Burnham was speaking at the launch of GM2030, a report into the future prospects of the city region. Credit: Place North West

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. 

Manchester claims an underground HS2 station (pictured) would be better for the city. Credit: Weston-Williamson

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.” 

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What does Levelling Up mean to Burnham? Make Manchester big and fat at the expense of the rest of the North, he`s a hypocrite going on about North-South inequality but actively pursuing inequality in the North.

By Anonymous

No harm in asking Asking Andy. It’ll do Your chances of leadership of the Labour Party no harm but chances are a herd of swine will glide gently onto the runway at Heathrow before it happens.

By George Siros

I admire Burnham’s Chutzpah and good luck with that request. With Leeds betrayed over HS2 ,and NPR stopping at Marsden, would Westminster really give Burnham a state of the heart station?

By Elephant

Well done for keeping up the discussion and fight for what would be best for the region.

By Tom

Perhaps LCR could make better use of it and add it to their tuppence worth of investment?

By Oh Mr Porter!

What Piccadilly needs is nothing less than a St Pancras-style redevelopment; Burnham should have set up a London office of the GM Mayor years ago, and spent a little more time lobbying Government ministers every day of the week with concrete proposals and real plans for a new station rather than endlessly ‘fighting the Government’ which whilst politically popular, simply means he is ignored, and handouts go elsewhere.

By AltPoV

There is an article from Grant Shapps in the Yorkshire post tonight. These people really do actually believe that we are stupid. Apparently the North West gets more transport investment than London now. Funny how last week, they got double per head according to one source. Crossrail, is a salt in the wound project for Northerners but the so called, “King of the North,” was actually in the cabinet which sanctioned it.

By Elephant

Go for it Andy Burnham, we shouldn’t have to be grateful for scraps handed out by Westminster, keep up the fight!

By Monty

All the comments on the tunnel option making out Manchester is being spoilt or greedy are infuriating; the whole reason for the tunnel option is so that more trains can get to THE WHOLE of the North, faster.

A terminus in London to a terminus in Piccadilly only helps London and Manchester. Building Piccadilly with the option to be a manifold of numerous tracks to ALL Northern cities and Scotland benefits everyone.

[I still think HS2/CrossRail2 should be Liverpool to Leeds via Manchester]

By Thumbs Up

The underground HS2 palace is not only unnecessary but also only invented as a spoiling tactic to inflate the cost of Liverpools proper HS2 link.
Prior to Liverpool releasing their official report, proving that hS2 original exclusion was not based on proper evidence, Manchesters authorities were very happy with their lot.
Not surprising given the monopolistic approach to engagement with hs2 and the subsequent release of a line designed entirely to their input.
A line that swerves away from Liverpool towards Manchester, contorts around south Manchester in order to supply a (no business case) Manchester airport station, and arriving at what was previously heralded as Manchester’s crowning glory.
The call for the money from one portion of gold plating to be used for what Manchester wants is offensive.
Shapps is right that the north west receives the second highest spend per capita. What he’s not revealing is that GM receives the highest. The north west outside of GM – Liverpool included – one of the lowest.

By Jeff

Until England is a con-federation all local politicians can do is “request”, “appeal”, “demand” and “beg” of ministries in London, which is where our tax money goes.
And “Taking Back Control” is not what this is.

By James yates

Getting to Scotland and other Northern cities like Sheffield , York, Newcastle could have been achieved via the HS2 Eastern branch, you don`t have to go via a gold-plated Manc underground station to get there, but any excuse to pour money into GM.

By Anonymous

The North West area may receive the second highest per capita spend but then it’s also the second largest by population and GDP thanks mostly to Manchester. What the figures don’t show is the huge disparity between first and second . An underground at Piccadilly would help connect the north as a whole which should be the point of a high speed transport infrastructure. Anything else is just bluster.

By Anonymous


Burnham is the mayor for Greater Manchester, maybe concentrate on your own leaders instead? Directing hate at the wrong city/leader is part of your problem.

By Anonymous

To correct one point in the article, the loss of the Golborne Link will not have done much to reduce levelling up for Wigan. The London trains planned for the Golborne Link would not have stopped at Wigan, the only trains using the Golborne Link and stopping at Wigan would have been those running to Birmingham. Wigan’s HS2 trains to London are planned to use the West Coast Main Line to Crewe then use the HS2 main line south to London. They still can, nothing has changed for these trains.

By Richard

In case I wasn’t clear enough, the “north west”does not receive the highest per capita spend.
The north west (ex-GM) is the second lowest with only the south west getting less.
The 2.6 million GM residents receive over three times the spending of the 4.8 million people that live outside in (including the 1.7 million in Liverpool).
It is Manchester that receives the highest per capita in the UK, and has been so for 20 years.
The “north west” is a grouping of pure convenience as far as Manchester goes: whatever is built in Manchester supposedly benefits us all (even when abstracting economic activity away), while the increasing impoverishment of our own economy is cynically used to build cases for yet more for the “north west” (aka Manchester).

