WARRINGTON South MP David Mowat believes there is no case for the HS2 spur which will cut through swathes of the town.

In this exclusive article the Conservative MP reitereated his overall support for a new high speed railway from London to the north west but questioned whether the spur linking from the West Coast Mainline in Wigan to High Legh was needed.

BACK in September, on a cold, rainy Friday night, 200 people packed into Lymm Youth Club for a political meeting.

No, really.

The people there that night came because they cared about the future of Lymm and about how that future could be affected by the new HS2 railway line which will just touch the outskirts of Agden.

I am and remain a firm supporter of HS2 and my job that night was to defend the project.

However, since that night, I have reflected on some of the views that were put to me. I have to admit that I wasn’t fully aware of the scale of the disruption that would be caused, both in the construction phase and once the line is operational.

Although the line itself will only be in my constituency for about a mile, because of the geography of the land at that point (the line cuts across the Mersey flood plain), the line will be either largely or wholly on a viaduct. Because it has to cross the Manchester Ship Canal at a height which will allow ships to pass under it, the viaduct would need to be equivalent in height to the Thelwall viaduct.

In addition, there will also be several junctions on the line close to my constituency which will require much wider sections of land, increasing the disruption. Although it is important to point out that the line will be more than two miles from the centre of Lymm.

Since then I’ve met with a couple of residents whose homes will be directly affected and I’ve also met with representatives from the local campaign groups.

As a result of these discussions, I have altered my position on HS2.

I remain a firm supporter of the principle of HS2. The way to drive growth outside of London is not – as HS2 opponents have ludicrously claimed – by cutting London off from everywhere else, but by increasing and improving our existing connections.

That said, I do not believe that there is any case for the current “spur” which will connect the main Manchester to Birmingham High Speed line at High Legh, with the existing West Coast Main Line at Wigan.

In order to get the new line up to Wigan, it will have to cross: the M56 (twice, because of the junction), A56, Manchester Ship Canal, both Liverpool to Manchester railway lines, the M62 and the East Lancs road.

At a very rough guess, I would say that the cost of this spur is about £1bn. And, because of the curvature of the track on this section, the trains would not be able to travel at maximum speed Much has been said and written about the Business Case for HS2, but that is based solely on a railway line linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. Nowhere in the business case can I find an economic justification for this particular stretch of track.

If there are benefits to this section, HS2 Ltd should have made them clear in the business case – indeed it is likely that the current benefit-cost ratio of 2.6 to 1 would need revising upwards. However, I suspect the reason the benefits of this section weren’t included is because they don’t exist.

We therefore have a situation whereby we are preparing to spend £1bn on a section of track which will bring no economic benefit.

I’ve written to the Transport Secretary to make this precise point to him and raised it in a recent Commons debate on HS2. I’ve also spoken to a number of MPs in neighbouring constituencies who have also expressed concerns about this particular Spur.

The new Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd has been told, in no uncertain terms, by Number 10, that he must do all he can to cut the cost of HS2. Here’s one idea which will save £1bn straight away.