A study evaluating and increasing benefits Scotland gets from the £50bn HS2 high-speed rail project has been commissioned by the UK Government.
Announced by Transport Minister Baroness Kramer, the study will be compiled by HS2 Ltd, the company responsible for the scheme’s development.
The UK Government together with Transport Scotland expect the study to identify ways to increase rail capacity and cut journey times between northern England and Scotland for both, passengers and freight.
This will include looking to cut travel time from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London to three hours or less.
"Our goal for HS2 is for a truly national network that will bring the UK and its cities closer together,” said Lady Kramer “We are driving forward HS2 because the benefits it will bring are huge. Without it we face a crisis in capacity on our rail network. But it is also about connectivity, across the UK 18 cities including Glasgow and Edinburgh will be better connected because of HS2."
Phase one of the controversial project will see a high-speed line cutting through Tory heartlands in the Chilterns from London to Birmingham with a completion date of 2026.
Then a Y-shaped extension taking in north east and north west England is due to be finished by 2032/33, with the whole scheme costing £42.6bn plus £7.5on for the 225mph, 1,100-passenger trains.
Phase one will see journey times between London and Glasgow/Edinburgh reduced from four hours 48 minutes to four hours, while these times will fall further to three hours 38 minutes when the phase two is up and running.
"The completion of the HS2 Y-network will help boost the Scottish economy by an estimated £3bn,” said Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael. “Employment opportunities in the planning and construction of HS2 could also benefit Scotland's strong engineering base,” he said, adding the country’s tourism will also benefit from the scheme improving connectivity between major Scottish cities and London
Scotland Office, Network Rail and Transport Scotland will generate a list of options. Improvements could include extending high speed lines, making upgrades to existing lines, or a combination of the two.
HS2's final report will be submitted to the Department for Transport next year for ministers to consider.