By Jeff

Manchester has been trying to construct an underground since 1839 …

Meanwhile the refurbishment of the house of commons has been quoted as costing between £12 Billion and £22 Billion …

By MrP

No need for HS2 north of Crewe.

Currently, the HS2 plan links to the WCML south of Crewe, as the Golborne Link has been dropped. HS2 then running north is completely separate as far as just Manchester. For a few miles from Crewe north to Minshull Vernon HS2 parallels the WCML, being six tracks wide.

Sir Peter Hendry, head of Network Rail, wants the WCML upgraded from Crewe to Preston. From Crewe to Weaver Junction where trains split to Liverpool and Scotland, the 2-track WCML there could be 4-track with two tracks being for HS2 classic compatible trains to Liverpool and Scotland – but having these tracks still on the WCML, not HS2. The Crewe North HS2 to WCML junction could remain, allowing Liverpool and Lancaster trains to access Crewe station as already planned under the Crewe Hub scheme.

Non-stop trains would be at full HS2 linespeed of 360kph (223 mph) on the new WCML tracks dedicated to HS2 classic compatible services, with no existing restriction to such speeds. This way, Liverpool and Scotland get ‘fast’ services with Runcorn retaining its London service. Journey times would be similar to HS2 times. All just by making 16 miles of new WCML track 223mph.

Manchester already has a dedicated line to Crewe. Upgrade this and near equal HS2 times are achieved.

HS2 phase 2b will cost £32 billion and rising. Most of that is for the western leg which only runs to Manchester. This is an obscene amount of money serving only one provincial city. Upgrading the WCML north of Crewe, and the Liverpool WCML spur and Manchester WCML spur, can be done for a fraction of the cost of HS2 without needlessly tearing up countryside…. and we still all win.

By John Burns

Seems to me that the ones controlling budgets miss the principle that if future users can’t readily get onto trains – be they from Wigan Manchester or Bradford the entire philosophy of HS2 has been missed. The point is having committed to the spend in the South we cannot afford not to spend the money in the North. This country once again appears to be falling short on major infrastructure unless the money is being spent in the south. Never evidenced more so than in this case where budget commitments and grandiose plans on the south of the line are already committed.

By Paul G

In reply to Anonymous and GM getting most of the North West’s budget. Before Metrolink, Liverpool had a better connected hinterland than Manchester. Isn’t Manchester catching up with Merseyside now? It has been possible to get to Southport and Birkenhead, directly from the centre of Liverpool seamlessly for ages, whereas getting to Oldham or Bury etc from Manchester meant a walk to a mainline station. Manchester needs two underground lines linking Piccadilly with Salford Central and Oxford Road with Victoria , with a stop at St Peters Square, connecting all four main central stations, within minutes. The area around Salford Central is booming and that station poorly utilised. A fancy underground station at Piccadilly will only serve people leaving GM. Liverpool and Manchester should stop acting like the two hard lads in the school playground with their two groups of henchmen and start working together. This parochial nonsense is embarrassing. Neither of them are big enough to go it alone but together with their hinterlands and Warrington we could have a mega economic powerhouse to rival London.

By Elephant

In reply to Elephant.
Liverpool’s Merseyrail metro was originally just separate lines out to the surrounding towns from terminal stations. They were merged in the 1970s in the city centre with some tunnelling forming a metro. A part was already underground in the city centre and Birkenhead dating from the 1800s.
Manchester forwarded the appalling Pic-Vic underground, proposal which was quite rightly refused. They should have copied Merseyrail’s approach of merging separate lines into one metro, then the DfT would have OKd it.
One third of Liverpool’s planned metro was dropped by Thatcher when she came to power. About 5 miles of tunnel in Liverpool and Birkenhead and miles of trackbed and some stations still lay there awaiting trains. The eastern section of the city cannot access the underground central core. A 6-platform parkway station was about to be built at Broad Green in the east of the city but abandoned. Large sections of the city are not served by the metro, that can be easily served if trackbed and tunnel are reused. The city has suffered ever since. Merseyrail covers nowhere near what Manchester’s Metrolink covers in their respective cities. .
The Merseytram network was dropped by Gordon Brown, with even the lines delivered and in storage. All the city wants is to get the original Merseyrail plan finished after 40 years. The core of the infrastructure is there waiting.
One third of the metro was pulled at the 11th hour as was the Merseytram scheme. To say Manchester is playing catchup to Liverpool is just plain wrong. Liverpool has seen little HMG money spent on its transport in decades.

By John Burns

Manchester needs to demolish Piccadilly station, except for the two through platforms – a station facing the wrong way. The Germans got rid of terminal stations making them through stations as they are far more efficient.

Victoria faces the right way. A new Berlin like super-station need to be built at Victoria, having all connections at one point. Two old stations are expensive to maintain. Then Manchester can be a proper North of England rail hub. When Manchester gets its rail in order the whole of the North of England gains.

By John Burns

Elephant wrote:
“Liverpool and Manchester should stop acting like the two hard lads in the school playground with their two groups of henchmen and start working together. This parochial nonsense is embarrassing. Neither of them are big enough to go it alone but together with their hinterlands and Warrington we could have a mega economic powerhouse to rival London.”
The London-Oxford-Cambridge power triangle divides and rules. They do not want any one city to rival London, as is the case in Spain with Madrid and Barcelona. Why do you think they are spending all this money on Manchester ignoring hated Liverpool?

