Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 17:52 UK

High speed rail link debate

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson told MSPs he supported work to bring high speed rail to Scotland at the earliest opportunity, during a consensual debate on 20 May 2010.

The transport minister saw his amended motion passed unanimously at decision time.

It recognised the strong economic and environmental case for the UK high speed rail link to include Scotland from the outset.

Mr Stevenson said a high speed rail link from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow would bring an economic benefit to Scotland of £20,000m, due to the shortened journey time of three hours.

Labour transport spokesman Charlie Gordon also backed the high speed rail link coming to Scotland, but called for support for interim steps to reduce rail journey times between Scotland and London.

For the Conservatives, Alex Johnstone welcomed the commitment in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition negotiations to establish a high-speed rail network.

He said the new UK coalition government was committed to a truly national high speed network for the whole of Britain.

Liberal Democrat Robert Brown said Scotland would be disadvantaged if the high speed rail link stopped in the Midlands; and called for work to start in both London and Scotland at the same time and should meet in the middle of the UK.

Former UK Transport Secretary Lord Adonis set out detailed proposals for the first stretch of the 250mph railway, but said the first part of the route would only run from London to Birmingham.

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