A HIGH speed train line through the borough ‘looks as though it will give Warrington all pain and little gain’ says Council leader Clr Terry O’Neill.
Warrington Borough Council has written to the developers HS2 Ltd for more information about the controversial proposals which would see the new railway line travel through part of east Warrington.
In it they put forward a series of questions asking whether the borough’s strong economy was taken into account while planning the spur line which links from Mere through Hollins Green and the surrounding areas to join the West Coast Mainline in Wigan.
Clr O’Neil (LAB - Burtonwood and Winwick) added: “Given the huge public investment involved, we must make absolutely sure HS2 delivers the maximum benefits. Warrington is one of the main engines of growth in the North West – we’re currently out-performing Manchester and Liverpool – and this needs to be taken into account when deciding the route and the stations where HS2 will stop.
“At the moment it looks as though HS2 will give Warrington all pain and little gain.
“The proposed route would cut through the borough, passing close to residential areas and going through the Taylor Business Park, yet at the same time we’ll be denied a station in Warrington.
”We’re asking some pretty searching questions because we need to make sure Warrington’s residents and businesses are being properly served.”
As well as the new route the letter questions plans for the West Coast Mainline - which will see HS2 trains continue to run up to Crewe on the fast line then change to the current network - knocking 30 minutes off the time to London from the town.
But a direct link from Warrington Bank Quay to Scotland looks set to go under the proposals.
The council says it is in principle in favour of the new rail link.
“But we must make sure the developers get HS2 right,” said Clr O’Neill. “The council is engaging very closely with HS2 Ltd and we want to reassure Warrington’s residents and businesses that we’re fighting their corner.”
Ian Jordan, HS2 Ltd director Leeds, Manchester and Heathrow, said: “During the course of designing the HS2 routes north of Birmingham, HS2 Ltd staff including board members, the chief executive, environmental specialists and engineers visited hundreds of sites to help determine the proposed route and how it could sit in the local environment. Very careful consideration was given to all aspects of the design as part of more than two years’ work on the proposed routes.
“The proposed route in this area was derived from a of balance of passenger demand, cost, engineering and the impacts on the environment and communities. We will continue to work closely with local communities and interested parties to refine plans and to find the right balance between delivering essential infrastructure and respecting the rights and concerns of those most affected.”