The £7bn plan will cut journey times from the current 1hour 20min to just under one hour. Meanwhile there are only vague commitments towards the substantial shortening of distance that would be achieved by the line coming to Scotland. It may happen, say the UK government, at some stage but they are not examining the detail on this in the same way as with Birmingham.
UK transport minister Lord Adonis has said if HSR is to come north of the border then the Scottish Government would need to pay for the tracks from Carlisle. This would be at least one quarter of the distance from London and would cost a likely unaffordable £7bn. Even that would depend on the munificence of the UK government building the similar 100 miles north of Manchester.
Jim Murphy, Scotland’s man in the cabinet apparently, has backed this up. Except this is not the devolution settlement we have. The Scotland Act states that the Scottish Government is responsible for:
“The promotion and construction of railways which start, end and remain in Scotland.”
Cross-border rail remained reserved to Westminster. If we are going to have this constitutional morass where one government can borrow for major infrastructure projects while denying the other that ability, and that one government is also to take all the revenue from the other government’s oil, can they not at least stick to their obligations as laid out?