Railway industry bosses have voiced their disapproval after the Government quietly scrapped a ‘vital’ section of HS2.
The proposed £3bn ‘Golborne Link’ would have connected the high speed Manchester-to-Crewe line with the West Coast Mainline south of Wigan, but it’s now been abandoned.
The decision to bin the Golborne Link was announced on Monday evening just minutes before Boris Johnson learned of the result of the vote of no confidence – timing that has faced criticism.
The Railway Industry Association, Rail Freight Group and High Speed Rail Group say that there’s now a risk of creating a ‘bottleneck’ that will threaten levelling up.
The Government has said it will explore alternative options that will deliver ‘similar benefits’ to Scotland.
HS2 Minister Andrew 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.”
Speaking on behalf of the Railway Industry Association, the Rail Freight Group and the High Speed Rail Group, a spokesperson 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.
“With the HS2 Eastern Leg dropped, and the Golborne Link abandoned too, there will now be heightened uncertainty both for rail businesses working on the project and for the communities the line will serve.
“Given the Government have now decided that it does not wish to proceed with the Golborne Link, it is absolutely essential it confirms as quickly as possible how Ministers intend to protect the benefits of HS2 investment and do so without delay.
“Such an important, strategic question of how HS2 services connect into Scotland cannot be left open or uncertain.”
Featured image: HS2