INFRASTRUCTURE secretary Keith Brown told MSPs that Scotland’s “Victorian” rail infrastructure is in urgent need of a high-speed train service, as he blamed decades of under investment by previous administrations.
Mr Brown hailed the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) which is designed to bring the rail journey down to 37 minutes, as he said £1.5 billion of flagship projects to build schools, colleges, hospitals and deliver transport improvements would be completed this year.
He also called on the UK government to invest further in Scottish infrastructure in order to boost the economy, during yesterday’s Holyrood debate on infrastructure.
Mr Brown challenged the other parties to say whether they support high-speed rail coming to Scotland, to which he insisted the Scottish government was committed.
Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown, criticising the SNP’s record on rail, insisted the railway north of the Central Belt is “in dire need of investment”, pointing out that it takes longer to get from Edinburgh to Dundee than it did in 1895.
Labour infrastructure spokeswoman Mary Fee said: “I can confirm that I support high-speed rail coming to Scotland.” And Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said he was “committed to high-speed rail and bringing it to Scotland”.
The infrastructure secretary said Scotland’s railways had been starved of investment for decades, as he claimed the UK government had failed to support it.
He said: “It is certainly important that we bear down on journey times right across the rail network, and I think we have done that in many cases.
“If you look, for example, at EGIP the result will be a 37-minute journey time which is competitive with car journeys.
“But I would say that the rail infrastructure that we are dealing with is Victorian and has not had the investment it should have had over previous decades.
“The current [UK] Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin came to Scotland some time ago and said the problem in Scotland is that the transport infrastructure has not been invested in for decades.”
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