HS2 deal will slash Scotland-London train times to three hours

The scheme would be used by new 225mph trains to and from south of the Border
The scheme would be used by new 225mph trains to and from south of the Border
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A high-speed rail deal has been struck to cut Scotland to London journey times below three hours, ministers will announce tomorrow.

The Scottish and UK governments have agreed to track upgrades or new stretches of line to slice one quarter off the current-fastest four-hour journeys from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

A range of options to achieve this will be published following the completion of a long-delayed joint study, non-governmental sources said.

It will be accompanied by a separate Scottish Government report into a planned Edinburgh-Glasgow high-speed line.

The scheme – which the Liberal Democrats claimed had been ditched – would be used by new 225mph trains to and from the south.

Options in the cross-Border report are likely to range from fully extending the HS2 line from northern England, to upgrades of the east and/or west coast main lines.

However, HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins has said a new line would be “ambitious” and upgrading existing routes was “more realistic”.

The report was commissioned at the end of 2013 and was due to have been completed a year later.

It followed lobbying by Scottish ministers for Scotland to be included in the high-speed rail network after the UK Government announced in 2011 that HS2 would run from London only as far as Manchester and Leeds. Scottish trips would be cut to three hours 38 minutes.

Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown today described the publication of the joint Scottish-UK governments’ study as the end of a “long and tortuous process”.

Writing exclusively in Scotland on Sunday, he said: “That report is published tomorrow, setting the wheels in motion for high-speed rail in Scotland – necessary to get down to that three-hour journey that the UK government have now agreed on.”

Iain Docherty, professor of public policy and governance at Glasgow University, said: “We’ll need to see the options to ensure they are well-designed and properly future-proofed, such as in terms of capacity.”