consequence of introducing high speed rail.
While it is unlikely that a case could be made to run high-capacity high speed trains north of Glasgow and Edinburgh, continued investment in existing rail lines will improve connecting journey times, and ongoing work to determine the location of new stations in Glasgow and Edinburgh will include, as part of its remit, the opportunities that these stations will allow for the greatest integration and connectivity with the existing rail network and other modes and services.
There is a significant amount of air travel between Scotland's northern cities and London. This is likely to remain the dominant mode of travel to London for business communities in the North. Even with high speed rail to Scotland's Central Belt, landing slots at London's airports must be protected for flights from Aberdeen and Inverness.