NICOLA Sturgeon has held "secret" talks with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham in a bid to make UK ministers spend £3 billion connecting Scotland to the HS2 rail project.

The UK Government scrapped plans to let Scotland benefit from the high-speed rail project as it looked to save money amid a spiralling budget.

The 13-mile "Golborne Link" near Manchester would have connected the HS2 line to Glasgow and Edinburgh but a revised plan cut it out following warnings that the budget could surge to nearly £100bn. That would make it Europe's biggest infrastructure project.

The newly-released documents, released following a following a freedom of information request suggest the First Minister is keen to push Westminster to bring Scotland back into HS2 plans.

READ MORE: Andy Burnham responds to Nicola Sturgeon over meeting confusion

The papers reveal that the Labour mayor and the Scottish FM held talks in order to get the Tories to spend "at least" £3bn including Scotland in the infrastructure project. 

Documents describing a meeting between the politicians on August 24 showed that "HS2 and connectivity towards Scotland" were on the top of the agenda.

They say: "Given the direct importance of maintaining the benefits that the Golborne Link would have delivered for Scotland it is essential that the Scottish Government has a central role in the consideration of the alternatives.

“[Scottish Transport Minister Jenny] Gilruth and UKG [Government] ministers have exchanged letters to seek assurance of her officials’ central role in consideration of the alternatives and requested that at least the original £3bn budget for an alternative will be retained.

“Trudy Harrison, Minister of State for Transport, has confirmed that she has instructed her officials to make direct contact to ensure our input to that work.”  

READ MORE: Andy Burnham claims Nicola Sturgeon didn't reply to his request to meet up

A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: “The Scottish Government has consistently supported high-speed rail, but not just to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, and we are determined that Scotland benefits from faster high-speed rail services.

“Following the removal of the Golborne link from the current Bill and, given the direct importance of maintaining the benefits that the Golborne Link would have delivered for Scotland, the Transport Minister has sought and received confirmation from the UK Minister of State for Transport that Scottish Government Officials will input to the consideration being given to the alternative.”

A spokesperson for Burnham refused to provide a comment.