The announcement which saw the scrapping of the promised transport upgrade came a week ago – quietly released 30 minutes before the results of Boris Johnson’s confidence vote were due.
It has been confirmed that Tory ministers will not go ahead with the 13-mile, £3billion Golborne link in Greater Manchester, scrapping the proposed HS2 Phase 2b bill despite it having featured in the integrated railway plan.
The link was put in place to connect the high-speed line from Crewe to Manchester with the West Coast Main line south of Wigan.
While the extension would have created more capacity and reduced journey times between Glasgow and England, it would have transformed the rail network in the north of England and the Midlands.
READ MORE: Rail companies slam ‘hugely disappointing’ decision to scrap £3bn HS2 Golborne Link
The rail industry reacted angrily to the news, which came just months after the UK government scrapped plans to extend HS2 to Leeds.
Now the UK Government’s HS2 Minister has pledged to seek alternatives to ensure HS2 reaches Scotland. However, the SNP says this is not enough.
SNP MSP Kaukab Stewart said: ‘Once again Scotland is on the verge of losing billions to empty Tory promises, Scotland is all too familiar with this story, when it comes to of Westminster, all we get in return are cuts, not money.
“On transport, we’ve heard broken promises about the ridiculous Boris Bridge and now we can add the HS2 Glasgow extension to the scrap heap.
“We cannot trust the Tories to invest in transport in Scotland or any other public service for that matter. Boris Johnson is full of bluster when it comes to connectivity, but he backs none of it.
The Glasgow Kelvin MSP argued that the Scottish Government had a proven track record of delivering for Scotland in transport, with new lines and stations opening across the country. Last month, Reston in the Scottish Borders became the new resort to be relaunched, following a £20million investment from Holyrood.
Stewart also promoted money for the decarbonisation of Scottish railway lines. Construction is due to start this month to electrify the Fife railway as part of a £55m scheme.
“That’s why the only way to protect Scotland from broken promises and Tory cuts is to become an independent country,” she said.
The UK government came under heavy criticism last week after deciding to reveal the HS2 news on such an important day for political news.
“This elegant move sums up Boris Johnson’s tenure as prime minister – cowardly and shameful,” the SNP’s shadow transport secretary said after the revelation.
Rail bodies have also expressed concerns, with concern focusing on the risk of “bottlenecks” developing on the network north of Crewe.
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“It is extremely disappointing to find that on a day when much of the political attention was focused elsewhere, the government has confirmed that the Golborne Link is to be removed from the HS2 project,” said the Railway Industry Association, Rail Freight Group and the High Speed Rail Group. said in a joint statement.
“Without this connection a bottleneck will be created north of Crewe on the West Coast Main Line which in turn will negatively impact passenger outcomes, decarbonisation and levelling.”
They continued: “Given that the government has now decided that it does not wish to proceed with the Golborne Link, it is absolutely essential that it confirms as soon as possible how ministers intend to protect the benefits of the HS2 investment, and does so without delay.
“Such an important and strategic question about how HS2 services connect to Scotland cannot be left open or uncertain.”