Greengauge 21 has long championed a truly national high-speed rail network. The recent Government decision to take forward only the Crewe-Manchester section of the western part of HS2 Phase 2b we find disappointing.
Dropped for now at least is the plan to take HS2 northwards from Crewe to just south of Wigan, avoiding a pinch-point in the West Coast Main Line. This would be the route for HS2 trains from both London and Birmingham to reach Scotland (and serve Lancashire and Cumbria on the way).
The search may now be on for a replacement for the now missing ‘Golborne Link’ towards Wigan, and there is even optimistic talk of it being extended to Preston. But as Jim Steer points out, a shortfall in capital funding has opened up. Even the original Golborne scheme now appears to be unaffordable within the budget available in the ‘Integrated Rail Plan’.
All may not be lost. We await the Government response to Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review in due course. This would be the obvious source for the missing funding – the Review having identified ‘north of Crewe’ as a key priority.