The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Investment and Cities in Scotland and the UK Transport Minister met in Waverley Station to launch two long awaited reports, one from HS2 Ltd on Anglo-Scottish high-speed rail, the other on the case for high-speed rail between Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Their common aim has settled on what the Scottish Ministers have long sought: a three hour journey time from Edinburgh and Glasgow to London.

HSR - 3hrs to scotland

The High Speed Scotland Summary Report sets out the appraisal of a high speed rail connection between Glasgow and Edinburgh, which emerged from initial feasibility work carried out by Transport Scotland when considering potential options for linking Scotland to the high speed network being developed by HS2 Ltd. The report also takes into account the Broad options for upgraded and high speed railways to the North of England and Scotland study, which outlines findings from the feasibility study of delivering journey times of 3 hours or less between London and Scotland, by looking in to upgrade options to the existing West Coast Main Line (WCML) and East Coast Main Line (ECML), and options for high speed routes extending from HS2 Phase Two.

Keith Brown, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities explained that the aim for three hours or less has to be associated with providing the extra capacity needed, along with the need to achieve resilience and service reliability. The report set out a wide range of options, examining upgrades, bypasses and totally new high-speed lines in each of the east and west coast corridors.

Robert Goodwill, Minister of State at the Department for Transport, welcomed HS2 Ltd’s report noting that it highlighted the benefits to both the North of England and Scotland, showing that 3 hours is possible, and highlighting the potential for a staged implementation strategy.

The report on high-speed rail in the Scottish central belt looked widely at the options to improve connections between Edinburgh and Glasgow – including examining investment in conventional rail and motorways. On its own, high-speed rail between Edinburgh and Glasgow performs poorly in cost:benefit terms, but if added to HS2 Ltd plans – assuming these follow a western corridor (and no decisions have yet been taken on which corridor is preferred) – there is a positive case for east west high-speed rail between the two cities.

See Greengauge 21’s blog post which makes observations about the work ahead on optioneering within Scotland.

The conclusions of the HS2 Ltd work are, in summary:

  • Upgrades (restricted to those achievable within the constraints of Network Rail land ownership) would deliver at best 15 minutes journey time savings and yet would be expensive
  • 125 miles of new line – probably comprising asset of bypasses – would enable a 3 hour journey time to be achieved. Costs are in arrange £17-19bn (western route option)
  • A continuous high-speed route would allow a 2h30 journey time and has costs in the £32 – 34bn range.