By Phil Marsh

HS2 'can benefit Scotland'

Published: 10th November 2015

Ideas for High Speed Scots debated on November 5th

Ideas have come from both sides of the Border on how Scotland could gain from high-speed rail.

Senior politicians from Westminster and Holyrood told an HS2 Supply Chain conference in Edinburgh on 5 November that Scotland stands to benefit from new railway investment.

The conference set out to demonstrate to firms in Scotland that they can bid for more than £10 billion of contracts generated by HS2. Almost 100 companies from around Scotland were represented.

A study due to report by early next year is expected to set out options for linking Scotland to new high-speed tracks further south, including HS2 between the North of England and London. Successful transport infrastructure work in Scotland currently includes the Borders Railway and a new road bridge being built over the Firth of Forth.

They said:

Robert Goodwill, the UK’s Transport Minister for HS2, said that the “ground-breaking” HS2 programme offered the opportunity to create “some of the largest construction contracts in UK construction history”.

He added: “Scotland has a special place in railway history. But it also has a special place in our railway future too.”

Keith Brown MSP, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, said: “Scotland has a reputation for excelling in the delivery of major infrastructure projects and I want to see our businesses and workforce realise the full benefits that HS2 can bring to Scotland. We have the ambition and opportunity to see Scotland benefit from HS2.”

Mr Brown added: “Part of my commitment to seeing the construction of a high-speed rail link to Scotland will be the input of the Scottish supply chain, including architects, project managers and engineers. Not only is it vital that we take advantage of the wealth of talent and skills we have at our disposal now, but that we can also use this opportunity to secure them for future generations.

“Scotland has the skill set and the experience to deliver high-speed rail and I am committed to seeing our industry and engineers at the heart of a high speed rail network built in Scotland to serve Scotland.”

Bryan Buchan, CEO of Scottish Engineering, the support group for the engineering industry in Scotland, said: “Scotland’s strong engineering base, particularly the specialist metal machining sector, puts a large number of Scottish companies in a position to contribute to the supply chain for HS2.”

Mr Buchan added: “Two major players in Scotland, Progress Rail and Network Engineering (part of Babcock International), for example already have specific expertise in railway construction and servicing. The precision machine houses that support the oil and gas industry can also bring the expertise needed to deliver this major engineering project.”

Simon Kirby, Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd, told the conference that high-speed rail is “a huge opportunity” for Scottish companies to develop staff and skills to bid for billions of pounds worth of contracts.

High Speed rail nearly reached Scotland 20 years ago

The Regional Eurostar project saw just one train reach Scotland. It was planned for one train a day to run from Glasgow via Edinburgh and York to Paris by day and one by night. The Eurostar trains were tested and all seemed well in 1997 but the rise of budget airlines killed the long-distance rail market.

Therefore it can be said that one 186mph train has reached Scotland, but only a few people travelled on it, and very few photographs exist!

Current plans for HS2 do not include a link to HS1 and onto Europe. Some say this is a crazy situation. Others disagree!

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