ON Tuesday I spoke in a specially convened debate in Parliament about the effect that the Initial Preferred Route (IPR) for HS2 would have on Warrington, alongside Warrington North MP Helen Jones.
Regular readers will know that I support the principle of HS2 – a new high-speed line connecting Manchester to Birmingham and London.
However, the IPR also includes a 20 mile section of track from High Legh to Wigan, linking the new track with the existing West Coast Main Line. I believe that this extra section is expensive and unnecessary and I cannot support it.
The list of existing pieces of transport infrastructure which the new line will have to cross is staggering – the M56, M62, East Lancs Road, both Liverpool to Manchester railway lines, the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. The new line must bridge over or tunnel under each one – not to mention the many local roads which will either have to be diverted or bridged.
The cost of this spur must be staggering, most of the people with engineering backgrounds whom I have spoken with say that it could not be done for significantly less than £1bn.
You shouldn’t spend £1bn on anything unless there is a proper business case. I’ve examined the overall business case for HS2 thoroughly and cannot find any reference to this section of track – the case is purely based on the London-Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds connections.
The only argument I have heard put forward is that the train depot will be at Golborne and there has to be some way of getting trains up there, but is there nowhere else along the route that this depot could be located – at a fraction of the cost?
In my own constituency only about seven buildings lie within 200m of the line but I understand that the disruption in other parts of the town, such as Culcheth, is much more severe.
I made clear in my speech that I could not support this section of track and wanted to see it removed from the project. You can read my speech on my website www.davidmowat.org