It may have been 6 years since Fast Track Scotland was published (which set out the case for Scotland’s inclusion in a UK wide high speed rail network) but the momentum to drive forward this vision is still going strong. Thanks to a tight operational relationship with colleagues from DfT and Network Rail, 2017 was a whistle-stop year for High Speed Rail Policy at Transport Scotland (TS), and we are shaping up for more of the same in 2018 with a productive January already under our belts.
Publication of the ‘Broad Options study’ (2015) and subsequent joint Ministerial announcement in March 2016 paved the way for Transport Scotland and the Department for Transport, by means of a dedicated ‘North of HS2 to Scotland’ Working Group, to get started on the practical task of exploring and assessing a plethora of network upgrades on the east and west coast lines which could improve journey times, capacity and resilience between central Scotland and London, as per the joint announcement. By late 2017 the First Minister was in a position to announce, to an audience of business leaders at the North East England Chambers of Commerce in Newcastle, that a Feasibility Study into two of the potentially better performing options (on the West Coast – Carstairs to Rutherglen, and on the East Coast – Newcastle to Dunbar) would be undertaken to understand cost, benefits, environmental impacts and technical considerations for work in Scotland. Watch this space as the piece of work gets underway.
More recently, we have been engaged in a variety of HSR focused activities, including: hosting Sir David Higgins, developing and issuing the tender for the feasibility work, speaking with HS2 rolling stock bidders, discussing proposals with West Coast Partnership bidders and holding the first High Speed Rail Scotland Stakeholder group meeting of 2018, where the group were joined by Jim Morgan from DfT to discuss HS2 north to Scotland. All in all, an active start to the year that continues to drive forward the agenda for High Speed Rail north of HS2 to Scotland.
Transport Scotland is an Associate Member of HSRIL
The High Speed Rail Scotland Team can be contacted on 0141 272 7589