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Minister’s “gut feeling” that HS2 will go ahead – but campaigners remain hopeful.

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A CABINET minister says he has a “gut feeling” that the HS2 rail project will go ahead – but campaigners in Culcheth remain optimistic that it could be scrapped.
Cllr Frank Allen, chairman of CADRAG – the Culcheth and District Rail Action Group – said: “We are hopeful that at least the Golborne Link – the part that would affect us locally – could be dropped.
“I don’t think anyone has made up their mind yet – the decision could be on a knife edge.”
Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay gave what was described as “the clearest indication yet” that HS2 would go ahead when he told the BBC he had a “gut feeling” that the review into the controversial project would result in the scheme going ahead.
He also said he believed the project was vital to for “levelling up” the UK’s transport network and improving. But his comments came against a background of a growing row over the spiralling cost of HS2 – now put at £106 billion.
Cllr Allen said: “It would cost a lot of money to cancel the scheme, although not as much as to continue with it. We have, in the past, had other hugely costly projects that have been cancelled.
“But the Golborne Link could be dropped and save a lot of the cost. The line is not needed and it is not cost effective. For every £1 spent on it, you would only get 15p back.
“Another problem is that the line would be built to a really high standard, capable of carrying 20 trains a day in each direction. But the design of the full GHS2 network would not allow more than three trains a day in each direction. It just would not make sense.”
Cllr Allen said CADRAG was continuing to work behind the scenes to oppose HS2 and was pleased that, since the General Election, all the local MPs were opposing the rail project.
These included the MPs for Leigh, James Grundy, Warrington South, Andy Carter and Altrincham and Sale, Sir Graham Brady.
If the Golborne Link is built it will slice through Culcheth, devasting the village, blighting many properties. A wider area including High Legh, Agden, Broomedge, Lymm , Heatley, Warburton, Dunham, Partington, Rixton-with-Glazebrook and Lowton would also be affected.
Origially, the Golborne link was intended to avoid congestion at Crewe, provide a depot at Golborne and a link to the West Coast Main Line for trains to Scotland.
But in 2014 plans were announced for an HS2 station and a depot at Crew, along with a direct connection to the West Coast Main Line. Campaigners say this removes the need for the Golborne Link.
In the past, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that he did not support HS2, but more recently he has been more ambivalent.

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