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HS2 to go ahead – but there is still hope for Warrington campaigners

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PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has today confirmed that the controversial HS2 high speed rail line is to go ahead – despite soaring costs.

But the northern leg of the line is to be the subject of a six month review – and that has given hope to campaigners in Warrington who want to see the Golborne Link scrapped.

This is the section of the project that would devastate the Culcheth area, cutting through the village and also hit the Rixton-with-Glazebrook area and Warburton and skirt Lymm and High Legh.

Cllr Frank Allen, chairman of the Culcheth and District Rail Action Group, said: “We are as yet a little unclear about what is happening. But it seems that Phase 1 is going ahead but that anything north of Birmingham, or possibly Crewe, is to be subject to further review.

“If the idea is to save money, then getting rid of the Golborne Link would make sense.

“There is talk of a six month review of the northern part of the scheme, taking into account the implications for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

“NPR says it sees no point in the Golborne Link so that seems to be an obvious opportunity to cut costs.

“We think there is still a chance of the Golborne Link being dropped. Certainly a further review would give an opportunity for a more sensible and careful approach that would save money.

“But only time will tell.”

Warrington South MP Andy Carter has indicated his opposition to HS2. Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols supports HS2 but has indicated that she opposes the Golborne Link.
Business leaders in the North have mainly welcomed the Government’s decision.

Charlotte Nichols said: “Warrington North Labour have long opposed the Golborne Spur being part of the HS2 route, because of the profoundly negative impact it would have on the constituency especially in Culcheth, Croft, Risley and Hollins Green- not least in cutting off Wigshaw Lane.

“While there stand to be a number of benefits to Warrington North from HS2 if delivered in the right way, I am clear that this is not a compromise we can be expected to accept for the project to go ahead. I am glad to have gained assurances today from the Prime Minister himself that this is being looked into and I will continue to hold him and the Secretary of State for Transport to account to ensure that they deliver on these assurances.

Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) welcomed the Government’s announcement confirming that HS2, including Birmingham to Crewe will go ahead. The LEP also restated that connecting to Manchester and Northern Powerhouse Rail is critical to maximising the full benefits for the North West and beyond.

Crewe, uniquely, delivers 360-degree rail connectivity and is a critical interchange for HS2. When combined with the extension to Manchester and Northern Powerhouse Rail, via a Crewe Northern junction, the potential to revolutionise travel and crucially open-up access to national and international labour and business markets will unlock significant growth.

Christine Gaskell CBE DL, Chair of the LEP said: “We welcome the announcement today by the Prime Minister that the UK Government is committed to delivering HS2 in full, and we are pleased that Government recognises the important role that Crewe plays in maximising the benefits of HS2.

Our evidence shows that an integrated high-speed rail service for the North, that includes Northern Powerhouse Rail, is vital in rebalancing the UK economy. Such investment will enable the creation of up to 120,000 new jobs and the construction of up to 127,000 new homes, as a key component of the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan.

“Our local economy is the highest performing in the Northern Powerhouse so the Government’s confirmation that the UK will see this investment in vital infrastructure is a major milestone. Our location offers a unique opportunity to act as the catalyst for a Growth Corridor for the wider north whilst ensuring the key role that the Cheshire Science Corridor can play, and accelerating Crewe’s position as a strategically important international business location, just 10 minutes from Manchester Airport.

“It’s imperative we now work quickly with Government and partners to complete the review in to the Manchester line to ensure we can realise the full benefits of a high-speed network of rail services that ease travel north-south and east-west.”

CADRAG chairman Frank Allen

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