By John Burns

In reply to John Burns, or Jeff , whichever. TWe all need the foot of Whitehall off our back and more funds from central government. We also need better local representation and local politicians that are actually interesting in growing the economy rather than furthering their own agenda .

By Anonymous

We’ll done Andy for speaking up for Manchester again. I can’t but help thinking that unless you or more politicians from the North whatever their political hue get into power the North will remain a shadow of what it could be. Northern powerhouse, levelling up, marketing slogans only providing a drip feed and little of any substance.

By JohnD

It’s pretty obvious that the government has zero intention of ever building high speed line anywhere north of Birmingham they just make sure the costs escalated so it can be cancelled on grounds now too expensive.MPs only care about London transport because that’s where their work and property interest are.

By Vera William

Thanks to John Burns for enlightening me. I always thought Liverpool Underground had been there since Queen Victoria, now I know different. However, I have stood on Underground platforms in Liverpool and seen trains going to Ormskirk, Huyton and Southport 40 years ago. Before 1992, you could not get to Bury from Altrincham,without a walk across the city . That is my point.Imagine having to walk from Waterloo to Kings Cross in 1990 to get from South to North London. That is the level of neglect Greater Manchester endured prior to 1992.

By Elephant

Jeff, excellent point on the spending of HMG money in GM over all others in the North West. The Ordsall Chord in Manchester costed £100 million, yet takes a few trains per day. A waste of money for sure. £100 million would get the Wapping tunnel from Liverpool’s Central station to Edge Hill reused. This would make a ‘massive’ difference to Liverpool’s Merseyrail metro. The DfT will not even look at at finishing the Merseyrail metro after over 40 years of waiting. £100 million for dodgy rail projects like the Ordsall Chord while Liverpool does not even get a nod. The new Class 777 Merseyrail metro trains soon to be introduced (they are late) are bought by the city. The existing fleet was cast off from teh south, nearing 40 years old. Enough is enough!
Manchester is no Munich or Barcelona being a normal British provincial city

By John Burns

Liverpool’s metro got rid of THREE terminal stations: Central, Exchange and Birkenhead Woodside. Riverside terminal station was demolished, however that served the ocean liners only. The City Region had all long haul trains centred on one terminal station at Lime St, with Chester and Runcorn supplementing.
Prior to 1978 if you wanted to get from Hunts Cross in the south of the city to Southport you would have to go to Central high level terminal station then walk across the city centre to Exchange terminal station, then take a train to Southport. These terminal station were removed connecting the lines with a short section of underground tunnel in the centre centre, creating a north-south crossrail, the Northern Line. Now you can go from Hunts Cross to Southport on one trip. People in the north of the city can easily travel to the south. The southern terminal was to be Gateacre, but that a part of the cuts, so it is now Hunts Cross. The southern terminal was to be Warrington by 1991. That of course never happened.
Those in the Wirral to get to a terminal station would use a new metro tunnel loop in the city centre serving Lime St, the business quarter, shopping quarter and riverfront.
Liverpool’s metro saved a ton of money maintaining these three terminal stations. Liverpool has more passengers access its city centre by rail than Manchester. It could be more if the one third of the metro dropped by Thatcher was finished. A substantial underground burrowing junction was built south of Central underground station to connect to the Wapping tunnel to Edge Hill and the east of the city. It never connected to the tunnels with men ordered off site. The burrowing junction is the equivalent to a flyover complex overground. If it was a flyover complex it would be visible and completed due to uproar and demand. Out of sight, out of mind.
About a quarter to a third of the planned metro is still there waiting tracks and trains. It is a disgrace to leave this needed rail infrastructure unused. All the city wants is its completion.

By John Burns

Hi folks. Just a reminder that our comments policy includes “Keep arguments constructive, *succinct* and to the point”. I know we’ve had some longer comments on this story so far, if we can trim them down in the future that would be brilliant, as I will start enforcing this point soon. Thanks – Julia

By Julia Hatmaker

No. Manchester is getting more then enough.

By The Saint

Again, it underlines Liverpool cannot be in a region with “Manchester Capital”. It has to end.

By The Saint

“We all need the foot of Whitehall off our back ”
Land Value Taxation will do that. The proceeds from the tax can fund local transport. Put a metro station in a district then the land values rise around the station – London eventually realised this putting a one-off levy on business around the Elizabeth Line stations. Reclaim that value created by public spending to build the infrastructure that gave rise to the value.
London had a one-off tax, which only helps in initial construction. Land Value Tax is continuous payable annually, or monthly. Hong Kong built a whole metro using land taxation.

By John Burns

Excellent that the HS2 is now underway with the demolition of Piccadilly gateway imminent. An underground station would clearly be the ideal but if Manchester is to consolidate its place as the Northern capital we need to get on with it and make sure all of those civil service jobs coming here not only stay here but grow over time.

By Jeff Byrne

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