8 December 2009
Scotland 'essential' for high speed rail bid
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today called for all political parties to commit to a high speed rail network including both Edinburgh and Glasgow and warned that a spur to Scotland was ‘essential’ for the business and environmental case of the project.
Speaking in a debate in Westminster today, Mr Barrett called for Labour, Conservatives and the SNP to commit to a high speed rail network from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Liberal Democrat’s were the first party to have made a fully-costed commitment to a high speed network connecting the major cities in the UK.
Glasgow and Edinburgh are part of ‘High Speed Rail UK’, a grouping of 11 major UK cities who have joined together to call for the development of a high speed rail network.
A recent report by Network Rail found that the benefits of high speed rail would only be fully realised if the central belt was included in the network.
John Barrett said:
“A high speed rail link would be good for the environment, good for the economy and good for passengers. However, the only way to fully realise these benefits is for Glasgow and Edinburgh to be included in any future high speed rail network.
“The key to the environmental case is tempting passengers from air to rail from central Scotland to London. A high speed line would cut this journey to around two and a half hours from city centre to city centre. As someone who travels from Edinburgh to London every week I know that airlines cannot compete with this figure.
“At a time of economic recession when we are losing jobs in other sectors, this is an excellent opportunity to commit to a long-term project that will create jobs and build new industries up and down the country.
“Ahead of next years general election, now is the perfect time for all parties to commit to a high speed rail network that includes Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“It is vital that central Scotland is connected to high speed network serving both cities rather than have the two cities competing with one another.
“The fact that major cities across the UK are working together to secure a high speed link shows what a boost it would be to all regions of the country. I will be challenging other parties to make clear their commitment to high speed rail.”