Wigan vs Warrington: The battle for HS2
Council bosses in Warrington are lobbying the Government in a bid to replace the proposed HS2 spur at Golborne.
But Department of Transport (DfT) officials insist that the link is still the best option to upgrade West Coast Main Line services on to Preston, Lancaster and Scotland.
Their opposite numbers in Wigan have long heralded the development, as it would result in Wigan North Western becoming the ‘gateway’ station for HS2. Labour counterparts in Warrington though are preparing to present a "technical case" to the DfT, favouring a HS2 station in the borough.
Council leader Coun Terry O’Neill said: "The council’s position on HS2 remains unchanged – it favours HS2 connecting London to Manchester via Birmingham, Crewe and Manchester Airport but remains firmly against the Golborne link.
"We do not believe that the link represents good value for money and its benefits to the rail network and services are limited versus its potential cost and the impact it will have on the eastern part of the borough.
"The only cost estimate ever produced for the Golborne link is Â£1.85 billion and HS2 Limited have not provided any update on this cost estimate.
"The link is only forecast to be used by three trains per hour in each direction, which is a very low level of usage of a very expensive piece of rail infrastructure.
"We believe that upgrading the West Coast Main Line north of Crewe, potentially all the way to Scotland, with the provision of a HS2 station in Warrington represents better value for money and will maximise the benefits of HS2 to north west England."
He confirmed that the technical case would be submitted to the Dft and HS2 "in the near future".
An initial response from Whitehall has not been promising though. A DFT spokesman said: "HS2 will be the backbone of our national rail network, helping to build a country fit for the future, boosting jobs and growth and improving vital links between some of our country’s biggest cities. The Golborne connection continues to be a key junction which will enable HS2 to deliver better connections to Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Scotland, giving passengers quicker journeys on faster, more frequent trains.
"It will also allow services to bypass the congested Crewe-Weaver Junction section, improving reliability and passenger experience on the West Coast Main Line."