An artist's impression of one of the future HS2 trains. Credit: HS2

Govt to scrap HS2’s £3bn Golborne Link

Plans for a controversial 13-mile connection that would have joined the high-speed rail line in Cheshire with the West Coast Main Line near Golborne will no longer go forward.

From Golborne, which is just south of Wigan, the HS2 trains would go up the WCML to Scotland. Accordingly, the Golborne Link was meant to improve journey times and increase train frequency between London and Glasgow.

But a report from Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy found that the Golborne Link would fail to resolve “all the rail capacity constraints on the WCML between Crewe and Preston”.

That was the reason minister of state Andrew Stephenson, who is responsible for HS2, cited in a written statement to Parliament. Stephensen said the government would be removing the Golborne link from the High-Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill after its second reading.

Stephenson said that plans for both the Crewe-Manchester HS2 mainline and Northern Powerhouse Rail will be unaffected by the change.

While the Golborne Link is now out, Stephenson said the government will continue looking for ways to improve the connections to Scotland.

“We will look at the potential for these alternatives to bring benefits to passengers sooner, allowing improved Scotland services from Manchester and Manchester Airport, as well as from Birmingham and London,” he said. “HS2 trains will continue to serve Wigan and Preston, as well as Lancaster, Cumbria and Scotland.”

Warrington Council leader Russ Bowden voiced his support for the removal of the Golborne Link, while still praising the plans for HS2.

“We recognise the huge benefits HS2 will bring to the North of the country, providing Warrington with better access and transport links,” he said.

“The Golborne Link, however, has always been a deal-breaker for us,” Bowden continued.

“It would have had profound and unnecessary impacts on many of our communities with no discernible benefits for our town.”

Bowden said the council supported improving the existing WCML through Warrington.

Construction on the Golborne Link had been set to begin in the early 2030s, with the link opening at the end of that decade.

Work is already progressing on the route to Manchester, with HS2 having purchased from Bruntwood the Square One site near Piccadilly to enable the construction of a new high-speed station. Enabling works on the HS2 Piccadilly station are set to begin no earlier than 2025.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

Yes and have a direct link to Liverpool instead !!!!

By Anonymous

£3 billion towards Crossrail 2 no doubt.

By Elephant

HS3 starting at Liverpool

By Anonymous

All positive news for Mcr, Mcr Airport, Wigan, Warrington, Crewe, Preston…………..oh and that big place called Liverpool ? We`ll see what we can do.

By Anonymous

Yet further cuts and broken promises to the North from the Tories, whilst fulfilling promises to the South. This omission will cancel significant benefits. It was meant to allow existing express services from Glasgow to join HS2, decreasing time to London whilst removing express trains from existing lines right across Greater Manchester (when combined with NPR – the North’s Crossrail). This would have meant all existing railway lines in Greater Manchester could have been converted into a huge, frequent, reliable suburban rail network equivalent to the Overground in London, RER in Paris or German’s S-bahns. Cancelling NPR and this link now makes that impossible. Amazing how the current government constantly lies to us, breaking promises whilst talking about “levelling up”, yet building more in the South (Boris just announced his support for a second London Crossrail a couple of months after cancelling the one in the North)… yet we still vote them in… time after time, election after election. But hey, they got BREXIT done and now we have pounds and ounces coming back instead

By Jo

Liverpool is connected and will get a direct link that is the plan

By Anonymous

*Work is already progressing on the route to Birmingham

By Anonymous

Good for Manchester and good for the Northwest too. Pity the original HS3 is a pipe dream. A line from Liverpool through to hull connecting the North would have been great.

By Anonymous

We’ll looks like this is really moving now. That’s a lot of development in the city centre and if it wasn’t already Manchester will be the best connected city outside London.

By Anonymous

Just Scrap HS2 and spend the money on upgrading local services

By Anonymous

Levelling down!

By jgw905

Still the invisible city over here. It will take almost as long to reach Warrington from central Liverpool as it will to get from Warrington to London! And as Tory ministers ponder connecting Scotland to Manchester more quickly, Liverpool remains without any meaningful link to Scotland at all, and inexplicably remains without a scheduled HS2 service to Birmingham.
The government accepts connectivity is vital for business, so why is it so intent on isolating us.

By Jeff

Note that the MP for Leigh was opposed to this, as it cut through his garden. Not surprised it’s been scrapped..

