Labour pledges to deliver unified Scottish railway

Labour plans to bring London's Crossrail project to Glasgow
Labour plans to bring London’s Crossrail project to Glasgow

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has promised to deliver a “unified Scottish rail network” if the party wins the Holyrood elections next year.

Mr Murphy would use the Scottish Parliament’s new borrowing powers to pay for the Glasgow Crossrail scheme, if he becomes first minister in 2016.

Echoing the ongoing Crossrail project in London, the scheme would enable services from the north and east of Scotland to continue through Glasgow to the west and south.

The scheme, which has been mooted since the late 1960s, would see the creation of three new railway stations carrying up to four million passengers per year with costs estimated at up to £200 million. It would mean an end to the current situation, which sees the northern railway network terminate at Queen Street station and trains from the south end at Glasgow Central meaning passengers face a trek across the city to continue journeys. The link could be achieved by electrifying the little used City Union Line and opening it to passenger services.

Mr Murphy told delegates at the Core Cities Devolution Summit in the city yesterday that “long-delayed” infrastructure projects have been a subject of frustration in Scotland.

“Crossrail would bring Scotland together, linking north, south, east and west,” he said. “It would see Scotland finally have a unified rail network service. It would offer better transport for Glaswegians, more capacity on a rail network creaking at the seams and more jobs.

“For too long our cities have been held back by a lack of ambition, a lack of funding and lack of freedom.”

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, which produced a report on Crossrail in 2008, said the project could create up to 130 new jobs over 10 years while contributing £36m to Glasgow’s economy.

Mr Murphy’s plans were branded “half-baked” by Scottish Government infrastructure secretary Keith Brown.

He said: “Crossrail was previously rejected because of its limited benefits and massive costs.

“The Strategic Transport Projects Review found that the Crossrail proposal would disadvantage many passengers by diverting existing commuters from the city centre stations, and would substantially increase subsidy requirements through additional services for limited passenger numbers.

“People don’t want to see a repeat of the Edinburgh trams fiasco which Labour voted for in 2007.”

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