Transport minister to hear north-east HS2 concerns

Stuart Smith 2014, News

A delegation of north-east business leaders is meeting with Transport Minister Baroness Kramer in London today to discuss how to mitigate the impact of HS2 on the region.

A report carried out by KPMG last year found that the north-east of Scotland could lose out on an estimated £220million in economic output if the high speed rail project goes ahead, with Dundee expected to suffer another £100million in negative economic impact.

Nestrans director Derick Murray and research and policy director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) James Bream are meeting with the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Kramer to focus on transport issues in the region.

Research from AGCC shows that businesses in the north-east regard existing transport links as a significant barrier to growth.

Baroness Kramer was appointed Minister of State for Transport in October last year and she is leading a study into extending high speed rail services into Scotland.

The UK Government says HS2 will provide Britain’s railways with new capacity, better connectivity and quicker journeys. Linking eight of Britain’s 10 largest cities, it claims it will allow more passengers to use trains and more freight operators to use rail rather than road.

The project plans to treble the number of seats on trains into Euston and almost double the number of trains per hour on the West Coast Main Line. It hopes to free up capacity on existing rail lines for more commuter, rural and freight train services, and mean fewer cars and lorries on our roads, cutting congestion and carbon.

Mr Murray said: “Different regions have different needs and while the aim of HS2 is to reduce rail journey times between the Central Belt and the south-east of England, geographic location makes air the favoured mode of transport from the North-east to London.

“Our access to English regions and foreign markets depends strongly on maintaining access to Heathrow.

“We need to secure and protect landing slots between the north of Scotland and London to encourage investor confidence, and we will be reinforcing this point to Baroness Kramer.”

Mr Bream said: “We do support the high-speed rail project in principle, and agree that HS2 is likely to deliver significant economic advantages across the UK.

“However it is essential that the competitiveness of the north-east is not jeopardised.

“We will be highlighting the existing rail improvement proposals which could maintain the region’s competitive advantage, and these could be delivered through support and investment from the UK Government alongside HS2.”