by Beth Williamson January 26th, 2012
Although the HS2 project in the south of the UK is dividing opinions, the Scottish government is pressing for a firm commitment that the scheme will eventually extend as far north as Glasgow and Edinburgh. As it stands, the first phase of HS2 linking London to Birmingham should be complete by 2026.
A second phase which will see a Y-shaped route take it to Leeds and Manchester is slated for completion by 2033. However, Scottish ministers want a solid guarantee that HS2 will then move north across the border. They say that wishy-washy commitments by the UK government are not good enough.
The Scottish government intends to join with politicians in the north to make sure that Westminster guarantees that the project will go ahead. Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure in the Scottish government, will be addressing Making HS2 Happen in London and said he would be looking for a deadline for when the project will be underway in the north.
Mr Neil said that it would bring significant economic benefits and wants a written commitment to be included in legislation due to come from Westminster. According to the Scottish government, high speed rail will help it meet its climate change obligations and produce £24 billion in economic benefits.
A UK Department for Transport spokesman said that the government wanted high-speed rail to link all of Britain’s major cities eventually and would be discussing the options for Scotland.