The SNP's belief that better passenger train services will greatly boost the economy is not backed by evidence and experience.

The successes of Ireland and Iceland, lauded before their economies crashed, had nothing to do with railways.

France and Japan, with well established high-speed rail systems, have stagnant economies. Spain has recently spent vast amounts on its railways, with many high-speed trains, but its economy is in tatters. Canada, by contrast, has a strong economy with among the world's highest living standards but its passenger rail services have been reduced by about 80% in the last 50 years. Calgary, a rich city which has a larger population than Edinburgh and was once a major rail hub, has no passenger trains.

New Zealand is prosperous despite hugely reducing its passenger train services. Even Dunedin, the fourth city and a regional capital with a population of about 120,000 now has no passenger trains. Mexico, although nearly all inter-city train services ceased in 2000 due to the Government stopping subsidies, has had rapid economic growth since.

Since it will be more than 20 years before a high-speed link from the north of England to Scotland could be provided and it is impossible to predict what conditions will then apply, it is pointless to talk about it. In an independent Scotland the chance of it being built will be small.

Even now the case for the London-Birmingham link is being rubbished on business, environmental and energy grounds by well-informed groups. The case for a link between the north of England and Scotland is even weaker.

As one who enjoys train travel and believes to travel may be better than to arrive, I have no wish to have trip times reduced. The claim that only if a London to Glasgow/Edinburgh trip takes fewer than three hours will there be a large shift from air to rail is highly dubious.

Kevin Lawrie, 98 West Graham Street,