East Midlands and Yorkshire cities attract support from Glasgow and Edinburgh for route change

HS2 could be heading east as a new report highlighting the benefits of extending the proposed eastern leg to Scotland has received the backing of Edinburgh and Glasgow council leaders.

A group of cities on the proposed eastern leg of the route, which runs from Birmingham through the East Midlands and Sheffield to Leeds, have produced a report which claims it will provide an economic boost of £604m each year.

Calling themselves ‘HS2 East’, the cities have argued full delivery of the eastern leg with a link to the East Coast Main Line would help “free up capacity across the network, boosting regional rail connectivity and supporting the economies of all communities.”

The cities also said linking high speed services to an upgraded East Cost Main Line would also bring an economic uplift of £717m a year, of which £500m would be outside London and to a “combined cross-border population” of 15 million people.

The report also has the support of Leeds-based consultant Turner & Townsend.

Managing director for infrastructure at T&T, Patricia Moore, said the eastern leg would be “a gamechanger for Britain, allowing growth from investment to fuel our economies and drive business forward.”

The government has yet to decide whether to extend the high-speed rail line to Scotland through either the north east or the north west of England.

But a source close to HS2 said backing from Glasgow and Edinburgh could be “quite a coup” in terms of building political support ahead of a government decision.

The source said: “Reading between the lines, it looks like the first steps in a push for the eventual route to Scotland to be via the east instead of the west.”