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.
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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.