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Scottish HS2 link will bolster its raison d’être, claims ICE

(HS2) to include Scotland would boost the economic case for the project, ICE Scotland said last week.

It highlighted the fact that ­Scotland had been excluded from plans to build the line and said that the case for the project is strongest when Scotland is included as part of a wider UK network.

Calls to extend the line to Scotland were published in ICE Scotland’s State of the Nation: Transport report. The report also identifies the increasing vulnerability of transport budgets to public spending cuts.

It warns that cuts can lead to a piecemeal approach to major project funding, driving up costs and creating inefficiencies in delivery.

“An efficient, reliable and integrated transport network is vital to our economic growth and prosperity, connecting people with places and opportunity” said Ronnie Hunter, chair of the ICE Scotland Expert Panel, which guided the work of the report.

“Scotland has achieved much since devolution, and the presence of a clearly defined national strategy has helped to deliver significant improvements to our transport networks and infrastructure.

“We look forward to engaging constructively with Government to help address the challenges identified in our report and to build on the achievements we have seen to date”

The report sets out several proposals to maximize transport’s contribution to achieving sustainable economic growth for Scotland. These include:

  • An urgent review of the impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD) and high speed rail
  • Exploring new funding models to support infrastructure investment, including road user charging
  • Reforming and streamlining the decision making processes, to simplify ways of investing in transport infrastructure, improving project delivery and increasing investor confidence.
  • Greater collaboration between local authorities could be the key to improving the condition of Scotland’s roads.

Scotland’s transport minister Keith Brown welcomed the report. “I echo the report’s call for the current high-speed rail plans to be extended to Scotland -something we have long called for. The inclusion of Scotland now is crucial if the HS2 scheme is to realise its full economic potential.”

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