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Cross-Border Transport

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2010

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the economic benefits to Scotland of proposed high-speed cross-border rail links.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Jim Murphy): I met the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss the high-speed rail link on 5 November, when he visited Glasgow, North-East. (309554)

There is now growing agreement in all parties that the high-speed rail network must serve central Scotland. Does the Secretary of State agree that both Edinburgh and Glasgow must be on that network and that both those cities should work together to that end?

The high-speed rail network could be an enormous investment and make enormous improvements to our infrastructure across the country. Initially, it will run from London to the midlands, but there is a commitment from the Government to try to go further. If we can get that rail link to Scotland, it is important that it should serve two of Scotland’s great cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and there is a commitment to help to make that happen. We are determined to make that investment, working with the company.

As well as providing faster rail services from Scotland to London, the high-speed rail network will also offer the opportunity to have faster direct and indirect services to the continent of Europe. Will the Secretary of State do what he can to ensure that opportunities for travel not just to London, but to the continent, are also maximised in the plans for the high-speed rail network when it is developed north of London?

As I said before, initially, the commitment is to a service from London to the midlands and then to go beyond that to Scotland into Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is important to make that investment in those hundreds of miles of rail track to help to make it happen. Such transport connections between Glasgow and London are crucial, which is why it is important that the Scottish Government should reinstate the Glasgow airport link—just those seven miles from Glasgow city centre to Glasgow airport. I find it ridiculous that people can go to Glasgow, Central station and get a train to Manchester airport, but not to Glasgow airport.