Plans to build a new high-speed rail line between Glasgow and Edinburgh have been shelved, Scotland’s transport chief has confirmed.
Scottish minister for transport Dereck Mackay told ministers at Holyrood that the multi-million-pound line between Scotland’s two biggest cities would be put on hold until a cross-border route linking England to Scotland was identified.
The shelving of the plans come despite Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon saying in 2012 that the Scottish Government would be ‘firing ahead’ with the line and would not wait for Westminster to start work.
Last July, Scotland’s secretary for infrastructure, investment and cities Keith Brown said the line could be completed as early as 2024.
Asked in the Scottish parliament why the Glasgow-Edinburgh line had not been included in Scotland’s revised 2015 Infrastructure Investment Plan, Mr Mackay said it was “not possible to progress with planning” until a plan for a cross-border link was put forward.
Mr Mackay added: “A draft business case considering a high-speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow was submitted as advice to ministers in 2014.
“It was clear from this work that what high-speed rail is built in Scotland depends on the high-speed route coming up from the south.
“Therefore it is not possible to progress planning for a high-speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow any further until a cross-border high-speed route is identified.”
In November 2013, the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland commissioned High Speed 2 Ltd to carry out a feasibility study for extending HS2 into Scotland.
It was understood that this study, including plans for a cross-border link, would be finished by last December, with a release date set for February 2016.
The DfT said that work on this report was on schedule and that it planned to make a statement shortly.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As Keith Brown, cabinet secretary for infrastructure investment and cities, advised during his speech to the High Speed Rail Conference in Glasgow last September, connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh with a high-speed link is inevitably conditional on the route options coming from the south.
“The joint work currently being undertaken with the Department for Transport will identify route options for extending high-speed rail into Scotland and this work is now nearing completion.
“The cabinet secretary fully expects to be in a position to share these findings in the coming months.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “HS2 Ltd submitted an initial draft of their Broad Options study on capacity and journey time improvements from HS2 Phase Two to Edinburgh and Glasgow in December 2014. The report was jointly commissioned by the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland.
“Together with the Scottish Government, we asked HS2 Ltd to undertake further work on additional options that could build on HS2 and reduce journey times. This work is ongoing. We plan to make a statement shortly.”