THE SNP have reacted furiously to claims that there is“no business case” for HS2 to come to Scotland.

It was reported yesterday that the £50billion high speed rail project – which may end up costing the taxpayer upwards of £80billion and was once vaunted as “the union railway” – may not even stretch beyond Birmingham.

The SNP’s Transport spokesperson Drew Hendry said: “It would be outrageous if the UK Government planned to snub Scotland on HS2 and these claims would confirm fears that the feasibility study, which was sent to Ministers months ago, had been held back until after the election. Including Scotland in HS2 would be transformative and not only deliver greater economic and business returns but also maximise environmental benefits.

“The Westminster establishment have shown a total lack of ambition throughout the development of plans for HS2 and seems committed to keeping Scotland in the slow lane.”

The HS2 Alliance, a coalition of organisations against HS2, has estimated that Scotland could end up contributing £3.64billion towards the cost of the line.

Although never part of the initial plan for HS2, the Scottish Government established the High Speed Rail Scotland Group in 2001 to campaign to extend the line into Scotland. When completed, it would reduce travel time between Edinburgh to London to three hours. Without the link, the decision could seriously hamper Scotland’s economy.

Research conducted by KPMG for HS2 Ltd, claimed that the line could cost Scotland hundreds of millions in lost economic output, with Aberdeen, Dundee and the surrounding area coming off worst. Dundee could lose two per cent of its GDP, while the Aberdeenshire area would be £220million a year worse off.

When it was first announced by then Transport Minister Lord Adonis he claimed that the line would the be the “the union railway, uniting England and Scotland, north and south, richer and poorer parts of our country, sharing wealth and opportunity”. A source from HS2 Ltd told the Independent on Sunday that those plans had shifted. The source told the paper: “There are two things to know about HS2. One, it will terminate at Euston; two, it will not link up with HS1 or Scotland. HS2 is now looking at enhancements and there may be the odd bit of new track here and there, to reduce journey times between Scotland and London. There’s no business case.”

Ken Sutherland, from RailFuture Scotland, said these decisions are not always made on the basis of business cases: “In terms of the high speed project, the key driver to anything is political will.”

There are many reasons behind any project being pursued said Sutherland: “The business case is one component of that. It’s a very flexible situation. You can use different consultant to prove different outcomes. Politicians can and do pursue projects that they think they want.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said that no decision has been taken yet: “The Government is committed to a genuinely national high speed rail network and Scotland will benefit from high speed services from the moment HS2 opens.

“We look forward to continued close co-operation with the Scottish Government to maximise the benefits that Scotland gets from a High Speed Britain.

“Advice prepared by HS2 Ltd to identify broad options for high speed and upgraded railways to Scotland has been completed on time and is now with ministers, who are considering next steps. This advice will be published in due course.”

During the referendum campaign, a coalition government minister anonymously told press that HS2 would not come to Scotland if the country voted Yes.

In the SNP manifesto for the 2015 general election, the party said that connecting Scotland to HS2 would be a “priority, with construction beginning in Scotland as well as England”. Alex Salmond even said that it could be used a bargaining chip between the SNP and a Labour government.

The minutes from HS2 Ltd’s board meeting in December claim “a further update” on a Scotland link would be discussed in the next six to 12 months.

During that board meeting there had been a presentation on Scotland that had discussed the “development of high speed rail and the enhancement of the existing route, including associated sustainability and environmental issues and topographical and geographical challenges”.

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said: “The Scottish Government has long argued that the only way for the full benefits of high speed rail to be realised is to make it a fully inclusive line with Scotland a part of the plans from the beginning. These views chime with those from across parties – to do anything else is just poor business sense.

“We need Westminster to follow our lead by building the line from both ends at the same time so that the whole of the country – not just London – can reap the benefits.”

Hendry continued: “Inclusion of Scotland in Westminster’s HS2 plans will improve connectivity and remove barriers for businesses in remote parts of the country.

“Scotland needs better than this – it is ridiculous that Westminster is extending the High Speed Rail network but without any consideration for Scotland.”

Business Secretary Sajid Javid told the Andrew Marr Show : “We are committed to HS2. We’ve always said that it’s something that’s going to benefit every part of the country and that will include benefitting the Scottish.”

An HS2 Ltd spokesman said: “Work on improving links to Scotland is ongoing.”