Extending HSR

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I believe the unnamed UK Cabinet minister’s view that ­independence might reduce the chance of the high speed rail project (HS2) being extended to Scotland (your report, 14 April) to be entirely justified.

Scottish transport minister Keith Brown’s claim that it showed an arrogant and patronising and attitude was ludicrous and typical of the SNP’s angry intolerance of any opinion on the negative implications of its aims.

He offers no reason why a UK Government would spend a huge sum extending HSR by around 100 miles to the Scottish Border from Manchester when the percentage of English ­residents it would serve would be tiny.

The case for any extension after Stage 2 is, anyway, very weak. It would only reduce travel time by under 30 minutes but cost many billions of pounds.

The justification for building the two links already proposed is that the existing rail capacity is inadequate, not just to increase speeds. (Some MPS are saying there should be a limit on this for environmental reasons.)

The capacity of the main line between Preston and Glasgow/Edinburgh is far greater than current train volumes and there is no reason to assume that will not continue to be the case for many years to come.

The economic arguments for HSR in general need review. Spain has spent hugely on its railways, but its economy has tanked. France and Italy, with extensive HSRs, are stagnating.

Yet Mexico, where passenger train services almost ceased in 2000, has increased its GDP enormously.

Given these facts, and that an extension to Scotland would not be built within the next 20 years, there is no reason for any consideration of the issue now.

John Munro

Buccleuch Street

Glasgow

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