High-speed trains could be making journeys between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the two biggest cities in Scotland, in just 12 years. This is part of the Scottish government’s plan to go ahead with a link between the two cities before the UK government commits to bringing HS2 north of the border. The line would nearly cut journey times in half to less than 30 minutes by 2024. It’s not known yet if the line will serve existing or new stations, as the route hasn’t been laid out.
The proposal was launched by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who says that they could build a line that will see journey times between Edinburgh and Glasgow reduced to less than 30 minutes in the coming 12 years. This would benefit the tourism industry, jobs market and businesses. It will also rank Scotland among the greatest transport networks in the world.
Sturgeon added that the Scottish government won’t wait for Westminster to build a high-speed rail link to them. They have made moves towards a high-speed line already, and the evidence is in place that the services would be feasible way before the HS2 project. The government will enter discussions with their partners in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as the rail industry, to see how this vision can become a reality. They want to build a line that can connect to England’s network.
The UK Department of Transport is building the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham for completion by 2026. This will be followed by extensions to Leeds and Manchester for completion by 2033. In the coming weeks, Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown is due to meet with UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to discuss linking Scotland.
Brown says high-speed rail will benefit the whole nation, and the Scottish government is looking forward to a future where the country stands on its own feet and is fully connected with neighbouring communities. High-speed rail will have a key role in that, and it’s in line with the government’s policy objectives – increasing the country’s economic growth rate and developing a world leading low-carbon economy.
Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council, says that he has argued that bringing high-speed rail services to Edinburgh and Glasgow is important for the country’s economy. This announcement is welcomed, and the council is dedicated to working with the government to bring these services as soon as possible.
Edinburgh City Council transport convener Lesley Hinds says that there’s a compelling case for bringing a high-speed rail line to Scotland. The council and their partners want to make this a reality as soon as possible. This proposal is a very welcome development towards goals to link Edinburgh with Glasgow.
However, Alex Johnstone, the transport spokesman for Scottish Conservatives, has slammed the lack of detail given in the proposal. He says this kind of announcement should be welcome, but no details have been given. The Scottish government’s priority should be linking the country with those they do business with the most – England. Instead, they have been stalling for years on the matter. Without route plans and costs, this is nothing but an idea thrown in the air.
Richard Baker, a Scottish Labour MSP, said that the government is making a commitment to upgrade the rail network, but it doesn’t even know how much it will cost. Passengers should also remember that plans to significantly reduce travel times were scrapped earlier this year. No-one should hold their breath until a deal is signed and construction starts.