MEP Condemns 'UK' High Speed Rail Network

11 March 2011

Alyn Smith MEP has today (Friday) written to UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, expressing his disappointment that the proposed High Speed Rail Network would fail to reach Scotland and suggesting that the UK government could access EU funding for a more appropriate rail line linking Scotland, through England, with the European mainland through the Channel Tunnel.

Mr Hammond contacted all MEPs, inviting them to respond to the government's strategy in a consultation titled: High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future, which sets out the case for the network, the details of the government's strategy, and the proposed route for an initial phase from London to the West Midlands.

Smith said:

"With the amount of flights between Scotland and London, there is a massive environmental incentive for including Scotland; the top destinations for flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports are Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick and Luton. There simply is not the same scope for modal shift from the English Midlands, and any line from Scotland will, of course, cover the length of England given we'll always pass through there on our way south.

"The benefits would also be economic ones as the ability to travel between Scotland and London in as little as three hours would be significant to Scottish communities and Scottish business. The other European countries have proper train investment and proper train services, this document shows that the UK is still lagging behind in ambition. Clearly, we want to see Scotland independent, but trains cross the EU's borders every day, and our trains are still going to cross the border and we'll still access the European mainland through the Channel Tunnel. I want to see proper European trains making that journey."