An Independent Scotland 'would lose its HS2', warns minister

Westminster will not fund high-speed link past the border - and Scots cannot afford it

Expensive plans to speed rail commuters from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh in under three hours would be scrapped if Scotland votes for independence, a cabinet minister has warned. The Department for Transport agency overseeing High Speed Two is currently examining options for a third phase of the much criticised railway, which would pour billions more on to a budget that has already topped £40bn.

There would probably be a link from Manchester or Leeds – the two cities where the "Y"-shaped second phase ends – to Scotland. This would ultimately shave well over an hour off journeys between the capital and Edinburgh or Glasgow.

However, a cabinet minister told The Independent on Sunday that an extra link was almost inconceivable in the event of a Yes vote for independence in September, due to the added cost burden on UK finances to a country that was no longer in the union.

The source said: "The high-speed railway is a substantial public investment and it's difficult to see how that investment would be justified from south of the border."

A Scottish pro-union MP added: "Many of us would like to see HS2 extended to the central belt of Scotland, but I couldn't see an independent Scotland being able to afford it nor English taxpayers subsidising them."

Baroness Kramer Baroness Kramer An SNP spokesman for Scotland's Transport minister, Keith Brown, hit back: "This is exactly the kind of high-handed, arrogant, patronising attitude from Westminster that is driving so many people across Scotland to the Yes campaign and towards a Yes vote in September."

Under current plans to the end of Phase Two, it would take three hours, 38 minutes to travel between Edinburgh and London against four hours, 23 minutes today. Glasgow to London would be half-an-hour faster, while Birmingham residents could reach Edinburgh in three hours 14 minutes against a little over four hours now.

The second phase alone is expected to boost Scotland's economy by £3bn a year, but the Government and Sir David Higgins, who leads HS2 Ltd, are keen to expand the new railway further and make it the spine of Britain's network. In November, Transport minister Baroness Kramer asked HS2 Ltd to look into options for a third phase taking the line into Scotland, with findings due this year.

Yes campaigners Yes campaigners As well as the option of extending HS2, existing lines could be upgraded, or there might be a combination of the two. There has also been talk of a distinct line requiring an interchange, crossing a city via metro links, in a move that would effectively create a High Speed Three.

There is a well-organised campaign against building any of HS2, which will start with a link between London and Birmingham, due to the hefty price tag and suggestions it would ruin great swathes of the English countryside. However, Scottish business groups are hopeful that HS2, or at least a variant of it, will ultimately reach their major cities.

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week