High speed rail link plans between Edinburgh and Glasgow unveiled

It is hoped that the high speed link will reduce the journey time to less than half an hour
It is hoped that the high speed link will reduce the journey time to less than half an hour
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Plans for a high speed rail link between Glasgow and Edinburgh which would cut journey times to less 30 minutes have been announced unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon.

• SNP ‘won’t wait for Westminster’ to bring high speed rail

• Aims to eventually connect with English high speed network

The Scottish Government aims to have the route operating within 12 years which is at least a decade ahead of the current proposals UK-wide plans to extend High Speed 2 (HS2) upgrade north of the border.

Ms Sturgeon announced the plans as she prepared to head up a delegation of politicians and rail industry experts from throughout Britain and Europe calling on the Westminster government to involve the whole country in HS2 from the outset. National transport agency Transport Scotland has been investigating how quickly it would be possible to establish such a link between Scotland’s two biggest cities.

“We now know that within just 12 years, we could build a line which will see journey times between our two major cities cut to less than half an hour,” Ms Sturgeon said in Glasgow yesterday.

“That will benefit our businesses, our jobs market and also our tourism industry. And it will put us up there with the world’s greatest transport networks.

“We will not wait for Westminster to bring high speed rail to us. We have already made moves towards seeing a high speed line in Scotland and the evidence is now in place that this is feasible long before the HS2 proposals.”

The current UK plans for high speed rail will see a London-Birmingham route completed by 2026 after being given the green light by UK ministers at the start of this year. But it will be several years later before the line is extended up to Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon added: “The Scottish Government will now enter into talks with our partners in both cities and the rail industry to see how we can work together to see this vision realised – a Glasgow-Edinburgh high speed line which can connect to the network from England.”

The Department for Transport has so far only revealed plans that would see the new high speed line go from London to Birmingham and then Manchester and Leeds by 2033, although Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin has agreed to continue talks to involve Scotland at some stage. Transport Minister Keith Brown will meet him in the coming weeks to agree a shared approach going forward.

The Fast Track Scotland report was produced last year and found that a high speed line from London would benefit Scotland to the tune of around £24.8billion. The document also found that almost three quarters of Scottish businesses believe high speed rail would attract new investment to Scotland.

A two-day conference is taking place in Glasgow this week bringing together representatives from across the political spectrum, commerce, industry and academia to discuss the benefits of extending the HS2 line beyond the current plans.

Speakers will include Ms Sturgeon, Transport Minister Keith Brown and Westminster Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker.