The Chair of Nestrans, the statutory Regional Transport Partnership for the North East of Scotland, has welcomed today’s announcement (Wednesday) by the Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown, confirming the Scottish business case for high speed rail.
Councillor Ian Yuill commented. “We welcome the recommendations Mr Brown has made and in particular the recognition that there are differing requirements in the North-east of the country and one size cannot fit all.
“We completely agree the business case for High Speed Rail being extended to Edinburgh and Glasgow is significantly stronger than the case for London to Birmingham. Supporting an extension to Scotland would provide major benefits to London and England as well as central Scotland. We also accept that extending HSR further north than the central belt is simply not viable from an economic perspective at present.
Councillor Yuill confirmed that Nestrans views are ones shared by all the Regional Transport Partnerships (RTP) in Scotland.
Ian Yuill continued: “The Regional Transport Partnerships collectively also agree that any major development such as the introduction of HSR to Scotland must benefit all parts of our country. That is why it is absolutely crucial the current air links between Aberdeen and Heathrow are maintained and why we are currently lobbying for politicians to add their weight to that of businesses and individuals to the debate in advance of the UK Government’s aviation consultation, and from which we hope the European Union will consider options for aviation policy going forward.
“Increased connectivity between the central belt of Scotland and the North and Midlands of England will benefit both sides of the border and will also reduce very substantially the numbers of flights between the major cities of the UK and London. This reduction in flights will free up slots at London airports that can be used for other destinations.
“Nestrans, along with others, has argued that alternative solutions must be found to secure the connectivity required for the small proportion of the UK’s population not directly benefitting from this huge national investment in HSR, that proportion whose surface journey time to London would be more than the recognised three hours cut off time, which would include Aberdeen and Inverness.
“This means securing access for existing landing slots at Heathrow amd south east of England airports for these peripheral parts of the UK. Speaking on behalf of the North-east of Scotland, it cannot be overemphasised just how important an issue this is. This is not about improving the level of service and through it access to our key markets but maintaining it at a time when the critical south east of England airports are full and there is massive pressure on regional services to give way to long haul routes.”
We also urge the Scottish Government to bring forward the improvements to the existing rail network outlined in the their Strategic Transport Projects Review timeously to ensure rail travellers from the north east can access the improved connectivity to other English cities that High Speed Rail will bring.
“The introduction of High Speed Rail would help bring about a transport infrastructure fit for purpose for the 21st century in the UK. It is vital though that the benefits are enjoyed by all parts of the country and not just certain areas.”