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Hopes grow that HS2 spur will be axed

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WEIGHTY opposition is growing to the HS2 high speed rail line – and in particular the spur line that would affect 1,452 homes in Warrington.
Transport Secretary Robert Goodwill has told Warrington North MP Helen Jones that her questions on the viability of the spur – which would devastate the villages of Culcheth and Hollins Green – are valid.
In addition, a report by the House of Lords economic affairs committee has said the government has no convincing case for building the £50 billion HS2 line between London and the North.
The main claims – increasing railway capacity and rebalancing the economy – were still to be proven, peers said.
Less expensive options had still to be explored, they believed.
The Hoo Green to Bamfurlong link, which would slice through Warrington, would be “the whitest of white elephants”, Helen Jones told the House of Commons.
Building it would devastate two villages – Culcheth and Hollins Green – and inflict serious environmental damage, she said.
The case for the spur had been seriously undermined, with costs rising and the acceptance of a main transport hub at Crewe making it redundant.
The MP also highlighted the economic damage which would be caused to the
villages affected.
She said: “Warrington will not benefit from this part of the line. We have the pain, but we do not have the gain. In fact, we would probably end up with a worse service from Warrington than we have now, given that we already have one train an hour to London and one train an hour to Glasgow.
“ I say to the Minister that the case does not stack up. The government has not looked at the whole economic benefit, and they need to save £1 billion of public money by abandoning the spur.”
Mr Goodwill, in his reply to the debate, said the Warrington North MP had raised a valid question about the Phase 2 spur.
“We are currently reviewing and assessing those decisions,” he said.
After the debate, Ms Jones said: “I was encouraged by the fact that the Minister recognised that I have a valid question about the viability of the spur. I hope sense will prevail and the spur will be abandoned once the review has been completed.”
Last September, Ms Jones and Warrington South MP David Mowat both questioned the viability of the spur line through Warrington.
Mr Mowat said: “Try as I might, I cannot find the benefit of that spur line to Warrington or anywhere else in the country.”
He said neither he nor Helen Jones were speaking as “nimbies.”
“If there was a purpose in the line scything through our constituencies, her constituency in particular, we could have a more balanced discussion.”
Warrington Borough Council has also voiced its opposition to the project.

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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