UK Government scraps key HS2 link for Scotland
The UK Government has scrapped plans for the High Speed Rail link between Scotland and the north-west of England.
Ministers will remove the Golborne Link – which would have connected HS2 to the West Coast mainline – from the High Speed Rail Bill.
But the Department for Transport said it would “explore alternatives” for delivering high speed rail to Scotland.
Dubbing the decision “sleekit”, the SNP said the announcement had been made in the aftermath of the vote of confidence in Boris Johnson “knowing full well it would fall off the radar”.
The announcement follows the Union Connectivity review which said the Golborne Link would not resolve current capacity constraints on the West Coast mainline.
The £96 billion earmarked for the project will instead be redeployed as part of the integrated rail plan, the government said.
HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said: “HS2 is a once-in-a-lifetime project that will transform travel across the entire UK as we know it and serve millions of people for hundreds of years to come and it’s absolutely vital that we get this right from the outset.
“Removing this link is about ensuring that we’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to working with our Scottish counterparts to find a solution that will best serve the great people of Scotland.”
But SNP transport spokesperson Gavin Newlands described the announcement as “despicable”.
He said: “The original investment would have drastically improved Scotland’s rail links with the north-west of England, but yet again this Westminster government is tearing it apart.
“Whether it’s promising to improve rail links in Scotland, building a multi-billion-pound bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland, or investing £1 billion in carbon capture in the north-east – nothing that comes out of Boris Johnson’s mouth can be trusted.”
Scottish Labour also criticised the decision. Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “Scrapping the link between the north-west of England and Glasgow without any alternative plan is yet another nail in the coffin for faster journey times to Scotland.
“We have the opportunity to create an economic counterweight to London and the south-east by linking the north of England and Scotland, but this Tory government are totally out of ideas. It’s not levelling up but levelling down.”