Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 17:37 UK

SNP Ministers pressing high-speed rail case

From Democracy Live: Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson leads the debate on a high speed rail link

SNP ministers have said the UK government must include Scotland in any planned UK high-speed rail network.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said the last UK government backed a link between London and Birmingham, which could have been extended.

The Tory-Lib Dem coalition has set out a vision for a UK network, but said it needed to be built in phases.

Mr Stevenson urged MSPs to "sieze the opportunity" for Scotland to play a crucial role in the project.

'Clear vision'

Plans for the 250mph trains could cut journey times from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh to less than three hours.

Labour's plans would have seen work starting on the London to Birmingham link in 2017, at a cost of up to £17bn.

But Mr Stevenson told the Scottish Parliament that the regime change at Westminster presented an opportunity for the Scottish government to press its case again.

"It is disappointing that the DFT (Department for Transport) has not yet got Scotland in their plan, but that's not by any means the end of the story," he said.

"People here have a role in changing that - this parliament's role is crucial.

"Let's seize the opportunity to state a clear vision for high-speed rail in UK - one which includes Scotland and delivers benefits across the UK."

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