Summit to be held on extending high-speed rail line to Scotland

Rail proposal: High speed link backed by report
High-speed rail: Extending the line to Scotland would cut two hours off the journey time between London and Glasgow.

The Scottish Government is to lead a UK-wide summit calling on Westminster to extend the planned high-speed rail network north of the border.

Politicians from throughout Scotland and the north of England will join business leaders from London, rail industry experts and representatives from across Scottish civic life to make the case for extending the HS2 line beyond the current plans.

Transport Minister Keith Brown will then meet with Westminster Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to share concerns that the current proposals don't go far enough.

Current plans will see the high-speed line from London stop at Manchester and Leeds

Extending the line to Scotland would cut two hours off the journey time between London and Glasgow and could benefit the country by £24.8bn.

The two-day conference, which is being held in Glasgow on Monday and Tuesday, will be held in the city's Grand Central railway hotel.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Mr Brown will host a series of meetings. Other speakers will include Network Rail Scotland boss David Simpson, James Alexander from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, David Hodges from the London Chamber of Commerce.

Representatives from Manchester, Liverpool, Yorkshire, Sunderland and all of the north east councils will also be in attendance.

Mr Brown said: "This event will see many English local authorities join with us here in Scotland to show their support for a high-speed rail line which would benefit the whole of the UK.

"The Scottish Government looks forward to a future where Scotland stands on its own two feet as a nation, fully connected with its neighbouring communities.

"High-speed rail will play a huge part in that and sits squarely with this Government's two defining policy objectives: to increase the rate of Scotland's economic growth, and to develop a low-carbon economy which leads the world in its ambition.

"Scotland is more than capable of taking the lead on innovation and partnership working and local authorities north of London have already voiced their support for our proposals. This will offer an opportunity to see how we can work together to have all our voices heard.

"We already know that nearly two thirds of businesses believe high speed rail would attract new investment here and that the line would benefit Scotland to the tune of £24.8bn, but high-speed rail to Scotland is high speed rail for all of the UK."

Former Westminster Transport Secretary Justine Greening announced in January that a new high-speed rail line will be built only from London-Birmingham in the first phase and onward only to Manchester and Leeds in the second phase.

Following a meeting with Mr Brown and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil in March, Ms Greening agreed to a joint approach to developing a timeline for extending the line to Scotland.

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