High speed rail can be delivered by ‘northern accord’
The Scottish Government and bodies in the north of England should work together to ensure the high speed rail link between the two and Europe becomes a reality rather than a “hope left high and dry by Westminster”.
In a speech to the North East Economic forum in Newcastle tonight the First Minister told a gathering of business people, academics and officials that not all roads – or railways – lead to London.
“The current proposals for high speed rail are promoted as being for a ‘UK network’ – but we know it is no such thing. Neither Edinburgh nor Newcastle, Glasgow nor Liverpool feature in the Department for Transport’s proposals for this link and it is clear there is no urgency from the South East to recognise this gaping need.
“Scotland and the North East have strong economies which could be stronger with better links to each other and a well developed, efficient and resilient rail network provides our businesses with the certainty they need to invest, and supports the strong bonds we have.
“Which is why we need an urgent review of the current high speed rail plans to ensure it can be delivered faster - and beyond Birmingham.”
The Scottish Government’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Transport Minister Keith Brown have been attending a two-day conference ‘Faster and further: a shared agenda for high speed rail’ in Glasgow this week.
The First Minister told the audience that the Scottish Government’s Fast Track Scotland document setting out Scotland’s case for inclusion in a UK-wide high speed rail network at the end of last year drew support from business leaders from across England, including Newcastle and the North East.
“Our nation and region want and deserve better connectivity, better trading and cultural links with Scotland, and with each other. We need to develop those links further, which is why I am inviting the North East Economic Forum to work with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland on our ambitions for high speed rail: to urge high speed rail be delivered in the north as soon as possible and ensure we are linked jointly for our economic benefit.”
Mr Salmond also urged the UK’s cities and regions to have less direct reliance on London, and provide a more balanced and resilient economy.
“We all recognise that competitiveness of places – be it in Scotland, or in the North East – depends on investment in infrastructure, and investment in connectivity. That is why it is critical that we do not allow our needs to be shelved in favour of a south-centric project which will leave the north of these islands cut off from the rest of Europe.
“It is vital that by working in partnership we all support the development of a high speed rail network for Britain, which is delivered faster and reaches further, so that all can share its benefits and all can contribute to its success.”
High speed rail in Scotland
Fast Track Scotland consultation