PROPOSED changes to the HS2 route through Culcheth, Warrington, include moving it further away from Taylor Business Park, securing the future of 500 jobs.
But it is not all good news, as the proposed 300 metre shift will now take it through a smaller cluster of businesses on Wigshaw Lane, while Warrington Borough Council leader Terry O’Neill, says the council will continue to oppose any plans for a spur which by-passes Warrington and does not include a high speed hub at Bank Quay Station.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today (Nov 15) confirmed the majority of the preferred HS2 route from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds, which he says will significantly increase capacity on congested railways for both passengers and freight, improve connections between the biggest cities and regions generating jobs, skills and economic growth.
One of those welcoming changes impacting on Warrington is Paul Taylor, MD of Taylor Business Park, which was under threat from the original route.
Mr Taylor said: “I can see why they’ve done it. Our part of the route misses out all of the congestion on the west coat mainline around Warrington and frees the high speed line up to connect at Wigan and head on up to Preston.
“It should free a lot of traffic from the route and ease things for freight south of Wigan which will take traffic off the roads.
“It is good news for most people, but sadly bad news for the few that it now passes through, following the changes.
“The plus points are that it now skirts the business park, cutting off our entrance road but thankfully missing all of the buildings.
“It also just misses the Black Swan and nearby community centre now.
” But Glaziers Lane effectively ceases to exist as the route now runs right down it which will cause problems for the fisheries which is a great attraction for the village.
“It now gives the rest of the village a wider berth than before though.
“It’s as good news as can be expected but will still leave a bitter taste in the mouth for some though and the level of disruption to our business and to the village is going to be incredible during construction.
“On the plus side it should mean that 500 jobs, 48 companies and £750,000 in rates to the council aren’t lost.”
Mr Taylor added: “It is a fantastic result in many respects, thanks to the combined efforts of Culcheth and District Railway Group (CADRAG), Taylor Business Park, Warrington Council, our local MP Helen Jones and Warrington Chamber of Commerce.
Cllr Terry O’Neill, (pictured) leader of Warrington Borough Council, said: “It is reassuring that Warrington’s economic significance and our ambitions for the town are recognised in this report and we acknowledge some of the potential benefits high speed rail may bring.
“An upgraded West Coast Mainline and a High Speed ‘hub’ station at Bank Quay are a priority for us. We will continue to oppose any HS2 route that doesn’t include this yet, at the same time, threatens significant disruption to local communities.
“The Council will continue to press Transport for the North, HS2 Limited and Network Rail to make the case for this Hub station where the planned HS3 line and the West Coast Main Line meet at Bank Quay. It is vital that there is a joined up approach to rail infrastructure projects and we would expect to see greater communication between Transport for the North, HS2 and Network Rail.
“The current version of the plans doesn’t feature a hub for Warrington. Instead, they include a route which takes HS2 around Warrington and joins the West Coast Mainline north of the town via a ‘spur’ line from near Manchester Airport to Golborne. This will mean HS2 doesn’t use the existing line from Crewe to Warrington but cuts through large parts of Warrington including Broomedge, Hollins Green, Culcheth and Croft instead. It is all pain and no economic or environmental gain for residents and businesses.
“Warrington Borough Council strongly opposes the inclusion of this ‘spur’ line (referred to by HS2 as the Golborne Link). This version of the plan is not only damaging to the borough but also undermines the reputation of HS2 and its stated objective of boosting business in the north. For the relatively short-term saving on the infrastructure costs they are effectively by-passing one of the most robust and efficient engines for economic growth in the country.
“We have been reassured by HS2 that we will be able to reinforce our case further and are confident that this economically resilient and booming borough must be included in any plans for regional rail networks.
“Ultimately, this will be a decision for Parliament and we hope that our two local MPs will join us, and residents, in fighting for what is best for Warrington and for the north west.”
Warrington North Mp Helen Jones believes it is still bad news for Culcheth and Hollins Green.
She said: “This is bad news for Culcheth and Hollins Green. It is clear that the government has not listened to local people and the concerns that have been raised.
“Common sense and reasoned argument have been cast to the wind by ministers.
“Moving the depot to north of Crewe means the case for the spur falls apart in my view.
“Warrington is gaining nothing from these proposals. Both villages will suffer serious environmental damage for a route which is the whitest of white elephants.”
Colin Daniels, Chief Executive of Warrington Chamber of Commerce welcomed the news concerning Taylor Business Park but said he remains concerned on the impact for businesses on Wigshaw Lane.
“I still don’t believe this spur route is really necessary,” he added.
The new HS2 trains will carry over 300,000 people a day and will triple seats available out of Euston at peak hours, freeing up space on the existing network for additional commuter and freight services.
HS2 will create around 25,000 jobs during construction as well as 2,000 apprenticeships. It will also support growth in the wider economy, worth an additional 100,000 jobs.
The direct benefits of HS2 will reach far beyond the towns and regions directly served by the newly built railway lines. As the full network is completed, new HS2 trains will continue up the East and West Coast Main Lines, serving areas including Warrington.
Mr Grayling added:” Our railways owe much to the Victorian engineers who pioneered them, but we cannot rest on their legacy when we face overcrowding and capacity problems.
“HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century; one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business.
“The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory.
“But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with Phase One, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law.”
Consultation on the proposed changes is open until March next year.
Phase 2a is expected to open in 2027 and phase 2b in 2033.
Summary of route refinements impacting on Warrington.
6.2.44 North of the Manchester Ship Canal, the route crosses the M62 on a viaduct. This
has been raised by up to 4m to a height of approximately 11m in order to reflect
design lessons learned from Phase One, achieving better clearance of the motorway.
In common with elsewhere on the route, we will consider as part of the hybrid Bill
design process how to maintain road and footpath access in this area.
6.2.45 As it passes Risley landfill, to the south of Culcheth the route has been raised from a maximum height of 3m to a maximum height of 7m. (W13) The consultation route then skirted Culcheth along the line of a dismantled railway. Feedback received in
the consultation highlighted concern over the proximity of the HS2 line to the
village, the impacts on Culcheth Linear Park, and the fact that the consultation route
would pass through the middle of Taylor Business Park, which is the site of a number
of important local employers.
6.2.46 Accordingly, we have moved the route approximately 300m to the south-west,
further away from the town and avoiding these features. (W14) As a result, the route
has now moved closer to a small cluster of businesses on Wigshaw Lane and, as we
develop the design, we will need to consider further how best to manage or mitigate
the impacts of the route through this area.
6.2.47 The route is generally at ground level through this area, before descending into a
cutting through Lowton. (W15) In response to consultation, we considered whether a
station could be delivered at Leigh where the HS2 line would cross the existing
network. This would require realignment of the HS2 route to deliver a long enough
section of straight track, which would lead to additional impacts in this area. In
addition, the demand case for an intermediate high speed station in this area was
not sufficiently strong to warrant the inclusion of a further intermediate station,
given the proximity of other stations that would be served by HS2 including Wigan,
Warrington, and Manchester Piccadilly.
Full copies of the report can be seen here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-phase-2b-decision-document