Jack Irvine, media guru and former editor of The Scottish Sun, asked railway engineers Quentin Macdonald and Colin Elliff, the men behind the alternative scheme High Speed UK (HSUK), to examine where Scotland features on the HS2 plans.
Their criticisms are devastating, according to Irvine, an often controversial figure who owns the Media House public relations firm.
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He wrote: “I’m just a simple wee laddie from Shettleston and I don’t have a degree in logic from Oxford or Cambridge but even a two-figure IQ should be able to spot the financial, social and environmental disaster looming that is HS2.
“I can understand why David Cameron backed the project to support his misguided Chancellor and his dream of a Northern Powerhouse. Why would Theresa May want to continue with this project, now estimated by many to eventually cost £200 billion. I’ll say that again – £200 bloody billion!!!
“With the consideration of Lords amendments scheduled for Monday, February 20, I thought you might find it useful to examine why Scotland is going to get a very raw deal from HS2.
“I also note that 55 SNP members abstained on the Third Reading but when you read what I have to say you might care to be more proactive in opposing this lunacy.” Macdonald and Ellif say that HS2 has been planned from the start with a west coast route to Scotland, which would split near Carstairs, with separate branches to Edinburgh and Glasgow, but that route is compromised by critical flaws.
They say there is insufficient capacity on the two-track stem of HS2 to provide high-speed services from London to all cities in the Midlands, the north and Scotland currently served by the intercity network.
There would be “major engineering/environmental difficulties” in building a dedicated high-speed line through the fringes of the English Lake District and through the Scottish Southern Uplands.
They say HS2 would connect Edinburgh and Glasgow only to London, Birmingham and possibly Manchester, while the "Carstairs split" effectively precludes HS2 services to more northerly Scottish cities such as Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness.
Existing intercity services on both the East and West Coast Main Lines would be reduced in frequency and journey times lengthened.
“All these difficulties have combined to sabotage the business case for a dedicated HS2 route to Scotland” says HSUK.
Their own plan would see greater capacity of HSUK’s 4-track route following the M1, with easier and less controversial terrain through which to build a new line, with far less tunnelling required.
HSUK say their £70 billion plan offers much superior intercity connectivity for Edinburgh and Glasgow, with hourly services to most principal English and Welsh cities and faster journey times to London than the current HS2 plan offers.
There would be a 20-minute direct high-speed link between Edinburgh and Glasgow, also connecting to Edinburgh Airport, with an allied scheme for restoring other routes to create an enhanced Scottish intercity network focused on Edinburgh Airport.
Irvine continued: “I asked a very senior Tory last year why Cameron’s government seemed so hell-bent on a scheme that defied all logic… He concluded, 'Governments like to be seen to be doing something.'
“This is a very big 'something' built on a false premise, fiscally incontinent at a time of austerity and will do absolutely nothing to benefit the Scottish economy. Maybe Westminster doesn’t like us very much.”
An SNP spokesperson said: “We support high-speed rail but not just to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. In order to benefit all the nations of the UK, it is essential that the network is extended to include Scotland as there is an undeniable economic case for linking HS2 to Scotland.
“However, the real scandal would be if Scottish taxpayers are made to foot the bill for a rail project they won’t be able to benefit from.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) maintains that HS2 is on time and on budget at £55 billion, and meets a growing demand as the last 20 years have seen the number of people travelling between London and Glasgow double.
A DfT spokesperson said: “Scotland stands to benefit substantially from HS2. When Phase One of the line opens in 2026, new HS2 trains will be arriving in Glasgow, allowing journey times from London to fall below four hours for the first time.
“When the full HS2 network opens in 2033 journeys between London and both Glasgow and Edinburgh will be around 3hr 40 minutes, delivering a boost to the Scottish economy.“We are also working with Transport Scotland and Network Rail to look at options to go beyond HS2.”