Speaking in Glasgow yesterday, Keith Brown MSP, revealed that yet another report into HS2 is taking its time for publication.
Brown, who is Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities in the Scottish Parliament, told a conference organised by High Speed Rail promoters Greenguage 21 that a report on HS2 routes to Scotland commissioned by Transport Scotland and the Department for Transport now had a deadline of December this year.
It was originally commissioned in November 2013, with a draft report due by July 2014 and the final version by the end of that year. However, apparently by request of the DfT, publication was delayed, ensuring it did not come out before the 2015 General Election.
In May, a source inside HS2 Ltd told the Independent
“There are two things to know about HS2. One, it will terminate at Euston; two, it will not link up with HS1 or Scotland. HS2 is now looking at enhancements and there may be the odd bit of new track here and there, to reduce journey times between Scotland and London. There’s no business case.”
Not surprisingly, this caused some upset with the SNP, who said at the time “It would be outrageous if the UK Government planned to snub Scotland on HS2 and these claims would confirm fears that the feasibility study, which was sent to Ministers months ago, had been held back until after the election.”
HS2 Ltd are now talking publicly about the “deletion of the HS1-HS2 link”, predicted by the Independent’s source.
Transport Scotland said that the study,
” …will supply details on potential route options to Scotland and will report at the end of this year. When furnished with full details of potential routes, Mr Brown will be in a position to make an announcement in February on the next steps in the realisation of his objective of ensuring Scotland’s inclusion within a high speed rail network.”
It seems highly unlikely that HS2 Ltd are bothered about Mr Brown’s objectives. There are too many other difficulties in just building the first two phases of the line, leading to the HS1 link being dropped, long delays in publishing the results of the Phase 2 route (originally due in 2014), with the possibilities that the route to Crewe will be developed in a separate Hybrid Bill. Meanwhile, HS3 seems to be stillborn, with just a ghostly mention in the glossary of the July budget.
At the rate HS2 is currently proceeding, it would be highly unlikely to see another phase built to Scotland before the 2040s.