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HS2 'to be extended to Scotland' according to leaked manifesto

HS2 'to be extended to Scotland' according to leaked manifesto

A Labour government would extend the HS2 rail line to Scotland, according to the leaked draft of the party's manifesto.

The document, which party officials have confirmed is genuine, also promised to renationalise the railways, which would mean, in theory at least, a more joined-up approach to future investment.

At present, the infrastructure is owned by state firm Network Rail, while private franchises operate on the various networks. The plan would envisage bringing each of these back into public ownership as they expire.

The government is already pouring public money into the HS2 project, which will see phase one linking London with Birmingham and will then run up to Manchester and Leeds in the second phase, generating many thousands of construction jobs and more in the supply chain.

Taking the line further up to Scotland could create many more posts, and would also bring the plan back in alignment with its original proponent under the last Labour government, Lord Adonis. He was a strong advocate of a 'railway of the union' that would eventually serve Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Speaking today about the pledge, Labour's joint elections coordinator Andrew Gwynne told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme details of how extending HS2 up to Scotland would be funded will be revealed when the final manifesto is formally launched next week.

Labour's 2010 manifesto had, despite the vision of Lord Adonis, only promised a line from London to Birmingham. The Conservatives pledged to take it to Manchester and Leeds and were backed in this by their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. However, a study by HS2 rejected the idea of extending the line to Scotland and then chancellor George Osborne focused on making the next high-speed rail project an HS3 line in the Northern Powerhouse area.

At the last election, HS2 was only opposed by UKIP, which called the project a "white elephant" it would scrap. The Green Party also opposed it on cost grounds while proposing rail renationalisation. The SNP were against it precisely because the plan excluded Scotland.

Image from HS2 press release


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