The extension of the high speed rail project to Scotland could be ditched if the country becomes independent, it has been claimed.
A third phase has been earmarked for the controversial High Speed Two (HS2) scheme from either Leeds or Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
But this would add billions more to the £40 billion scheme which will see a phase 1 link from London to Birmingham. It would then split from there to both Manchester and Leeds in phase 2, before possibly coming north to Scotland.
If phase 3 goes ahead, it would take more than an hour off journeys between London and Edinburgh or Glasgow.
However, an unnamed UK Cabinet minister was yesterday reported to have said that an extra link was almost inconceivable in the event of a Yes vote for independence in September.
The source said: “The high-speed railway is a substantial public investment and it’s difficult to see how that investment would be justified from south of the Border.”
However, a spokesman for Scotland’s transport minister, Keith Brown, said: “This is exactly the kind of high-handed, arrogant, patronising attitude from Westminster that is driving so many people across Scotland to the Yes campaign and towards a Yes vote in September,” the spokesman said.