High-speed rail

Bill Jamieson (Business, 6 December) raises a number of issues which require an answer. I am happy to do so, and I am confident the Scottish Government has been robust in its approach to considering the benefits of high-speed rail to Scotland, and the rest of the UK.

It will fall to the Scottish ministers to take forward discussions on funding for high-speed rail, and we will work with the UK government to refine likely costs to Scotland. In any case, a UK infrastructure project on this scale, with network investment in excess of £40 billion, will bring financial consequentials for Scotland. The article does not take into account the many ways in which capital could be raised for this project – from European Union funding, from bonds or developer contributions. Mr Jamieson’s article asks if the economic case for high-speed rail to Scotland stacks up, and if there is evidence for its efficacy. We say yes, and yes.

I am about to launch Fast Track Scotland, Scotland’s case for high-speed rail connections with the rest of the UK. It clearly demonstrates the economic and environmental benefits of including Scotland in a UK-wide high-speed rail network. It provides a robust analysis of the benefits and costs of high speed to Scotland. It concludes that there is a strong financial case for investment in new lines.

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I am launching the document, but I have not directed its content. That task has been undertaken by the Scottish Partnership Group for high-speed rail, which I formed in June of this year.

That group comprises CBI Scotland, the Glasgow and Edinburgh councils, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Transform Scotland, our Regional Transport Partnerships, STUC, SCDI, and others. I am grateful to them for bringing their expertise to the development of “Fast Track Scotland”.

Keith Brown

Transport minister