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SNP backs HS2 - provided it comes to Scotland

SNP backs HS2 - provided it comes to Scotland

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has said it will support the construction of HS2, but wants to see the line extended up to Scotland.
 
In a repeat of a demand made in its 2015 general election manifesto, the SNP has made it clear it is not happy with journey times merely being shortened because part of the journey up from England will take place on faster tracks, and has said "a high speed connection between Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north of England as part of any high-speed rail network" must be given priority.
 
The manifesto also repeats the call for construction work to start in Scotland along with England, which would in effect mean the Scottish section would be built at the same time as the first phase from London to Birmingham, leaving the linking of the northernmost and southernmost thirds - including Manchester and Leeds - to be undertaken last under such an adjustment to the current timetable.
 
Of the main parties, only Labour has committed to extending HS2 to Scotland, with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats supporting the project in its current form. The Greens and UKIP both want to scrap the scheme and spend the transport budget on other things. 
 
The SNP also said it was keen to engage with the UK government on the issue of other possible cross-border links, such as connecting Carlisle to the Borders Railway. This would effectively complete the restoration of the link between Carlisle and Edinburgh that was closed in the Beeching Cuts. So far, the line has been reopened as far as Galashiels, albeit as a single-track line rather than twin track, which limits its capacity.  
 
Co-operation between a Labour government and an SNP parliamentary contingent holding the balance of power may not be ruled out, as the latest YouGov poll has suggested a dramatic fall in Conservative support and rise in Labour support since the election was called may now leave Britain with a hung parliament. 
 
If - and it is a big if - the poll is accurate and there is an unexpected stalemate, HS2 and other cross-border transport projects may be part of the price to be paid for the party's support in a coalition or confidence-and-supply deal.

Image: DfT

 

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