High Speed Rail
Talks will begin immediately to bring high speed rail to Scotland after Transport Minister Keith Brown met with his Westminster counterpart.
Mr Brown was disappointed yesterday to hear Westminster Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening announce that the first phase of the new line would go only as far as Birmingham.
But in a short-notice meeting with Minister Mike Penning from the Department for Transport and rail stakeholders in Glasgow this morning, Mr Brown won a concession for discussions to begin right away between the HS2 delivery company and the Scottish Government on how to bring the service to Scotland.
Mr Brown said:
"Mike Penning has agreed that HS2 will engage with the Scottish Government with immediate effect on plans for a line beyond Birmingham.
"This is good news, following the disappointment yesterday of Justine Greening's apparent snub to Scotland during her announcement.
"The growing constraints of the West Coast Main Line can not be allowed to strangle services to Scotland.
"The Fast Track Scotland group I formed last year to champion high speed rail stated unequivocally that the case for this service is strong, but stronger still when Scotland is involved from the beginning.
"In our meeting, Mr Penning accepted that this is the case and agreed there needs to be a route north beyond the currently planned Y-shape line which will run to Birmingham and Manchester and Leeds.
"He also agreed that we have to ensure best value for money out of every penny spent and agreed that this must include Scotland.
"Aside from this - and notwithstanding any plans to extend line north - Scotland must benefit from any Barnett consequentials stemming from spending on HS2 down south.
"Scotland cannot afford to wait until these lines are underway to become involved in the talks. We need to make sure there is a detailed timetable in place for the scheme in Scotland - the current timetable of delivery long after 2033 is simply not soon enough.
"I am happy to be able to announce that, as a result of the agreement reached during the meeting, discussions will get underway to discuss the detail around the planning of the route beyond Birmingham much sooner than would otherwise have been the case and I have committed to continuing to campaign to ensure all the benefits of HS2 are fully realised in Scotland."
Justine Greening has agreed to visit Scotland in the coming weeks.
The Barnett Formula ensures correct population-based balance of expenditure to Scotland by the Treasury.