THE SNP government’s plans for high speed train link between Edinburgh and Glasgow have been shelved until the cross-Border HS2 route has been finalised, it emerged yesterday.
Transport minister Derek Mackay has admitted the high-profile project has been put on hold, despite the Scottish Government originally claiming that the link between Scotland’s two largest cities would be in place ten years before HS2.
In November 2012, Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would “not wait” for Westminster to deliver a cross-Border high-speed line.
But yesterday in an answer to a Holyrood written question, Mr Mackay said it was “not possible to progress planning” until a cross-Border link with England is identified.
His admission came in response to a question tabled by the Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott.
In his answer, Mr Mackay said: “A draft business case considering a high speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow was submitted as advice to ministers in 2014.
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“It was clear from this work that what high speed rail is built in Scotland depends on the high speed route coming up from the south. Therefore it is not possible to progress planning for a high speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow any further until a cross-Border high speed route is identified.”
The transport minister went on to say that the Scottish Government was working with UK ministers and HS2 Ltd to identify options for extending the cross-Border high speed service into Scotland and the north of England.
He said work on that was due to be completed early this year.
Mr Mackay’s answer angered Mr Scott, who said: “Three years ago the First Minister said there would be full steam ahead on this project. There was a grand ceremony in Glasgow addressed by two Cabinet ministers.
“What’s happened since is that the SNP have shelved the project but hoped nobody would notice.
“The SNP’s about-turn on their plans for this route shows a lack of respect for people in the two cities. They conned everyone into thinking that they would build this bullet railway from a blank page.
“They could never tell us where the terminus was in either city or the route it would take. These plans have been kept secret. And now they have tried to keep their cancellation secret.”