HS2 could be good for Scotland

HS2 could be good for Scotland

by Jamie Greene
article from Tuesday 17, October, 2017

VARIOUS REPORTS and studies have been underway in order to determine whether a new HS2 is a good idea or not. In 2011, a report from the Westminster Transport Committee found that there was a good case for a new HS2 line. High speed rail will not only improve our rail capacity and connectivity but also bring in a wide range of community benefits, improve regional connectivity and drive global competitiveness. The economic impacts of high speed rail could also be wide ranging. Not only could the programme for high speed rail help to create jobs but also, by improving connectivity with other regions, dramatically increase revenue generated through tourism and business.

High speed rail will help Scotland’s transport industry to be ready for the future. Scotland’s rail network is fast approaching its capacity and high speed rail will not only meet the mobility and connectivity needs of future generations but also the environmental goals. The International Union of Railways maintains that high speed rail will play a key role in sustainable development and combating climate change. It will take away the reliance on short distance air-travel, as travel times will be competitive, therefore reducing congestion on the busiest commuter routes and reducing the number of HGVs carrying goods on busier routes.

Worldwide the benefits of high speed rail are abundantly clear. In Japan, the USA, China and throughout Europe high speed rail has helped to encourage development, investment, employment, connectivity and tourism.

Here in the UK, HS1 has just celebrated its 10th birthday and studies show that, since domestic services began on the line in 2009, it has attracted a minimum of £3.8 billion in economic and social benefits. A report found that Kent in particular is now recognised as one of ‘Europe’s top tourism destinations’, why should that not be the case for a Scottish city?

Findings have shown that a Glasgow to Edinburgh high speed rail link would help to improve the accessibility of Glasgow and Edinburgh from the north of Scotland. Inverness is not only one of the fastest growing cities in Britain, but in Europe too, yet it takes almost three and a half hours to reach the capital by train. High speed rail is therefore a necessity in order to ensure we allow our growing cities to flourish and maintain a competitive advantage by ensure progress remains positive.

I am committed to keeping our transport industry moving forward and believe that every effort for progress should be made to keep abreast of progress. I am therefore keen to work with the UK government to ensure that it is not just England that benefits from a new HS2 line, but that the project extends into Scotland too, to ensure we remain connected and competitive. The issue is not just one of improving transport and infrastructure, but also ensuring that we are ready for the future and keeping up with our European and global counter-parts. A direct high-speed connection has opened up huge economic potential for our European partners.

The high-speed link between Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam for example, allows consumers to easily travel between and access the markets of three major European capitals cities on a single line. The fact that tourists can travel from the Netherlands to France in just three hours has opened up businesses to a much larger pool of consumers.

So let’s adopt a high-speed vision for Scotland and start exploiting that potential growth for ourselves.

Jamie Greene is a Conservative & Unionist member of the Scottish Parliament for West Scotland and Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure

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