Work begins on ‘three-hour trains to London’

The UK and Scottish governments have agreed to carry out further work aiming to cut train journeys between London and the Central Belt of Scotland to three hours or less within a few years.

A report by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd — the company responsible for developing the UK’s new high speed rail network — jointly commissioned by the governments, considers various options including upgrades or new routes to deliver the three-hour journey time.

Work is now planned to be carried out in 2017 to identify options “with the best business case for implementation from 2019 onwards.”

Scottish government Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said: “High speed rail will bring billions of pounds worth of benefit to Scotland’s economy and an infrastructure project of this magnitude — possibly the biggest Scotland’s ever seen — means jobs, investment, benefits for the economy and benefits for the environment.

“This plan will bring to life our target of three hours or less Glasgow and Edinburgh to London train journeys, which will lead to a significant move from air to rail, bringing big reductions in carbon emissions.”

UK government HS2 Minister Robert Goodwill said: “Scotland will benefit from HS2 from the day it opens, with shorter journey times to London from the start …

“Together with the Scottish government, we will be asking Network Rail to identify any options with a strong business case, for consideration for inclusion in future plans.”

Options set out in the study, which was commissioned by Transport Scotland and UK’s Department for Transport, address the severe capacity constraints on the main east and west coast routes between Scotland and England.

Brown added: “We can’t afford not to build high speed rail. Doing nothing is not an option.

“The main routes between Scotland and England are at capacity and the necessary improvements to address the capacity constraints on these existing routes would be substantial.

“High speed rail is as much about new rail capacity as it is about speed.

“There is a real danger that Scotland’s rail connectivity will be strangled without that additional capacity built into the system.”

Read the HS2 Ltd report here: Broad options for upgraded and high speed railways to the North of England and Scotland