High Speed Rail and Scotland

11 June, 2020

Our latest report – High Speed Rail and Scotland – shows that joining the route to Scotland would not only enhance connectivity between our two nations by cutting travel time between London and Scotland to just over three hours, it would also pave the way for a significant reduction of carbon emissions in line with the Scottish Government’s 2045 net zero target, and help to level up the north of England post Covid-19.

The report, produced for the High Speed Rail Group, sets out how through a programme of upgrades to existing lines, combined with new dedicated sections of high speed line, joining HS2 to Scotland will boost capacity and meet the projected demand for both freight and passenger travel, whilst cutting journey times to 3h10. Since 2006, passenger numbers have increased between Glasgow and London by 120%, between Manchester-Scotland by 191%, and Birmingham-Scotland by 261%.

With the Scottish Government targeting net zero by 2045 and the UK Government committing to the same by 2050, the report demonstrates that joining HS2 to Scotland will make a major contribution to decarbonising travel, saving 45,000 tonnes of CO2 per year from taking freight off the road, and driving the modal shift needed to move passengers from aviation to green rail. With London to Scotland being among the busiest aviation routes in Europea, reducing the journey time of rail routes will cut demand for carbon-heavy short haul flights, as has been achieved between London and Paris since the introduction of HS1.

The report shows that, since cross-border routes are travelled for business or leisure, this travel market will continue to expand post-pandemic. Boosting capacity through linking with HS2 will ensure that the cities, towns and regions along the lines of route can grow and thrive at a time when they need it most, and deliver on the Government’s ambition to level up the country.

High-Speed Rail and Scotland received wide media coverage, including an article in the Daily Mail which highlights that with transport now the largest contributor to the UK’s emissions – this report provides evidence of a sound economic case for encouraging people to switch from air travel to rail for Anglo-Scottish journey.