Burnham: Use Golborne Link cash to get Manchester Piccadilly HS2 plan right
Greater Manchester’s mayor has called on the government to put the £3bn that was earmarked for the scrapped 13-mile section of HS2 towards creating an underground station at Piccadilly.
“That £3bn should stay in Greater Manchester. Do not just take that money back to the Treasury,” Andy Burnham said.
Earlier this week, the government announced the Golborne Link would no longer form part of HS2. The line would have connected Millington in Cheshire to Golborne near Wigan, where it would have joined the West Coast Mainline.
Speaking at the launch of GM2030, a report by strategic marketing communications agency MC2 on the future of the city region, Burnham bemoaned the cancellation of the Golborne Link.
“A £3bn chunk that would have levelled up Wigan like nothing ever proposed before has been chopped out. This is a real worry for us.”
Burnham suggested that the decision to cut the Golborne Link, as well as scrapping plans for a new line between Manchester and Leeds through Bradford earlier this year, is indicative of the government’s attitude towards rail investment in the North.
“Just think about [Manchester’s] five, city centre train stations. They have hardly seen any investment in the last 20 years.
“The stations are outliers in a modern city, relics from a previous time.”
Burnham said that the idea of Northern Powerhouse Rail, first mooted by former Chancellor George Osbourne a decade ago, was a good one. However, he warned that “paring back” the rail infrastructure plan threatens to “undermine” the policy.
“No expense has been spared in London and the South East. But as ever, it is the same old story when it comes to the North,” he said.
With the Golborne Link now history, Burnham called on the government to use the spare £3bn to “get HS2 right” at Manchester Piccadilly.
Public and private sector leaders in the city have been calling for months for the government to rethink plans for an above-ground station at Piccadilly.
They want to see an underground through-station created and claim that the above-ground option would fail to take full advantage of the opportunities HS2 presents. A change in tack could benefit the city to the tune of £333m annually, the city council claims.
In response, the government has repeatedly said that an underground station at Piccadilly would be too expensive.
“That £3bn is pretty much the cost of building HS2 right at Manchester Piccadilly,” Burnham said.
“Build it right at Piccadilly so that a future government can build Northern Powerhouse Rail that includes a through service to Bradford, Leeds and beyond. That is what should happen.”