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Calls for £25bn transport boost – BBC

BBC, 26 June 2009

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Reform Scotland said the Grand Central hub would boost economic growth.

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The hub could be built around Edinburgh Airport, it said, with high-speed rail links to other major Scottish cities and England.

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It also called for the road network to be improved, with both the A9 and A96 upgraded to full dual carriageways.

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The independent think tank has been looking at how Scotland\’s transport network could be improved.

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Its Power to Connect report also urged further investigation into how road-pricing schemes – such as tolling or congestion charging – might be implemented in Scotland.

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Reform Scotland said the cost of building high speed rail lines between Grand Central and the country\’s cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness – would be about £25bn.

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It conceded the proposals would have "major cost implications at a time when our economy is in recession and budgets are coming under increasing strain".

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But the report pointed out the costs could be spread over time, and added: "We need to do this if we are not to be left behind in economic terms by other countries."

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Funding options

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It went on: "A transport system that maximises our potential for faster economic growth is an essential part of any successful economic strategy.

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"It will not come cheap, but it is a genuine investment in the future prosperity of Scotland and everyone living in the country."

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And it argued it was essential to examine all possible funding options to try to "turn this vision into reality".

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Reform Scotland chairman Ben Thomson said the costs looked "particularly daunting", but added the overall plan could be broken down into phases, claiming the creation of the Grand Central hub and a high speed link between Edinburgh and Glasgow could cost about £3bn.

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He said: "By the time we start construction, the economy should hopefully be more buoyant, so now is a good time to be looking at such a plan."