OPINION is divided over a decision to scrap a controversial section of HS2.
The Golborne Link, a £ 3 billion link between the new line and the existing West Coast Main Line, was set to run across a significant area of rural Trafford, with a particular impact on Warburton. But this week Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson announced it is no longer a part of the scheme.
The announcement confirmed a revelation made by Sir Graham Brady back in April, when he told The Messenger of assurances received in a conversation with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
At the time, the MP for Altrincham and Sale West said: “I have been campaigning for years to have the Golborne Link scrapped and I am delighted that the government has now accepted my case.
“This will be a huge relief for my constituents in Warburton, who have lived with uncertainty for too long.”
Sir Graham’s delight was this week shared by campaigners at CPRE, the countryside charity, who saw the Golborne Link as a threat to green belt land that outweighed the positives of the scheme.
Jackie Copley said: “We celebrate this announcement, as do the communities impacted by the proposals.”
She added: “The public should understand HS2 will still connect with West Coast Main Line services at Crewe. The Golborne Link would have made passengers change trains at Preston, leading to much less convenient travel to Scotland, and longer journey times.”
However, not all were impressed with Mr Stephenson’s announcement, which came a matter of minutes before the outcome of a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson was revealed.
A statement by the High Speed Rail Group, the Rail Freight Group and the Railway Industry Association said: “It is disappointing to discover, on a day when political attention was focused elsewhere, the government confirmed the Golborne Link is to be removed.
“Without this connection, a bottleneck will be created north of Crewe on the West Coast Main Line, which in turn will negatively impact outcomes for passengers, decarbonisation and leveling up.”
Mr Stephenson said he and other ministers are set to explore alternatives to the Golborne Link to allow HS2 into Scotland.
But rail bosses said it is important this is done as soon as possible to avoid any ‘openness’ or ‘uncertainty’.