The Coalition Government is under fire after Conservative Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced that plans for taking high speed rail north of Birmingham will only go as far as Manchester and Leeds, and not Scotland.
Speaking at the Conservative conference today, Mr Hammond said: “I can announce today that the Government’s preferred option for High Speed Rail north of Birmingham will be for two separate corridors. One direct to Manchester, and then connecting on to the West Coast Mainline, and the other via the East Midlands and South Yorkshire – with stations in both areas – before connecting to the East Coast Mainline north of Leeds. The so-called ‘Y’ option.”
The SNP’s Westminster Business and Enterprise spokesperson Mike Weir labelled the decision a ‘snub’ for Scotland and claimed that the Tories were “reverting to type”.
Mr Weir said:
“Scotland has been snubbed again by the Tories, just treated as some backward branch line. It seems we are front of the queue for cuts, but way at the back when it comes to investment from this ConDem coalition.
“If the coalition were serious about building a high speed rail network that changes the social and economic geography of the UK and connects our population centres, then Scotland must be in the first phase of this project. It is extremely disappointing to say the least that the Tories are reverting to type with this snub, which simply underlines the fact that the Conservatives never have Scotland’s best interests at heart.
“The Tories and LibDems must say why Scotland has been overlooked for investment in high speed rail.”
The plan, originally proposed by the previous Labour government in March, was for a single line to the north of England. However the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government abandoned the single line option in favour of a twin-route network that will cost an additional £800 million.
The more expensive ‘Y’-shaped route will cost an initial £11.2 billion pounds to build and comes as the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition are trying to slash the record £156 billion budget deficit left behind by Labour.
The new line will eventually have links to Heathrow Airport and the High Speed 1 line to the Channel Tunnel, taking the total cost to £33 billion, £3 billion more than the Labour plan.