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[ 28-01-2013 ]

Commenting on the publication of the details of the proposed extension of a UK High Speed Rail network to Manchester and Leeds, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 
“The that news plans for the second phase of the UK’s High Speed Rail network have moved forward to a new milestone are very welcome but this is far from the end of the journey in terms of securing Scotland’s future inclusion in a truly UK wide network.  Whilst marginal benefits will accrue to Scotland in terms of slightly shorter journey times if the ‘Y’ network is completed on schedule in 2033, the fact remains that the Department for Transport’s own figures show that central Edinburgh to central London journeys will still be quicker by air than by rail two decades from now.
“Against a background of pressure on Scottish air links to London from capacity issues at Heathrow and the fact that HS2 will deliver significant connectivity benefits for English cities, this could lead to Scotland becoming even more marginalised in relative terms.  By 2033, Manchester to London journey times could be reduced by 47%, whereas Glasgow-London times would only fall by around 12%, meaning that the benefits of High Speed Rail in the absence of a true UK network disproportionately favour English cities.  In addition, even the section of the UK Government’s new HS2 command paper which deals with Scotland hints that a full High Speed Rail in the future is far from being a done deal.
“High Speed Rail has the potential to be transformational in terms of connectivity and the economic success which that brings but current plans are leaving Scotland on the margins and we are looking for more from the UK and Scottish Governments in terms of their commitment to ensure that Scotland shares in the future benefits of this scheme.”