Cllr Terry O'Neill

Warrington seeks benefits from HS2

Warrington Borough Council’s executive board has agreed to finalise a detailed response to the HS2 consultation and is determined to get the best deal for Warrington.

The council supports the principle of high speed rail, however, it will be making strong representations to high speed rail developers HS2 Ltd about certain aspects of the proposals particularly relating to the route to ensure that Warrington benefits from this multi-billion pound development.

At the moment the Government’s preferred route bypasses Warrington. It would cut through the eastern part of the borough, having a substantial impact on these communities, giving Warrington ‘all of the pain and none of the gain’.

Cllr Terry O’Neill, leader of the council, said: “The council is in favour of the concept of high speed rail in general as a solution to improving the current outdated rail system in the UK and to tackle frequency and capacity issues.

“However, it is important for us to fully understand the impact of these proposals and provide constructive feedback to make sure that Warrington does not lose out but in fact flourishes from the benefits that high speed rail could bring, particularly in terms of our booming economy.

“We support the choice of route to connect London to Manchester via Birmingham, Crewe and Manchester Airport, but do not support the Hoo Green to Bamfurlong ‘spur’ line, which is proposed to connect from Manchester Airport to the West Coast Main Line north of Warrington.

“The council’s strongly held view is that the Government should reconsider its preferred route and develop an alternative proposal to improve the West Coast Main Line from Crewe to Wigan with the provision of an enhanced Warrington Bank Quay High Speed 2 Station. The council seriously questions the benefits and value for money of the section of route which passes through the borough.

“We are particularly concerned about the impact of the preferred route on communities in the eastern part of the borough. The route is proposed to cross the Manchester Ship Canal on a 30m high viaduct, which would have a devastating impact on nearby villages including Rixton and Hollins Green.

“Furthermore, it would pass straight through the Taylor Business Park, meaning the loss of some 500 jobs to the local community. It would also have a substantial impact on Culcheth and other nearby areas and would sever the Linear Parkway.

“Our support is also dependent upon a range of infrastructure upgrades, including the electrification of the Liverpool to Manchester route via Warrington Central station, a new station at Warrington West and a range of other improvements to the rail network. All of these are vitally important for Warrington’s economic growth programme - Warrington Means Business.

“We will also be referring to the need for a ‘Warrington Connectivity Package’, as an absolute minimum, that will include a wide range of rail connectivity investments to help support and boost Warrington’s economy including the electrification of the Manchester to Chester rail line running through Warrington Bank Quay and enhanced and direct rail links from Warrington to Manchester Airport and the proposed new Manchester Airport HS2 Rail Station.

“As Warrington is one of the UKs most successful economic locations, we strongly believe that high speed rail should act as a catalyst for growth and that Warrington should be a key player in this.

“We believe there is a danger that the current proposals could actually damage Warrington’s economic future and it is crucial that we do everything we can to ensure that residents and businesses are being properly served.

“We will provide a clear and detailed consultation response and we will continue to work closely with HS2 Ltd during this process to get the best deal for Warrington.”

Consultation response key points:

The council supports the principle of High Speed rail and is keen to see an extension of the Phase One route (London – Birmingham) northwards at the earliest possible opportunity.

The council supports the construction of new High Speed stations at Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. The council recognises that these will be of considerable benefit to the wider North West economy with both proposed new stations likely to be used by Warrington residents, businesses and visitors to the borough.

Likewise the council supports the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and Cheshire East Council in its proposals for regenerating and developing Crewe in relation to HS2 – the ‘High Speed City’ concept.

While Warrington Borough Council supports the HS2 route proposed from Lichfield to Manchester via Crewe, it cannot support the proposed Hoo Green to Bamfurlong section of the main line and wishes to see this routing reconsidered. The council has a number of serious concerns about this section of the proposed route.

These primarily include the cost and value for money of this route versus an alternative alignment via the West Coast Main Line via Warrington Bank Quay and the significant economic and environmental impacts which the proposed route will have on areas in the eastern part of Warrington.

The council strongly feels that the current HS2 proposals do not recognise and support the economic opportunity of Warrington to national growth and prosperity. The council has a strong preference for the continuation of the High Speed 2 Phase Two route north from Crewe and through the borough on towards Wigan and Preston.

The council is particularly keen on this alternative alignment as it offers considerable opportunity to have a new high speed station constructed in the town centre, replacing the existing station at Bank Quay and helping to support economic regeneration and growth.

The council will now finalise and submit its formal consultation response to HS2 Ltd within the required timescale.

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