Trains that can go from Glasgow to Edinburgh in under 30 minutes and on to London in two hours could boost the central belt as a world leading “mega region”, according to the Transport Minister.
Keith Brown has called on the UK Government to accelerate work to bring high speed rail to Scotland, and is developing a business case for a fast line between Scotland’s two biggest cities.
Speaking ahead his appearance at a rail industry conference, Mr Brown said: “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 the 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”