News story

Three-hour Scotland to London rail journeys on track

Governments agree joint aim on train times.

Work with the ultimate aim to deliver a 3-hour rail journey time between Scotland and London will get underway next year.

The UK and Scottish governments have agreed to further work that will:

  • aim to bring train journeys between London and the Central Belt down to 3 hours or less
  • ease the severe congestion on cross-Border routes
  • create jobs, investment opportunities and economic and environmental benefits for the whole of Scotland

This comes alongside publication of the HS2 Ltd report Broad options for upgraded and high speed railways to the North of England and Scotland, which was welcomed today (21 March 2016) by Scottish government Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown and Robert Goodwill, UK government minister responsible for high speed rail, at a reception in Edinburgh’s Waverley Station.

The report, jointly commissioned by the 2 governments, considers various options including upgrades or new routes to deliver the 3-hour journey time.

Work is now planned to be carried out in 2017 to identify options with the best business case for implementation from 2019 onwards.

Scottish government Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said:

This report is a major milestone in the campaign to deliver high speed rail to Scotland and marks the beginning of the next chapter in the tale.

I now have a firm commitment that development work will begin during the current control period towards getting journey times between Scotland and London down to 3 hours or less.

High speed rail will bring billions of pounds worth of benefit to Scotland’s economy and an infrastructure project of this magnitude – possibly the biggest Scotland’s ever seen - means jobs, investment, benefits for the economy and benefits for the environment.

This plan will bring to life our target of 3 hours or less Glasgow and Edinburgh to London train journeys, which will lead to a significant move from air to rail, bringing big reductions in carbon emissions.

Robert Goodwill at Edinburgh Waverley railway station.

UK government HS2 Minister Robert Goodwill said:

Scotland will benefit from HS2 from the day it opens, with shorter journey times to London from the start. Once the full Y-network opens, it will only take around 3 hours 38 minutes to reach London from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

This report looks at ways we can build on these improvements and I thank HS2 Ltd for this work. Together with the Scottish government, we will be asking Network Rail to identify any options with a strong business case, for consideration for inclusion in future plans.

Options set out in the study, which was commissioned by Transport Scotland and Department for Transport, address the severe capacity constraints with built-in resilience on the main east and west coast routes between Scotland and England.

Mr Brown added:

We can’t afford not to build high speed rail. Doing nothing is not an option. The main routes between Scotland and England are at capacity and the necessary improvements to address the capacity constraints on these existing routes would be substantial.

High speed rail is as much about new rail capacity as it is about speed.

There is a real danger that Scotland’s rail connectivity will be strangled without that additional capacity built into the system. This plan gives us the opportunity to future proof at the same time.

HS2 is already set to improve journeys between Scotland and England:

  • from when Phase One opens in 2026, new HS2 trains will be arriving in Glasgow from London in 3 hours 56 minutes
  • journey times will fall further, to 3 hours 43 minutes, thanks to the acceleration of the route to Crewe in 2027
  • then, when the full Y-network opens in 2033, journey times to both Glasgow and Edinburgh will be reduced to around 3 hours 38 minutes
  • HS2 is estimated to bring £3 billion of benefits to Scotland

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