Good government means acting in the long-term national interest. It’s about taking decisions to improve people’s quality of life and the country’s economic prospects, not just for the next four or five years, but for the next four or five decades. That’s precisely why I have given the go ahead to HS2 – a national high speed rail network that I know will benefit Glasgow and Scotland.
Built in two phases, the 'Y' shaped high speed network will link Birmingham, London, Leeds and Manchester, with additional stations serving South Yorkshire and the East Midlands. We expect the first high speed trains to be speeding along the tracks from 2026. But this is a transport project that matters to the whole of Britain. And that’s because we will connect HS2 with the existing West Coast and East Coast Main Lines, enabling direct services to other towns and cities in Scotland and the North of England.
Families and businesses in Glasgow and Edinburgh will be among the beneficiaries of HS2. Journey times between Glasgow and London will fall from 4hrs 30mins today to 3hr 37mins. Edinburgh will see journey times to London reduced from 4hrs 30mins today to 3hrs 39mins. But this time saving only relates to the high speed network as currently planned.
The Government’s vision is for a truly national high speed rail system serving all of Britain’s major cities. Our planned 'Y' network should be seen as a foundation which could be extended to bring high speed to many more destinations, cutting journey times further.
Faster services and improved connections will open up more opportunities to create jobs, access new markets and sell goods. And those opportunities won’t end at Britain’s borders. With fast links to Heathrow Airport and the Channel Tunnel, the high speed rail network will connect communities and companies with the global marketplace. HS2 will help to generate growth and rebalance our economy. Tens of thousands of jobs will be created and sustained by its construction, on-going maintenance and day-to-day operation.
By truly linking our country, HS2 will better connect communities and improve people’s opportunities. And, with its potential to attract passengers and freight business from aviation and road transport, it will also give us the chance of a cleaner and greener future.
Socially, economically and environmentally there is a cast-iron case for this vital project. The Victorian railway pioneers had the vision to build a rail network which has promoted growth for more than a century.
By leading the first rail revolution, our industries flourished, our exports multiplied, and our economy grew wealthy. Similarly, post-war planners developed the motorway network to connect major cities and make our whole road network more effective. We now need to do for our Victorian railway what previous generations did for our road network.
HS2 will be the backbone of a new transport system for the 21st century, offering the capacity that we need to compete and grow. For the sake of our future generations, it is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.