Rail firms' fury over ‘disappointing’ decision to axe £3bn HS2 Golborne Link

The government has scrapped the 13-mile Golborne Link through Greater Manchester. Credit: High Speed Rail / Twitter

The decision to scrap a "vital" £3 billion connection between HS2 and the West Coast Main Line will lead to a "bottleneck", rail industry bodies have warned.

Rail Freight Group, the Railway Industry Association and High Speed Rail Group reacted with fury after the Government announced it was axing the 13-mile Golborne Link.

It was revealed on Monday, 7 June, that the route in Greater Manchester will be removed from the HS2 Phase 2b Bill despite it being included in the Integrated Rail Plan.

It would have left the high-speed line between Crewe and Manchester and cut through Trafford to join the West Coast Main Line to the south of Wigan.

Work was set to begin in 2030 to construct the 13-mile Golborne Link. Credit: PA images

HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson, who announced the news 30 minutes before the outcome of the confidence vote in Boris Johnson, said the Government will explore alternatives for how high speed trains will reach Scotland.

The decision has been met with fury from three railway industry bodies. In a joint statement they said: "It is hugely disappointing to discover that, on a day when much political attention was focused elsewhere, the Government confirmed that the Golborne Link is to be removed from the HS2 project.

"Only six months ago, the Golborne Link was included in the Integrated Rail Plan, as well as the HS2 Phase 2b Bill.

"The link has been provided for in the budget for HS2 and is needed to allow adequate capacity on the national rail network to fulfil its vital function of handling the nation's longer distance movements of both passengers and freight.

"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 levelling up."

Plans for the Golborne Link faced fierce criticism from MPs, councillors and local residents. Credit: HS2

The trio also warned of "heightened uncertainty" for rail businesses working on HS2 and communities living near the planned line.

Construction on the Golborne Link was due to start in the early 2030s, with the connection expected to open towards the end of that decade or in the early 2040s.

Mr Stephenson said: "HS2 is a once-in-a-lifetime project that will transform travel across the entire UK as we know it and serve millions of people for hundreds of years to come and it's absolutely vital that we get this right from the outset.

"Removing this link is about ensuring that we've left no stone unturned when it comes to working with our Scottish counterparts to find a solution that will best serve the great people of Scotland."

Plans for the Golborne Link faced fierce criticism from MPs, councillors and local residents.

After the announcement, Leader of Warrington Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “We recognise the huge benefits HS2 will bring to the north of the country, providing Warrington with better access and transport links.

"The Golborne Link, however, has always been a deal-breaker for us. It would have had profound and unnecessary impacts on many of our communities with no discernible benefits for our town.

"I am very pleased that the government has listened to our representations and that it no longer features in their plans."

The MP for Warrington Andy Carter said the axing of the line was "good news."

Mr Carter tweeted said: "This is really good news, something I’ve worked on since being elected and pleased to receive confirmation from Ministers that the Golborne link will be removed from the HS2 Bill."

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