Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil has announced the Scottish Government plans to invest up to £9 billion to link Scotland to the UK high speed rail link as part of plans for major capital projects being earmarked over the next twenty years.
Phase 1 of the UK Government’s proposed high speed rail plan would connect London to Birmingham, Phase 2 going as far up as Manchester and Leeds – a possible Phase 3 connecting to Edinburgh and Glasgow has not up until now materialised.
The £9 billion rail link is part of a spending package worth up to £60 billion that will mean substantial investment in Scotland’s rail network and the dualling of road network between all of Scotland’s cities.
Scottish business leaders and politicians are strongly in favour of the UK Government’s proposed high speed rail link coming to Scotland. As yet though, UK government ministers have been largely non-committal about providing finance for linking the line to Edinburgh and Glasgow. The announcement by the Scottish Government of a willingness to fund the Scottish end will put pressure on London commit the English line further north.
Mr Neil said: “Improvements in our rail network will provide both benefits to travellers, and a long term boost for our economy. Inclusion of high speed rail highlights our commitment to the Scottish end of the project, we now need Westminster to act and include Scotland in their plans.”
A government spokesman said: “We have long been pressing the case that it is vital for a high speed rail network be established across Britain. We are ready to start preparatory work and we have already asked the Secretary of State for Transport that the remit of HS2 Ltd is extended to include detailed planning for routes to, and within, Scotland.”
Also included in today’s infrastructure investment programme, are the £1.6bn cost of the new Forth crossing and £1.1bn for the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail improvements.
Other projects across the country include: the next generation broadband and improvement to the road infrastructure which will see all Scotland’s cities linked by dual carriageway by 2025.
Also, there is the £43.6 million for the new Royal Vicoria Hospital, due to open next year. The re-siting of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and the Department for Clinical Neurosciences to Little France is listed at £225m.
Mr Neil said: “Investing in our infrastructure is absolutely vital to grow our economy. That is why today’s Infrastructure Investment Plan demonstrates exactly how, when and what we will invest in to deliver that goal, bringing substantial benefits for all of Scotland.
“Improvements to hospitals, roads and rail across the Lothians will enhance local communities. These projects will make a real difference economically – driving growth, supporting jobs and delivering a lasting legacy for generations to come.
“Across Scotland we have more than 50 key infrastructure projects, covering a wide spread of Scotland geographically, which will equip Scotland with the infrastructure necessary for the future growth.”