London Rule Puts Scotland On Slow Train To Europe

11 March 2010
SNP Member of the European parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) written to UK Transport Secretary Lord Adonis calling on him to reverse his decision to leave Scotland off the proposed High Speed Rail map, and pledged his support in identifying EU funding to build high speed links to Scotland as part of the Trans European Networks.

The MEP was responding to the decision published today to extend the proposed high speed line from the Channel Tunnel, but only as far as Birmingham with everything thereafter a mere "aspiration". Smith has backed calls from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to revisit the decision given the estimated 7 billion economic development the line could bring to Scotland.

Smith said:

"This decision is just wrong headed. If one is serious about cutting carbon emissions then you extend the line to where people actually fly from at present. Who flies from Birmingham to London? The line should clearly go to Scotland and play a real part not just in interconnecting the EU, but cutting the need for air travel. I already travel by train in preference to flying if I am heading to London, but UK trains are more like cattle trucks compared to continental trains precisely because of this lack of investment and leadership.

"This is all the sadder given that there is plenty of EU cash available to assist in building precisely this sort of 'European significance' project, and the UK has a poor record in being standoffish in bidding for support when our continental colleagues and Celtic cousins the Irish are all over the budgets. I am more than happy to work with the UK authorities to identify and bid for support, and if the UK authorities will commit to working with the Scottish government in joining us to the European mainstream then I'll work with them 100%.

"I fear it may be a forlorn hope however, and that the real priorities of this London government are showing, with the Tories having likewise ignored Scotland in their vague proposals last year. It is manifestly in the interests not just of Scotland, but Northern England as well and all points South, that a HSR link to the Channel Tunnel be established without delay. There will be plenty of support in Brussels for this move and today's decisionis a massive missed opportunity."