HIGH speed rail will provide a ‘catalyst’ for economic growth in Warrington - but the current route through Culcheth is not acceptable.

Those are the findings of the council’s response to the current HS2 plans.

Their report, revealed at Monday’s meeting of the executive board in the Town Hall, said Warrington would have ‘all of the pain and none of the gain’ should the Government’s preferred route for the new line go ahead.

Clr 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said: “The council is in favour of the concept of high speed rail in general as a solution to improving the current outdated rail system in the UK and to tackle frequency and capacity issues.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.

“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.

“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.”

Clr O’Neill added that he believed the current plans could damage the town’s economic future and that high speed rail should act as a ‘catalyst for growth’.