The government has announced this week that it will be proceeding with legislation for the HS2 Western Leg Phase 2B as a priority. This phase is proposed to run between Crewe and Manchester, connecting to the West Coast Main Line south of Wigan via the Golborne Link, and the Eastern Leg will connect the West Midlands with Leeds.
Bringing forward the Crewe to Manchester section has been welcomed by the council, which includes plans for enhanced transport links in Crewe and extra platforms at Manchester Airport, which will help to support Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) services, which in turn will benefit Warrington through improved access and connectivity to the town.
The council also welcomes the government’s response to its 2019 Design Refinement Consultation, where it has also been confirmed that infrastructure will be put in place for ‘touch points’ in High Legh, which would enable future development of NPR to be constructed from Liverpool to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly, via Warrington. The council is pushing hard for this section of NPR to be brought forward, as it would bring real benefits to Warrington through more high speed and local rail services coming to the town at the same time as the western leg of HS2 Phase 2B.
However, the council continues to oppose any plans for the Golborne Link section, which is expected to still be included in the HS2 Western Leg Phase 2B.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden said: “The proposal for the Golborne Link remains a flaky business case which would bring little – if any - discernible value to Warrington. The case for the Golborne Link, in isolation, just isn’t palatable for our town and runs the risk of physically dividing our communities for scant overall benefit.
“I am pleased to see other plans for HS2 which will provide Warrington with better access and transport links. I would urge the government to use Warrington Bank Quay as a central hub station for NPR – it makes sense for the government to bring forward a hybrid bill for NPR to allow this section from HS2 to Liverpool, via Warrington, to be constructed in parallel with the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2B.”
“Our priority at this point, however, remains challenging the Golborne Link and we will continue to make representations to government with our concerns for the proposed spur.”
The government has also, this week, announced a further Design Refinement Consultation for HS2 Phase 2B, though none of the four proposed changes directly impact Warrington. They are:
- To add a Crewe Northern Connection and change the design of the proposed Crewe North Rolling Stock Depot
- To change the design of the Manchester Airport High Speed station
- To refine the design around Manchester Piccadilly High Speed station
- To introduce a new train stabling facility at Annandale, in Dumfries and Galloway