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Opponents and supporters lined up for HS2 plan
8:00am Friday 1st February 2013 in News
HS2 - the high speed rail network linking London to the north - will come through Warrington - but not how campaigners had hoped.
On Monday the Government unveiled its preferred route for the 225mph line to the region with only stations planned for Crewe, Manchester and Manchester Airport in the north west.
But as part of the links up to the West Coast Mainline in Wigan the line could cut through the eastern edge of the borough from Warburton, Glazebrook and Culcheth up to the Lowton border.
The plans are the initial footprints for the £32billion scheme which is due to open in 2032.
The Government and HS2 Ltd will work with MPs, local authorities and including environment and heritage organisations to refine the proposals along with a large public consultation.
The final route will be chosen by the end of 2014.
The proposal has split many in the town who are for and against the plans.
PARKLAND could be carved up by the proposed new high speed railway line as it slices through the east of the borough.
The Friends of Culcheth Linear Park say they are devastated by the plans for HS2 to cut through the green space.
Chairman Sally Probert said: “It is part of the proposed rail link to Wigan rather than the main Manchester link that affects us. It will cut in to the park for a few hundred metres.
“Unfortunately the old map that the government planners are using shows the area as a disused railway line and not as beautiful and well used park for the local people to use.
“We have over the last few years raised tens of thousands of pounds to help drain the park and make it more user friendly for the many dog walkers, joggers, walkers and children to walk and play in it.”
While Cheshire Wildlife Trust say the railway could put the borough’s most valued and fragile habitats at risk.
It has raised fears over Holcroft Moss nature reserve near Risley Moss - the last remaining peat bog in the county that has not been ‘cut over’ or affected by peat extraction works.
Director of conservation Charlotte Harris said: “We’re keen to understand from HS2 how they propose to minimise the impact on our Holcroft Moss reserve with the line passing extremely close to the south west corner.
“These are wild places that shouldn’t fall under the rails.”
FASTER travel times to London and a positive impact on the borough’s economy will roll into town on the high speed railway line.
Warrington will see travel times reduced by 30 minutes to the capital even though the borough missed out on becoming a stopping point on the route - despite lobbying from council bosses.
Announcing the route on Monday Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “High Speed Rail is an unparalleled opportunity to secure a step-change in Britain’s competitiveness and this Government will do everything possible to ensure that Warrington benefits by getting the connections they need and deserve to thrive.”
And industry experts believe some properties could benefit from the new line with properties in places like Lymm only 10 minutes away from a new station at Manchester Airport where trains are less than an hour to London.
David Thrower, a retired transport consultant from Stockton Heath, said: “Some people might choose to drive to Manchester Airport and some house prices will go up rather than down thanks to that fast link.
“The vast majority of residents will also benefit in terms of an economic impact and it makes Warrington an even more attractive place for businesses.
“We will have train services that will use the line and will connect at Crewe to the West Coast Mainline so we don’t need a new station if you get a train from Bank Quay to connect with the line.”