The High Speed Rail Group (HSRG) has made a submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review, in which they call on the UK government to commit to funding a deliverability project to explore how best to connect Scotland to HS2, cutting journey times to just over three hours and slashing emissions.
HSRG makes the case that improved connectivity between England and Scotland not only makes economic sense, giving an economic boost to the north of England and Scotland and linking economies and geographies further, but will help achieve net zero targets by reducing demand for carbon-heavy short haul flights, paving the way for the Scottish government’s 2045 target and UK government’s 2050 target respectively.
The submission follows HSRG’s report High-Speed Rail and Scotland, published earlier this summer, which set out how through a mixture of new high speed lines and the upgrading of existing lines, joining the route to Scotland would enhance connectivity by cutting travel time between London and Scotland to just over three hours.
The HSRG says that the work to date on Anglo-Scottish high speed rail needs to be harnessed to progress and move plans to the next stage. They are asking for an assessment to be made of the work that has taken place across Department for Transport, Transport Scotland, National Infrastructure Commission and National Rail, to see now how the identified improvements can be delivered as a matter of high national priority. An industry benchmark for the cost of this type of development work, they say, would be in the region of £4.5m to £6m.
The HSRG also claim that such a programme would help to underpin the government’s ‘Project Speed’ approach whilst also helping improve delivery structures, one of the key goals of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
A HSRG spokesperson said: “The deliverability project proposed by HSRG will provide a pathway ahead for the critical infrastructure needed to improve Scottish and city economies in the north and make good on progress regarding decarbonising transport, particularly the more difficult area of long distance travel and freight.
“In time, a new high speed rail network, fully integrated into an enhanced national rail network, should connect all the regions, major cities, and nations of the UK to help bring the country back together – bringing with it significant economic and environmental benefits. As such the UK government must consider this an essential programme of work as we seek to build back better in the Covid-19 recovery.”