Boris commits to delivering ambitious transport improvements for Scotland

Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks to train staff during a visit to coincide with the announcement of the Integrated Rail Plan on 18th November 2021. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Prime Minister underlines commitment to stronger transport connections between Scotland and the rest of the UK as the UK Government publishes Sir Peter Hendy’s independent Union Connectivity Review.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has this week committed to forging and strengthening transport bonds that will create a more cohesive and connected United Kingdom.

As the UK Government publishes Sir Peter Hendy’s final report of the Union Connectivity Review, the Prime Minister has underlined the importance of better connections – on both local and national transport networks – to bring all UK communities within closer reach of social and economic opportunities.

The Prime Minister has particularly welcomed, and intends to accept, the proposal for the creation of UKNET – a strategic transport network spanning the entire United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

With some of the busiest travel corridors for both passengers and freight, strengthening transport connections between Scotland and the rest of the UK is critical to maximise the potential for growth and jobs.

Sir Peter Hendy’s review identifies key areas where we can boost rail, road and air links to better support Scottish businesses and communities, and we will work closely with the Scottish Government to take these proposals forward in ways that will bring our towns and cities even closer together.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps:

Improved connections between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are essential for driving economic growth, forging relations, and bringing communities closer together.

I am indebted to Sir Peter for his work. We will consider his recommendations carefully, engage closely with the Scottish Government, and work collegiately to ensure these proposals strengthen the ties that bind us, now and for the future.

The proposals for Scotland include upgrades to the West Coast Main Line, increasing capacity and cutting journey times between Scotland and London, the Midlands and North West England, which are key for both communities and businesses.

Another recommendation is for the UK and Scottish Governments to work together on developing an assessment of the East Coast road and rail transport corridor from North East England to South East Scotland, including improvements on the East Coast Main Line and the A1.

It also includes offering the Scottish Government new funding to support the upgrade of the A75 making journeys between Northern Ireland and Great Britain quicker and easier.

This would provide a major boost for jobs and further consolidate the UK Government’s commitment to improving cross-border connectivity.

The Review also encourages the Scottish Government to improve the A77 to support journeys between Belfast, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.

Independent Chair of the Union Connectivity Review, Sir Peter Hendy, said:

My recommendations provide comprehensive, achievable and clear plans forward to better connect the whole of the United Kingdom, leading to more growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion.

I welcome the enthusiasm shown by the Prime Minister and the Government to my final report and I look forward to their formal response to my recommendations, which aim to spread opportunity and prosperity right across the United Kingdom.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:

I thank Sir Peter for his work and I believe his central recommendation – the creation of a UK strategic transport network – lays the foundation for linking up the home nations much more effectively, boosting our economy and levelling up opportunity around the country.

His specific proposals for upgrades to the A75 and the West Coast Main Line, plus rail and road improvements on the east coast corridor from North East England to South East Scotland will be welcomed by businesses, commuters and leisure travellers alike. As will him encouraging the Scottish Government to improve the A77 to support journeys between Belfast, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.

Our task is now to turn the vision into real improvements. I urge the Scottish Government to work with us to make that happen so we can deliver the benefits travellers want and businesses need.

The independent Union Connectivity Review was launched in October 2020, led by Sir Peter Hendy CBE, to undertake how a detailed review of the quality and availability of transport infrastructure across the UK can support economic growth and quality of life.

The recommendations published this week include:

  • The UK Government should design and implement UKNET – a strategic transport network for the whole of the UK, with funding commitments targeted at parts of the network that require the most improvements;
  • Improvements should be planned using multimodal corridors, which should be appraised on their ability to support the levelling up and net zero agenda;
  • The UK Government should support the development of sustainable aviation fuel plants in parts of the United Kingdom that are particularly reliant on aviation for domestic connectivity.

The UK Government says it will now carefully consider the Union Connectivity Review’s recommendations in detail, and has invited the Scottish Government to work together to identify the solutions which work best for the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK, and make tangible and meaningful progress as swiftly as possible.

The final Union Connectivity Report can be found here:

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