Published: 18th September 2015
Journey times of only three hours between central Scotland and London are forecast by the Scottish Government after a deadline was announced for completion of a new report on high-speed rail north of the Border.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Keith Brown MSP announced on 3 September that a study on links for Edinburgh and Glasgow now under way would be complete by the end of 2015.
The study, commissioned by Transport Scotland and the Department for Transport, will supply details on potential route options to Scotland north of HS2. It will report at the end of this year.
Armed with the report, Mr Brown plans to make an announcement in February 2016 on the next steps for his objective of getting Scotland included in a high-speed rail network.
Speaking before his talk on the subject to a Greengauge 21 conference in Glasgow, Mr Brown said: “The Scottish Government has long made the case, with support and strong advocacy from Scotland’s civic and business communities, that we must be fully included in any plans for high-speed rail.
“Effective transport connections are vital in ensuring we allow business to compete and grow, and high-speed rail for Scotland represents a significant advancement in our world-class public transport networks.
“This long-awaited and important study will furnish us with feasible route options and is a welcome development, putting our campaign to bring high-speed rail to Scotland back on the fast track.”
Gareth Williams of the High Speed Rail Scotland partnership, said: “The HSRS partnership believes that the investment case for high-speed rail is strong, but it is even stronger when Scotland is included.
A journey time of less than three hours between both Glasgow and Edinburgh and London is key to delivering the full economic and environmental benefits, including increased availability of slots at London airports for north of Scotland air links.
“A high-speed rail network, better connecting central Scotland and the Northern Powerhouse, and integrated into an improved rail network, can promote knowledge exchange, investment and growth, which strengthens the competitiveness of both and rebalances the economic prosperity of the UK.”
Mr Williams said there had been concern in Scotland about a lack of clarity on the way forward for high-speed rail connections. “So we welcome the announcement today and we will continue to work together in Scotland and with partners across the English regions to develop the strongest possible case for high-speed links.”
Three hours by rail is the cut-off in competition terms between short haul plane travel and long-haul rail travel. Eurostar and the TGV service in France has demonstrated conclusively that city centre to city centre travel in three hours or less will be more attractive to business travellers than a one hour flight but with the hassle of getting to airports and then having to go through security and early checking in times.
Several hours on a train means work can be done plus refreshment taken, not to mention the extra luggage allowance.
So a three hour London to Glasgow or Edinburgh rail service will seriously reduce the amount of flights on competing air routes as it has done with the London to Paris and Brussels markets. This has also been the case in France on their High Speed network over the last 30 years.
Rail.co.uk is indebted to Railway Herald for the interior pictures of the Hitachi IEP train. This could be the shape and design of the high speed services serving the London to Scotland market using HS2 for part of the journey.
The concept of a high speed train using a dedicated high speed route as well as running on a conventional network was proved in 1996/7 when Regional Eurostars operated on the East Coast and West Coast Main Lines under tests which were successfully completed.
Commercial services did not commence as budget airlines arrived on the scene and undercut rail services. The new high speed rail era is now doing the same to airlines!