SNP urged to work with UK Government on transport improvements following Union Connectivity Review
Scottish ministers have been urged to work closer with the UK Government on transport improvements following the publication of the Union Connectivity Review.
Sir Peter Hendy’s final report on improving local and national transport networks will be published on Friday, and calls for the Scottish Government to engage with its recommendations.
The proposals for Scotland include upgrades to the West Coast Main Line, increasing capacity and cutting journey times between Scotland and London, the Midlands and North West England, which are key for both communities and businesses.
Another recommendation is for the UK and Scottish governments to work together on developing an assessment of the East Coast road and rail transport corridor from North East England to South East Scotland, including improvements on the East Coast Main Line and the A1.
It also includes offering the Scottish Government new funding to support the upgrade of the A75 to make journeys between Northern Ireland and Great Britain quicker and easier.
The Prime Minister said: “With some of the busiest travel corridors for both passengers and freight, strengthening transport connections between Scotland and the rest of the UK is critical to maximise the potential for growth and jobs.
“Sir Peter Hendy’s review identifies key areas where we can boost rail, road and air links to better support Scottish businesses and communities, and we will work closely with the Scottish Government to take these proposals forward in ways that will bring our towns and cities even closer together.”
The review also encourages the Scottish Government to improve the A77 to support journeys between Belfast, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.
Launched in October last year, the review was focused on the quality and availability of transport infrastructure across the UK.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack welcomed the report and called for the Scottish Government to now help deliver its recommendations.
He said: "Our task is now to turn the vision into real improvements.
“I urge the Scottish Government to work with us to make that happen, so we can deliver the benefits travellers want and businesses need."
The Scottish Government has previously argued transport was devolved to Holyrood and labelled the review a “power grab”.
Urging them to change their mind, a UK Government source suggested it was about delivering for the public.
The source said: “It’s regrettable that the Scottish Government have refused to engage with the transport review up to now, but hopefully the publication of this report can mark a change of heart.
“Everyone will see we need to work together to deliver much needed improvements.”
The report was also praised by UK transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Andy Bagnall, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Improvements to cross-border rail services are a vote of confidence in the role train travel will play as a quick, easy and green way to get around the country.
“To maximise the benefits of the proposed improvements and get more people taking the train to travel across Britain, government should make long-distance rail fares simpler and limit the APD [air passenger duty] cut to routes where a journey cannot be made by train in less than five hours.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Transport is devolved to Holyrood and the UK Government should respect that.
"We will always seek to engage constructively with the UK Government – for example, on cross border rail and our shared desire for HS2 to serve Scotland, but UK ministers have no role in deciding investment in Scotland’s trunk roads.
"Scottish ministers have not been sighted on the recommendations of the Union Connectivity report.
"However, if UK ministers really want to play a helpful role, then they could simply deliver the funding we need for such infrastructure investment in line with established budgetary mechanisms for Scotland to determine our spending priorities.”
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.