Broadcast on 1st Nov 2013 on VoR.
Consultation began on Friday on the economic benefits of extending the high speed rail network HS2 to Scotland. The UK transport minister Baroness Kramer said the rail links would“bring the UK together” and that “Scotland would benefit from day one.”
But critics say that HS2 is a political “vanity project” which is too London-focused.
Nima Green reports for VoR.
HS2 may become one of Britain’s biggest infrastructure projects in decades, and taxpayers on both sides of the border will have to cough up in excess of £50 billion for it.
But who will benefit?
The UK government have announced a new study with the Scottish Government to investigate how to increase the benefits to Scotland of the high speed rail link.
With the mounting criticism against the beleaguered policy, the UK Government is desperate to shore up more support for project.
Garry Clark, is Head of Policy at the Scottish Chamber of Commerce.
He says that in Scotland, many businesses are equally as keen to see HS2 become a reality.
“Currently we are fairly heavily reliant on air travel for access, particularly to London. Something like six out of every seven passenger journeys between central Scotland and London are currently made by air.
“Rail is a far more reliable form of travel but currently it doesn’t have the capacity. It’s been estimated that the economic benefits of building high speed rail to Scotland are in excess of £20 billion and that’s really a prize well worth fighting for.”
However, critics are sceptical of the government’s projected figures of just how much HS2 will cost.
One Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, called the government’s 5th revision of HS2 “the biggest work of fiction since Enid Blyton.”