Alex Massie

Where’s Scotland?

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Notice what's missing from this Guardian scoop?

A third runway at Heathrow airport would be scrapped by a Tory government that would instead build a £20bn TGV-style high speed rail link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

In one of David Cameron's boldest moves on the environment, the party will today unveil plans to cut 66,000 flights a year from Heathrow by tempting passengers on to the first new rail line north of London in more than a century.

Well, working on the dubious presumption that this track will actually be built (let alone that it will be delivered on time and on budget), you'll notice that these new lines don't run as far as Glasgow and Edinburgh. Perhaps there's a sound economic case for restricting high-speed rail to the English midlands and Yorkshire and Lancashire. But politically, you'd have thought the Conservatives - still, supposedly, a Unionist party - would have seen the upside to including the great frozen north in their plans.

And it's not as though you couldn't have better transport links to the south. At the moment it takes, if you're lucky, 4 hours and 20 minutes to travel 394 miles from Edinburgh to London by train. By contrast, the 307 miles between Paris and London can be completed in as little as 2 hours 15 minutes, thanks to the high-speed Eurostar service.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articlePoliticsscotlandtoriestravel