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UK considering London-Glasgow HSR link

Representatives from the British government and the devolved government of Scotland have been in talks discussing the viability of a high speed rail link between London and Glasgow. The line, dubbed High Speed Two by the press (“High Speed One” being the Eurostar to Paris), would reduce rail travel time between the cities to 3 hours and ease congestion on rail, road, and air infrastructure. The costs would be high, but so would the economic benefits. There also seems to be some UK political drama mixed in there as well, considering that the pro-independence Scottish National Party currently heads the government in Scotland.

Pressure groups say the high environmental cost of short-haul air travel, plus the need to link up Scotland and the north of England with the new London Eurostar service requires a “High Speed Two” link down the country.

A feasibility study into a new high-speed line by the consultants Atkins in March concluded that either a west coast or an east coast line – which would cost between £9bn and £12bn – would produce huge economic benefits to the country. A third option – building a £30bn network down both east and west Britain – would bring economic benefits of more than £60bn, it added. The report concluded: “High-speed operation is required to attract sufficient passengers to switch from road and air.”

Only this, it added, would “make construction of a new line economically or financially viable”.

Gordon Brown is under pressure from Labour MPs and MSPs who say that a north-south high-speed line could become a “grand project”, demonstrating the Prime Minister’s support of the Union.

Spain’s bullet trains are also often discussed as being counterbalances to the centrifugal pressures on the country in Catalonia and the Basque regions. So aside from the obvious economic benefits to both Scotland and England, one can see why pro-Unionist politicians would be pushing for this project.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, , , ,

2 Responses

  1. rafael says:

    Actually, Scotland has long been one of the most pro-European regions of the United Kingdom. This dates back centuries, to the days of Mary Stuart. By and large, Scots have always seen Europe as a counterweight to rule by London, even as they oppose certain EU policies. So far, however, the socialist-yet-also-pro-business Scottish National Party has only explicitly advocated a bullet train network within Scotland. See page 11 of this document:

    Click to access SNP_manifesto_2005.pdf

    Perhaps Scots will realize the attraction of High Speed Two isn’t just the rapid connection to Manchester, Birmingham and London. Combined with the existing High Speed One line, it would also a fast ground link to the continent. Considering that the latest TGV and Thalys trains now feature reliable for-fee broadband internet access at 200mph, it won’t be long before Eurostar follows suit. In that context, business travelers to and from Scotland – not to mention their employers – may well prefer a comfortable, punctual five-hour first class train ride to flying, especially to Brussels.

    It is ironic, then, that loyalist and separatists Scots may yet reach violent agreement on the idea of High Speed Two. In addition to economic and ecological benefits, it could actually support *both* of these diametrically opposed notions of Scottish identity.

  2. […] Britain lately. Earlier this month we posted about how the government was considering investing in just one HSR line, but it seems that the country has set its sights even higher. Network Rail, the UK’s […]

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June 2008


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