By Person

This is good new as it avoids a massive white elephant being constructed based on flimsy justification. HS2 trains should stop at Warrington not bypass it. There are much better things to spend the money on.

By Anonymous

Germany has just introduced a ¢9 monthly pass for whole country while U K fares are already so high that majority population won’t be able to afford to travel on high speed lines.

By Beth Roberts

Good news! The Golborne Link was a huge expense for very little return. The money could be much better spent upgrading the West Coast Main Line north of Crewe, which would bring much greater benefits not just to long distance travellers, but also local services and freight. Let us hope that results.

By Richard

This is the one opportunity for proper European/Far East/Australian/Canadian level of transport infrastructure. Generally supportive of HS2 but these incremental cuts are reducing the benefits of the scheme. If Manchester is now the mainline destination, does the kink in the line most efficient anymore? Why not continue the Manchester line through towards Preston, so Manchester is connected to the north and south? We really need the Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester Airport station to come forward now. Warrington could benefit massively.

By Levelling Down

I wonder if the detail plan will remain the same for the line between Crewe and Manchester Airport (The construct of the curve and original track alignment) allowing space for either a future link towards Wigan/Preston again or towards Warrington/Liverpool.

By Drew

This is what Sunak means by improving public services.

By Anonymous

Typically Liverpool is left as an afterthought, like the runt of the litter starved of resources, Liverpool City Region gets no high-speed track, no full-length trains, no spanking-new state of the art station just probably a section of Lime Street given a make-over, HS2 was championed by Lord Adonis and both his party and the current government have ever included Liverpool in their full HS2 plan.

By Anonymous

Major blow to the north beyond Crewe especially Scotland also freight capacity reduced. All to please a couple of conservative MPs ans save a tiny % of what we are spending on cross rail . HS3 ….just another broken promise….few minor improvements nothing transformational…..that’s reserved for the south

By George

Boris needed the extra support from Cheshire MPS

By Anonymous

Anything short of fast linking Liverpool,Mcr,Leeds, Sheffield and Hull is all about London really and nothing about levelling up.

By Nick

Now scrap the rest please

By Cal

I am going to write to my MP about this.

By James Yates

Liverpool is one of the great cities of Europe, not some poky little nowhere town in Suffolk. If the North is treated with contempt by Westminster , then you can duplicate that by ten for Liverpool. NPR should start in Liverpool through Warrington to Manchester via Manchester airport, where travellers would be then connected to HS2 with one change. The way transport infrastructure is organised in this country defies common sense. I struggle to understand how 900 million pounds can be found to restructure Bond Street station in London, but resources cannot be found to fund a major city being connected to HS2. Why do Londoners get more spent on an Underground station that we get for a whole line? I don’t think Londoners realise how much anger Crossrail has caused up here.

By Elephant

Liverpool should have a direct link from the city centre its outrageous

By Anonymous

Scrap all of hs2. It has shown through covid that people don’t need to travel for work. A complete waste of money. There will always be that north/south divide..spend the money up here locally.

By Caroline

Such a shame, we need more rail investment in this country. This lack of consistency in Govt decision making is alarming

By Ian James

Why is it all about speed?
Is it about a low carbon transport network adding capacity and connectivity, helping rebalance the economy?
Like Big Ben and The Gherkin will it become The Guaranteed Wi-Fi Express or Really Reliable Rail?
One things for sure, the purchasing of tickets and getting yourself to the station on time, will be longer than the train journey itself. Time wasted creating your own little time buffer.
Do we really need this when working from home is much more virus-safe, cheaper, far more comfortable and no begging for recompense from the long-winded refunds policy, upon cancellation of course?
We’ll all be emaciated by 2025 with the current rise in inflation! Cannot afford to feed or warm ourselves so, where does this fit in?

By Andy Grey Rider

Some comments are way off the mark. There are no plans to connect Liverpool directly to HS2. Liverpool’s only chance of faster trains to Birmingham and London is Network Rails’ proposal to upgrade the WCML from Crewe to Preston.

HS2 north of Crewe now serves only Manchester, the Benefit Cost Ratio is impossible to Justify for this leg. There still is not even funding for the proposed station at Ringway. It is still in the plan but it has not got parliamentary approval yet, with this leg looking rife for chopping in favour of upgrading existing lines.

By Anonymous

Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 12,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 12,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

Would you also like to receive our free PlaceTech Weekly newsletter, covering innovation in property?*