SCOTLAND has “little hope” of ever seeing the benefits of HS2, an MP has claimed, as speculation mounts that the final line will never connect London with Manchester.

The Government has been unable to contain growing predictions the high-speed rail link will not extend beyond Birmingham – a key plank in its commitment to Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda.

It has also been reported the railway line may never reach Euston, one of the main stations in London, instead ending in the suburban area of Old Oak Common just over six miles away.

Alba deputy leader Kenny MacAskill said potential cuts to the line should worry Scots.

He said: “If this is how Westminster treats the North of England what are the prospects for Scotland being included in major UK infrastructure projects?”

'A symbol of UK decline'

Tory grandees Michael Heseltine and George Osborne (below) also hit out at the plans in a joint column in The Times.

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They wrote: “Without completing HS2, we won’t have the engineering base, including a skilled workforce, that we need so desperately for other big national infrastructure projects.

“The remaining stump, little more than a shuttle service from Birmingham to a London suburb, would become an international symbol of our decline.”

MacAskill pointed out the Government had already abandoned the Golborne Link, which would have improved journey times between Glasgow and London.

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He said: “Improving cross border transport connectivity is long overdue with the case for extending HS2 to Scotland made in lower journey times and greater rail capacity, especially for freight, on the West Coast Main Line, which would deliver obvious economic and environmental benefits.

“If this is how Westminster treats the North of England what are the prospects for Scotland being included in major UK infrastructure projects?

“When we have already seen the 21 km Golborne link or ‘spur’, which would have benefited Scotland, removed from existing HS2 plans – and that is before this recent threat to pull the plug.

“However what we are seeing being played out is the power dynamics within an unequal Union.  If HS2 is no longer going to reach Manchester there is little hope that Scotland will ever see the benefits.”

Industry experts said delaying or axing the connection between Birmingham and Manchester would be a “commercial and operational mess”.

William Barter, a railway consultant whose recent clients include the Department for Transport, told the PA news agency this would result in “80% of the costs and 20% of the benefits”, while rail engineer and writer Gareth Dennis claimed it would be a “stupid decision”.

Under existing plans, HS2 trains will run on high-speed lines between London and Manchester, as well as running on existing lines to destinations such as Glasgow, Liverpool and North Wales.

The National: The entrance to Euston station in London

Stopping HS2 at Birmingham and not extending the line to Euston means the trains may only be able to be used for a shuttle service between Old Oak Common, west London and Birmingham Curzon Street.

If the planned Handsacre Link goes ahead near Lichfield, Staffordshire, HS2 trains will be able to connect to the existing West Coast Main Line .

But only the number HS2 trains could run on the West Coast Main Line is limited to an estimated three per hour as the route south of Manchester has little spare capacity.

It is already used by six passenger train operators and a number of freight companies.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The HS2 project is already well underway with spades in the ground, and our focus remains on delivering it.”